The newly formed opposition alliance will bring incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's autocratic regime to a premature end to pave the way for an interim government, jailed former president Mohamed Nasheed assured Thursday.
Addressing the thousands of supporters gathered on Thursday night for the Maldives United Opposition's (MUO) first rally, Nasheed in a pre-recorded message stressed on the need to establish an interim government to end Yameen's regime.
The MUO was established in London where key members of the opposition are in exile including Yameen’s first vice president Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and former president Mohamed Nasheed.
The MUO brings together the Maldivian Democratic Party, the Adhaalath Party, two of president Yameen’s former deputies and his former defence minister.
The alliance had said it will seek to oust president Yameen and form an interim government to ensure free and fair elections scheduled in 2018.
Nasheed’s jailing on a terror charge last year was a key trigger of the current political crisis. He was allowed to leave the country in an internationally brokered deal in January.
"The government needs to change. The Maldivian people deserve a better government. All opposition parties have come together to form an interim government. The people must not lose hope," Nasheed told supporters in his message via video conferencing.
The opposition will ensure an independent judiciary, elections commission and state institutions leading up to the presidential elections, Nasheed added.
Thousands of opposition supporters had flocked to the MDP camp in front of artificial beach after the government refused to grant a venue to hold the rally.
Police in riot gear had allowed the rally to continue but had blocked off protesters from spilling on to the streets.
Yameen's first vice president Jameel had meanwhile fled to the UK last July, days before he was impeached in a controversial vote. At the time, the Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim were already in jail.
Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail last year but was given asylum in Britain after traveling there for back surgery. Nazim is serving an 11-year jail term for possessing a firearm, and former vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor was sentenced to 25 years in prison on two counts of terrorism charges, including an assassination attempt on the president.
All these convictions have been decried for a lack of due process.