Maldives leader 'will quit' if found to have coup role

Maldives' President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik in Delhi, May 2012. President Waheed, the former vice-president, assumed power in February

Related Stories

Maldivian President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik has told the BBC he will step down if an independent inquiry finds he was involved in a coup.

The former vice-president also defended not holding snap elections, saying parties were not ready for polls.

Mr Waheed's controversial ascent to power in February plunged the small island nation into crisis.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed claims Mr Waheed was part of a conspiracy to oust him.

Mr Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the country, says he was forced to quit under duress by revolting members of the police and the military, after opposition-led protests in the capital, Male.

Mr Waheed denies the accusation, saying he was sworn in in line with the constitution after the resignation of his former boss on live television.

'Not ready'

In an interview, Mr Waheed said he would quit if there was evidence that he had been part of any coup, but said that, otherwise, his leadership remained legitimate.

Island turmoil

  • October 2008: Maldives holds its first democratic polls, in which former political prisoner Mohamed Nasheed wins against the incumbent, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom
  • January 2012: Mr Nasheed orders the arrest of a senior judge who he says is blocking corruption cases against opposition figures, sparking protests
  • 7 February 2012: Mr Nasheed resigns under unclear circumstances; his vice-president Mohamed Waheed is quickly sworn in and appoints new cabinet
  • 8 February 2012: Police crush large protests in support of Mr Nasheed
  • June 2012: Both sides reach a deal over an inquiry to investigate events

"If they [the commission] find out that I have had a role in bringing about a coup, then I will definitely resign.

"But if I have no role - if somebody else has done it - it doesn't mean I have to resign, according to the law of the Maldives."

He refrained from commenting on what he would do in the latter case, saying he would seek "legal guidance" after the findings.

Asked about holding early elections - as called for by the former ruling party and the Commonwealth - Mr Waheed said the constitution did not allow polls until June 2013 at the earliest.

He said he did not believe there was a need for elections any sooner.

"We have to consider the political situation. We have other political parties - big political parties - who are not ready for an election. I have to exercise my judgement - as leader of the country - to make sure we don't get into a worse political turmoil."

'No rightful succession'

Farah Faizal, the former High Commissioner for the Maldives, said that if the inquiry concludes that a coup took place, then Mr Waheed "owed it to the people of the Maldives" to quit, whether he was found to have had a role or not.

"It is shocking that the president does not understand that in a democracy, the presidency is a public trust and not a personal inheritance.

"If the elected president has been deposed unconstitutionally, then there is no rightful succession of the vice-president."

Mr Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party, which holds regular rallies in Male, says it is concerned that the government is stalling in order to manipulate polls.

An agreement on the make-up of an inquiry to investigate the transfer of power was finally reached earlier this week, after Mr Waheed accepted a nominee from Mr Nasheed's party.

The Commonwealth had previously criticised the government for the panel, describing it as neither "independent or impartial".

The body suspended the Maldives from its democracy watchdog, the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, after the alleged coup.

More on This Story

Related Stories

From other news sites

More Asia stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.