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Maldives' opposition demands President Yameen's ouster after court ruling

Nasheed was narrowly defeated in 2013 by President Yameen. Nasheed says his conviction on terror charges was politically motivated.

Maldives opposition demands President Yameens ouster after court ruling
President Abdulla Yameen. (Reuters File Photo)

Opposition parties in the Maldives today demanded the immediate resignation of President Abdulla Yameen after the island nation's top court ordered the release of nine key political prisoners, clearing the way for exiled former leader Mohamed Nasheed to return to politics.

Nasheed, 50, the country's first democratically-elected leader, was sentenced to 13 years in jail on terror charges in 2015 over the arbitrary arrest of chief criminal judge Abdullah Muhammed during his presidency.

The UK granted him asylum after he was authorised to seek medical treatment there amid mounting foreign pressure.

The ruling by the Supreme Court came yesterday during the hearing of a petition by the joint opposition which had sought the removal of President Yameen, alleging corruption, misrule and rights abuses.

Though the judges did not deliver a judgment on that request, they ordered the release of nine political prisoners, saying the trials against them violated the Maldives' Constitution and international law.

The apex court also reinstated 12 members of parliament who had defected to the Opposition and lost their seats last year.

Nasheed, who is among the prisoners ordered freed, said in a tweet: "Welcome tonight's SC ruling calling for the immediate release of political prisoners and the restoration of their civil and political rights. President Yameen must abide by this ruling and resign. Urge all citizens to avoid confrontation and engage in peaceful political activity".

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), in a statement issued here, demanded the immediate resignation of Yameen in light of the ruling. The MDP activists are based here.

The Supreme Court ruling also stated that political pressure was put on the prosecutors and the courts during the trials, the MDP claimed.

Hundreds of MDP supporters celebrated the judgment in Male while demanding Yameen's impeachment.

It was not immediately clear when the political leaders would be released from the prison.

While President Yameen's term in office will end in November this year, according to the Constitution, the presidential elections are to be held in August.

Nasheed was narrowly defeated in 2013 by President Yameen. Nasheed says his conviction on terror charges was politically motivated.

The Maldivian government holds that Nasheed is convicted for a crime and is wanted in the Maldives to serve a jail sentence. Nasheed said he will seek UN support to ensure he is allowed to contest.

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