The Maldives faces the danger of slipping into a “Burma-like situation” of potentially long-standing military rule, Maldives’ deposed president Mohamed Nasheed said while on a visit to the city on Friday.
Seeking greater Indian involvement in the Indian Ocean island nation, Nasheed, 44, will be meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh next week, to “explain our side” and impress upon him the urgent need to conduct democratic elections.
Maldives president Waheed Hassan’s office announced July 2013 as the election date two days ago. Nasheed had resigned following a coup in February.
“We fear that if we wait until 2013, the existing regime will skew the playing field to such an extent that there can be no election at all,” said Nasheed, who was in the city to meet Mumbai industrialists. “We worry that we may go into a Burma-like situation. We’ve also found that the military is gaining strength. South Asian countries are prone to military takeovers and (the) military entrenching itself.”
After Nasheed’s ouster in February, India was swift in recognising the new government. Nasheed had at the time expressed disappointment. “I feel that India has now come to understand that there is an absolute need to bring the situation back on track to restore democracy in the Maldives. I feel they are working on it,” he said.
Nasheed led the nation’s first democratically-elected government since 2008 before he was deposed. He has been trying to shore up support from the international community. The European Union, US and India have already backed early elections, he claimed. “Indian monitoring and observation is necessary to make sure that peace is maintained throughout polling and make sure that things work out smoothly,” he added.
“More than 80% of the trade that crosses the Indian Ocean goes through the Maldives,” he said. “If we lose rule of law, we may not have stability in the Indian Ocean… I think we should all be mindful that this Indian Ocean must be safe.”