Nasheed won't be arrested for now, says Maldives govt

Last Updated: Thu, Feb 14, 2013 10:48 hrs

Male: The Maldives government said on Thursday that former president Mohamed Nasheed, who has taken refuge at the Indian embassy in Male, will not be arrested for the time-being, NDTV reported.

Nasheed sought refuge at the Indian High Commission as police tried to execute a court order seeking his arrest for failing to turn up at his trial on Sunday. Nasheed had been visiting India at the time.

A presidential spokesperson said that the arrest warrant against Nasheed had expired on Wednesday after he took refuge at the India High Commission and could not be produced in court, the news channel reported.

Nasheed is a free man until the court decides the next date of hearing in the case against him, the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Nasheed's spokesperson said that the former president has demanded the dropping of charges against 800 party workers. The spokesperson also said he wanted India to take a lead in securing an end to the political crisis in the Indian Ocean atoll nation of of 330,000 Sunni Muslims.

"We are asking all politically motivated charges including that against president Nasheed, MDP parliamentarians, MDP councillors, party officials and key party workers be dropped," Mariya Didi was reported as saying by news agencies.

In a statement issued from the besieged Indian diplomatic compound, Nasheed reiterated long-standing calls for his successor Mohamed Waheed to resign and allow a caretaker government to organise the elections.

He said Hassan cannot be trusted to hold a free and fair presidential election.

"The events of the past year - the mass arrests, police brutality, the politically motivated trials - demonstrate that Waheed cannot be trusted to hold a free and fair election," said Nasheed in a statement posted on the website of his Maldivian Democratic Party.

"Waheed should do the right thing and resign from office," he said.

"An interim, caretaker government should be established that can lead the Maldives to genuinely free and fair elections, in which all candidates are freely able to compete."

Nasheed resigned Feb 7 last year followed by what he alleged was a coup. Vice President Mohammed Waheed Hassan succeeded him.

The statement on quoted him as describing his ongoing trial against him as "a politically motivated sham".

He said the Hulhumale Magistrates Court - established to hear his case - was illegal and created "with the sole purpose of disqualifying me from the presidential elections".

He accused Waheed of ruling the Maldives with "the barrel of a gun".

The Maldives, an atoll nation, is known for its deep blue seas, turquoise reefs, white sandy beaches and palm trees. It comprises 1,190 islands - of which about 200 are inhabited - and has a population of 350,000.

The country has been in political turmoil even since Nasheed was ousted.

Khurshid to speak to Maldivian counterpart

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will be speaking to his counterpart in Maldives which has raised strong objections to India's views regarding former President Mohamed Nasheed.

"I will be talking to the Foreign Minister of Maldives (Abdul Samad Abdullah) regarding the issue," Khurshid told PTI.

Sources here said that senior Indian officials are going to understand from Nasheed his future plans.

Maldives denies discussions with India

Earlier in the day, Maldives had denied India's claim that it held discussions with Indian officials regarding Nasheed, saying it cannot interfere with the independence of the judiciary.

"Maldives wishes to confirm that neither the High Commission of India in Male, nor any other authority of the Government of India has had had discussion with the Government of Maldives concerning former President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed's reported request for 'refuge'," Maldives' Foreign Ministry said.

It said that after several inquiries by the ministry, the Indian High Commission had confirmed Nasheed's presence there.

"Nasheed's on-going trial is a matter handled by two independent State institutions, namely the Prosecutor General and the judiciary," the statement said.

The statement termed as "unfortunate" what it called the "public comment" by India on events instead of opting for bilateral discussions between the two Governments.

"It is further unfortunate that the Government of India has decided to comment on the types of candidates that could contest the upcoming Presidential Elections in the Maldives scheduled for September 2013," it said.

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