Maldives ex-president leaves Indian embassy

Exit follows assurances won by Indian diplomat that Mohamed Nasheed will be free to campaign for presidential polls.

    Maldives ex-president leaves Indian embassy
    Nasheed left the embassy after the Indian envoy won assurances that he would be free to campaign in elections [AFP]

    Mohamed Nasheed, the former Maldives president, has left the Indian embassy in the capital, Male, 10 days after seeking refuge in the mission in a bid to avoid arrest over allegations of corruption.

    He left the embassy premises on Saturday after an Indian diplomat won assurances from authorities that he would be free to campaign for presidential elections in September, Nasheed's opposition party said.

    "He [Nasheed] entered India's mission on February 13 of his own volition and decided to leave on his own," Syed Akbaruddin, the Indian foreign ministry spokesman, said in a statement on Saturday.

    "It is hoped that with this development the former president will again resume his social and political life,"

    The initial move had strained ties between India and its tiny neighbour, after an arrest warrant was issued for Nasheed, 45, following his failure to attend court for what he called a "politically motivated" trial.

    But the Maldivian and Indian governments did not comment on what prompted Nasheed's departure from the embassy.

    India has in the past strongly denied interfering in the internal affairs of the Maldives.

    "We welcome this development," Maldivian President Mohamed Waheed's press secretary said, referring to his departure from the embassy.

    Masood Imad, the press secretary, added that there was no arrest warrant against Nasheed at the moment, the Press Trust of India reported.

    Political standoff

    Saturday's development came after a Maldivian court earlier this week postponed Nasheed's trial for alleged abuse of power and India sent its envoy to the country to try to end the political standoff.

    Nasheed has repeatedly insisted that the charges of abuse of power against him stemming from his time as president are a "politically motivated sham" to prevent him from leading his party in the September polls.

    A conviction would disqualify Nasheed from contesting the election. The pro-democracy campaigner won the first free elections in 2008 in the Indian Ocean holiday destination but he was removed last year following a mutiny by police and troops.

    Nasheed had been demanding the resignation of his successor and the establishment of a neutral caretaker administration to ensure free and fair elections.

    On Saturday, however, he sounded conciliatory, saying that "even on issues that we disagree on, we can reach a compromise with the Maldivian government".

    His court hearing, scheduled for last Wednesday, was postponed after police said they were unable to arrest him following his flight to the Indian embassy.

    Imad, the Maldivian presidential spokesman, said the case against Nasheed was still pending.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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