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Sheikh Imran rejects presidential pardon

He was offered freedom if he joined the government and a chance to leave the Maldives with his family.



A jailed opposition leader rejected a presidential pardon because he said he would rather stay in prison than make a deal with the government, a party source confirmed to the Maldives Independent Thursday.

The Adhaalath Party’s Sheikh Imran Abdulla is serving a 12-year sentence for a terror conviction and was last month transferred to house arrest for electrical work to be carried out in his cell.

Government representatives, including President Abdulla Yameen’s running mate and Imran’s former party colleague Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, visited the jailed leader on Wednesday to discuss conditions for his release, according to the source who wished to remain anonymous.

Imran was offered freedom if he joined the government and a chance to leave the Maldives with his family.

He rejected the offers, saying: “I would rather be in jail than get into a deal with the government,” the source added.

The government has yet to respond to media reports.

Shaheem, a founding member of the religious conservative Adhaalath Party, was criticised for joining Yameen’s ticket having previously resigned from a ministerial position over Imran’s imprisonment.

His resignation as Islamic minister followed Imran’s arrest in 2015. He announced his retirement from politics and was appointed as vice chancellor of the newly established Islamic University of Maldives.

But, in his first press conference as Yameen’s running mate, Shaheem called on his former colleague to leave the Maldives opposition and join the government.

He told reporters he decided to rejoin Yameen to maintain the Islamic unity of the Maldives.

“Even with Imran being a very close brother, I did not want to join the opposition. Because I also believe in certain principles. If things are going against those principles I will not be controlled by them. I can only stay where I want to stay. That is why the two of us, with due respect, parted our ways in politics.”