Maldives ruling party to restrict self-exiled leaders' path to presidency

Maldives' chief government lawmaker Ahmed Nihan Hussain Manik on Tuesday hinted at plans to restrict several political leaders currently in exile from contesting in the upcoming presidential elections.

The Vilimale lawmaker had on Monday submitted an amendment to the electoral framework which states that a Maldivian citizen with dual citizenship would only be eligible to contest for the presidency if 10 years have lapsed since the foreign citizenship had been renounced.

Speaking during the parliament debate on his amendment, the outspoken lawmaker said the move was necessary to prevent foreign influence and interference in the country's internal affairs.

In addition to the amendment, Nihan also insisted on the need for clause to put some restrictions on Maldivians who had been granted asylum abroad. Nihan stressed that such people who have been living abroad for years should not be allowed to suddenly return and lead the country and its people.

He expressed hope that parliamentary committee would consider and subsequently add such a clause to his amendment.

Nihan was indirectly referring to the several political leaders who have been forced into exile.

Former president Mohamed Nasheed lives in self imposed exile most recently in Sri Lanka after he was allowed to leave to the UK on medical leave in an internationally brokered deal following his jailing on terrorism charges.

He was sentenced to 13 years in prison over the arbitrary arrest and subsequent detention of a sitting judge while he was president.

Opposition Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim lives in self imposed exile in Germany after he was convicted of bribery and sentenced to over three years in prison in August last year.

Gasim was granted medical leave to travel to Singapore where he had undergone a minor heart surgery in September before travelling to Germany where he has since been granted asylum.

Despite their respective criminal conviction, the duo still harbours interest to stand for the elections slated for September 23.