Indian diplomats 'interfering' in Maldives: govt

Indian diplomats are "interfering" in the country's affairs by sheltering former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed in India's embassy in Male, a senior Maldivian government official said Saturday.

Nasheed has remained at the Indian embassy since Wednesday after taking refuge there to avoid being arrested over his failure to appear in court last weekend to face charges of abuse of power while he was president.

"The fact of the matter is that some individual Indian diplomats are interfering in our internal affairs. This must stop," a senior government official told AFP, asking not to be named.

The official echoed Home Minister Mohamed Jameel's remarks that no country should prevent a citizen of another country from facing charges.

Jameel, in a series of tweets, stopped short of naming a specific culprit, but in a thinly veiled warning asked India to stay out of the affair.

"I would strongly urge everyone to let our institutions deal with the challenges, allow Maldives to uphold rule of law," Jameel wrote soon after Nasheed took shelter at the Indian High Commission compound in the capital Male.

An earlier statement purporting to be from the Maldivian Judicial Service Commission (JSC) condemned the actions of India's envoy to Male.

But the commission in an email to AFP later said it had not issued the statement, with a JSC spokesman telling AFP that the letter had been a forgery.

It was a "false statement " on a "forged letterhead", commission secretary Aboobakuru Mohamed said.

Nasheed's party says it considers the charges of abuse of power against him to be politically motivated. A conviction would prevent him from holding public office.

The country is slated to hold presidential elections on September 7.

The government says the warrant for Nasheed's arrest has now expired and that he will not be arrested. But Nasheed's party said they could not trust the regime.

The standoff comes amid political turbulence in the Maldives, one year after Nasheed -- the nation's first democratically elected leader -- was ousted by violent protests and a mutiny by police and security forces.

The United States and the United Nations, as well as India, have called for free elections in the nation of 330,000 Sunni Muslims.

New Delhi said Wednesday it was "necessary that the presidential nominees of recognised political parties be free to participate in the elections without any hindrance" -- a statement seen as tacitly backing Nasheed.

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