British Prime Minister David Cameron urged the Maldives to open up its politics and release all remaining political prisoners after meeting former president Mohamed Nasheed yesterday.
Nasheed, who has been in prison in the Maldives but was granted special leave for urgent surgery, visited Cameron’s Downing Street office in London, accompanied by his wife Laila Ali Abdulla and his British lawyer Amal Clooney.
Nasheed’s conviction last March on terror-related charges has been widely criticised by the international communtiy.
The 48-year-old ex-leader left the Maldives on Monday after resolving a last-minute legal dispute with the government over his 30-day release for spinal cord surgery in Britain.
Cameron and Nasheed agreed that while his release was “a positive step, more needed to be done... if real change is to be delivered,” a Downing Street spokesman said.
The former British protectorate in the Indian Ocean is one of the 53 Commonwealth
“Looking ahead to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group visit to the Maldives next month, the prime minister and Mr Nasheed agreed this was an opportunity for all Commonwealth members to send a consistently strong message on the need for the Maldivian government to engage in open political dialogue and free all remaining political prisoners swiftly.
“Finally, the prime minister told Mr Nasheed that the UK would continue to raise concerns about the erosion of democracy and wider situation in the Maldives.”
Nasheed became the first democratically-elected president of the Maldives in 2008 and served for four years before he was toppled in what he called a coup backed by the military and police.
He was sentenced to 13 years in jail on terrorism charges relating to the arrest of an alleged corrupt judge in 2012, when he was still in power.
The UN has said his trial was seriously flawed and he should be released and compensated for wrongful detention.
But the Maldives’ President Abdulla Yameen has refused to accept the UN ruling and has been resisting international pressure to release Nasheed.
Yameen is a half-brother of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled for 30 years until his defeat by Nasheed in the country’s first multi-party elections eight years ago.
British PM David Cameron meets with former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed, left, and lawyer Amal Clooney, right, inside 10 Downing Street in London yesterday.