Exiled ex-Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed on Thursday declared that he would return to his country and run for presidency in elections next year, as he asserted that India will be “mindful of assisting democracy”. “We have decided that the MDP (Maldivian Democratic Party) will produce a candidate, I am hopeful to be that candidate,” Nasheed told reporters in Colombo after talks with party leaders.
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The 49-year-old leader, who faces jail in the Maldives for his 2015 conviction on terror-related charges, said the MDP would hold primaries to select the presidential candidate. Asked about the possibility of being barred from the polls, Nasheed said if the MDP is not allowed to field their choice of candidate they will look for an alternative common candidate to challenge incumbent Abdulla Yameen.
“In 2008 and 2013 they thought I will not be able to contest but I did,” said Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected president who was toppled in 2012. The former President said he met his MDP officials in Colombo to work out the future political strategies.
He said the international community was working behind the scenes to guarantee the democratic freedoms in the Maldives and “those efforts will bear fruit”. Nasheed said the international partners should ensure an all inclusive election. Nasheed was granted political asylum in the UK last May after he was authorised by the Maldivian government to travel for medical treatment while serving a 13-year sentence for a terror-related offence.
Yameen’s administration wants to jail him for breaking the terms of his release to go abroad for medical treatment. Despite the threat, Nasheed said he wants to return to his country. He alleged that Yameen’s government would jail anyone who would express desire to contest the next presidential election.
Nasheed said the Indian attention on the Maldives was important. “India will be mindful of what is happening currently,” Nasheed said, adding that MDP’s contacts with India were ongoing. “We always meet Indian officials and we are in conversation with the Indian government. I believe India will be mindful of assisting democracy,” he said.
Nasheed was sentenced to jail in March, 2015, after he was convicted on a terror-related charge, inviting widespread international condemnation. Yameen narrowly beat Nasheed in a controversial run off election in 2013.