Maldives leader pledges ‘peace and order’

Mohamed Waheed says he plans to form “inclusive cabinet” as Indian Ocean islands face swelling unrest over alleged coup.

Maldives President Mohamed Waheed
Nasheed has blamed police for beating his supporters after ‘the military-backed coup’ [Reuters]

Mohamed Waheed, the new president of the Maldives, has pledged to restore “peace and order” in the country, as it faces swelling political unrest following allegations of a military-backed coup.

“I call upon all parties to ensure that no incitements to violence and acts of violence occur”

– Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, 
UN assistant secretary-general

Waheed’s representatives said on Tuesday that he assured a visiting European delegation that he would form a “fully inclusive” cabinet, including members of former president Mohamed Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

“He would offer appropriate representation [in cabinet] to all political parties, including the MDP,” Waheed’s office said in a statement.

Nasheed, the Indian Ocean island nation’s first first democratically elected leader who came to power in 2008, resigned a week ago but subsequently said he had been deposed in a coup, and is now leading protests against his successor.

An arrest warrant was issued for his arrest last week, although he has so far not been detained.

On Tuesday, authorities asked Nasheed to issue a police statement on his controversial order to the military to arrest a senior judge. The move could be a prelude to criminal charges against Nasheed.

The latest development came after Waheed told a visiting senior US diplomat that he would be willing to co-operate with a probe into the circumstances of the country’s transition of power.

Waheed says that his ascension to power was entirely legal, but a series of clashes between Nasheed’s supporters and police have occurred over the coup accusation.

‘Fresh elections’

The former president has demanded fresh elections and called for mass street protests if the new government does not relent, raising the prospect of a protracted political crisis.

On Monday, Abdul Gafoor Mohamed, the Maldives’ envoy to the UN, announced his plans to resign in protest over the alleged coup.

“I believe the new president should have the opportunity to have his views and policies presented to the world community through representatives that serve him without equivocation or reservations,” Gafoor told Al Jazeera’s “The Stream”.

“I have therefore conveyed my intention to step down from all my diplomatic posts so that the new president may be better served.”


Maldives’ ambassador to the UN said he would resign from his post on Al Jazeera’s programme: ‘The Stream’

In a bid to assess the country’s situation, an EU delegation comprising of Sri Lanka-based ambassadors, including French ambassador Christine Robichon, will soon meet with Maldivian political leaders, including Nasheed.

Diplomatic sources said the EU is keen to de-escalate tensions and peacefully resolve the conflict.

Nasheed has demanded that Waheed step down and hand power to the speaker of the parliament for two months, until a new presidential poll can be called.

“Fresh elections are our bottom line and we are not relying on the international community for that, we are relying on the people of the Maldives,” Nasheed told reporters.

The political crisis in the country had been sparked by Nasheed’s January 16 sacking of the head of the country’s criminal court, alleging that he was not investigating corruption cases and supported the party of former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, the UN assistant secretary-general, concluded a visit to the country on Monday, saying a peaceful solution was needed to end the crisis that sparked violence on an archipelago normally known for its upmarket tourism.

“I call upon all parties to ensure that no incitements to violence and acts of violence occur,” Fernandez-Taranco said.

“The Maldives cannot afford a descent into violence and protracted instability that would jeopardise the progress achieved by the country since 2008.”

The Commonwealth bloc of former British colonies is also sending an investigative mission to the country.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies