First elected leader in Maldives Nasheed faces trial for abusing power

     The first democratically elected president in the Maldives will face trial on charges of abusing power, seven months after being toppled in a coup d'etat in the country. Former leader Mohamed Nasheed’s honeymoon with multi-party democracy ended in February when he was forced out in a police mutiny after he detained the chief criminal court judge on corruption allegations.

Nasheed, 45, will face up to three years in jail or banishment to a remote island in the archipelago, where tourists pay up to 12,500 US dollars a day for Robinson Crusoe-style holidays. The former leader insists he was ousted in a ‘coup’ involving his former deputy, Mohamed Waheed, who has since become president, reports. "The coup has not yet been completed," Nasheed said after his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) staged a mass rally on the tiny capital island Male on Friday to denounce the charges against him. According to the report, Nasheed in January had got criminal court judge Abdullah Mohamed arrested over corruption charges, a move that triggered weeks of opposition-led protests and his eventual downfall on February 7 after police mutinied.

Conviction as a result of his trial could disqualify Nasheed from contesting the next presidential elections. "People will not allow the regime to steal the next election. A free and fair election is our over-arching goal," Nasheed said. Pro-Western Nasheed, who won global attention as a campaigner against global warming, said he had "no chance of a fair trial, particularly in a case as political as this", the report added.

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