Political parties supporting the current government of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan have criticised both former President Mohamed Nasheed and the Indian High Commission after Nasheed sought refuge inside.
Former President Nasheed entered the Indian High Commission on Wednesday ahead of a scheduled court hearing, to which he was to be produced under police detention.
Government aligned parties including the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) have all claimed accused Nasheed of being “cowardly”.
Leader of the DRP and presidential candidate Ahmed Thasmeen Ali told local newspaper Haveeru he was “disappointed” over former President Nasheed’s decision.
He claimed that the decision by the high commission to provide refuge for Nasheed meant the embassy was meddling in the domestic affairs of the country, and said the issue was too complex for India to resolve.
“When a former President shows up in an embassy and claims he was there for protection, it is not an easy matter to solve. A quick solution should be sought through dialogue,” he said.
Thasmeen claimed that there was no need for Nasheed to seek refuge from the Indian High Commission.
He also contended that no political figure could force the Prosecutor General (PG) to withdraw the charges levied against the former President, and that it was solely at the discretion of the PG to decide the matter.
Nasheed is being tried for his controversial detention of Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed during his last days in office.
“Appoint a better high commissioner”, Adhaalath party tells India
In a statement released on Saturday, the Adhaalath Party accused Nasheed of using the Indian diplomatic office as a shield to protect himself from being summoned to court.
“The Adhaalath Party believes that this cowardly act by Nasheed is a huge crime and an attempt to destroy the country’s legal system. Instead of working on proving his innocence, Nasheed is continuously harassing the legal system, defaming security services, showing disobedience and attempting to create chaos,” read the statement.
The party also condemned the Indian High Commission and the Indian government “for assisting a criminal fleeing from trial”.
“Making the Indian High Commission a political camp of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), and [letting Nasheed] hold discussions with MDP activists on the premises and encouraging them to create chaos and unrest among society lowers the respect of Maldivian people towards India,” read the statement.
The Adhaalath Party told the Indian government “to appoint a high commissioner who is professional and capable of mending the deteriorating bilateral relationship between the two countries”.
“The worsening of bilateral ties between the Maldives and India is not at all something which this party wants to happen,” it added.
The Adhaalath Party was a vocal opponent of India’s GMR Group, and its US$511 million concession agreement to develop Ibrahim Nasir International Airport. During on of the party’s rallies, several senior government figures mocked and insulted Indian High Commissioner D M Mulay calling him a “traitor to the Maldives”.
During a PPM press conference held on Thursday, party spokesperson MP Ahmed Mahloof claimed Nasheed was “coward” on the run knowing that his crime would invalidate his candidacy in the presidential election.
Mahloof said Nasheed did not have the patience to remain inside the high commission and that he would come out “very soon”.
“What is actually happening to Nasheed is that after resigning on February 7, 2012, he claims he will the MDP protests even if the police shoot him. But when the protests begin he is nowhere to be seen and is either at his home or on an island. Now we know Nasheed is a big coward,” he said.
He further said that Nasheed should be proving his innocence in court instead of hiding in the Indian High Commission.
Mahlouf said Nasheed’s decision to remain in the high commission until the elections would be costly to his party, as he would not have the opportunity to campaign as much as his rivals.
Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy dismissed the remarks made by the government-aligned parties, claiming that their respective leaders were desperate to eliminate Nasheed from the upcoming presidential election.
“Why are they condemning Indian High Commission’s hosting of Nasheed when there are graver issues to be concerned about? Our judiciary is failing. The Commonwealth, the European Union (EU), UN and even the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) report highlights the flaws within Judiciary. Why are they silent on that?” Fahmy questioned.
He further reiterated that India was observing the situation in the Maldives and were wary of the situation with the judiciary.
Fahmy also condemned the Adhaalath Party’s derogatory remarks towards Indian High Commissioner D M Mulay.
In a statement, the MDP said the party’s comments were “unacceptable” and would “mindlessly” impact the bilateral relationship between the two countries.
“President Nasheed has sought protection from the Indian High Commission after the Prosecutor General levied politically-motivated charges against him which lacked any legal grounds, and is concerned for his security,” the party said.
The party further contended that the Hulhumale Magistrate Court – which has been hearing the Nasheed trial – was illegitimate was therefore it unlikely that the former president would get a fair hearing.