Male/New Delhi, Feb. 14: Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed will stay in the Indian embassy in Male until a caretaker government is formed, his party said today, despite a government assurance that he wouldn’t be arrested if he stepped outside.
In Delhi, foreign minister Salman Khurshid said he spoke to his Maldivian counterpart for “almost 40 minutes” to resolve the “unusual situation”.
Nasheed, the first democratically elected leader in the Indian Ocean archipelago who left office last year in contested circumstances, entered the Indian high commission in the capital yesterday as police tried to arrest him in connection with a court case.
His supporters, who say Nasheed was ousted last February in a coup, clashed with the police outside the mission, the latest such unrest in the country best known as a luxury holiday destination.
A court had ordered Nasheed’s arrest after he missed a February 10 appearance in a case relating to accusations that he had illegally detained a judge during the last days of his rule.
A government spokesman said Nasheed no longer faced arrest. “Nasheed’s arrest warrant has ceased and he won’t be arrested,” Imad Masood, spokesman for President Mohamed Waheed Hussain Manik, said. “The court will now announce a fresh date for the hearing and Nasheed can appear without being arrested.”
However, Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said he would remain in the embassy because of the danger he faced. “Until we find a transitional arrangement, he will be there,” MDP spokesman Hamid Abdul Gafoor said.
If Nasheed is eventually found guilty in the case he faces, he could be barred from standing in a presidential election in September. His party says the trial is an attempt to exclude him from the contest.
“An interim, caretaker government should be established that can lead the Maldives to genuinely free and fair elections,” Nasheed said in a statement, calling for President Waheed to resign. India’s foreign ministry had yesterday expressed concern over instability and called on the Maldives government “to adhere strictly to democratic principles and the rule of law”.
Khurshid, who called up Maldives foreign minister Abdul Samad Abdullah, said he had a “useful conversation” with his counterpart about what he described as a “situation of unusual nature”.
“I have had a long conversation.... We have discussed in detail the situation as it stands today,” said Khurshid, who described Maldives as a “valuable friend” of India.
Asked if Nasheed would be spending a second night at the Indian mission in Male, he said: “As and when the situation requires me to tell you, I will give you more information.”