MALE - Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed took refuge at the Indian embassy in the capital Male Wednesday to avoid arrest, demanding the resignation of his successor and free and fair elections. Nasheed, 45, issued a statement from the besieged Indian diplomatic mission saying that his current trial for abuse of power when he was in office was a “politically motivated sham”. He sought refuge at the compound as police tried to execute a court warrant and arrest him. Nasheed said his deputy and successor, current president Mohamed Waheed, could not be expected to hold a free and fair election.
“Waheed should do the right thing and resign from office,” Nasheed said. “An interim, caretaker government should be established that can lead the Maldives to genuinely free and fair elections, in which all candidates are freely able to compete.” Nasheed’s spokesman Mariya Didi said he would remain at the diplomatic compound until the crisis was resolved. “We don’t see a quick resolution to this,” Didi said, adding that Nasheed and his party did not accept the legality of the court that is trying him for abuse of power when he was in office from 2008 to February last year. The new crisis comes amid more political turbulence in the Indian Ocean holiday destination a year after Nasheed, a pro-democracy campaigner, was ousted by violent demonstrations and a mutiny by police and security forces. “Mindful of my own security and stability in the Indian Ocean, I have taken refuge at the Indian High Commission in Maldives,” Nasheed wrote on Twitter a few hours after seeking the safety in the embassy building. Armed police stood outside the diplomatic compound. If convicted of abusing his powers, he could be fined $130 and sentenced to three years in jail.