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John Glen MP and Karen Lumley MP: The coup d’etat in the Maldives must be stopped

John Glen is the MP for Salisbury and Karen Lumley is the MP for Redditch

Most people will perceive the Maldives as an idyllic paradise of sun-soaked resort islands. Sadly this is only one part of the reality. This week, the fledgling democracy has seen a bloody coup d’etat  with the first democratically-elected President Nasheed being removed from office, then beaten and detained by the military loyal to those close to the former dictator Gayoom.  It is true that technically he resigned to be replaced by his Vice-President but this was because, in his words, "they told me if I didn't resign they would resort to the use of arms". The international community needs to condemn the violence and recognise the truth behind what has happened.

The background to the coup has been Nasheed’s attempt to deal with a judiciary which has shown itself to be corrupt, under-qualified, and loyal to the previous dictator and his associates. He has worked tirelessly to rid the country of corruption, to democratise institutions, and deliver on his MDP party’s election pledges.  But it now seems that reform of the judiciary has prompted a backlash from the police and military. Nasheed recently ordered the army to arrest Criminal Court Chief Justice Abdulla Mohamed on charges of misconduct and favouring opposition figures.

His only mistake seems to have been failing to recognise that many of the senior figures in the police and the military felt they would lose out from reform - and as such a plot to overthrow their democratically-elected President was hatched.  It now seems very likely that the new “President” – Nasheed’s former deputy Mohamed Waheed - was working quietly behind the scenes with the military and police to orchestrate an apparent legitimate handover of power for the world’s media, when the truth is that it is a coup d’etat by those who were beginning to have their interests threatened.

President Nasheed, 44, was elected in 2008, educated in the UK, and was recently described by David Cameron as “my new best friend”. Nasheed will likely take his beatings and detention courageously: he faced similar treatment over many years as he dealt with exile and imprisonment leading up to the democratic elections in 2008.  In bravely facing up to the corruption in the nation’s judiciary he was dealing with the major barrier to reform and renewal for his nation. The world now needs to stand up for what is right and use all diplomatic power at its disposal to restore democracy and order in a country which is now facing a very bloody and uncertain period.


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