Maldives Opposition Wants India to Nudge Male' Government to the Table

Published: 21st February 2015 11:36 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st February 2015 11:36 PM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: As the Indian Ocean island nation is racked with political uncertainty with nightly protests in the capital, the main Maldives opposition wants India to deliver the government of President Abdulla Yameen to the negotiating table.

“We have called for all party talks. And we want a mediator. A powerful mediator,” Maldivian Democratic Party’s international spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Express during his short visit to India. “And we think that if India tells them to talk (to us), the government will talk”.

Ghafoor, along with his colleagues including former foreign minister Ahmed Naseem, arrived in India when Maldives to create awareness about the developing situation, with the opposition parties getting together for the first time for joint protests.

Even as the opposition vocally asked for India’s support, Maldives government on Friday said that it believed that New Delhi will not interfere. “Government has no doubt that India will adhere to the principle of Panchsheel and will not intervene in domestic politics of Maldives,” said a tweet posted by the Maldives foreign ministry, attributed to the foreign minister Dunya Maumoon.

Meanwhile, MDP leader and former president Mohamed Nasheed is still warily awaiting to see if the government will again file charges in the case of detention of criminal court chief, after the prosecutor general had withdrawn the charges. If Nasheed was convicted of this type of charges, he could get barred from the next presidential polls in 2018.

As he awaits news, Nasheed has joined hands with the former ruling coalition alliance member Jumohree party and its leader Gasim Ibrahim, to demand the resignation of President Yameen. The opposition is creating momentum through frequent rallies in the night leading up to a massive protest on February 27.

Earlier, Maldives had gone into a tizzy when the house of the ambitious defence minister Mohamed Nazim was raised, and he was subsequently arrested on allegations of keeping illegal weapons.

The former Maldivian foreign minister said that without Indian mediation, “we can’t find a way forward”. “Maldives is going into chaos. That is not the benefit for India or us. So we have to find a way forward now, before it goes completely out of control,” he said.

He said that the government of President Yameen had lost legitimacy after the ruling coalition which won the 2013 presidential polls collapsed.

The 2012 Commission of National Inquiry report which investigated the circumstances of the transfer of power from Nasheed to Waheed asserted that the “when the partners (of coalition government) leaves, the legitimacy of the government is lost”.

“The coalition has dissolved. Yameen has only 25 percent of the votes in the country. How can he run the country without being an absolute dictator?” he asked.
 Meanwhile, the MDP leaders also raised the issue of judicial reform, with his party and leader having faced the wrath of various judges, especially in the run-up to the last presidential polls. “They got the government majority through court,” alleged Naseem.

They point out that India has more reason to be worried about Maldives due to the radicalization of the population, with the government itself admitting that 50 Maldivians have travelled to Syria to join ISIS.

“The government admits to 50. But, we believe that over 200 have travelled to Syria,” said Ghafoor.

In a startling allegation, he claimed that the Islamic affairs minister, who belongs to the Islamist party Adhalaath, was behind sending some citizens to Syria. “We believe, no, we know that they fund it,” he said.

This radicalization, Ghafoor asserted, is a threat to the entire region. “We are now exporting extremism from Maldives to Sri Lanka,” he said.

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