Maldives ex-leader calls for sanctions on new regime

NEW DELHI - The ousted ex-president of the Maldives on Thursday called for the Commonwealth grouping and other countries to impose sanctions on the new regime, which he accuses of deposing him in a coup.

“One of the steps we would like the international community to take is to ban members of the regime travelling to their countries,” Mohamed Nasheed, who was the island nation’s first democratically elected president, told reporters.

“Many of them have second homes in Europe,” he added.

Nasheed was ousted in February after a rebellion by police and security forces, which he says was orchestrated by former strongman ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom whose 30-year regime ended following elections in 2008.

Nasheed is in India on a mission to drum up support for early elections in the Maldives, a favoured honeymoon spot for the rich and famous owing to its pristine tropical beaches.

New Delhi initially recognised the new regime of President Mohamed Waheed, but has since backtracked slightly and urged him to hold early polls – a demand also made by the Commonwealth, the United States and the European Union.

“CMAG (the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group) has to understand that they need to come up with more robust measures and they have to do it more quickly,” Nasheed said.

He accused Waheed of being a front for Gayoom and said the new administration was stalling on early elections while it meddled with the election commission and consolidated its power.

Waheed on Wednesday defied calls for elections this year and said they would take place in July next year, which he said was the earliest they could be organised under the constitution.

Waheed, a former UN worker who served as vice president under Nasheed, has denied any involvement in a coup plot.

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