Former President Mohamed Nasheed may need up to six months to fully recover from a spinal condition, his lawyers have said. Nasheed, who was granted a 30-day leave from prison, consulted with a specialist doctor in London on Thursday.
Azima Shakoor, the minister for legal affairs at the president’s office, told reporters in Colombo that the government would extend his medical leave on request.
“Our belief is he would return. He is a man of great stature. I don’t think there is a question of him not returning,” Azima was quoted as saying by the AFP. “If he requests an extension of medical leave, he will certainly get it.”
It is not clear yet if the opposition leader would undergo a surgery as recommended by his doctors in the Maldives.
Hassan Latheef, a lawyer who represents Nasheed, said: “He’s had chronic back pain for a while, but controlled it with regular exercise, running, tennis and swimming. He was not allowed exercise in jail, which only exacerbated the condition. It was prison doctors who recommended the surgery.
“President Nasheed prefers rehabilitation or physical therapy over an invasive surgery. He is regularly in touch with his doctor in the UK, who says it may take up to six months for full recovery. We will know more later.”
Nasheed was sentenced to 13-years in jail in March on a terrorism charge. His reprieve from prison was granted in a deal brokered by Sri Lanka, India, the UK and US.
Upon his arrival in London, Nasheed met with UK Prime Minister David Cameron and went on a media blitz, appearing on CNN, BBC and Channel 4 to talk about his imprisonment, and the recruitment of Maldivians by extremist groups.
Nasheed has called for targeted sanctions against officials responsible for human rights abuses, and said he will challenge President Abdulla Yameen in the 2018 presidential elections.
“I think I will have to fight the next election. It’s unfinished business. Everything seems to be very half-baked,” he told the CNN.
The government has accused the former president of “exploiting the terms of a 30-day medical release to embark on a lobbying and media campaign abroad.”
The UN Working Group for Arbitrary Detention has called Nasheed’s imprisonment illegal and politically motivated. When the government sought an appeal, the WGAD rejected it “without comment,” according to Nasheed’s lawyers.
An appeal of Nasheed’s terrorism conviction is now before the Supreme Court.