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Maldives

Maldives court grants bail to ex-leader Gayoom after rival’s surprise defeat

Gayoom, who ruled Maldives from 1978-2008, is awaiting trial on charges of trying to bribe officials to topple the government of Yameen, his own estranged half-brother

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 October, 2018, 3:33am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 October, 2018, 4:31am

The Maldives High Court granted former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom bail on Sunday, making him the latest jailed opponent of President Abdulla Yameen to win freedom since Yameen lost a re-election bid a week ago.

The High Court granted Gayoom bail of 60,000 Maldivian rufiyaa (US$3,891) after a secret hearing. Gayoom, who ruled Maldives from 1978-2008, is awaiting trial on charges of trying to bribe officials to topple the government of Yameen, his own estranged half-brother. He was separately sentenced in June to 19 months imprisonment on obstruction of justice charges for refusing to hand over his mobile phone during the investigation.

In the run-up to last week’s election, Yameen’s government imprisoned a raft of his critics including two former presidents, two Supreme Court judges, two vice presidents, two defence ministers, a number of opposition leaders, lawmakers, and a former chief prosecutor.

Yameen lost his re-election bid to opposition leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih by more than 16 per cent. Although Yameen is due to remain in office until November 17 before Solih assumes the presidency, a number of Yameen’s opponents have already been freed.

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On Sunday, the High Court also granted bail to two legislators, Gayoom’s son Faris Maumoon and tourism tycoon Gasim Ibrahim, who leads a political party.

The country of 400,000 people is popular with tourists but has seen political unrest since its first democratically elected leader, Mohamed Nasheed, was forced to quit amid a police mutiny in 2012.