Maldives ex-president held on terror charges

NEW DELHI (TIP): Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed was arrested on terrorism charges on Sunday, almost exactly two years after he had walked into the Indian high commission, seeking refuge and creating an embarrassing situation for the UPA government.

Nasheed was in India last week, where he expressed apprehension of just such an arrest and even hinted at seeking asylum in India.

Maldives has been in recurrent turmoil since Nasheed’s ouster in a thinly disguised coup in 2012.

Nasheed’s arrest comes weeks before Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to make his first visit to Male on March 15. India is not likely to intervene in the internal matters of Maldives, but New Delhi will watch closely to make sure stability in Maldives does not take a hit again. Instability in the small island nation has in recent years made Maldives a happy hunting ground for “outside powers”, like China and even the US. According to Maldives media, he was arrested on a criminal warrant, ostensibly so he does not flee the island before his trial. “He was arrested on terrorism allegations for having arrested and detained Abdulla Ghazi, the chief judge of the criminal court during his administration,” said media reports from the island nation.

Nasheed has been taken to the prison facility on Dhoonidhoo Island. Modi is expected to pay a two-day visit to Maldives as part of his four-nation Indian Ocean tour. Maldives is a crucial link in India’s strategic outreach in the Indian Ocean region, and Modi will stress the importance of political stability there. India and Maldives are expected to celebrate 50 years of diplomatic relations later this year. Modi will also stress the same message that India has been hammering earlier — in Maldives, as in all of India’s neighbouring countries, India will deal with the government of the day. Nasheed’s arrest, sources said, should be seen as part of the same process that saw former defence minister Mohamed Nazim also arrested recently.

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