Politics

Exiled Former President of Maldives Plans to Seek Office Again

NEW DELHI — A former president of the Maldives, who now lives in exile in London, is planning to run in his party’s internal primaries with the hope of becoming a presidential candidate in elections in the country next year.

Mohamed Nasheed, the former president, met with members of his party, the Maldivian Democratic Party, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, over the last week.

On Thursday, he told reporters, “I can contest, I am a Maldives national, and I am free — I must be free to contest.”

Mr. Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2015 on terrorism charges that his supporters said were politically motivated under the government of his successor, President Abdulla Yameen.

He was granted political asylum in Britain the next year, after traveling there for medical treatment.

The Maldives Constitution states that anyone who has been sentenced to more than 12 months in a criminal case cannot run for president within three years of his release or unless he has been pardoned.

Mr. Nasheed said he hoped other countries would intervene. “We will continue to work with our international partners to see how they may be able to impress on President Yameen the need to have an all inclusive election,” he said.

It is unclear whether the government of the Maldives, a tiny archipelago nation in the Indian Ocean, southwest of India, would be amenable to such pressures. Led by Mr. Yameen, it is increasingly isolated.

In October, it announced that it would withdraw from the Commonwealth after facing criticism over human rights. Since 2015, Mr. Yameen has been prosecuting his political opponents and other leaders in the country. In June 2016, a former vice president was convicted of trying to assassinate Mr. Yameen and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

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Mr. Nasheed was elected in 2008 in the country’s first democratic election after three decades of autocratic rule by Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and he was forced out of office in 2012 in what his supporters described as a coup orchestrated by loyalists of Mr. Gayoom.

Mr. Nasheed was later arrested over accusations that he ordered the military to arrest a chief judge of the criminal court, whom he accused of acting on behalf of Mr. Gayoom.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found in 2015 that Mr. Nasheed did not receive a fair trial, and it concluded that several factors strongly suggested that his conviction was politically motivated. Mr. Yameen, who is Mr. Gayoom’s half brother, won the presidential election in 2013.

A spokesman for the president’s office did not respond to calls for comment on Thursday.

Mohamed Shainee, the government minister of fisheries and agriculture, said in an interview with the Indian news website The Wire in January that the government was open to talks, with “no preconditions.”

Source URL: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/09/world/asia/mohamed-nasheed-maldives.html

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