We don't want India and China against each other: Former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed

Speaking at an event in Bengaluru, he said, "We don't want India and China against each other, not at all."

We don't want India and China against each other: Former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed

BENGALURU: Amid a political crisis in the island nation, exiled former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed on Saturday said that his country does not want any trouble between India and China. Speaking at an event in Bengaluru, he said, "We don't want India and China against each other, not at all."

Massive protests had erupted after President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom refused to follow the Supreme Court's ruling to release the key political prisoners and reinstate the 12 MPs. On February 5, a state of emergency was declared in Maldives for a period of 15 days.

Earlier, China had opposed any military intervention in the Maldives, saying such a move would further complicate the situation, a day after Nasheed sought India's help to resolve the political crisis in the island nation.

The Indian Ocean nation plunged into a political chaos after the Maldivian Supreme Court had acquitted former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed, former Maldivian Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and ordered the reinstatement of the 12 other parliamentary members.

The Supreme Court had ruled that all politicians opposed to President Gayoom, including Nasheed, should be released. It had further said that their trials were "politically influenced".

The high-profile prisoners also include self-exiled former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb.

The government has so far refused to implement the order, saying it had concerns about releasing those who were convicted for "terrorism, graft, embezzlement and treason".

Nasheed, when asked whether the Maldives crisis could turn out to be flashpoint for the strain in the relationship between India and China, said that his country is of immense strategic importance to India and China, the world's two most populous countries dependent on energy imports.

He further said that the island nation has nothing against China, but it should not attempt to change the "state type" and have democratic oversight, among other things.

"We do like China. I have nothing against China. All that we are saying is do not attempt to change state type; do not push your money in secrecy, have transparency and have democratic oversight, and things will fall in place. That is all we are saying. We are not asking for the sun, the moon and the stars," he said.

Nasheed, who is currently in exile in Sri Lanka, said that both India and Maldives should be mindful of the cold war brewing in the Indian Ocean because both are neighbouring countries.

"I have always been saying that there is a cold war brewing in the Indian Ocean and we should be mindful about that, and we can't be sandwiched in between. We must make sure India's national security and safety because we are just next door," he said.

"We cannot suddenly doing our own thing, simply because somebody (China) decides to give some millions of dollars. It shouldn't work like that, and hope that people in the Indian Ocean understand that this is not the way forward," he added.

Nasheed, the country's first democratically elected leader, took office in 2008. He was ousted in a coup in February 2012.

The country has seen political unrest since he was sentenced to 13 years in jail in 2015 on terrorism charges. He was given political asylum in the UK in 2016.

(With PTI inputs)

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