Maldives’ Nasheed arrested,India calls for ‘restraint’

The arrest led to protests by Nasheed’s supporters who also indulged in violence.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Published: March 6, 2013 1:56 am

Just 10 days after former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed left the Indian high commission after seeking refuge there for 11 days to evade detention,he was arrested on Tuesday. New Delhi,which was caught unawares by the sudden turn of events in Malé,said it “expects due process and rule of law would be followed”.

“Nasheed has been arrested. He will be in police custody and will be presented before the court at 4 pm tomorrow,” Masood Imad,press secretary to President Mohamed Waheed,told PTI.

Nasheed was taken into custody after the Hulhumale magistrate’s court ordered the police to produce him in court for a hearing Wednesday for his trial over the arrest and subsequent detention of chief criminal judge Abdulla Mohamed during his presidency.

Nasheed was picked up from his house by several dozen police wearing balaclavas and black riot gear,with some armed with rubber bullet guns. The arrest led to protests by Nasheed’s supporters who also indulged in violence.

President Waheed’s brother too was allegedly roughed up by protesters. “Assaulting my brother Ali Waheed will not help Nasheed escape justice,” Waheed tweeted. “Only the rule of law can protect the rights of all. Violence only breeds violence,” he tweeted.

The MEA official spokesperson,Syed Akbaruddin,urged “all concerned to exercise caution and restraint and not to resort to any violence or extra-constitutional means and steps which would weaken the democratic system”. The MEA said New Delhi was closely monitoring the situation,and has been informed that Nasheed’s lawyers and family have been allowed to meet him.

Earlier,Nasheed had remained at the Indian High Commission for 11 days to evade arrest in the same case. He left on February 23,following a reported understanding that he would be able to resume his “social and political life”.

The Maldivian government has repeatedly denied striking any deal with New Delhi for enabling Nasheed’s exit from the Indian mission. “It is hoped that with this development the former president will again resume his social and political life,” the MEA had said on February 23,after Nasheed left the diplomatic premises.

“Once again,Waheed has proved that he cannot be trusted to hold free and fair elections,despite his assurances to the international community. Nasheed was supposed to be on an election campaign trip,but is in jail instead,” said Hamid Abdul Gafoor,spokesperson of Nasheed’s Maldives Democratic Party.

India has maintained that if Nasheed is not able to participate in the elections due in September this year,the credibility of the polls will be severely undermined.

“The arrest comes just days after the UN special rapporteur,Gabriela Knaul,said the judges overseeing Nasheed’s case had been appointed arbitrarily… Waheed,in collusion with his friends in the judiciary,is pulling out all the stops to prevent Nasheed from contesting in the elections,” alleged Gafoor.

He added that Nasheed was taken to Dhoonidhoo Island detention centre,where he was reportedly tortured during Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s regime.

Interestingly,the arrest came on a day when the Maldivian parliament overruled Waheed’s veto on a crucial political bill requiring minimum membership of 10,000 people for recognition and participation in polls. This would mean that his party could be disqualified.

Of the 16 parties currently in existence,only five parties have over 10,000 registered members,including the former Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP),the government-aligned parties DRP and PPM (Gayoom’s party),business tycoon MP Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP),and the religious conservative party,Adhaalath Party (AP).

With PTI,Malé

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