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Maldives Prez forced out, India keeping a watch

world Updated: Feb 08, 2012 01:37 IST
Jayanth Jacob & Agencies
New Delhi

India is keeping a close watch on the situation in Maldives, where a police mutiny Tuesday led to the resignation of the country's first democratically elected president Mohamed Nasheed, capping several weeks of political unrest.

With a new unity government in place under the leadership of vice-president Mohamed Waheed Hassan, who worked with Unicef and is the country's first TV anchor, India feels that the "worst could be over" and the situation will stabilise.

"We remain committed to extending the fullest support and cooperation to the government of Maldives in its endeavour to promote peace and progress…," the ministry of external affairs spokesperson said in a statement.

Nasheed, who swept to victory in 2008 ending 30-year rule of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, said in a televised address, "I resign because I am not a person who wishes to rule with the use of power." Nasheed drew opposition fire for his arrest of a judge he accused of being in the pocket of Gayoom.

Protests at the judge's arrest set off a constitutional crisis that had Nasheed defending himself against accusations of acting like a dictator. Hassan Saeed, leader of the DQP, one of the parties in the opposition coalition, and an Indian diplomatic source in Colombo said Nasheed had requested help from India and was refused, Reuters said.

One of the seven Saarc member countries, Maldives has a pivotal place in New Delhi's Indian Ocean and south Asia strategy. Its political leadership has shared close security ties with India.

A 30,000-strong Indian community lives in Maldives. "We continue to closely monitor the situation and understand that the Indian expatriate community there is safe," the spokesperson said.