A hero's welcome for Nasheed in Maldives capital

Thousands flooded the main roads in the capital Male to greet former president Mohamed Nasheed who returned to the Maldives after spending three years in self-imposed exile.

Nasheed had lived 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 in 2015 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.

Nasheed's mother was the first to greet him as he disembarked from the plane flanked by his wife Laila Ibrahim and president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih who had flown to neighbouring to Sri Lanka to accompany Nasheed back to the country.

Top opposition officials including lawmakers and Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim had been at the VIP lounge to welcome Nasheed as he landed at the Velaana International Airport (VIA).

A fleet including fishing boats, speedboats, jet-skis and dinghies had escorted the boat carrying Nasheed from the airport island to the capital Male.

Nasheed got off the official jetty in the capital Male as thousands of his supporters clad in yellow - his party color lined the streets to greet the much beloved leader.

Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) would walk dozens of blocks along the main road greeting supporters before reaching the party's main camp in the east of Male.

Nasheed would then address his supporters at the artificial beach area before a press conference at 6pm.