Maldives crisis: Former president Mohamed Nasheed seeks refuge in Indian embassy

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Mohammed Nasheed seen entering the Indian High Commission in Male. ( Photos courtesy: Maldivian Democratic Party)

Male:  Former president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, has sought refuge at the Indian High Commission in Male and, sources said, India has agreed to give him shelter there. Outside the building, the police are waiting to give effect to an arrest warrant issued by a court against him.

"They (Nasheed and his supporters) came to speak with the High Commissioner, but the High Commissioner wasn't there at that time. Now, the High Commissioner has reached. When we will get information about the meeting, we will inform you about it," said External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

The stand-off is likely to continue for some more time as the high court has rejected Mr Nasheed's request that the arrest warrant issued by the lower court be stayed. Sources close to Mr Nasheed said he would like to remain at the Indian high commission until an all-inclusive election is held in the country. As long as the former president is inside the High Commission, the Maldivian police cannot arrest him as it is Indian territory.

BJP leader and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj tweeted, "The situation in Maldives is a matter of serious concern. I have spoken to NSA (National Security Advisor) and asked him that the government should keep us informed in this regard."

The sources said the former Maldivian president has sought India's assistance for an early solution and that he could extend his appeal for refuge to a request for asylum in India.

Mr Nasheed had earlier tweeted, "Mindful of my security and the stability of the Indian Ocean, I have taken refuge at the Indian High Commission in Maldives." He is inside the embassy with six of his MPs.

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The court issued the arrest warrant after Mr Nasheed failed to attend a previously scheduled trial hearing on February 10. The former President was on a visit to India after being granted permission to depart the country by the court. Despite the travel period he was allowed expiring on February 9, Mr Nasheed arrived back in Male only on February 11, Maldivian media reported.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Mr Nasheed has asked the current President Mohamed Waheed to step down to enable Speaker to form a transition government. (Read: Nasheed asks successor to step down)

Mr Nasheed is charged with abusing his power as president after winning the first free elections in the country in 2008. Mr Nasheed was forced out of power in February last year in what he has described as a coup orchestrated by former ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.



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