Former President Mohamed Nasheed declared on Thursday that his main aim is to maintain the government of President-Elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, expressing confidence in the successful continuance of the current opposition coalition.
Speaking at the press conference held to mark his return to Maldives, Nasheed proclaimed that he intended to remain in the country and support Solih's administration, working towards establishing a stable political environment.
Reiterating his belief in establishing a parliamentary system of governance, Nasheed went on to assure that he would not take any actions without first discussing with the president-elect. The former president further stated that he would not compromise his friendship with Solih, whom he had known since childhood.
While Nasheed confirmed that he will remain active in the political field, he stated that he did not wish to hold a position in Solih's government. In response to an inquiry regarding the possibility of running for parliament, the former president cryptically replied that nothing has been finalised yet.
Nasheed said that the current coalition agreement between the opposition parties ensures greater capability for Solih's government. Assuring that neither Solih nor any of the opposition leaders including former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Qasim Ibrahim and Sheikh Imran Abdulla would be left out, Nasheed stated that arresting and jailing someone over differences in opinion was not a solution.
He expressed confidence that the coalition will be maintained, praising Solih as an approachable character that anyone, from political leaders to civilians, can share their opinions with.
"Thus I believe this coalition will succeed."
In the press conference, Nasheed also slammed the administration of outgoing President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. He criticised the mounting foreign debt of the Maldives, claiming, "According to my information, [the Maldives] owes USD 3 billion to China alone".
Nasheed went on to describe the incumbent's rule as "authoritarian", which had curtailed press freedom in the country. He highly praised the local media for "fearlessly" continuing in the face of oppression, adding that it should be up to the press to decide the policies and regulations of media.
The former president went on to reveal that he has not held any discussions with President Yameen, proclaiming that there was enough evidence to prosecute him.
"A government that I support will conduct trials in a transparent manner, as per the hallowed policies of Islam."
Nasheed also replied to questions regarding his reason for absconding when the authorities had permitted him to travel abroad for medical treatment in the middle of his conviction. He stated that requesting treatment overseas had been the only way to coerce President Yameen to release him from jail, and that he had refused to return to serve his sentence in order to work for changing the government.
Nasheed further said that he did not expect any cooperation from the lawmakers of ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), but he remarked that "PPM does not belong to President Yameen", referring to the opposition's insistence that PPM's true leader is former President Gayoom, who had been ousted from that position after the party split into two factions amidst a political fallout between Gayoom and the incumbent.
"PPM is with the [opposition] coalition. The only opposing party now is MDA," said Nasheed, referring to Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) which had been PPM's coalition partner.
While Nasheed did not give a direct answer when asked about the constitutional amendment allowing foreign land ownership in Maldives, he stated that the issue of taking a motion of no confidence against President Yameen will be decided by the leadership of political parties.
The former president returned to the Maldives on Thursday afternoon after three years in self-exile. He was convicted of terrorism and sentenced to 13 years in jail, over the arbitrary detention of a judge during his presidency. He sought political asylum in the United Kingdom when he was later granted permission to leave the country for medical treatment in 2016. He had been residing in the UK and Sri Lanka since.