Former President Mohamed Nasheed is touring US media for the launch of the Island President, appearing on the Late Show with David Letterman and WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show, among others.
While the environmental message of the film was the subject of most interviews, many interviewers also focused on Nasheed’s claims to have been ousted in a coup on February 7, and his expressed disappointment in the US response.
“The UK government has been the only government that has been straightforward. I was shocked by the Indian and US governments in the rapidness with which they recognised the new regime,” Nasheed said, on the Lopate program.
Challenged over whether his resignation had been at “gunpoint”, Nasheed said this was a phrase used by a journalist to describe what had happened during the day.
“The military had arms. The rebellious police were outside the base and the mutinous military were inside. They said if I did not resign within the hour there would be bloodshed. ‘Gunpoint’ was a journalist’s description – but yes, for all practical purposes I was forced to resign,” Nasheed said on the Lopate program.
“They tried to arrest me in the presidential residence, but a few hours after the event some military officers who were still loyal helped me slip out of the presidential residence and go to my family home. A whole lot of people came out in support of me, and [the new government] have not been able to get me because of that.”
The new regime “is the old dictatorship we voted out of office,” Nasheed said. “Gayoom is back in the country, His children are in cabinet, he is in power. Dr Waheed is just a facade.”
Nasheed said it was “ludicrous” to claim that his government was brought down by “undemocratic practices”.
“The election was not enough to consolidate democracy. We have to build capacity within these institutions. The new constitution envisaged a fair and free judiciary, but the first elections brought a new executive, followed by the first free and fair parliamentary elections, but there was no election for the judiciary – and all the all the judges were handpicked by Gayoom.
“They were shielding the dictatorship from human rights abuses and corruption cases. We had to break the circle, and the body trusted to do that was the JSC. To argue that it was our undemocratic practice that brought us down is ludicrous. To argue that this was a reason for an uprising… there was no uprising.”
As well as speaking to several newspapers and film magazines, along with Island President Director Jon Shenk, Nasheed also appeared on the popular Late Show with David Letterman, which averages four million viewers a week.