`India offers asylum to Maldives’ ex-leader`

Ousted Maldivian president, Mohamed Nasheed, has, however, showed willingness to stay back in the Indian Ocean nation.

Zeenews Bureau

Male: The Indian government has offered asylum to deposed Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed, a report said on Saturday. The former president of Maldives has, however, showed willingness to stay back in the Indian Ocean nation.

Reacting to the crisis in Maldives, India on Friday established a contact with top political leaders of the island nation with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sending his special envoy and favouring resolution of the problem through dialogue.

Indian High Commissioner to Maldives DM Mulay reportedly spoke to Nasheed on Thursday and explicitly asked him if he sought any “assistance”. Nasheed said he doesn’t require any help “as of now”. Reports also claim that India had offered shelter to Nasheed’s family as well, which is now in Colombo.

A government source said the term “assistance” is a “broad” one, indicating that it might include “asylum” as well.

M Ganapathi, secretary (west) in the External Affairs Ministry, left for Male yesterday to listen to all voices and assess the situation in Maldives after the ouster of Mohammad Nasheed as president earlier this week.

Nasheed had quit as president on Tuesday making way for Vice President Mohammad Waheed Hassan but later claimed that he was forced to quit with guns all around him and hit the streets with his supporters demanding he be reinstated to the top post.

Ganapathi met Nasheed and his successor Waheed and conveyed India`s willingness to assist in early installation of a national unity government in the Indian Ocean atoll.

Waheed Hassan is understood to have assured India that he would not indulge in a witch-hunt while dealing with Nasheed. Government sources said India believed that Nasheed was not ousted in a coup, as claimed by him, but had stepped down owing to weeks of violent protests.

Nasheed, a former political prisoner, came to power in 2008 after successfully challenging the 30-year-old autocratic regime of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

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