South Asia

Ex-foes Nasheed, Gayoom join hands to unseat Yameen

‘His days are numbered, regime change is imminent,’ says the exiled leader

Former President of the Maldives Mohammed Nasheed has come to a clear agreement with long-time Maldives ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on the need for democracy in Male, Mr. Nasheed told journalists on Tuesday.

Observing that he could not spell out the agreement he had reached with Mr. Gayoom in “black and white”, he said the internal contradictions in Male would play out very soon.

Mr. Nasheed’s recent alliance with President Abdullah Yameen’s half-brother Mr. Gayoom, who had sent him to jail multiple times, would have been unthinkable some years ago. But Mr. Nasheed seems to be willing to put the past behind him.

“How can you build a future if you always want to go back to the past,” Mr. Nasheed asked. Mr. Gayoom, he said, understood that the country had no future for the next generation without democracy,

Speaking to Colombo-based foreign correspondents from London — where he has obtained asylum — via skype he said a regime change was imminent, but depended on the alignment of dissident political forces in Male and on international actors distancing themselves from Mr. Yameen’s administration.

“It would be difficult for a Maldivian politician to act on a regime that enjoys the support of the international community,” the exiled leader said, making a case for “key countries” to distance themselves.

On whether he included countries in the Indian Ocean Region in his list of “key countries”, he said: “Of course. They have been our traditional allies.”

Especially on India, he said he had a clear understanding of the country’s foreign policy in South Asia. India’s “quietness” does not mean India is not engaged, he said.

Toppling Yameen

Mr. Nasheed was recently in Colombo, on a brief visit kept under wraps, for meetings with other dissident groups on possible ways to unseat President Yameen through legal means. He left for the U.K. soon after. “Sri Lanka did not ask me to leave,” he said in his initial remarks on Tuesday, amid speculation over his apparently sudden return to the U.K.

“Yameen’s days are numbered,” Mr. Nasheed said, adding that the interim government —the Maldives will go to polls in 2018 —should focus on constitutional reforms and strengthening democracy rather than infrastructure development.

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