Wednesday, February 28, 2024

‘India should coerce Maldives for early polls’

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New Delhi: Two months after he quit as President of Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed on Thursday said India had “bungled” by not recognising the changeover as a “coup” and wants it to use “coercive” means against the new government to ensure fresh elections within this year.

Nasheed is not satisfied with the Maldives government’s announcement regarding holding of polls in July next year, saying it is not the early elections that he is pushing for. “We want elections this calendar year,” he told PTI in an interview here.

The 45-year-old leader, who is here with an intention of meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and some top officials, said India has a key role in ensuring that polls take place within this year itself. Asked what India could do, he responded, “coercive action…. India should go for coercive action to ensure early elections so that democracy is back on tracks.”

He did not elaborate on what kind of coercive action he wanted India to undertake and merely said, “they have the tools.

The Indian Foreign Service armoury is full of many, many tools that they can use. Nasheed resigned on February 7 after weeks of protests over his controversial order to arrest a senior judge. He later claimed it was a coup as he was forced to quit.

Insisting that he lost power because of the “coup”, Nasheed made clear his unhappiness over India’s stand, particularly the immediate recognition of the new government. “They (India) bungled up. They should have said this was a coup. They should have held to their horses,” he said, adding “I was shocked, I am disappointed and I am sad” at India’s stand.

Nasheed, a former human rights campaigner who challenged the then President Muamoon Abdul Gayoom for years, was the first democratically-elected President of Maldives after he won the first-multiparty elections in 2008.

He said he was disappointed with India for “instantly” recognising the “illegal regime” of his successor Waheed Hassan and should have been told if he had done any wrong during his tenure. India has been maintaining that Nasheed handed over power willingly and later changed his stand to say that it was a coup.

“I have no complaint. In my mind, the only thing wrong that happened is the instant recognition of the regime. It should have given some time. India should have had a chat with me…. India recognised the same evening,” the former President said. He claimed that India and rest of the international community “now understands that the coup was wrong” and was hopeful of support to his campaign against the present regime.

“I am confident India will be supporting. India has come to understand more clearly what is happening…. The set-up we have got after the coup is not what anyone envisaged. So I think they understand there is need for early elections,” he said.

“One of the things is we are not going away. There are people out on the streets every day,” Nasheed said. Queried what India could have done if the transfer of power was taking place in a sovereign country, he expressed his unhappiness that it was “standing by and watching”. (PTI)

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