More democracrazy in the Maldive Islands?

Chandi Dharmaratne

COLOMBO, Sept 22 (AFP) – The Maldivian government freed a top political dissident from house arrest Friday, opening the door for talks with the opposition on democratic reforms, both sides said. At the same time, the government warned that the released leader Mohamed Nasheed, better known as Anni, would continue to face terrorism charges unless he adopted a conciliatory approach.

The Maldivian government of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom said it released Nasheed from 13 months of detention following a deal brokered by the British government.

“He was released as part of the talks held under the auspices of the British High Commission in Colombo,” Maldivian government spokesman Mohamed Hussain Shareef told AFP.

“We expect him to engage the government in political reform talks.”

Shareef said the terrorism charges against Nasheed were still pending but they could be dropped “if he sticks to his side of the bargain and drops his militant approach.”

Nasheed, head of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), ended a self-imposed exile in Britain and travelled to the Indian Ocean archipelago last year to demand political reforms but was arrested on terrorism charges which he denied.

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