Maldives pres won't risk stability to free jailed leaders

Maldives' embattled president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom won't risk peace and stability in the country by releasing jailed opposition leaders which he said remains essential for continued development.

Speaking during a ceremony held to mark the completion of a sewerage system project in Haa Dhaal Atoll Nolhivaram island, president Yameen slammed the opposition presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's promise to free jailed leaders on his first day in office after winning the upcoming presidential elections.

The president said "freeing criminals" would undermine the stability in the country and could plunge the nation into further chaos.

"No one wants to or likes imprisoning people. But crimes cannot go unpunished. We have to order to ensure a peaceful and stable society," he added.

President Yameen has been under intense opposition and international pressure over the jailing of his key rivals including former presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Mohamed Nasheed.

The international community has repeatedly called on the Maldives government to release political prisoners and to ensure a free and fair presidential elections slated for September.