Ousted Maldivian president vows to return to top post

In an interview, exiled leader Mohamed Nasheed accuses Maldives' sitting President Abdulla Yameen of corruption

Ousted Maldivian president vows to return to top post

World Bulletin / News Desk

Ousted former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed has vowed to contest the next presidential election in 2018, saying the 2012 coup that forced him to live in exile had failed to crush his spirit.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo where he was busy reorganizing his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Nasheed said he would expose the alleged money laundering rings and drug-running cartels that supposedly fuel the current administration led by current President Abdulla Yameen in the picturesque island nation.

Nasheed became the first democratically-elected president of Maldives in 2008 in a historic election that saw him end Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's 30-year rule.

He then resigned from the top slot in February 2012 under duress following what is largely referred to as an opposition-backed military coup.  “I was forced to resign at gunpoint,” Nasheed told Anadolu Agency, following which he was dragged through the streets by the country's armed forces.

He said he was “framed” and “ousted” due to his party’s reformist agenda. 

The deposed president was first charged with treason due to his questionable removal of a controversial judge. Later, the charges against him were dropped and he was convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment at the infamous Maafushi Prison. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in 2015 declared Nasheed’s arrest unlawful and politically motivated.

Amidst a massive “Free Nasheed” campaign, the ex-president eventually obtained permission in March 2016 to seek “medical treatment” in the U.K., where he now lives in exile.

Nasheed said he would run for the top slot again in the next round of elections in 2018 when he would face off Yameen, whom he blames for his ouster.

Yameen, whose name has surfaced in several corruption scandals in the media, has been in power since 2013.

“The coup has failed to keep me down or to defeat Maldives democratic tradition we worked hard to establish over the years,” the 49-year-old deposed leader said.

He said he cannot be kept away from the island's politics and told Anadolu Agency his international lawyers were working hard to secure his candidacy for the scheduled presidential election.

“President Yameen tried to erase my political footprint by instigating my ouster. Today, he is under fire from all quarters and he has failed to consolidate power. His friends and family work against him now,” Nasheed said.

He also accused the sitting president of corruption.  “Unfortunately, he has also fallen prey to money launderers. It is the new mechanics of controlling countries in significant trade routes like the Maldives. Bribe the leaders.

“Maldives need to overcome new dangers: massive systemic corruption, compromised leadership, politicized judiciary, devalued parliament, democracy in peril and a rapid radicalization of our society,” he said.

The Yameen administration has been plagued by serious allegations of large-scale corruption, including unlawful enrichment through the leasing of islands up to $80 million, money laundering and systemic bribery. In recent months, media reports, including those aired by Doha-based Al Jazeera channel highlighted alleged instances of Yameen receiving cash in bags up to $1 million, and how a money laundering Asian cartel assisted in cash fly-ins of $100 million at a time through a Maldives bank and the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA). The president and his office deny all allegations made in such reports.

Nasheed said he had complained to Transparency England and Transparency International global to look into the alleged systemic corruption.

He also said his MDP party will continue to struggle for democracy in Maldives.

“Our political challenges appear daunting now, but these struggles appeared more daunting then, when we campaigned for a multi-party system and elections [to end the 30-year onw-man rule], a new constitution and sweeping reforms. It happened due to that struggle.

“We cannot simply sit back and give up now.  We need it now more than ever,” he said.

But would Maldivians come out to support his struggle against the current administration?

Nasheed said: “I pin hope on the Maldivians’ love for democracy, their desire to put coalitions into power without empowering individuals and the lessons we have learnt.

“I have matured, so has former president Gayoom and other leaders who see the real threat before our country. We will try to shift the power in the [parliament] House, if possible, and then field a formidable candidate who will defeat the dictatorship. That’s our promise to the Maldives.”

Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Şubat 2017, 19:38