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Updated: December 11, 2012 02:51 IST

Gayoom defends criminal case against Nasheed

R. K. Radhakrishnan
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Mohammed Nasheed. Photo: V. Ganesan
The Hindu Mohammed Nasheed. Photo: V. Ganesan

The former Maldives President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, has said that the ongoing criminal proceedings against Mohammed Nasheed are not a planned move. “When there is a political disagreement, all kinds of allegations and speculations will be there,” said Mr. Gayoom.

A local court here will determine if the former President, Mohamed Nasheed, is guilty of misusing his authority and arresting a judge in January 2012 when he was President. Mr. Nasheed’s supporters believe that the proceedings have the aim of debarring him from contesting the 2013 elections.

Asked if he was worried that the international community would be upset if Mr. Nasheed is convicted, he shot back: “Why should they? Why is one individual so important? I fail to understand that. I told this to the American Ambassador [to Sri Lanka and Maldives, Michele Sison] when she mentioned it. They say they have 50,000 members… Then why can’t somebody else come? Why should it only be Nasheed?”

After the transition of February 7, which witnessed Vice- President Dr. Waheed take over as President, Maldives has been passing through a difficult phase. The main responsibility to get Maldives back on track fell on Mr. Gayoom’s party, PPM, which is the largest party in the government. “I think now, we are more stable than we were a year back. And if we are able to continue this stability until the time of the elections, then the next President can take over from there,” he said.

He dismissed the theory that he engineered the February 7 coup and dubbed Mr. Nasheed a “cult leader,” not a “political leader.” He accused Mr. Nasheed of taking the country backward in the three years that he was President.

Two of Mr. Gayoom’s children – Dhunya and Ghassan – are now Ministers of State in the Waheed Cabinet. Another daughter Yumna Maumoon is a senior PPM functionary.

On this trend of children inheriting the mantle from their parents, Mr. Gayoom said that this was not new anywhere, from the United States to India. “Of course there are people who will say nepotism and all that. In India you have the Gandhi dynasty and even in the U.S. this is not out of the ordinary. Dhunya was in the public sphere for quite a while. So was my other son,” he said.

On Maldives’ relationship with India, he said Maldives was not playing one country against another. “China, like India, has been with us for a very long time. During my time [as President] also they provided a lot of assistance. China has been with us for 40 years. It is natural for a country with such huge resources to come and help us…This is not a case of us preferring China and dislodging India,” he said.

Thanking India’s assistance during his tenure as President, he said he was happy over the manner in which India approached the GMR issue.

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