Government denies deal over Nasheed’s exit from Indian High Commission

The Maldives government has denied it conceded to a deal with the Indian government which resulted in former President Mohamed Nasheed leaving the Indian High Commission on Saturday afternoon, after 11 days in protected diplomatic territory.

A statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today (February 24), stressed that Nasheed’s exit was not negotiated with the Indian government, adding that it cannot and will not negotiate regarding the charges put against the former president.

“Mr Nasheed went into the High Commission on 13 February 2013 seeking India’s ‘assistance’, and his continued stay and his decision to leave the High Commission was an issue between himself and the Indian High Commission,” the statement reads.

“The government of Maldives’ only involvement in the issue was in the implementation of the court order on the police to produce Nasheed to the court. The said court order expired on Wednesday, 20 February 2013.”

“The government of Maldives also wishes to reiterate its clear and firm position that it cannot, and will not, negotiate the charges laid against Mr Nasheed for unlawfully arresting a judge during his presidential tenure, in January 2012,” the statement continues.

The statement notes that upholding the rule of law and respecting the independence of the three arms of government were a “fundamental pillar” of President Mohamed Waheed administration.

“The charges are laid by the prosecutor general which is an independent institution under the constitution of Maldives. The government has made this position clear to all of its external friends, including India.”

Last night however, UK-based newspaper Daily Mail reported that Nasheed left the high commission following a “deal brokered by New Delhi with the Maldives government”.

The paper claimed that while New Delhi had been accused of shielding a “fugitive” by senior officials in the Maldives, it sent a high-level team to “sort out” the diplomatic crisis.

“Nasheed was assured that that he would be allowed the political and social space that he wants till the elections, but he was made to accept that he would follow the legal process,” a source was quoted as telling the Daily Mail.

The article stated the high-level team sent from India met with various Maldivian officials, including the defence minister and attorney general, to negotiate Nasheed’s “exit conditions”.

According to the Daily Mail, Nasheed was told that his political career would be destroyed “forever” should he stay inside the Indian High Commission, and that his opponents would use it against him in the run up to the September elections.

The Maldivian government was meanwhile told its “rigidity” would impact the country economically and prompt the international community to consider sanctions over possible human rights violations, the source told the publication.

Nasheed’s trial

Nasheed sought refuge inside the Indian High Commission after the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court issued an arrest warrant for police to produce the former president at the court for his trial hearing on February 13.

Nasheed has maintained that the charges against him – of detaining the Chief Criminal Court Judge during his final days in office – are a politically-motivated effort to prevent him contesting the 2013 elections.

A second arrest warrant was issued by the court on February 18 whilst Nasheed was still inside the Indian High Commission and required police to bring Nasheed to Hulhumale’ court on February 20.

The warrant expired after the hearing was cancelled following Nasheed’s refusal to leave the commission building for his scheduled trial.

After 11 consecutive days inside the High Commission, Nasheed emerged on Saturday (February 24) and subsequently held a press conference in the Dharubaaruge exhibition hall, across the street from the party’s former protest site at Usfasgandu.

Nasheed emphasised his desire for stability to be restored, following eight days of continuous protests by the MDP, dozens of police arrests, and a violent attack on a Maldivian journalist.