Three key opposition figures, who fled the Maldives for fear of persecution, have been granted political refugee status by the British government.
Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, a former vice president, Ali Waheed, the chairperson of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, and Ameen Ibrahim, the Jumhooree Party’s deputy leader were granted asylum under the 1952 Geneva Convention on the status of refugees, according to reliable sources.
The three head the Maldives United Opposition, a newly formed coalition of opposition parties and former senior government officials, which has vowed to arrest President Abdulla Yameen on charges of corruption and human rights violations.
Jameel, Yameen’s former deputy who was impeached a year ago, fled to the United Kingdom just days before he was removed from office.
Waheed and Ameen left soon after they were released from police custody in June last year. The pair had been charged with terrorism over a historic opposition protest on May Day.
Jameel heads the MUO. Waheed is his deputy.
The president’s office declined to comment. “This question does not concern the government,” he said.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed, who was convicted of terrorism over the arrest of a top judge during his tenure, was granted refugee status by the UK in May. He had travelled to London for medical treatment in an internationally-brokered deal.
Nasheed is an advisor to the MUO.
The coalition is attempting to rally its supporters in its campaign to oust Yameen, but police have cracked down heavily on their gatherings by blocking protests, arresting activists and placing leaders under investigation.
The police have meanwhile issued a summons for Jameel over an inquiry into a forged warrant for Yameen’s arrest this February. The MUO said Jameel would return to on the “trails of Yameen’s arrest” and condemned the summons as a “devious” attempt to dismantle the coalition.
Yameen is facing international pressure over human rights abuses and engaged in a power struggle with his half-brother, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom for the control of the ruling party.