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What has led to the crisis in the Maldives? Where does India stand?

Former Maldives President was booked under anti-terrorism laws on Sunday.

Written by Shubhajit Roy |
February 23, 2015 7:44:40 pm


What is the charge against Nasheed?

Terrorism. The Maldives’s anti-terror law covers a range of “acts against the state”. Nasheed is accused of unlawfully ordering the arrest of a senior judge in January 2012, when he was president. The arrest warrant issued by the criminal court says Nasheed might abscond from the trial. Reports said the former president has been transferred to Dhoonidhoo prison. The case is scheduled to be heard on Monday.

What is the background of the case?

In 2008, Nasheed, then 40, became the first democratically elected leader of the Maldives, defeating Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had been dictator for 30 years. In January 2012, he ordered the detention of Criminal Court judge Abdulla Mohamed for allegedly obstructing the police, ordering illegal probes, and accepting bribes to release certain criminals. The arrest triggered protests, following which, in February 2012, Nasheed resigned. He claimed he was forced to step down after soldiers and police mutinied, but his successor, Mohamed Waheed, said Nasheed had left on his own.

How did India come into the picture?

In February 2013, a court ordered Nasheed’s arrest in the same case, and he took refuge in the Indian High Commission in Male, where he stayed from February 13 to February 24. He thanked India, which had intervened in the crisis and brokered a deal with the Maldivian government. India said in a statement that it “urges all parties to maintain peace and calm and hopes to continue its positive engagement in the spirit of the close and friendly relations between the two countries”.

What happened then?

In November 2013, Nasheed lost the presidential election to current President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom, a half-brother of Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom. This month, the state prosecutor dropped charges of abuse of power against Nasheed for having ordered the arrest of Abdulla Mohamed, but he was booked again soon afterward under tougher anti-terror laws for the same alleged offence. He was picked up from the office of his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) around 2.45 pm on Sunday after a court declared him a flight risk.

How is New Delhi looking at the crisis?

The Narendra Modi government has proactively engaged with the Yameen Abdul Gayoom government over the last nine months. President Yameen came for Modi’s swearing-in, and the two met on the sidelines of the SAARC summit in Kathmandu in November. India recently hosted former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and her daughter, Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon, in the capital. However, Nasheed’s camp too has been in touch with New Delhi. The two countries are preparing for Modi’s visit to the Maldives in mid-March, and it remains to be seen how India balances the rival political interests in the Indian Ocean country.

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