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High Drama in Male: India Intervenes:

Paper No. 5397                             Dated 15-Feb-2013

By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed took refuge in the Indian High Commission's  premises at Male on 13th Feb following an arrest warrant issued by the Hulhulumale magistrate’s court to bring him before the court by 4.30 PM the same day.

Nasheed himself tweeted the same after noon that ""Mindful of my own security and stability in the Indian Ocean, I have taken refuge at the Indian High Commission in Maldives."

The Police surrounded the High Commission but could not enter the building to effect the arrest.

India confirmed the very same day that former President Mohamed Nasheed has requested India’s assistance after police sought to arrest him.

The Indian government promptly issued a statement that said "As a close and friendly neighbour, India has expressed concern over the ongoing political instability in Maldives and called upon the government and all political parties to adhere strictly to democratic principles and the rule of law, thereby paving the way for free, fair, credible and inclusive elections," the Indian Government said in a statement this evening.

"Following the arrest warrant issued against him by the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court, the former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed, who is a candidate for the Presidential elections in Maldives scheduled for September 2013, is in the Indian High Commission and has sought India’s assistance. We are in touch with the relevant Maldivian authorities to resolve the situation," the statement added.

"Now that the President of the Election Commission of Maldives has announced that Presidential elections would be held on 7 September 2013, it is necessary that the Presidential nominees of recognised political parties be free to participate in the elections without any hindrance. Prevention of participation by political leaders in the contest would call into question the integrity of the electoral process, thereby perpetuating the current political instability in Maldives."

The statement concluded that it was "not in the interest" of the Maldives or the region to prevent any candidate from contesting the country’s presidential elections later this year.

"India would call upon the government and all political parties in Maldives to avoid any actions that would vitiate the political atmosphere in the Maldives," its statement read.

No doubt, the Home Minister Dr. Mohamed Jameel was upset and in his tweet said that India was meddling in the internal affairs of Maldives. He said: "What’s happening now gives us an indication of the extent and level of interest some countries prepared to take in our internal matters," he said. He added "I would strongly urge everyone to let our institutions deal with the challenges, allow Maldives to uphold rule of law".

Earlier the Home Minister exceeded his brief when he called the court "to conclude the case against Nasheed before the approaching presidential elections, in the interests of the nation and to maintain peace in it."

I had a fear that the Indian Government would let down Nasheed once again as it did earlier in recognising the new regime "post haste" without examining the full details or the impact it would have on Indian security and the stability of the region.

Fortunately, this time India appears to have acted in its own interest and the Indian Foreign Minister had personally taken the initiative in talking to his counter part. In his telephonic conversation Mr. Salman Khurhseed focussed mainly on two issues- that it should be an inclusive election and that the election scheduled to be held on September 7 this year should be free and fair.

The Government of Maldives officially informed that the warrant could not be implemented and that Nasheed could leave the Indian High Commission without any hindrance. Latest reports indicate that Nasheed is still in the building and is perhaps asking for an "iron clad" guarantee that he will not be arrested until the elections.

Nasheed is right in seeking a firm commitment as theMaldivian government is known to be vengeful. Not many know that all senior Police Officers  who did not take to the streets on Feb. 7 last year demanding Nasheed’s resignation have been eased out of their positions.

For once Nasheed has outwitted former President Gayoom. It is becoming clear that the events of last February "operation topple" of Nasheed was planned and crafted by those in power and influence now. The statements of those in positions at that time before the Parliament Oversight Committee now have confirmed that there indeed was a coup! The CoNI report was not one based on investigation but based on evidence given before the commission and had its limitations.

For once, India has acted diligently in the larger interest of the stability of the region. But it should keep up the pressure to ensure that Nasheed is free to move about until the elections and let the people decide on his performance.