By Dilrukshi Handunnetti
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AA) - Exiled former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed on Monday said he had every intention to run for president yet again in August.
Speaking to journalists in the Sri Lankan capital on Monday, Nasheed said several opposition political parties would field a common candidate in order to defeat incumbent President Abdulla Yameen, should the former be disqualified "through some mechanism" by the incumbent government.
Nasheed became the first democratically elected president of the archipelago state in 2008 after Mohamed Abdul Gayoom's 30-year rule. He was ousted from power in 2012 through a political coup.
Nasheed was later convicted, under questionable circumstances, under a terror-related charge which disqualifies him from running for high office.
Nasheed now lives in exile in the United Kingdom where he has sought asylum.
The former president said the 2018 presidential poll was much more than an election for his nation. "It is the last chance to save democracy in our island home," he said.
"In a genuine democracy, political parties will choose their candidates, but in the Maldives, the incumbent president does the choosing by disqualifying his opponents, putting them behind bars or driving them to self-exile."
However, Nasheed vowed to fight back, and "not give up".
"We will not make it easy for the government to rob Maldives of democracy. If I am disqualified, we will field a common candidate," he said.
In response, Maldivian High Commissioner in Colombo Mohamed Hussain Shareef told Anadolu Agency that the former president was disqualified from running for president based on his terror-related conviction.
He also accused an "emerging power" of being engaged in "land grabbing" in the Maldives and had already "grabbed" 16-17 islands.
"A large emerging power is buying up islands, infrastructure and sovereignty of the Maldives and the Maldivian government is complicit," he said, naming the "emerging power" as China, when pressed.
Nasheed currently heads a coalition of political parties opposing the current regime of Abdulla Yameen, elected to office in November 2013.