Exiled Maldives leader Nasheed sets sights on 2018 polls

Mohamed Nasheed   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Exiled leader and former Maldivian President on Thursday announced his decision to contest the island nation’s 2018 presidential elections.

Though currently barred from polls due to a criminal conviction in 2015, which a UN panel deemed politically motivated, Mr. Nasheed appeared determined to run for election as President. “I am a Maldivian national, I must be free to contest; I will contest,” he told reporters in Colombo.

However, expressing uncertainty over the conduct of elections, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) leader said: “It is reasonable to say we will win if we have elections. But it is not reasonable to say we will have an election.” He also sought the international community’s support in ensuring polls are held.

In preparation for the 2018 elections, Mr. Nasheed will contest the presidential primaries of the MDP that he said would be held in late 2017 or early 2018.

The international community “let us down”, he observed, adding that they would now have to prove their usefulness with a more robust engagement with the Indian Ocean island. He also called upon the international community to impose targeted sanctions on President Abdulla Yameen’s government that is accused of being corrupt and authoritarian.

‘Cohesive policy’

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Nasheed said India “lacked a cohesive policy on the Maldives”.

It remained silent and watched, even as president Yameen was “busy signing these contracts,” he said, stopping short of naming China, which has increased its presence significantly in the island in recent years.

Referring to Chinese loans, he said: “We would be indebted to a single country and won’t be able to pay back... they would have created a stronger leverage upon us.” Observing that even in the case of Sri Lanka, India’s response was belated, Mr. Nasheed said: “India is vocal now because they believe the [current] government is receptive.”

In an apparent reference to the Indian brand of diplomacy, he said it was not enough to work just in the background, but was “important to yourself as a champion”. “We would like India to be more active,” rather than “appease” the government in power.

In August last year, Mr. Nasheed secretly flew to Sri Lanka to firm up his plans then to topple the Yameen government. After an unsuccessful attempt, he returned to the U.K. where he lives since obtaining political asylum last summer.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 12:36:35 PM |

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