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Maldives' embattled president sends envoys to China for support

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The Maldives

Maldives, which has seen a number of political crisis since the ouster of its first democratically-elected president Nasheed in 2012, plunged into a political chaos on Thursday last when the apex court ordered the release of nine imprisoned opposition politicians, maintaining that their trials were "politically motivated and flawed". China refused. In a statement, India said "We note that China has said that Maldives government has the ability to protect the security of Chinese personnel and institutions in Maldives".

A statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry said China believes "the archipelago should return to normalcy in accordance with law", confirming that the crisis in the Maldives was discussed during the meeting of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi with Maldivian Finance Minister Mohamed Saeed.

India, which has had longstanding political and security ties to the islands about 400 km (250 miles) away, has sought to push back against China's expanding presence in the country of 400,000 people, majority Muslims. The initiative is Chinese President Xi Jinping's signature project and envisages building ports, railways and roads to expand trade in a vast arc of countries across Asia, Africa and Europe.

But a second person familiar with the matter indicated that it was India's displeasure at Yameen's handling of the situation, coupled with scheduling problems, that had made New Delhi decline a visit by Asim.

Nasheed fears a land grab would not only hurt the nation, but threaten the security of the Indian Ocean region.

"China does not interfere in the Maldives internal affairs, which is also an important criterion of the rules of the United Nations charter", Wang said. Refuting such reports, the Embassy of Maldives issued a statement here on Wednesday stating that it was India that rejected meeting the Special Envoy as both Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj were travelling.

Saudi Arabia is a key backer of Yameen along with China. Nasheed also called for Indian military intervention to end the crisis.

China is dismissing accusations from the former leader of the Maldives that it is attempting to effectively buy up the Indian Ocean island state and eliminate its sovereignty.

"We await the convenience" of the government of India, he added. The Press Trust of India reported that as the emergency in Maldives continues, India is expected to follow a standard operating procedure of keeping troops in a state of readiness. Saeed's lawyer claimed that his client received death threats before his arrest. Lawyer Hisaan Hussain said he was gravely concerned by the government's reaction to the court ruling, saying it is a "blatant violation and completely erodes the doctrine of separation of powers".

Police have "proof of these transactions" serving as evidence against Chief justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed, said Abdulla Nawaz, the acting police chief.

Apart from scheduling difficulties, India reportedly disapproves of the Yameen government's refusal to heed to the Maldivian Supreme Court's directives on freeing political prisoners, including Opposition lawmakers.

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