Exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed Wednesday asked India to play its role of “liberators” and intervene militarily to resolve the ongoing political turmoil in Maldives, in a rebuke to China which has opposed military intervention and called for dialogue to resolve the crisis.
China has warned against any military intervention in the Maldives, saying such a move would further complicate the situation in the island nation where embattled President Abdulla Yameen, who is closely allied with Beijing, declared a state of emergency on Monday and arrested two top judges.
“Saying ‘resolve things internally’ is akin to asking us to escalate the revolt, which can lead to chaos. Maldivians see India’s role positively: in ’88 they came, resolved the crisis, and left. They were not occupiers but liberators. This is why Maldivians look to India now,” Nasheed tweeted today. Nasheed, whose Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) functions from Colombo, had appealed for India’s help yesterday.
“We would like the Indian government to send an envoy, backed by its military, to free the judges and the political detainees, including former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, from their detention and to bring them to their homes. We are asking for a physical presence,” Nasheed said in a tweet.
In 1988, the then president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom had sought India’s help to defeat a coup by mercenaries. India responded to his call and dispatched troops to the Maldives to restore order in the country. Most of the Indian soldiers returned home after order was restored in the island nation.
The picturesque Indian Ocean archipelago, which has seen a number of political crisis since the ouster of its first democratically-elected president Nasheed in 2012, plunged into a political chaos on Thursday when the apex court ordered the release of nine imprisoned opposition politicians, maintaining that their trials were “politically motivated and flawed”.
Concerned over political crisis in Maldives, India, which is monitoring the situation very “closely”, yesterday said it was “disturbed” on the declaration of the emergency by the Maldivian government and described as a matter of “concern” the arrests of the chief justice and political figures there.
Weighing its options in the fast deteriorating crisis in the Maldives, China has asked political parties in Maldives to find a solution without external intervention after UN, the US and India stepped pressure on Yameen to implement the Supreme Court ruling of setting the detained opposition leaders free.
“The current situation in Maldives is its internal affairs. China follows the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of others,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said today. Maldives’ Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and another judge, Ali Hameed, were arrested hours after President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency.
The remaining three judges of the Supreme Court last night amended an order to release nine high-profile political prisoners, including Nasheed.
In a statement, the judges said they were revoking the order to release the prisoners “in light of the concerns raised by the President”. The amendment to the ruling by the Supreme Court on February 1 also omits the part that says the case against the Supreme Court judges was not received by the Judicial Services Commission (JSC).
President Yameen today welcomed the court’s move to reinstate the convictions of political prisoners. He had accused the detained judges of plotting to overthrow him.
“I had to declare a national emergency because there was no other way to investigate these judges,” Yameen said in a televised address to the nation last evening.
“We had to find out how thick the plot or coup was,” he said, adding that the chief justice was trying to illegally impeach him and sack the attorney general. Meanwhile, Acting police chief Abdulla Nawaz told reporters that police had found evidence that millions of dollars were given as bribes to Saeed and Hameed of the Supreme Court, and to court official Hassan Saeed.
Nawaz said police had reason to believe Gayoom had bribed politicians and influenced judges in order to overthrow the government, the Maldives Independent news website reported. Gayoom, president for 30 years until the country’s first democratic elections in 2008, was also detained at his home hours after the emergency was declared on Monday night. Gayoom has allied himself with the Opposition.
Nawaz claimed that police had found “lots of cash” that was connected to Hameed and that “lots of cash” had been found under Hassan Saeed’s mattress. All four are being charged with attempting to unlawfully overthrow the government, he added.
Nasheed, 50, the first democratically elected leader of the Maldives, has accused President Yameen of acting illegally and asked the US to ensure that all American financial institutions stop all transactions of the regime’s leaders. He was sentenced to 13 years in jail on terror charges in March 2015 over the arbitrary arrest of chief criminal judge Abdullah Muhammed during his presidency. He was granted asylum in the UK after he was authorised to seek medical treatment there amid mounting foreign pressure.
Nasheed was narrowly defeated in 2013 by Yameen. Nasheed says his conviction on terror charges was politically motivated. The Maldivian government holds that Nasheed is convicted for a crime and is wanted in the Maldives to serve a jail sentence. Nasheed said he will seek UN support to ensure he is allowed to contest this year’s election.