The Maldives has been generating bad news for some time. On February 12, former president Nasheed refused to honour court summons and threatened with arrest, sought refuge in the Indian embassy. India was in a quandary, writes R S Chhikara for the Deccan Herald.
India wants democracy to take root in the Maldives and Nasheed was the only democratically elected president of the country.
His arrest and conviction would disqualify him from participating in the upcoming elections. Indian diplomacy went into overdrive to ensure participatory elections that would require Nasheed’s participation as a free man. Nasheed expected Indian support but India could not be seen to be partisan.
The government in Male has for the time being desisted from arresting and trying Nasheed but the reprieve is only for a month and there are signs that an agreement to this effect, if one exists, may not after all, be honoured. If that happens, Waheed and Gayoom will have a cake walk. Democracy will lose out.
India’s leverage with Male does not appear to be working and there lies the rub.
After a spell of autocratic rule by Ibrahim Nasir and Abdul Gayoom lasting nearly 45 years, Nesheed became the first elected president of the country in 2008. In January 2012, Nasheed ordered the arrest of Abdullah Mohammad, Chief of Criminal Court who was accused of blocking legitimate legal action against Gayoom. Nasheed was forced to resign at gun point in what was for all purposes, a coup.
It is not too far fetched to imagine that last year’s coup against Nasheed and current efforts to neutralise him as a potential presidential candidate through a judicial verdict could well be a conspiracy by Islamists and others to ensure that democracy does not stabilise and terrorists get the required political patronage.