Until last year, Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed was best known for his high-profile advocacy on behalf of small island nations in climate change talks, which included high-profile stunts like holding a cabinet meeting underwater and starring in an acclaimed documentary, writes Joshua Keating for Foreign Policy magazine.
But political reality got in the way in March of last year when he was, he claims, forced from power in a coup.
With all this going on, FP spoke with Nasheed on Wednesday by phone from his office in Male.
FP: Do you believe that you will be able to contest this year’s presidential elections?
Mohamed Nasheed: I don’t think it is certain yet at all. I don’t see the authorities here being willing to accept that. They know they cannot win if we contest. I am unfinished business, because they have to finish me off for their coup to be successful. So there may not let me contest at all.
FP: So what will happen in Maldives if you can’t run?
MN: There’s been a lot of hope among the younger generation that this country can change, that we can change our government though peaceful political activity and through the ballot and not through brute force. A fair amount of people have invested a lot of their life on trying to bring these changes. When they see it vanishing into thin air, there’s bound to be a backlash.
FP: In another recent interview you said, “Usually in a coup you kill the other man, but in this instance I remain an irritant to them.” Does that imply that you fear for your safety?
MN: There are always so many rumors going on in Male. Recently we’ve heard the that the Artur brothers from Armenia, who have a history in Kenya, have been in the Maldives. [The Artur brothers are alleged drug smugglers and hitmen from Armenia who have been implicated in a number of crimes in Kenya. Prime Minister Raila Odinga has accused them of a plot to assassinate him.] The police have commented on it and there’s a very big scheme. There are all sorts of reports coming out related to these too people. There are always reports of murder attempts. Always reports of threats.