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Maldives’s ex-Prez Nasheed says will contest polls after court orders release of oppn leaders

India has urged that the Maldives government abide by the court’s orders, adding that it is closely monitoring the evolving situation.

world Updated: Feb 02, 2018 17:04 IST
Agencies, Colombo/Male
Maldives,Mohamed Nasheed,President Yameen Abdul Gayoom
Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed in Colombo on February 2, 2018.(AP)

Exiled Maldives opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed vowed on Friday to run for president after the country’s Supreme Court overturned his criminal conviction, saying it was politically motivated.

“I can contest and will contest,” the country’s first democratically elected president told AFP in Colombo a day after the ruling. “We must set up proper procedures for inclusive, free and fair elections with full international observation.”

Nasheed was barred from contesting any election in the Maldives after the controversial 2015 conviction on a terrorism charge widely criticised as politically motivated.

The court also reinstated 12 lawmakers who had been ousted for switching allegiance to the opposition. When those lawmakers return, President Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of the Maldives will lose a majority in the 85-member Parliament.

India urged that the Maldives government abide by the court’s orders, adding that it is closely monitoring the evolving situation.

“We have seen last night’s order of the Supreme Court of Maldives releasing all political prisoners. In the spirit of democracy and rule of law, it is imperative for all organs of the Government of Maldives to respect and abide by the order of the apex court. We also hope that the safety and security of the Indian expatriates in Maldives will be ensured by the Maldivian authorities under all circumstances,” an external affairs ministry release said.

“As a close and friendly neighbour, India wishes to see a stable, peaceful and prosperous Maldives.”

The government said in a statement it was trying to “vet and clarify” the court’s ruling and “will work to engage, and consult with, the Supreme Court in order to comply with the ruling in line with proper procedure and the rule of law.”

The opposition alliance in a statement welcomed the ruling and called for Yameen’s resignation, saying the court’s decision “effectively ends President Yameen’s authoritarian rule.”

Earlier, hundreds of Nasheed’s supporters took to the streets to celebrate the court’s ruling. But clashes quickly broke out after Yameen fired the country’s police chief, whose department had announced that it would uphold the Supreme Court verdict.

Attorney general Mohamed Anil said police chief Ahmed Areef was fired after Gayoom had been repeatedly unable to reach him on the telephone. Yameen named Areef’s deputy, Ahmed Saudhee, as interim chief.

The clashes lasted about three hours, with police dispersing rock-throwing crowds using pepper spray and batons. At least one injured police officer was taken to a hospital. It was not immediately clear if anyone was arrested, though some protesters were seen being taken away by police.

First Published: Feb 02, 2018 17:04 IST