Nasheed makes demands from Indian embassy in Maldives
Holed up in Indian embassy, ex-leader calls on president to take lead in ending political crisis
Former Maldivian leader Mohamed Nasheed, who has taken refuge at the Indian embassy in the capital to evade arrest, has demanded that charges be dropped against more than 800 party workers, his spokeswoman said on Thursday.
Mariya Didi also said Nasheed wanted India to take a lead in securing an end to the political crisis in the Indian Ocean atoll nation of 330,000 Sunni Muslims.
Nasheed insisted that "politically motivated" charges against the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) activists be dropped ahead of elections scheduled for September, Didi said.
"We are asking all politically motivated charges including that against president Nasheed, MDP parliamentarians, MDP councillors, party officials and key party workers be dropped," she said.
In a statement issued on Wednesday night from the besieged Indian diplomatic compound in Male, Nasheed reiterated long-standing calls for his successor Mohamed Waheed to resign and allow a caretaker government to organise the elections.
"Waheed should do the right thing and resign from office," Nasheed said. "An interim, caretaker government should be established that can lead the Maldives to genuinely free and fair elections, in which all candidates are freely able to compete."
Nasheed sought refuge at the Indian High Commission as police tried to execute a court order seeking his arrest for failing to turn up at his trial on Sunday.
The new crisis comes amid political turbulence in the upmarket holiday destination a year after Nasheed, the nation's first democratically elected leader, was ousted by violent protests and a mutiny by police and security forces.
"Mindful of my own security and stability in the Indian Ocean, I have taken refuge at the Indian High Commission in Maldives," Nasheed wrote on Twitter hours after seeking safety in the embassy building on Wednesday.
Armed police have been standing outside diplomatic compound.
Nasheed has repeatedly claimed that his trial was a politically motivated attempt to prevent him from leading his Maldivian Democratic Party into polls in September. A conviction would disqualify him.
The Indian foreign ministry in New Delhi said it was "in touch with the relevant Maldivian authorities to resolve the situation" and called on Waheed's government to ensure fair elections.
"It is necessary that the presidential nominees of recognised political parties be free to participate in the elections without any hindrance," said the Indian statement.