Maldives expects India to play a role in solving political crisis, says former president Nasheed

The opposition in the Maldives is looking to India to play a role in ending the political crisis created by President Abdulla Yameen and New Delhi has been delivering, former president Mohamed Nasheed said on Friday.

Nasheed, who has lived in self-exile in Britain since last year, is in Delhi to participate in a seminar organised by the Research and Information System for Developing Countries, a think tank under the external affairs ministry.

“India is the world’s biggest democracy and it is difficult to see it remaining quiet or idle (about the developments in the Maldives),” Nasheed said during an interactive session with the media at Brookings India..

“We have high expectations from India, and I believe India will deliver. In fact, it is delivering.”

The Maldives has been hit by political unrest since Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected leader, was ousted in 2012. He was sentenced to 13 years in jail on terrorism charges after a widely denounced trial. Last year, Nasheed was freed and allowed to go for medical treatment to the UK, which granted him political refugee status.

Nasheed accused Yameen of widespread corruption and amassing wealth through illegal means, saying these funds had been used to “buy” over members of the legislature, judiciary and special operations unit of the police. There was also widespread use of “fear and intimidation” as a political tool against the opposition, he said.

Asked whether he believed India had responded appropriated to the crisis, Nasheed said New Delhi’s diplomacy differed from that of Western capital in that it was “not rolled out” in a high profile manner.

“Throughout history, India does not react. It increases things gradually,” he said.

Nasheed said the invitation extended to him by an official think tank against the backdrop of fresh turmoil in the Maldives was a reflection of India’s concern about the situation. “I’m a convict and I was sentenced to 13 years in jail for terrorism. And yet, I’ve been invited to India. There is a message here, you have to be blind if you don’t see it,” he said.

The former president also spoke of his unlikely alliance with former ruler Abdulla Gayoom, the half-brother of Yameen, saying he had not abandoned his principles.

“This is an alliance with a clear understanding of what we want, including elections…I will join hands with anyone, I’m not a saint…Gayoom has learnt a lot and he sees the strength of democracy,” he said.

“We will build whatever bridges are needed, including with people we don’t see eye to eye with.”

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