“Nations say it will be difficult to accept elections if I cannot contest”: former President Nasheed

Former President and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed has claimed that India does not wish for the Maldives to have a presidential elections in which any party’s candidate is barred from contesting.

The former President, who returned today from an official visit to the country, said India was concerned that this may lead to unrest in the island nation.

“India wishes for peace in the Maldives. And they see that the way to achieve this is through holding elections after establishing an interim administration,” he claimed.

“Nations are telling me in very clear terms that it will be difficult for them to accept election results if I am barred from contesting,” Nasheed said, speaking to local media upon his arrival from India on Monday afternoon.

Responding to questions as to why he had failed to attend his hearing in the Hulhumale’ Court  scheduled for Sunday, he responded that he “did not believe the trial can be carried on.”

Nasheed was due to attend the second court hearing at the Hulhumale Magistrate Court regarding his controversial arrest of the Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

Nasheed insisted that his trial can be put off until after the elections, citing the case of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s trial being postponed until after the country’s elections.

“Those are judicial procedures. That is the norm. That is how the world sees it. If elections in the Maldives are held in any other way, very few in the international sphere will accept the result,” Nasheed said.

Nasheed said that weakened relations between India and Maldives could be strengthened by renewing the agreement for airport development with Indian infrastructure giant GMR.

The developer was given a seven day eviction notice in late November 2012, after the government declared its contract void.

“As I see it, the GMR contract will be renewed before this year’s elections,” Nasheed stated.

Nasheed said that despite the government’s repeated assertions that the Maldives’ relationship with India remained unaffected, ties were becoming increasingly weakened. He said Maldivian citizens were facing more and more difficulties as bilateral ties with India continued to slump.

Although Nasheed did not name any Indian officials, he claimed to have met with relevant authorities in India and held discussions on restrengthening bilateral ties between the two countries.

“If we are unable to improve ties, it’s not just visa issues we will be faced with. We might need to deal with difficulties in obtaining much of the construction material or food items we import from India,” said Nasheed.

Nasheed also stated that he would be travelling abroad at the end of February, having accepting an invitation from the Commonwealth Secretary General, and to Denmark under an invitation from the state.

Hundreds of MDP supporters gathered near the jetty and at the airport to greet Nasheed on his arrival.

Minivan News observed that police had cordoned off many of the main roads leading to the jetty area.

An MDP representative claimed a number of MDP members were arrested at the site of the gathering.

Police Media Official Sub Inspector Hassan Haneef was not responding to calls at the time of press.