Maldives' new regime says open to scrutiny over coup charges

Posted By: Pti
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Chaos in Maldives
Male, Feb 13: Facing coup charges, the Maldives' new regime on Monday said it was open to any independent probe into transfer of power in the country, where the Commonwealth is sending a fact-finding team amid efforts by nations like India to resolve the political crisis here.

Nearly a week after Mohammed Nasheed, the country's first democratically-elected President, stepped down in what he claimed was a coup d'etat, the 54-nation Commonwealth grouping announced that it would "urgently" send a ministerial mission to the Maldives to probe circumstances of Nasheed's ouster.

The Commonwealth's decision came after an emergency telephone conference of the nine-member Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG).

CMAG, in its "extraordinary" session, agreed to constitute a ministerial mission which will visit the Maldives "urgently to ascertain the facts surrounding the transfer of power, and to promote adherence to Commonwealth values and principles," the Commonwealth Secretariat said in a statement issued in London.

It stressed that the way forward must be determined by Maldivians themselves, through inclusive political dialogue in an atmosphere of non-violence, restraint and stability.

"CMAG recognised the impressive gains made by Maldives in recent years in consolidating multi-party democracy, and expressed solidarity with the people of Maldives to select a government of their choice through democratic means," it said.

Reacting to the Commonwealth announcement, Maldivian government spokesman Masood Imad said that new President Mohamed Waheed has agreed to a Commonwealth ministerial probe into the fall of his predecessor Nasheed.

"We welcome the decision. We are completely transparent. We have already said that we would welcome any independent probe into the turn of events," he said.

"We don't want to jeopardise any probe. When the President steps down, under the Constitution, the Vice President steps up," Imad said, asserting that there was no coup. "The Vice President was not an outsider. We were not political opponents".

He also commended India for the way it dealt with the political upheaval here, saying New Delhi was not "fooled" by Nasheed's claims of a coup and was "correct" in its reaction.

His comments followed Nasheed's remarks that he was disappointed with India over its response to the political turmoil in Maldives.

M Ganapathi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's special envoy, visited the Maldives last week and held talks with leaders of both the new and ousted regimes. He sought peaceful solution to the "complex" situation here.

US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Robert Blake also met Nasheed and Hassan to get the firsthand assessment of the situation in the country. UN Assistant Secretary General Oscar Fernandez-Taranco too was in Male last week for talks aimed at solving the political crisis here.

Meanwhile lawmakers belonging to Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) alleged that they were being threatened with terrorism charges by the new regime, after hundreds of supporters of the ousted President laid siege to Parliament.

"They have threatened that they will charge us all with terrorism charges," Maria Didi, MDP MP and former Chairperson of the party, told reporters outside the People's Majlis (Maldivian Parliament) late last night.

After a lull of two days since violence broke out on Male's streets following Nasheed's resignation last Tuesday, his supporters gathered outside the Majlis shouting slogans against the current regime.

Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, MDP spokesperson of International Affairs, too alleged victimisation. "A number of our MPs have been arrested, have been physically hurt."


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