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Maldives ex-president Nasheed flees to Indian embassy to avoid arrest

Source : AGENCIES
Last Updated: Wed, Feb 13, 2013 14:36 hrs
Former Maldives Prez Nasheed takes refuge in Indian Embassy in Male cover

Male: The former president of the Maldives said on Wednesday he has taken refuge at the Indian Embassy after a court ordered his arrest.

Mohamed Nasheed tweeted that he took the step "mindful of his own security and the stability of the Indian Ocean." He did not explain.

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said India has not decided whether to grant Nasheed refuge at the embassy in Male, the Maldives' capital.

A court ordered police to arrest Nasheed and present him to the court on Wednesday after he failed to appear for a hearing Sunday on charges that he illegally ordered the detention of a senior judge, a move that led to his ouster from power last year.



His party said Nasheed was in India on Sunday and could not return because of health reasons.

Nasheed says the charges against him are politically motivated to disqualify him from running for the presidency later this year.

The Indian Embassy in Colombo said in a statement Wednesday that candidates from all political parties must be free to participate in the election, scheduled for Sept. 7.

"Prevention of participation by political leaders in the contest would call into question the integrity of the electoral process, thereby perpetuating the current political instability in Maldives," the embassy said.

Nasheed became the first democratically elected president of the Indian Ocean archipelago in 2008. He resigned a year ago after weeks of public protests against the judge's arrest. His deputy, Mohammed Waheed Hassan, succeeded him.

An inquiry commission last year dismissed Nasheed's claim that he was ousted in a coup.

India concerned over instability in Maldives

India on Wednesday expressed concern over the "ongoing political instability" in the Maldives and said it was in touch with authorities there after former president Mohamed Nasheed took refuge in the Indian high commission in Male.

Nasheed, a candidate in the Sep 7 presidential polls, took refuge in the mission Tuesday after a court issued an arrest order for failing to attend a hearing over the illegal detention of a judge.

Nasheed resigned last year as president after what he alleged was a coup.

India called upon the Maldives government and all political parties "to adhere strictly to democratic principles and the rule of law, thereby paving the way for free, fair, credible and inclusive elections.

"As a close and friendly neighbour, India has expressed concern over the ongoing political instability in (the) Maldives and called upon the government and all political parties to adhere strictly to democratic principles and the rule of law, thereby paving the way for free, fair, credible and inclusive elections," the external affairs ministry said.

The ministry said preventing participation in the elections "would call into question the integrity of the electoral process, thereby perpetuating the current political instability in (the) Maldives.

"This is not in the interest of (the) Maldives or the region.

"India would call upon the government and all political parties in Maldives to avoid any actions that would vitiate the political atmosphere in the Maldives", a ministry statement said.

"We are in touch with the relevant Maldivian authorities to resolve the situation," arising out of Nasheed seeking refuge in the Indian mission, it said.

No point in Nasheed being at the Indian mission: Maldives minister

There is "no point" of Mohamed Nasheed being at the Indian High Commission, said a senior Maldives minister who assured that "everything is under control" in his country.

"There is no point of his being there," Maldives Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb Abdhul Gafoor told IANS over phone from Male after the former president took refuge at the Indian mission here Tuesday as a court issued an arrest order for his failing to attend a hearing in the allegedly illegal detention of a judge.

Gafoor said that Nasheed "is there" at the Indian High Commission. He added that there would be "no effort to take him out.

"Anyone can visit the Indian High Commission," he said and suggested that the Indian media may be indulging in unnecessary speculation over the turn of events in his country.

He said the situation in his island country was "calm and stable" and very much "under control".

"Yeah, I think," said the senior minister when asked whether Male was in touch with New Delhi over this development.

Nasheed's political party, the Maldivian Democratic Party, has strongly condemned the arrest warrant and reiterated its belief that the arrest warrant and the charges against him are politically motivated.

Gafoor said that Tuesday's development is "not politically motivated". He said the judiciary, which was independent in his country, had in fact been lenient towards and allowed him to travel despite grave charges against him.

There had been widespread violence before and after Nasheed stepped down as president in February last year.

"It is nothing like that...Everything is under control," Gafoor told IANS when asked the government feared violence after Nasheed walked into the Indian mission.

He said Nasheed should come out and face court hearing and let law of the land take its course.

Nasheed's downfall - a timeline

Former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed who took refuge in the Indian embassy in Male Tuesday witnessed a major change of fortune in his political career with the start of 2012.

The following is the timeline, as reported by BBC, which suggests the turn of events that unfolded in the last one year in the Maldives commenced with the arrest of the country's chief justice Abdulla Mohamed under Nasheed's regime.

Jan 16, 2012 - A row erupts over arrest of the chief justice, who ordered the release of a government critic.

Feb 7, 2012 - President Nasheed announces his resignation after a mutiny by the police and weeks of demonstrations over the arrest of the chief justice. Later, he claims being forced out in a coup.

Vice-president Mohamed Waheed Hussain Manik is sworn-in as the president.

July, 2012 - Nasheed is formally charged with illegally ordering the arrest of the chief justice, whose detention sparked protests in February. The move comes as Nasheed's supporters demonstrate and demand early elections.

August, 2012 - Commonwealth-backed investigation team dismisses claims that a coup forced Nasheed to step down as the president in February. The report says Nasheed resigned voluntarily.

Oct 8, 2012 - Nasheed is arrested for ignoring a court summons and travel ban.

Nasheed denies the charge of illegally arresting the chief justice, says it is politically motivated. A conviction could disqualify him from contesting future presidential polls.

According to the Guardian, supporters said police in full riot gear pepper sprayed Nasheed and dragged him from a house after he ignored summons. Police in the Maldives arrested Nasheed after he twice failed to appear before a court to face charges that he illegally ordered the arrest of the judge while in office.

Feb 13, 2013 - Nasheed, who once held a cabinet meeting under water to highlight global warming, takes refuge at the Indian High Commission in Male after a Maldivian court issues an arrest warrant against him over his failure to attend a hearing in the illegal detention of a judge.

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