Jailed former Maldivian president Mohammed Nasheed has sought a two-month extension of his medical leave in the UK, even as the Maldivian envoy here today accused him of misusing his visit to "deceitfully" tarnish the country's reputation.
Talking to reporters at the High Commission in New Delhi, Maldivian envoy to India Ahmed Mohamed said that despite Nasheed serving a 13-year jail sentence on terror charges, the Maldivian government provided him with a diplomatic passport and allowed him to travel to the UK when he could have received treatment in the Maldives itself.
"Despite this transparent and open dealing President (Abdulla) Yameen has granted to Nasheed to travel for medical treatment, Nasheed has misused his opportunity to deceitfully tarnish the reputation of Maldives," Mohamed said.
Nasheed, 48, arrived in London for treatment on January 21 after he was granted 30-day prison leave by the government to undergo an urgent spinal cord surgery.
"By damaging the reputation of the Maldives government and its constitutional offices, Nasheed very conveniently forgets that he is exercising his freedom of speech because he has been given a diplomatic passport to travel abroad and if as he says human rights is in danger, he would not be sitting in the UK," the envoy said, adding that, "there is no public information" as to whether Nasheed has consulted any medical personnel and treatment.
Meanwhile, the government today announced in Male that Nasheed has asked for a two-month extension to his medical leave in the UK. The government, however, stated that a decision in this regard is pending.
Correctional service spokesperson Hassan Ali told Haveeru daily that Nasheed had requested an extension of two months for his medical leave, which had expired yesterday. "The process of granting him an extension is underway."
The envoy, however, did not mention the fresh request by Nasheed.
The Maldives' Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon previously has accused Nasheed of using prison leave for publicity after he met Prime Minister David Cameron and held a news conference with journalists in the UK.
Highlighting the government's steps to reach out to other parties, the envoy stated that President Yameen on February 11 announced reconvening of the political party talks with the aim of "accelerating progress, development, and national unity of the country."
Invitations for dialogue have been sent out to five political parties, including Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Adhaalath Party.
Talking about the visit of a delegation from the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), including Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar who was representing External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Mohamed said the visit went "very well" and meeting of the CMAG is scheduled for February 24.
He said the main agenda was how to strengthen democracy in the Maldives and how the Commonwealth could be involved in the process. Mohamed said having an Indian presence in the CMAG team that visited Maldives "will help us a lot".
"If the Commonwealth goes through the procedure, Maldives has not violated those. What has been happening is under maintenance of law and order," he said.
"India has always been helpful and even in the recent political developments that have been happening," he added.
The envoy asserted that India-Maldives ties were on an upward trajectory as manifested by the bilateral visits of ministers and top officials.
"What has been happening is that the (India-Maldives) relationship has improved drastically as compared to what we have seen in early 2013 or early 2014," he said.
Asked about whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi's long-awaited visit to the Maldives after it was cancelled last year was on the cards, the envoy said the signals have been of "high luminosity" and "we are expecting something to happen this year".
"Anytime the Prime Minister wishes to visit, he is more than welcome, even at a short notice," the envoy said.
"As we speak, the biggest aircraft carrier of India is in the Maldives and that is also a very healthy sign of the relationship we have," he said.
Indian aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya along with its support ships INS Mysore and INS Deepak are on a four-day visit to the Maldives.
Asked about reports that Maldives was the "biggest per capita" contributor to terror outfit ISIS, Mohamed said, "if we take per capita terms for anything in the Maldives it will be higher because the population is small."
"We are not immune to the dangers of radicalisation along with many other countries around the globe. We have that issue, we admit to the fact that there have been Maldivians and there are Maldivians involved in the Iran, Syria conflicts," he said.
The envoy stated that the reports were an "exaggeration" and "statistical manipulation".
"What we are doing is engaging with many other intelligence agencies. We have a good arrangement with our neighbours especially with India and other regional, middle eastern countries and western countries in sharing intelligence," he said on the efforts to tackle radicalisation.
The envoy also apprised journalists of the latest political developments in Maldives, including Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla being sentenced to 12 years in prison yesterday after being found guilty of terrorism by a criminal court.
He also spoke at length about the forged arrest warrant issued by a magistrate of an island court.
The Maldives police discovered on February 6, an "arrest warrant" issued against President Yameen. The Maldives police in its investigation found that the Magistrate of Maamigili island Ahmed Nihan had issued the "forged warrant", he said.
Mohamed said former Maldivian Prosecutor General Muhuthaz Muhsin was also part of the conspiracy and both of them were taken into police custody. The envoy also noted that the Maldives Supreme Court on February 3 has started hearing on the appeal in Nasheed's sentencing. Nasheed became the Indian Ocean nation's first democratically elected president in 2008.
Maldives has also been recently embroiled in graft scandals with a damning audit report exposing alleged embezzlement of nearly USD 80 million from the state-owned tourism company.