Colombo: Former Maldives leader Mohamed Nasheed announced on Wednesday he would return home two years after going into exile as Abdulla Yameen's term of strongman rule comes to a close in the paradise islands.
Nasheed was the country's first democratically elected president but left in 2016, after being jailed for terrorism in a trial the UN said was politically motivated. He was barred from contesting the 23 September poll won by his party's nominee Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who defeated Yameen despite restrictions on opposition campaigning.
Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years prison in 2015 but went into exile a year later, after being granted prison leave for medical treatment in the UK. He is still a fugitive from justice in the Maldives and risks arrest if he returns while Yameen is still in office but his five years of iron-fisted rule ends on 17 November.
"If we at this juncture try to find an amicable arrangement for my freedom with the now-defunct Maldives Supreme Court, it will not further our ambitions for judicial reform in the Maldives," Nasheed said on Twitter, referring to Yameen's crackdown on the judiciary. "I will go to the Maldives on 01 November, come what may."
Another former president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, was this week released from jail just days after Yameen, his estranged half-brother, lost the election.
Gayoom, 80, and his legislator son Faris Maumoon, were released on bail by the High Court in Male, raising hopes that other political prisoners will be freed soon. Former foes Nasheed and Gayoom both backed Solih to challenge Yameen, who had locked up all his key political opponents or forced them to flee the country.
Gayoom had ruled the nation of 340,000 Sunni Muslims for 30 years until he was defeated by Nasheed in the Maldives' first multi-party elections in 2008.
Gayoom, along with several top judges, was arrested in February and charged with trying to overthrow Yameen. The president responded by declaring a 45-day state of emergency to block his impeachment.
Another high profile Maldivian dissident, Qasim Ibrahim, has also been granted bail, but is not in the Maldives. He too was in exile in Europe, having obtained prison leave for medical treatment.
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Updated Date: Oct 04, 2018 07:28:42 IST