New Delhi/Male: As
India steps up efforts to broker a political deal in the Maldives,
Ahmed Shaheed, a former foreign minister of the Indian Ocean
nation, says ousted president Mohamed Nasheed is "very
disappointed" with New Delhi's stand and has rejected any attempt
at a national government of unity.
"It was clearly a coup, and done with the complicity of Mohamed
Waheed Hassan (then vice-president and now president)," Shaheed, a
close aide of Nasheed and a senior member of the opposition
Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), told IANS over phone from Male,
the capital of the Maldives.
"The president was forced to resign. It was done with the
connivance of sections of the army, the police and Islamist
parties. It was an illegal takeover," said Shaheed, days after the
44-year-old Nasheed resigned amid a standoff between the executive
and the judiciary, and police joining opposition protesters.
"(Former president Maumoon Abdul) Gayoom was behind it," Shaheed
replied when asked who masterminded the protests leading to the
Feb 7 resignation of Nasheed.
Shaheed played a key role in the democratic movement in the
Maldives, the archipelago nation comprising 1,192 islands, that
dislodged Gayoom, Asia's longest serving ruler, in the country's
first multi-party elections in 2008.
In an article in The New York Times, Nasheed has accused Gayoom
and the remnants of the old regime of being behind what he called
his "resignation at gunpoint".
Asked about India's assessment that it was not a coup but a
transfer of power, Shaheed said: "The MDP and Nasheed are very
disappointed with India's position. India is clearly not looking
at the facts. We are disappointed."
India has contested the description of the chain of events leading
to the nationally-televised resignation of Nasheed on the morning
of Feb 7.
Shaheed's comments came even as India's special envoy M. Ganapathi,
secretary (west) in the external affairs ministry, returned after
meeting a cross-section of political leaders, including the
president and the former president, in Male to help mediate a
political settlement for a broad-based national government of
A key strategist of the MDP, Shaheed has, however, rejected
joining any such structure and insisted that the best course would
be for Waheed to resign and order fresh elections.
"The way ahead is clear: there should be an independent inquiry
into the chain of events leading to the Feb 7 coup and legal
accountability fixed. There can't be forced seizure of power in a
democratic system," said Shaheed, now a UN diplomat.
"Secondly, Waheed should step down and order early elections. We
are confident of winning. The Maldivians are not seeing the latest
developments as peaceful transfer of power; they see it as a coup
and will vote us back," he said. That's the only way to heal the
nation and bring democracy back."
The new president has, however, ruled out snap polls.
The MDP's hardening stance and political stand-off is bad news for
India's mediatory efforts to stabilise the country of around
400,000 people that is faced with a long-term existential problem
due to climate change. India has ruled out any military
intervention in the present situation which it sees as "primarily
an internal affair of the Maldives".
India has also viewed with concern the demonstrations led by
Nasheed on the streets of Male that turned violent early this week
as it feels instability is bad for a country that depends on
tourism for over 60 percent of its GDP.
(Manish Chand can be contacted at email@example.com)