‘Maldives is my home, no one has a right to tell me not to go’

It is very likely that power will be transferred in the Maldives, even if outgoing President, Abdulla Yameen, attempts to influence the Supreme Court’s deliberations on the validity of the September election results, former President Mohamed Nasheed has said. He appealed to India to partner with his alliance once it comes to power to help deliver essential reforms, saying it was in the interests of everyone in the region for the transfer to take place, and criticised the role that China had played in his country under President Yameen.

In an interview with The Hindu, Mr. Nasheed expressed scepticism about whether the latest comments from Mr. Yameen —who made his second concession since his defeat in the September elections — signalled a willingness to step aside. Mr. Nasheed, who has said that he will return to the Maldives on November 1, accused the President of attempting to use the Chief of Police to influence the Supreme Court’s deliberations. “This goes on. Until power is actually transferred, it would not be very prudent to assume that things were going to move smoothly,” he said in central London, where he has spent much of his time in exile.

‘Uncertain situation’

He said that given the uncertain situation, many options remained open to the alliance, including action on the streets, though that came with its own risks including providing an opportunity for Mr. Yameen to toughen restrictions. “When you have direct action on the streets, it’s never easy. It’s never a linear outcome. We have the view that we should let the Supreme Court come out with a judgment. Say they come out with an outrageous ruling, what do we do from then on? I think that is the moment that we should say that enough is enough and take to the streets and give whatever we have, come what may,” he said.

He said that he remained determined to return on November 1, despite the prospect of him facing several days in jail. “Maldives is my home. No one has a right to tell me not to go. The first thing that would happen is that I would have to go to jail, but if there is difficulty in transferring power then they must get me out. And I think that to galvanise the people, if need be, we must do it.”

He welcomed comments by Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, who said that India saw the acceptance of the verdict of the election by Mr. Yameen as a “triumph” of democratic forces and was “confident” that the mandate of the people would prevail. Mr. Nasheed has previously urged a stronger stance from India. “There were some more robust words. We must make sure power is transferred and I think it would be in the interests of everybody — India, Sri Lanka, other regional actors to see that power transfers smoothly.”

Mr. Nasheed, who has been a vocal critic of Mr. Yameen’s close relationship with China, contrasted India’s approach with that of other regional players who projected power. Maldives had the opportunity to be the “solution” rather than a problem for growing tensions between India and China, he added. “The Maldives would have shouldered this many times in history. And I think we must have the facilities to do this again. I am very confident that our generation can find the right balance. China must understand that they cannot trap us in debt and then ask for equity and in the process, we have to relinquish land and sovereignty. China must very clearly understand that you cannot weaponise corruption. We will articulate this. We will ensure everyone hears about it.”

India’s vital role

He said that India could play a vital role in enabling the Maldives to move forward, beyond the transfer of power, through “lots of conversations, lots of understanding, lots of cooperation” rather than “outright interference.” “How do we deal with debt? How do we deal with radical Islam?… I think we can find that arrangement. We would like them to assist us in building capacity in the judiciary, in Parliament, in independent institutions.”

“Primarily, the people of the Maldives voted to get rid of Yameen. To bring in reforms and we must be able to deliver that. We must be able to delivery judicial reform. We must be able to tackle corruption. We must be able to get out of the debt trap and we must be able to again find our traditional allies.”

Mr. Nasheed has been living in exile, mostly in London, following a criminal conviction widely determined to be politically motivated. In September, Opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won the election with over 58% of the votes and is set to be sworn in in November.

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Source URL: The Hindu

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