Maldives opposition leader in talks to 'topple' president

'Yameen?s days are numbered. He has lost the support of the people and the international community. We can restore democracy in the Maldives,' said Nasheed. Photograph:( Getty )

Colombo, Sri Lanka Sep 14, 2016, 11.21 AM (IST)
Maldives opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed said he is in talks with former president Maumoon Gayoom to 'legally topple' the current president of the tropical nation.

Nasheed, who was jailed several times under the autocratic leadership of Gayoom, said that President Yameen's days were 'numbered'.

"He (Yameen) has lost the support of the people and the international community. We can restore democracy in the Maldives," the exiled leader said. Nasheed was jailed on terrorism charges and now lives in exile in London. He was also the first Maldivian president to be democratically elected in 2008.

Nasheed said he wanted to bury the hatchet with his old rival and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Nasheed said he had forgiven Gayoom and was in talks with his faction of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) "for a new political alignment", AFP reported.

"And so the position of the Maldives United Opposition, of which I am a member, is that for democracy to be restored in the Maldives it is essential that President Yameen be removed from power," he told Colombo-based reporters via Skype from London on Tuesday.

Nasheed visited Colombo last month to meet fellow dissidents and strategise Yameen's overthrow. Gayoom did not comment on the matter.

"The opposition was expecting Gayoom to get a section of his party to withdraw support for Yameen late last month, but for some reason that did not happen," said one western diplomatic source in Colombo, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Nasheed resigned as president in 2012 after an opposition-led police mutiny. In the past, he has accused Gayoom of orchestrating his downfall.

An arrest warrant was issued against the former president earlier this month,  for failing to return to the troubled archipelago to complete a jail sentence after receiving medical care in Britain, AFP had reported.

Denting its image as a paradise for upmarket tourists, the Indian Ocean island chain has been gripped by political turmoil since Nasheed was forced to resign.

(WION with inputs from agencies)