COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — A court in the Maldives has banned former President Mohamed Nasheed from leaving the capital without official permission, in what his party on Wednesday called a politically motivated move.
Nasheed resigned as president in February after losing the support of the military and police during widespread protests triggered by the secret arrest of a senior judge. He later insisted that he was forced out in a coup, but an inquiry commission concluded he left legally. He was charged in July with illegally ordering the judge's arrest.
Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party said the Hulhumale Magistrate Court served him with a notice of criminal proceedings and the travel restriction Tuesday evening.
"This detention is politically motivated, aimed solely at preventing Nasheed from campaigning ahead of next year's elections," the party said.
"The regime fears Nasheed will win an election. So they plan to convict him of something so they can prevent him from standing. They know their grip on power is dependent on removing Nasheed from the political equation," it said in a statement.
Abbas Riza, spokesman for current President Mohammed Waheed Hassan, rejected the allegation, saying the court order was "the usual practice, according to the country's law."
He said anyone who has a scheduled court case faces similar travel restrictions. "It's done to everyone and nothing extraordinary has been done to him. It's totally a judicial matter and the government has no influence on the judiciary," Riza said.
Nasheed was a democracy activist and political prisoner before becoming president in the Maldives's first multiparty election in 2008. His supporters have held frequent protests in recent months demanding early elections. Hassan has said he will hold elections in July 2013, the earliest time permitted by the constitution.