The Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed has appealed to his counterpart in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, to step down as hundreds of thousands of protesting Egyptians have demanded.
Nasheed, who is Maldives first democratically elected leader and came to power in late 2008, said Mubarak should ``heed the will of the Egyptian people.’’
A statement from Nasheed’s office quoted him as telling BBC on Tuesday evening that Egypt needed an “interim arrangement” without Mubarak, that leads to free and fair, multi-party elections.
Earlier in the week, Nasheed called Egyptian opposition leader and former chairperson of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohamed El Baradei, pledging his support to political freedom in Egypt.
During the call, Nasheed told Baradei that “Maldivians have always loved freedom and thus Maldivians will always support those who are peacefully advocating for political freedom in Egypt.” Baradei on his part said Egyptians would take note of lessons learnt from the Maldivian democracy struggle.
Nasheed’s remarks come as hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators gather in central Cairo to call for an end to Mubarak’s 30-year autocratic regime.
He called on western powers not to fear a democratic Egypt, which, he said, was the best guarantor of fundamental liberties and human rights.
"Suppressing people with extremist views through repressive means only makes them stronger,” he said.
“Egypt is a mature country. It contains many reasonable people who are capable of ruling reasonably,” Nasheed said, adding: “Fundamental rights and freedoms are human aspirations… things that all of us want. These forces are playing out on the streets of the Middle East today.’’
As a pro-democracy campaigner, Nasheed spent long years in jail as political prisoner during the dictatorship of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom who ruled Maldives between 1978 and 2008. Since his ouster in first ever polls in 2008, the former dictator has made a gradual return to politics.