The first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term.

Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, waves before he heads on a launch to the capital to meet the public after his arrival in Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, waves before he heads on a launch to the capital to meet the public after his arrival in Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)

Mohamed Nasheed traveled by boat parade from the airport island to the national capital, Male, where he was welcomed by his party members and supporters.

Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, center right, embraces a supporter upon arrival at the airport in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1,2018.  Nasheed returned to Maldives Thursday after living in exile for more than two years. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, center right, embraces a supporter upon arrival at the airport in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1,2018. Nasheed returned to Maldives Thursday after living in exile for more than two years. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)

At a news conference, he criticized outgoing President Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s administration as “authoritarian” and said it had put the country under a heavy debt burden.

Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, left,sits with President-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, afterhis arrival at the airport in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1,2018.  Nasheed returned to Maldives Thursday after living in exile for more than two years. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, left,sits with President-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, afterhis arrival at the airport in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1,2018. Nasheed returned to Maldives Thursday after living in exile for more than two years. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)

Yameen’s government had signed a number of infrastructure projects funded by China, which Nasheed had criticized before as akin to a land grab.

Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, left chats with president elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, right and vice president elect Faisal Naseem, upon arrival at airport in Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, left chats with president elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, right and vice president elect Faisal Naseem, upon arrival at airport in Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)

Nasheed also said there was enough evidence of alleged corruption and misrule against Yameen to prosecute him.

Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, center, waves to the public in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. President elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is on his right. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, center, waves to the public in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. President elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is on his right. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, gestures after his arrival at airport i, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, gestures after his arrival at airport i, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)

Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail in 2015 after being convicted of terrorism for ordering the arrest of a top judge in 2012 while he was president. His trial was criticized internationally for lack of due process, along with those of many other political opponents jailed by Yameen’s administration.

Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, heads on a launch to the capital to meet the public after his arrival in Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, heads on a launch to the capital to meet the public after his arrival in Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)

He was offered asylum in Britain when he traveled there for medical treatment on leave from prison. He was recently in Sri Lanka.

Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, center, waves to the public in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. President elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is on his right. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, center, waves to the public in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. President elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is on his right. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)

Nasheed’s return follows Yameen’s defeat in the Sept. 23 presidential election by Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the candidate of Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party.

Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, center, waves to the public in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. President elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is on his right. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, center, waves to the public in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. President elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is on his right. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)

Since Yameen’s defeat, courts have freed or granted bail to some of the jailed officials.

Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, center, waves to the public in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. President elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is on his right. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, center, waves to the public in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. President elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih is on his right. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, gestures as he addresses the public in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, gestures as he addresses the public in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)

The Supreme Court earlier this week suspended Nasheed’s prison sentence until it reviews his conviction at the request of the prosecutor general, a move to prevent his arrest on arrival.

Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, addresses the public in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, addresses the public in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)

Two other people — an opposition party leader and a former vice president who was Yameen’s running mate in the 2013 presidential election — earlier returned from exile.

Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, addresses the public in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, addresses the public in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)

Nasheed had been a pro-democracy activist during decades of autocratic rule and was elected president in the country’s first multiparty election in 2008. He gained international attention as an environment crusader, holding a Cabinet meeting underwater to highlight the dangers that rising sea levels caused by global warming pose to the archipelago nation composed of coral masses just a few meters (feet) above sea level.

Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, arrives to address the public in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. Banner in Divehi language reads,
Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, arrives to address the public in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. Banner in Divehi language reads, ” This love is from Heart To Heart ” (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)

He resigned the presidency in 2012 amid public protests against his order to arrest the senior judge and lost the 2013 election to Yameen.

Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, center, greets supporters and party workers upon arrival at the airport in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, center, greets supporters and party workers upon arrival at the airport in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, center is received by supportesr, at the airport in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed returned to Maldives Thursday after living in exile for more than two years. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, center is received by supportesr, at the airport in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed returned to Maldives Thursday after living in exile for more than two years. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)

Also on Thursday, president-elect Solih’s nominee was elected speaker with an overwhelming majority, in the first test of strength in the Maldives parliament since the election.

Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, center left, is received by President-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, center right and others, at the airport in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018.  Nasheed returned to Maldives Thursday after living in exile for more than two years. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, center left, is received by President-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, center right and others, at the airport in Male, Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed returned to Maldives Thursday after living in exile for more than two years. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)

Qasim Ibrahim, who is a coalition partner with Solih won the vote 62 votes for him and 16 against in the 85-member parliament. Ibrahim has returned from exile in Germany after Solih’s election victory.

Supporters of Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, cheer upon his arrival in Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
Supporters of Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, cheer upon his arrival in Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)

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Supporters of Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, cheer upon his arrival in Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)
Supporters of Maldives’ former president Mohamed Nasheed, cheer upon his arrival in Maldives, Thursday, Nov.1, 2018. Nasheed, the first democratically elected president of the Maldives returned home Thursday after more than two years in exile to escape a long prison term. (AP Photo/Mohamed Sharuhaan)

Source: The Associated Press

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