India seeks free polls in Maldives after Nasheed seeks sanctuary

Former Maldivian president Nasheed seeks refuge in the Indian high commission
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First Published: Wed, Feb 13 2013. 03 57 PM IST
Former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed. Photo: AFP
Former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed. Photo: AFP
Updated: Wed, Feb 13 2013. 10 18 PM IST
New Delhi: India on Wednesday urged the Maldives government to allow representatives of political parties to take part in democratic activities leading to elections in September after former president Mohamed Nasheed sought shelter in the Indian high commission in capital Male.
“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 statement issued by the Indian foreign ministry said.
Since elections have been announced for 7 September, “it is necessary that the presidential nominees of recognized political parties be free to participate in the elections without any hindrance,” the statement said.
“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. This is not in the interest of Maldives or the region. 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,” it added.
The Maldives has been hit by political instability for a year with Nasheed, elected president in 2008 after more than three decades of rule by former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, resigning abruptly last February.
Nasheed was succeeded by vice-president Mohammed Waheed Hassan.
Nasheed later claimed he was ousted in a coup but an enquiry following the former president’s allegation found that this was not so.
The current crisis was precipitated by Nasheed’s apparent absence from a magistrate’s court where he was due to appear on Sunday.
Nasheed returned to the Maldives on Tuesday after a five-day private visit to India. Nasheed, on trial for abusing his powers, sought shelter in the Indian high commission in Male after the magistrate ordered his arrest on Monday.
AFP contributed to this story.
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First Published: Wed, Feb 13 2013. 03 57 PM IST
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