Nasheed skeptical over smooth power transfer despite opposition's election win

Self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed on Saturday expressed skepticism that outgoing Maldives president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom would step aside despite his overwhelming defeat in last month's presidential elections.

In an interview with India's 'The Hindu' newspaper, Nasheed accused president Yameen of attempting to influence the Supreme Court ahead of its verdict on the legal challenge filed seeking to annul the election result.

"This goes on. Until power is actually transferred, it would not be very prudent to assume that things were going to move smoothly,” he said in central London, where he has spent much of his time in exile.

He appealed to India to partner with his alliance once it comes to power to help deliver essential reforms, saying it was in the interests of everyone in the region for the transfer to take place, and criticised the role that China had played in his country under President Yameen.

Nasheed also said he was determined to return to the Maldives as announced on November 1 despite his terrorism conviction.

“Maldives is my home. No one has a right to tell me not to go. The first thing that would happen is that I would have to go to jail, but if there is difficulty in transferring power then they must get me out. And I think that to galvanise the people, if need be, we must do it.”

The Supreme Court has scheduled what is widely believed to be the sentencing hearing on the constitutional dispute case filed by president Yameen at 1pm on Sunday.

President Yameen had filed a legal challenge at the Supreme Court last week seeking to annul last month's presidential election citing rigging and electoral fraud.

The case largely accused the Elections commission of using pens with disappearing ink while ballot papers had also been laced with a chemical that wiped votes for president Yameen.

Yameen lost the September 23 election by a margin of 16 percent to opposition alliance candidate, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, in an outcome hailed as a win for democracy in the crisis-hit archipelago.

The result was widely accepted, including by the United States, China, India, and the European Union.

Yameen conceded defeat a day after the election but had alleged widespread irregularities in the vote.