AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
WASHINGTON: Mohamed Nasheed, the former leader of the Maldives who says he was ousted in a coup, is appealing for new elections to be held this year, warning that a delay would have dire consequences.
The former political prisoner became the first democratically elected president of the Indian Ocean archipelago in 2008 elections but says he was forced to resign in a mutiny after anti-government protests in February.
On a visit to Washington, the 45-year-old called for elections within the year to prevent a strengthening of anti-democratic forces in the nation of 330,000 people. “If they don’t take place in 2012, I have my doubts,” Nasheed said.
“If we give them enough time to entrench themselves, they could do many things. They could skew the field in such a manner where an election cannot happen,” he said.
However, the new administration of President Mohamed Waheed has ruled out snap polls and said that the earliest elections could be held under the Maldivian constitution was July 2013.
Nasheed was in Washington speaking to officials, scholars and activists. Nasheed plans to run as the nominee of his Maldivian Democratic Party in the next election. He says that he quit under duress in February after around 300 soldiers seized control in the island capital Male.
“The issue is that the people of the Maldives must be governed by an elected leader that they choose, not through brute force, not through a regime that has come into governance through brute force,” Nasheed said.