The Maldives President Mohammed Waheed has reneged on a deal for early elections that were aimed to settle the crisis on the tropical islands following the coup against his predecessor Mohammed Nasheed, writes Dean Nelson for the UK’s Telegraph newspaper.
Dr Waheed was sworn in to succeed Mr Nasheed after he was forced to resign in February following a revolt against his government by the police and army.
During the revolt Mr Nasheed’s opponents seized the state broadcasting company while senior members of Mr Nasheed’s Maldives Democratic Party were beaten in scenes captured on film.
Footage of Mr Nasheed himself being manhandled by police on the streets of the capital Male was also broadcast on the internet and were followed by riots throughout the country’s far-flung atolls.
Mr Nasheed’s supporters, including senior figures in the British government – his party was formed in association with the Conservative Party, and he counts David Cameron and William Hague as friends – voiced concern over the scale of violence on the islands and the circumstances of his ‘resignation.’ Special envoys from the Commonwealth, the UN and India were dispatched to help solve the crisis and a deal was brokered by India for early elections to take place as soon as July – a year ahead of schedule.
President Waheed said at the time that he would open discussions with all political parties to bring forward the elections on the condition that peace returned to the islands and the MDP abandoned its protests.
But in an exclusive interview with the Daily Telegraph during his visit to New Delhi on Sunday, President Waheed said there will be no early elections and the poll will take place next year instead.
He said the other party leaders had said because the country’s constitution requires elections at fixed intervals, an early vote would mean two being held in the space of just over a year.
Dr Waheed said he had not supported President Nasheed when his security forces revolted because relations between them had already broken down.
During his presidency, Mr Nasheed had been disrespectful to him, put some of the cabinet ministers from his party under pressure to defect to his MDP, and had excluded him from major decisions.