Maldives court releases JP deputy leader

Deputy Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Abdulla Riyaz became the first jailed politician to be released after the opposition alliance secured a surprise victory in the presidential elections.

The Kinbidhoo lawmaker Riyaz had remained among the four lawmakers including Dhiggaru MP Faris Maumoon, Dhangethi lawmaker Ilham Ahmed and South-Machchangoalhi lawmaker Abdulla Sinan to be charged with terrorism for conspiring to overthrow the government. All four remain remanded until the end of the respective trials.

However, the Criminal Court had released the former police chief after it found no grounds to keep him in remand.

As many as nine politicians including former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom is en-route from the main prison in Maafushi island to be produced in court.

The others expected to be freed by the court include Gayoom's lawmaker son Faris Maumoon, son-in law Ahmed Nadeem, South Machchangoalhi MP Abdulla Sinan and Dhangethi lawmaker Ilham Ahmed.

Former chief justice Abdulla Saeed, top court judge Ali Hameed and former police chief Ahmed Areef have also been produced in court.

The island nation has been embroiled in fresh political turmoil after the Supreme Court on February 1 ordered the immediate release of jailed political leaders including self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed.

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on February 5 had declared state of emergency after his last ditch attempt to convince the top court to revoke the order failed, purged the Supreme Court by arresting two judges and the remaining political leaders and ultimately had the order revoked.

Less than a day after the arrest of the two judges, the remaining three judges rescinded its ruling to release the political leaders referring to the concerns raised by president Yameen in the letters he had sent to the chief justice hours before state of emergency was declared.

The most high-profile figures remanded until the end of the trial included former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, chief justice Abdulla Saeed and top court judge Ali Hameed - all now formally charged with terrorism over the alleged plot to overthrow the government.

Opposition alliance wins pres polls

Just a little over a quarter million people in the tropical island nation voted on Sunday in an election amid mounting international concerns for a lack of transparency and suppression of government critics.

The election widely regarded more as a referendum than an election saw incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom seeking re-election go against the veteran lawmaker Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Throughout Sunday, Solih maintained a healthy lead but pulled well clear as Yameen lost key electorates despite significant pledges of development in the next five years.

Solih has been backed by Yameen's main political rivals including the now jailed former presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Nasheed along with Jumhoory Party leader and business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim.

Preliminary results from Sunday's election shows an overwhelming victory for the opposition alliance with Solih securing 58 percent of the votes.