Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, famous for holding a cabinet meeting underwater to highlight alleged climate issues, has been granted political asylum to remain in Britain. The current Maldives government expressed disappointment – they want Nasheed back, so he can serve out a prison sentence.
AFP – Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of the Maldives, has been granted refugee status in Britain, his office said Monday.
The 49-year-old was jailed in the Maldives last year on controversial terrorism charges, but was allowed to travel to Britain in January for spinal cord surgery after he fell ill in prison.
Nasheed claimed Monday he had “no choice” but to work from exile against President Abdulla Yameen.
The government of the Maldives said Nasheed was trying to avoid serving his prison sentence, adding that it would be “disappointed” if it was confirmed that Britain had “allowed itself to be part of this charade”.
A statement on Nasheed’s website said: “Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed has refugee status in the UK.” It was also announced by his party.
Nasheed became the first democratically-elected president of the Indian Ocean island nation in 2008 and served for four years before he was toppled in what he called a coup backed by the military and police.
He was jailed for 13 years on terrorism charges relating to the arrest of an allegedly corrupt judge in 2012, when he was still in power.
“President Yameen has jailed every opposition leader and cracked down on anyone who dares to oppose or criticise him,” Nasheed said in the statement proclaiming his refugee status.
Now that Nasheed apparently has the freedom to undermine the new Maldives government from the security of Britain, no doubt this “charade” will produce further twists – though hopefully nothing as silly as another underwater climate cabinet meeting.
More about the underwater cabinet meeting;
EW: Updated to correct a spelling mistake