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Pres accuses jailed ex-defence minister of 'power grab' plot

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on Sunday accused jailed former defence minister Mohamed Nazim of attempting to instill a government influenced by "powerful" foreign parties in 2013.

Speaking during a ceremony held to welcome new members to the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), president Yameen said political leaders had initiated a plan to sign an agreement, heavily influenced by some "powerful foreigners" to establish an unconstitutional government over the delay in electing a new president in 2013.

The initial presidential vote held on September 7, 2013 was annulled by the Supreme Court. As no candidate received a majority of the vote, and a second round was planned for September 28, to be contested between Yameen and former president Mohamed Nasheed.

However, the day before the run-off vote the Supreme Court cancelled the run-off and annulled the first round results. A re-run of the first round was held on November 9 and the run-off was planned for the following day over the need to have a new president in place by November 11.

However, the run-off was postponed to November 16 by the Supreme Court after Yameen claimed he needed more time to campaign which he subsequently won by a slight margin.

"A very dangerous agreement was signed. The agreement stated that if the new president was not sworn in by November 11, the powers would go to the parliament speaker for a 60 day period until everything was arranged," president Yameen revealed.

President Yameen said the agreement mandated the then defence minister Nazim and police chief Abdulla Riyaz to remain in their respective post during the transition period.

"The agreement had heavy foreign influence. I don't think the then president Dr Waheed was aware of it. The then defence minister Nazim was the one pushing to have the agreement sealed. To relinquish our independence and sovereignty," he explained.

The president said "two very powerful foreigners and a local" had approached him with the agreement.

"I was the PPM PG leader at the time. I said as the then PPM leader Maumoon [former president Gayoom] was not in the country I cannot sign it without running it by the party council," he said.

"Immediately after reading it, I told them I wouldn't sign it. Because the constitution clearly specifies the transfer of power. So I wouldn't agree to another arrangement before that. Even if everything they said happened after November 11, the decision must be up to the people."

President said the proposed agreement ended after a no confidence motion was filed against the then parliament speaker Abdulla Shahid which had jeopardized their plan of handing him transitional power.

President Yameen urged the people to be wary of political leaders insisting that "they don't always work for the benefit of the people."

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