Ex-Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed asks India to exert its influence to ensure free and fair election

Nasheed, 51, was forced to quit his office in 2012 in what supporters regard as a coup, and was narrowly defeated by Yameen in a presidential poll the following year.

Press Trust of India September 21, 2018 23:19:05 IST
Ex-Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed asks India to exert its influence to ensure free and fair election

Colombo:  Former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed on Friday asked India to exert its influence to ensure a free and fair election in the country as he fears that 23 September presidential polls could be rigged. The Maldives on Sunday will hold its third-ever multiparty presidential election.

ExMaldivian president Mohamed Nasheed asks India to exert its influence to ensure free and fair election

File image of exiled former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed. PTI

Opposition parties from across Maldivian politics have formed a united front to oust the president, Abdulla Yameen, whose government has been accused of crushing dissent, corruption and jailing electoral opponents on flimsy grounds. They have nominated a senior MP, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, to run against Yameen.

Mohammad Nasheed, the country's first freely elected president after 30 years of authoritarian rule, told reporters in Colombo that "Yameen will lose the election, but he will hold onto power”.  Nasheed, 51, was forced to quit his office in 2012 in what supporters regard as a coup, and was narrowly defeated by Yameen in a presidential poll the following year. He was convicted of terrorism in a dubious trial in 2015 and now lives in exile in Sri Lanka.

He urged the international community not to accept the result. He said that India must exert its influence to ensure a free and fair election. He stressed the lack of credible international monitoring of the election.  He said there was no chance for the incumbent to win the election due to all opposing parties getting together.

"Mathematically, it is not possible for Yameen to win because all Opposition parties are united against him. But the results they will announce will be different to what is actually in the ballot boxes," he said. "The election in the Maldives is not just about less than half a million Maldivians," Nasheed said. "It is also about the stability of the Indian Ocean region where there is a cold war between India and China."

Nasheed charged that Yameen was being backed by China which wants to retain its infrastructure contracts in the country. The United Nations has branded Nasheed's conviction and the jailing for 13 years as politically motivated.

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