Won’t ask Nasheed to leave Indian Embassy, says India

India on Tuesday said that it was upto Nasheed to decide if he wanted to leave the Indian High Commission in Male.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Even as Maldives mounts up the pressure on India by issuing another arrest warrant against its former president Mohamed Nasheed, India on Tuesday said that it was upto Nasheed to decide if he wanted to leave the Indian High Commission in Male.

Nasheed is now into his 6th day of stay at Indian Embassy in Maldives capital Male, where he had taken refuge on February 13, after a Maldivian court had issued an arrest warrant against him for not appearing into the court on Feb 10.

In spite of Maldives upping the ante, India has said that it won’t ask the former president Nasheed to leave Indian High Commission, reports said.

A Maldivian Court on Monday gave time till Wednesday 4 PM to the police for bringing Nasheed before it, prompting them to approach the Foreign Ministry asking it to get in touch with the Indian High Commission.

The Maldivian Foreign Ministry has conveyed Nasheed`s court order to the Indian High Commission.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has this afternoon informed the Indian High Commission of the Court order issued by the Hulhumale` Magistrates Court, instructing Maldives Police Service to produce Nasheed to the Court under custody," an official Maldivian statement said.

Meanwhile, the situation showed no signs of resolution despite efforts at the official level to do so.

Both India and Maldives also engaged in a war of words with the former denying that its Mission was being used for holding political meetings to incite violence here.

A day after Indian High Commissioner DM Mulay was summoned and issued a strong protest note on Nasheed`s stay in the mission, India said, "It is reiterated that no political meetings and activities have been allowed in the mission premises during the presence of former president".

"Only limited visitors are allowed to meet the former president on strict need basis," the Indian High Commission here added.

According to Maldivian President Mohamed Waheed`s office, the note was issued to the High Commissioner to protest "harbouring a fugitive in the embassy premise from where Nasheed is inciting and calling for unrest and violence in the streets".

45-year-old Nasheed took refuge in the Mission on February 13 to evade arrest warrant issued by a court in a case concerning the detention of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court during his Presidency in January last year.

Waheed`s Press Secretary Masood Imad said the arrest warrant would expire at 4 pm on Wednesday.

"The police have been directed by the Court to bring Nasheed before it. The warrant would expire at 4 pm Wednesday," he said.

If Nasheed is found guilty in the case, he could be barred from standing in a presidential election that is scheduled for September 07.

His party - Maldivian Democratic Party - says the trial is an attempt to exclude him from the contest and has challenged the court`s legitimacy.

In another development, president of the Elections Commission (EC) Fuad Thaufeeq said it was deeply concerning to see the presidential candidate of the largest political party seeking refuge from a diplomatic office.

Thaufeeq said Nasheed was a former president and ought to receive the privileges entitled to a former president as stipulated in the law and stressed that he should get a fair trial and should not be politically motivated.

"Firstly, Nasheed is a former president, secondly he a presidential candidate of a political party. Thirdly, he represents the largest political party in the country. Each of these factors carries significant weight," Thaufeeq said.

He said the Elections Commission would do everything it could to find a solution for all the parties involved, including the former president.

The president of the Elections Commission warned that if Nasheed`s trial proved to be a tool to bar him from contesting the scheduled presidential elections, it would cast doubt over the integrity of the election. As part of the ongoing consultations, the Indian High Commissioner has in last few days met Thasmeen Ali, leader of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), official sources said.

The DRP is now the second largest party in Maldives with 22,687 members.

The Indian High Commissioner also met prospective Presidential candidate of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Abdullah Yameen. PPM has the third largest membership.

Nasheed`s party has a membership of around 45,000 while President Waheed`s party has 3,217 members, according to latest figures from the election commission.

With PTI Inputs