Welcoming the Prosecutor General’s decision to appeal a terrorism conviction against former president Mohamed Nasheed, President Abdulla Yameen today pledged to do all he can to address the opposition leader’s concerns through the Maldivian judicial processes.
“I welcome the Prosecutor General’s decision to appeal the case. That decision is not one I can make, but one he can. As per President Nasheed’s wishes, we now have a resolution to statements by foreign parties that he must have further opportunities,” President Yameen told the press at an event to welcome more island councilors to the ruling party.
Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail over the military’s detention of a criminal court judge he had accused of corruption. The 19-day-trial was widely criticized for lack of due process.
On July 19, Nasheed’s sentence was commuted to house arrest amidst negotiations between the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the government.
The MDP has since accused the government of failing to honour a commitment to release Nasheed and other jailed politicians.
President Yameen had previously rejected Nasheed’s appeal for clemency, stating he must first exhaust all appeal processes. Nasheed’s lawyers maintain changes brought to the Judicature Act by the Supreme Court, including a shortened appeal period of 10 days, has blocked them from filing an appeal.
The president today reiterated his belief that President Nasheed’s concerns over irregularities can only be addressed through the legal system in the Maldives.
“I have always said we can only do so through the established systems. I will do everything I can through that system,” he said.
Yameen went on to express hope the appeal is fast-tracked and said he expected stability with the beginning of the appeal. The Prosecutor General’s Office has not revealed updates on the appeal.
Nasheed’s arrest and imprisonment had triggered daily protests, historic antigovernment marches and concern by the international community, including the British Prime Minister David Cameron, the European Union parliament and the United States Secretary of State John Kerry.
Street protests were called off with the negotiations, and opposition MPs backed several government proposals including the impeachment of Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and two unprecedented constitutional amendments.
The MDP has remained silent on whether they will continue talks with the government.
President Yameen today expressed hope for continuation of talks, and slammed certain political parties for presenting unacceptable conditions and refusing to engage with the government.
The religious conservative Adhaalath Party has refused to participate in talks without their leader, Sheikh Imran Abdulla.
Imran was charged with terrorism over a mass antigovernment protest on May 1. The trial has not proceeded beyond one hearing. Imran has since been transferred to a high security prison.
“We cannot speak to those parties who present such conditions. We can talk to everyone else,” Yameen said today.
The president once again slammed unnamed foreign parties for attempting to meddle in the Maldives’ domestic affairs, stating international organizations and foreign countries must not be allowed to pass judgment on changes of government or court verdicts in the Maldives.
“International organizations or foreign countries do not have to inquire into change in governments here. It is the Maldivian citizens’ rights. But we have invited foreign parties in, we have allowed them to do so. We have investigative agencies that can look into this. Parties from elsewhere do not have to come and do it,” he said.
The Commonwealth’s democracy and human rights arm had placed the Maldives on a watch list following Nasheed’s ouster in 2012. However, a Commonwealth backed inquiry later found the transfer of power to be legal. The MDP maintains Nasheed was deposed in a coup d’état.
The government is threatening to leave the Commonwealth with some member countries lobbying to have Maldives placed back on the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group’s (CMAG) agenda.
“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of independence, the past three years of the fifty have not been satisfactory, or not what we can be proud of,” President Yameen said.
Nasheed is petitioning the UN working group on arbitrary detention to declare his imprisonment illegal. A ruling is expected in September or October.