The former Maldivian President, Mohamed Nasheed, walked into the Indian High Commission in Male at noon on Wednesday after an arrest warrant was issued against him for failure to appear in a local court.
“Mindful of my own security and stability in the Indian Ocean, I have taken refuge at the Indian High Commission in the Maldives,” Mr. Nasheed tweeted a few hours later, putting to rest speculation on his presence at the High Commission. In a statement, India said Mr. Nasheed sought “India’s assistance,” but did not comment on the assertion of his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) that he was granted refuge on the premises.
Indian High Commissioner Dnyaneshwar Mulay, who was out of the country, arrived later in the day and began negotiations with the government to resolve the situation. The talks went on late into the night.
Since Mr. Nasheed did not appear in the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court on February 10 for the second hearing in the case regarding detention of Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012, the court order was issued to arrest him on February 11. He was to be produced in the court on February 13. Mr. Nasheed’s legal team appealed in the High Court against the arrest. The High Court accepted the appeal, but later threw it out.
The government expressed its displeasure over Mr. Nasheed’s actions. “You cannot call it an arrest,” said the President’s spokesperson, Masood Imad. “The police have been asked to produce him in court since he has not responded to summons issued in the case relating to the kidnapping of a judge. If the police do not carry out the order, they will be in contempt of court,” he added.
MDP’s international spokesperson Hamid Abdul Gafoor said the arrest warrant and the charges against Mr. Nasheed were politically motivated. “The regime is fearful of Mr. Nasheed’s popularity, so they are pulling out all the stops to prevent his name appearing on the ballot paper,” he said. The Presidential elections are scheduled to be held on September 7.
The MDP sought the intervention of the international community to ensure a free and fair trial for Mr. Nasheed. Claiming that a medical emergency in India was the reason behind Mr. Nasheed being unable to attend the second hearing of the case, it said due process was not followed. “According to the regulations, if the accused is unable to attend the hearing and after informing the court, documentation must be provided to the court within two working days. While the time frame to produce the documents has not even passed, and when the documents were being processed, the court issued an arrest warrant,” the MDP said.
Meanwhile, some prominent ruling combine politicians have made their dislike of the Indian role clear. One said the incident showed how far a foreign country would go to “interfere” in Maldivian affairs.