The Maldives - both sides of the story
- By Richard Branson -
- Mar 01, 2012
Having spoken out on the current issues in the Maldives, yesterday I had a call from interim President Waheed of the Maldives, who was good enough to answer a number of my questions.
Former President Nasheed has tried to contact me since I first blogged the open letter to thank me for my support for the restoration of democracy in the Maldives, and I had a lengthy conversation with him today.
Mr Nasheed wanted to be sure that it was completely clear what had happened in the Maldives.
Mr Nasheed said that he had been overthrown by a coup. He said that the confusion about what happened in the first two days came about because he was forced to remain in the Presidential Palace in order to keep him away from the press, was therefore incommunicado, and only managed to escape after a couple of days.
He said that he was very concerned the Maldives could become another Afghanistan. He believes that the way to resolve this is for interim President Waheed to step down and for The Speaker to hold court for two months.
He said he sees no reason why there shouldn’t be early elections during this calendar year, preferably within two-to-three months. The people of this country, he said, need to be asked as soon as possible who they want to rule them. The Maldives and the Maldivians urgently need to get back on track.
He believed that there was is Islamic element of the military and mentioned that some of them chanted on the street “God is great”.
He said that the new government had thrown out all human rights cases and corruption cases, which he felt was wrong. He said that some of his MPs had been removed, others had court cases brought against them.
He ended by saying: “Governments should only be changed through the ballot box and not by any other means. No military in the world should be allowed to take over a Government and hold on to it.”
It was very good of Mr Nasheed to ring and share his views with us. We now have both sides of the story.
I’m sure everyone involved wants to see this conflict resolved as soon as possible and true peace and democracy restored to the beautiful country of the Maldives.
Having listened to both sides, it does seem wise for an election to take place as soon as is feasibly possible so that the people of the Maldives can begin to put this ugly chapter behind them.
By Richard Branson. Founder of Virgin Group