Ex-Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed has told NDTV the political uncertainty in his country is giving China room to make inroads in the Island archipelago. Speaking from the capital Male', Mr Nasheed said, "Well, there is instability in the Maldives. So, there will always be a room for other actors to come in. Therefore that is all the more a reason why we should be able to have free and fair elections as quickly as possible." When asked whether current President Waheed's government was playing the China card against India, he added, "We did not have a military-defense agreement with the Chinese government but this government has now come up and signed an agreement." The Maldives government has repeatedly denied the charge.
Mr Nasheed was speaking to NDTV days after he left the diplomatic sanctuary he sought in the Indian mission fearing arrest. He is charged with ordering the military to unconstitutionally detain the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court. Mr Nasheed says it is a politically motivated case designed to ensure he can't contest the September Presidential polls.
The government insists Mr Nasheed must face the law of the land.
On his future course of action if the case goes on against him and he's convicted, Mr Nasheed threatened to up the ante, telling NDTV, "I don't think then we would have free and fair elections. I don't think we will have any elections at all. The MDP has resolved to not be party in the elections, if I am not allowed to contest." He went on to add, "They (his party) had gone further and said that they will pro-actively disrupt the elections if I'm not allowed to contest."
Giving credence to that opinion India has fine-tuned its stand, Mr Nasheed said, "Well I think, yes, India has calibrated their policies and their positions during the course of the last year and they are finding that to have stability in the Indian Ocean, we must have a free and fair multi party election in the Maldives."
India had quickly recognised his successor in February 2012 after a controversial change in power. Mr Nasheed accuses the regime of a "virtual coup at gunpoint." A Commission of National Inquiry had ruled the changeover constitutional. But, when the former President sought shelter in the Indian mission, New Delhi had provided it and sent a diplomatic team to resolve the standoff. Analysts feel one of the reasons for the 're-calibration' is India's concern that China is charting a new course in this strategically situated island nation.