Maldives pres slams opposition over 'shady deals'

Embattled Maldives president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on Saturday slammed the opposition for making 'shady deals' for personal gain adding that his political rivals have jeopardized the country's sovereignty, peace and stability.

President Yameen in his first public appearance since the landmark Supreme Court ruling two days ago ordering the release of jailed politicians including self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed, heavily criticized the opposition but admitted that the court order which came "out of the blue" took him by "surprise".

"Unlike some people who are hiding in some foreign land and make shady deals for their own gains. I will never make shady deals. What I do will be out in the open for the whole country and its people to see," president Yameen said.

President Yameen reiterated that the country has no "political prisoners." Any politicians in jail were found guilty by a court of law for crimes committed, he added.

"This government doesn't put innocent people in jail. We don't have political prisoners. But we do have politicians jailed for committing various crimes."

The president also rebuffed rumours that he was preparing to leave the country insisting that he would never "flee" from hardship leaving the people to their woes.

"They're saying that I'm about to leave to Singapore. But I would like to assure the Maldivian people that I'm going nowhere. My government, my cabinet, my parliamentary group remain united as ever," president stressed.

"We will overcome this together."

The island nation has been plunged into fresh political turmoil after the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the immediate release of jailed political leaders including self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed.

More than a day after the Supreme court ordered the immediate release of as many as nine political prisoners, government has thus far refused to comply.

In addition to Nasheed, the other top political leaders named in the order included Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim, religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla, former defence minister Mohamed Nazim, former vice president Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor and deposed ruling party leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's lawmaker son Faris Maumoon.

The others named in the order included former prosecutor general Muhthaz Muhsin, magistrate Ahmed Nihan and Adheeb's brother in law Hamid Ismail.

Maldives' international partners including the UN, UK, US and India have echoed calls on the government to comply with the court order.

The Supreme Court had said the questionable and politically motivated nature of the trials of the political leaders warrants a re-trial and ordered the authorities to immediately free the jailed leaders until a court of law sentences otherwise.

The court has ordered relevant authorities to strictly enforce the order and warned legal action against anyone who refuses to obey the court order.

The court had also annulled its anti-defection ruling and ordered the country's electoral watchdog to re-instate the dozen government lawmakers disqualified over the ruling. The Supreme Court said the anti-defection ruling was issued as a temporary solution to the constitutional dispute case filed by the state but insisted that the relevant authorities have failed to bring to effect an anti-defection law specified in the ruling.