Last gasp: A Gayoom election poster, 24 October 2008
Photo: Hani Amir
On 17 October last year, British Prime Minister David Cameron received an interesting letter, faxed to his office at 10 Downing Street. It came from none other than Asia’s longest-ruling autocrat, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had been deposed in late 2008 after he lost the Maldives’ first-ever democratic election – to a man who had led a five-year-long democracy movement and had been jailed at least a dozen times by Gayoom’s regime. In his letter, Gayoom, who ruled the Maldives with an iron-fist for 30 years, alleged that his successor, President Mohamed Nasheed, was intimidating him; he appealed for help from Prime Minister Cameron, urging him to put pressure on President Nasheed following ‘the escalation of attempts to harass and intimidate me and my family’. Gayoom also categorically stated that he has ‘retired’ from politics. ‘As you probably know,’ he wrote, ‘I retired from politics earlier this year and have since been dedicating my time to the development of a not-for-profit charitable foundation that I established earlier this year in my name: The Maumoon Foundation.’
Just four months after writing that letter, Gayoom made a significant u-turn in January, plunging back into direct politics. With an eye on then-upcoming local-council elections – the country’s first ever, held in early February – he began to campaign as the ‘honorary leader’ of the party over which he had once presided, the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP). But even before he started to campaign, President Nasheed warned him that doing so would not be a ‘wise’ move.
Kingpin: Abdulla Yameen, July 2010
Romila Thapar addresses invitees at the
Southasian relaunch of Himal Southasian,
IIC, New Delhi, January 2013.
China, Southasia and India
On May 19 2013, newly appointed Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in New Delhi for a series of meetings with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The visit is Keqiang's first outside of China since assuming power in March.
From our archive:
Purna Basnet discusses Chinese engagement in Nepal vis-a-vis security issues in Tibet and broader geo-strategic plans in Southasia (April 2011).
Fatima Chowdury relates the story of Calcutta's Indian Chinese community through the lens of political and economic upheavals in Southasia and China (May 2009).
Simon Long notes the importance of the Sino-Indian relationship for the rest of Southasia (September 2006).
J.N Dixit ruminates on the strategic concerns of the 'Middle Kingdom' in the wake of India's 1998 nuclear tests (June 1998).