‘India helped us in restoring democracy’

Maldives former President Abdul Gayoom.

Maldives former President Abdul Gayoom.   | Photo Credit: AP

India-first policy will continue under the new Maldives government: Gayoom

India played a “positive” role in restoration of democracy in Maldives by “exerting pressure” on the ruling regime, and the new government in the island nation would be “sensitive” towards New Delhi’s “concerns”, said former Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on Sunday.

Nearly a month after he was released from jail, Mr. Gayoom, who ruled Maldives for three decades until 2008, said the government of President Abdulla Yameen inflicted “huge damage” on Maldives but democratic forces have prevailed over their “enemies”.

Joint opposition leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih came out victorious in the September 23 presidential election, handing a shock defeat to incumbent Mr. Yameen and capping months of political upheaval in the tourist paradise. The political turmoil was triggered by imposition of emergency in February and jailing of several of opposition leaders including Gayoom, a half brother of Mr. Yameen.

Mr. Yameen had challenged the outcome of the elections, alleging the vote was rigged but the country’s Supreme Court upheld the results. The transition of power is due on Nov 17.

“The last few years did erode the credibility of Maldivian constitutional bodies as well as confidence of the Maldivian people in the state,” said Mr. Gayoom, 80, told PTI in an exclusive interview.

“However, the people have themselves taken remedial action as the election results have shown. There was huge damage done, but the constitution, the constitutional bodies and the citizen rights given by the constitution will be safe and strong under the new coalition government,” he added.

Mr. Gayoom had ruled Maldives for 30 years till he was defeated in the country’s first multi-party elections in 2008. He was arrested in February as part of crackdown on Mr. Yameen’s political opponents.

The China factor

Asked whether Mr. Yameen drew his strength from strong backing by China, Mr. Gayoom hoped that Beijing would respect the will of the Maldivian people.

Asked about India’s role after imposition of emergency by Mr. Yameen in February, Mr. Gayoom said, “India did play a positive role, and along with other international partners, did exert pressure towards restoration of democracy.”

“I do not see the events of the last few years having a lasting impact (on bilateral ties)... I do not think these bumps and turbulence would impact decades of (our) India-first policy,” he said.

Describing India as the “closest and most trusted ally”, he said it was in the interests of all countries that there is stability in the Indian Ocean region.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 8:55:07 PM |

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