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Maldivian opposition seeks international intervention to free ex-president

Colombo, May 13(IANS) – Maldives opposition parties have called on the international community to pressure its government to end suppression and free former president Mohammad Nasheed, party leaders said here on Wednesday.

Maldivian opposition seeks international intervention to free ex-president

Leaders of the Maldives Democratic Party (MDP), Jumhoory Party and Adahalath Party (AP) met with members of the diplomatic community in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo to push for a meeting with President Abdulla Yameen, Xinhua news agency reported.

They also want the Maldivian government to ensure democratic rights, including an independent judiciary, and release supporters of the former president arrested during a May Day rally held earlier this month.

Over 200 protesters, including opposition leaders, were detained by police, said the opposition.

The purpose of this alliance was to work against the threats the Maldivian democratic system was facing from the systematic and deliberate actions of President Yameen’s government, said former MDP MP Tasmeen Ali.

Democratic gains that were enshrined in the 2008 Constitution has been severely curtailed and systematically undermined by the government. One of the basic elements is separation of powers, by the actions of the current government there has been immense levels of political influence in the judiciary. The most symbolic of these being (former) president Nasheed’s trial, he told reporters.

Former president Nasheed was jailed in March for 13 years for arresting a high court judge during his tenure. The trial has been heavily criticised by the international community, including the UN, for being politically motivated and failing to follow due process.

Nasheed’s lawyers have also called for a presidential pardon as the quickest way to release the former president. However, President Yameen has called for an appeal to take the case forward.

These are unsubstantiated accusations. We have independent bodies that will deal with this case. The government will continue to uphold the law, said President’s Office spokesman Ibrahim Muaz Ali.

The opposition pledged to continue protests with one planned for later this month.