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Yet Mohamed Nasheed – the Maldives' first democratically elected president, who was just sentenced to 13 years imprisonment for unnamed "terrorist offenses" by the military-backed government that overthrew him in 2012 – seems to have fallen off the world's radar.This is bad news for the Maldives, where the fate of a fledgling democratic regime is inextricably tied to that of Nasheed. Nasheed's predecessor, Maumoon Gayoom, who won the presidency in a 1978 parliamentary vote, adopted an authoritarian style, and subjected the country to three decades of misrule. Nasheed's victory in a free and fair popular vote in 2008 offered the promise of a brighter future for the conservative Muslim country. The new president – who is intelligent, eloquent and enthusiastic about what his Maldivian Democratic Party could deliver for the Maldives – introduced a more secular tone to political rhetoric, while working to impress upon the world the threat to his low-lying island country posed by global warming.Ultimately, Nasheed did contest the election, which was marred by irregularities, including the annulment of the original first round, in which he won the most votes – 20 percent more than his nearest rival.The Commonwealth of Nations should suspend the Maldives until Nasheed has been released and pardoned.
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