By Easwaran Rutnam
Ousted Maldivian President Mohammad Nasheed says he will not seek asylum in Sri Lanka despite his family being here, but instead will continue his fight for democracy in his country.
Speaking to The Sunday Leader yesterday the 42 year old former President also known as “Anni” said that the international community must act now before it is too late.
The Maldives was in a state of turmoil last week after Nasheed was forced to resign as President following weeks of protests against his decision to sack Abdulla Mohamed the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court.
The former President sustained head injuries when he and his supporters were attacked by police during a protest rally following his resignation. Television images later showed Nasheed being dragged away by the police.
“I will continue my fight in the Maldives. I will not give up. I cannot leave. My family is in Sri Lanka but I will not leave now,” Nasheed, the first democratically elected President in the Maldives, told The Sunday Leader.
Nasheed’s family sought refuge in Sri Lanka and President Mahinda Rajapaksa later appealed to the New Maldivian President Mohammed Waheed Hassan to ensure the safety of Nasheed.
“President Rajapaksa and I are very close friends and he has been making inquires about my safety and I am very grateful for that,” Nasheed said.
Nasheed also made a fervent appeal to the Sri Lankan community to support his cause and be with him at this time as his country faces a serious crisis.
“I was raised and lived most of my life in Sri Lanka. I would like to appeal to all my Sri Lankan friends, not just the Maldivians in Sri Lanka, to support me at this time,” he said.
Nasheed has called for fresh elections and demanded President Mohammed Waheed Hassan to step down and hand power to the speaker of the parliament for two months, until elections can be held though the next presidential poll is due only in November 2013.
“The new government cannot form a proper cabinet. President Waheed does not have the support he needs even in parliament,” a defiant Mohammed Nasheed said.
Waheed was the Vice President of the Maldives and took office as president following Nasheed’s resignation. Nasheed says he resigned under duress.
“It was a coup. I was forced out of office. The police were outside and the military inside. I was deposed at gunpoint” Nasheed had told reporters last week.
On Friday UN envoy Oscar Fernandez-Taranco met Nasheed and discussed the crisis in the Maldives. Asked about the discussion, Nasheed told The Sunday Leader that it was fruitful but reiterated that the international community must act now.
He is appealing to the International Community to help restore democracy in the now turbulent and politically volatile archipelago. (Courtesy The Sunday Leader)