x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Former Maldives president appeals for early elections

The ousted president of the Maldives said that he would ask foreign governments to press for immediate elections in his country to restore elected leadership.

NEW DELHI // The ousted president of the Maldives said that he would ask foreign governments to press for immediate elections in his country to restore elected leadership.

Mohamed Nasheed resigned in February after weeks of public protests and eroding support from the police and military. He said he was forced to resign at gunpoint in a coup led by the former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, whose 30-year rule ended in 2008 with Mr Nasheed's victory in the country's first multiparty elections.

Mohammed Waheed Hassan, who had been elected as Mr Nasheed's vice president, took over as president after Nasheed resigned. He has denied there was a coup and says the earliest elections can constitutionally be held is July 2013. The vote was originally scheduled for late 2013.

"We feel that the people of the Maldives must be governed through their elected officials," Mr Nasheed told reporters in New Delhi. "A government formed by brute force should not be tolerated and should not be allowed as a precedent for others to follow."

Mr Nasheed said that, by announcing elections for a few months earlier than scheduled in 2013, the coup leaders were "trying to hoodwink the international community so that they can buy time to consolidate themselves".

He promised to travel and "explain to friendly governments", including "anyone that I have a phone number of," the need for an earlier ballot. Specifically, he said he had spoken with officials in India, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, among others.

Mr Nasheed said he was planning to return to the Maldives on Wednesday, though he is "very, very scared" he will be charged, as authorities are investigating his arrest order against a criminal court judge in the days before the coup.

Mr Nasheed, a former pro-democracy political prisoner, became the country's first democratically elected president in 2008.