The Washington Post reports that Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of Maldives, claims the United States has given legitimacy to the Islamist coup which deposed him.
Mohamed Nasheed won the presidency in Maldives’s first multiparty elections in 2008, after a lifetime advocating democracy and human rights and several long stints in jail.
Less than three years later, he was forced to resign by an angry mob of police officers and soldiers, in what he says was a coup engineered by his autocratic predecessor.
“We have to have an election,” he said in an interview while visiting the Indian capital, New Delhi. “In the absence of that, Islamic radicals are gaining strength in the Maldives.”
Nasheed, whose multiple instances of torture and imprisonment prevented him from witnessing the birth of his daughters, removed various Islamic prohibitions that created legal inequality for Maldives citizens.
He noted that he also restored diplomatic relations with Israel that had been suspended for three decades under Gayoom, advocated closer ties with the United States and Maldives’s giant neighbor India, introduced benefits for single mothers and tried to protect women forced by Islamic radicals to wear burqas and veils.
But when he announced his resignation in a nationally televised statement Feb. 7 — after police and soldiers had, he said, basically taken him hostage — both the United States and India moved swiftly to recognize his successor, former vice president Mohammed Waheed Hassan, without taking the trouble to find out what had really happened, he says.
“We did so much to make the Maldives more liberal,” he said. “To suddenly see the United States, so quickly — they could have held onto their horses for a few minutes and just asked me — so quickly to have recognized the status quo, that was very sad and shocking.” [emphasis added]
Nasheed now urges that the country hold new elections to install a legitimate government, but he fears his successor will make it impossible for the people to threaten the regime’s power.
On Wednesday, Waheed promised elections in July 2013, but Nasheed said that was too long to wait. “If we delay elections, the dictatorship, the military, police and Gayoom will skew the playing field in such a manner that elections in 2013 will become impossible,” he said, adding that he would probably be in jail by then.
The actions of the Obama administration contrast sharply with the swift denunciation of a “coup” against Honduran President Manuel Zelaya in 2009. Zelaya defied his country’s Supreme Court to alter the country’s constitution to give himself another term in power, which prompted the congress and supreme court to order the military to remove him from office.
President Obama personally condemned the actions of the Honduran government. However, his administration appears to have tacitly approved what the Post calls “an angry mob of police officers and soldiers” returning Maldives to Islamist rule.