'Democracy at stake in Maldives': Ex-president Mohamed Nasheed seeks Modi's help, cites China's interests

The political crisis in Maldives continued as exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed on Tuesday sought India's diplomatic and military intervention to resolve the matter.

Nasheed, whose Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) functions from Colombo, appealed for India's help. In a statement issued by the MDP, Nasheed said, "We would like the Indian government to send an envoy, backed by its military, to free the judges and the political detainees, including former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, from their detention and to bring them to their homes. We are asking for a physical presence".

Nasheed said President Abdulla Yameen has illegally declared martial law. "President Yameen's announcement — which declares a state of emergency, the banning of fundamental freedoms, and the suspension of the Supreme Court — is tantamount to a declaration of martial law in the Maldives. This declaration is unconstitutional and illegal. Nobody in the Maldives is required to, nor should, follow this unlawful order," Nasheed said. "We must remove him from power. The people of the Maldives have a legitimate request to world governments, especially to India and the United States".

Nasheed, 50, the country's first democratically-elected leader was sentenced to 13 years in jail on terror charges in March 2015 over the arbitrary arrest of chief criminal judge Abdullah Muhammed during his presidency. He was granted asylum in the UK after he was authorised to seek medical treatment there amid mounting foreign pressure.

File image of exiled former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed. PTI

File image of exiled former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed. PTI

Nasheed also wrote an editorial in The Indian Express asking for India's help. Claiming that democracy was at stake in the country and the spectre of radical Islam loomed large, he said that Yameen has shown total disregard for democracy and has imperilled the Maldivian Constitution. Detailing the Supreme Court ruling which freed him, he said that Yameen has sold off the nation's sovereignty in an endless quest to enrich himself.

Nasheed also wrote about China's interest in Maldives in light of the One Belt, One Road project. He insisted that perks were being given the Chinese and that piece by piece, Maldives is being sold off to China. He then went on to say that there is now a state within a state which is waiting to overrun the country.

Finally, he asked India to lead the international community's efforts to force Yameen to comply with the Supreme Court's order as it would allow for free and fair elections with international monitors. He feared that if the ruling was not implemented, the nation would fall into chaos and this would not be in the interests of the Maldivian people and their well-wishers. He ended with a plea to India, asking it "to act soon, and to act firmly".

Government sources indicated on Wednesday that India is expected to follow a standard operating procedure (SOP) that includes keeping the troops in readiness. India, which said it was "disturbed" over the situation in the archipelago nation, has already issued a travel advisory as part of the SOP but officials would not confirm one of its crucial aspects pertaining to keeping troops on standby.

Sources said troop movement has been seen at a key air-base in Southern India. According to the SOP, the troops are kept ready to meet any eventuality, crisis or requirement for help, sources said, adding there is nothing unusual about such SOPs.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Feb 07, 2018 09:11 AM

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