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'No concern over Nasheed's activities,' Sri Lanka quashes Maldives' extradition hopes

Mohamed Visham
31 August 2016, MVT 19:44
Former President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed (L) and British lawyer Amal Clooney (R) leave after a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron (not pictured) at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, 23 January 2016. The former president of the Maldives has been granted temporary release from prison to fly to Britain for surgery. EPA/ANDY RAIN
Mohamed Visham
31 August 2016, MVT 19:44

The Sri Lankan government quashed its neighbour's hopes of bringing back jailed former president Mohamed Nasheed saying it had no concerns over his activities in Sri Lanka.

Nasheed had been sentenced last March on a terrorism charge over the arrest and subsequent detention of a sitting Judge during his presidency, in a trial widely criticized for lack of due process.

He has since been granted asylum in the UK after he was allowed to leave for medical treatment in an internationally brokered deal in January.

Nasheed has reportedly flown in to Sri Lanka for a crucial sit-down over the removal of incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom from office.

Sri Lanka cabinet Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne was quoted in the Colombo Gazette having said that Nasheed was raising democratic issues and so it cannot be seen as an attempt to topple the Maldives Government.

A Maldives court on Tuesday issued a formal warrant for the arrest of Nasheed to coincide his visit to Sri Lanka.

According to the police the arrest warrant was issued in conjunction with investigations, pursuant to a 2011 Audit Report.

Nasheed and six senior officials of his administration have been ordered to repay government funds they had allegedly misused or face lawsuits.

The Maldives Correctional Service is also seeking to have Nasheed brought back to serve a remainder of his 13 year sentence from which he was initially granted extraordinary medical leave.

Senaratne said that Nasheed carried out all his activities from Sri Lanka before he became President and he had even thanked the then Sri Lankan Government for accommodating him.

“He thanked the then Sri Lankan government for allowing him to do his propaganda and activities from Sri Lanka against the then President Gayoom. He must be doing the same thing even now,” he said.

The Minister said that allowing Nasheed to work from Sri Lanka did not have a negative impact on Sri Lanka’s relationship with the Maldives at the time and should not even now.

In addition to Nasheed, an arrest warrant has also been issued against former vice president and leader of the new opposition coalition Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.

The arrest warrant was issued against Dr Jameel who now heads the opposition coalition over the forged warrant to arrest the president.

In addition to Jameel, a warrant to arrest opposition aligned Raajje TV Chairman over the case.

Jameel and Akram are also currently living in exile in the United Kingdom.

Jameel had fled to the UK last July days before he was impeached in a controversial vote which was alleged to have been orchestrated by his eventual successor Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor who himself was impeached following a blast aboard the presidential speedboat.

Ali Waheed (L), Nasheed (2nd L), Jameel (2nd R) and Ameen (R) pose for a picture with Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland in UK.

Adheeb has now been convicted and sentenced to prison for orchestrating the blast, now confirmed as a plot to kill the president.

The newly formed opposition alliance had said it will seek to oust incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and form an interim government to ensure free and fair elections scheduled in 2018.

Five rival opposition groups had announced a united front to remove president Yameen from office.

The MUO brings together the Maldivian Democratic Party, the Adhaalath Party, two of Yameen’s former deputies and his former defence minister.

The former chief prosecutor Muhuthaz Muhsin was convicted of terrorism and sentenced to 17 years in prison after the court found him guilty of forging the warrant to arrest the president.

The arrest warrant was issued from the Alif Dhaal Maamigili magistrate court in February. In addition to Muhuthaz, the chief magistrate of the court Ahmed Nihan was also sentenced to prison over the case.

A prosecution witness had testified that the warrant was sought on orders of the ex VP Jameel, an accusation he strongly denies.

The arrest warrants come in the wake of intense speculation of a plot to oust President Yameen from office.

Opposition had said, Jameel who had recently been granted political refugee status by Britain would also join the talks in Sri Lanka.

But the ex-VP is reportedly still in the UK while the reason behind the delay is yet to be confirmed.

The British public service broadcaster quoted sources saying the opposition plans to move against the president “within weeks.”

According to the BBC report, details of what is being planned remain obscure but the government has described it as a “formal attempt at ‘legally’ overthrowing the government”.

The report has been met by intense government criticism accusing the opposition of plotting the illegal overthrow of a democratically elected government.

 

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