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Mohammad Nasheed demands early election

New Delhi: Ousted Maldivian President Mohammad Nasheed today made a strong case for early elections and accused the present leadership in the archipelago of being a "facade" for former ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Pitching himself as a true democrat, Nasheed also claimed that he had rejected offers of a "counter-coup" from a section of the military days after his ouster from office following a army-backed coup on February seven. "I did not consider the offer. I told the two generals `dont waste your time`," he said delivering a talk on `Consolidation of Democracy in Maldives` at the Observer Research Foundation here.

Nasheed said he told the military officers that though he was ousted in a coup, he would not resort to similar means to get back to power and stressed on the democratic way. The former President is expected to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and senior officials in the External Affairs Ministry during his six-day stay in India.

He was critical of India`s quick recognition to President Mohammad Waheed`s government. Waheed was the Vice President in the Nasheed government. "I cannot understand why the (Indian) High Commissioner did not see what was unfolding. Neither can I understand his briefs and utterances," he said.

Nasheed said President Gayoom, whom he had defeated in the 2008 elections, was back in power in the Maldives "with a facade of my Vice President as the President." He claimed that the new government had no relations with the people of the archipelago nation as it was "forced" to assume power by the military and the police. "There is a need to have early elections in Maldives," Nasheed said.

Nasheed, who is leading a delegation comprising three of his former ministers and three members of parliament from his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), said he wanted India to facilitate early elections in his nation. "We are asking the people and the government of India to impress upon the present dispensation to hold early election in Maldives," he said.

The MDP leader also flagged fears of Islamic radicals taking control of the Maldives, one of the issues that is being viewed with concern by India. "If Maldives gets into the hands of Islamic radicals, it will not only pose a threat to Maldivians, but also to other nations of the region and to the enormous maritime trade that passes through the shipping lanes close to Maldives," he said.

Nasheed also said it was shocking to see the quick recognition of the Waheed government by New Delhi. He said for the first time a coup was being televised in the Maldives.

Nasheed said that he had told High Commissioner Dyaneshwar Mulay that he had been forced to resign. He said he was at the defence headquarters trying to get a large group of policemen arrested only to realise that the military was in league with the policemen.

"I was faced with a hostile military inside and a rebellious police force outside. To get out of that situation, I told them that I can resign only in the President`s Office and asked them to take me there," Nasheed said recounting the events of February 7, when he announced his resignation. He said the other way to get out of the situation was to shoot at the policemen, as suggested by some in the military, but he chose not to do it.

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