“This coup will not be the last word”: Mark Lynas

Ousted President Mohamed Nasheed will not stop promoting democracy and freedom of expression in the Maldives, writes Mark Lynas in UK’s Guardian newspaper.

A former climate change advisor to Nasheed, Lynas warns that governments who value democracy “should not be under illusion about what has just taken place [in the Maldives.]”

“The first democratically elected leader of a 100% Muslim country, [Nasheed] swept away the 30-year dictatorship of Maumoon Gayoom in national elections back in 2008. Now the Maldives sadly sees its spring being rolled back: a leader elected through the ballot box has just been deposed by street violence and intimidation,” writes Lynas.

Lynas suggests that progress achieved under Nasheed was the fruits of an uphill battle which included multiple arrests and even personal torture.

“The former dictator Gayoom and his forces never accepted the outcome of the 2008 elections, and their networks of power and influence were increasingly threatened by Nasheed’s campaign against corruption in the judiciary. Indeed, this crisis was sparked by the arrest of senior court judge who had repeatedly refused to prosecute corruption cases in order to protect powerful allies from the former regime. Recently the opposition had begun to use inflammatory antisemitic and jihadi hate-speech to falsely accuse Nasheed of undermining Islam,” Lynas writes.

Lynas goes on to state that Nasheed’s efforts to make the Maldives “the world’s first carbon-neutral country was typically ambitious” and had seen progress, however “all bets are now off.”

Meanwhile, environmental NGO 350.org launched a petition early this morning calling for leaders world wide to apply diplomacy to ensure the safety of Nasheed “and the Maldivian people.” The organisation has called Nasheed a leading figure in the movement against climate change.

Expressing uncertainty over the Maldives’ current trajectory, Lynas concludes, “If I know the man at all, this coup will not be the last word.”

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