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Mohamed Nasheed

President Mohamed Nasheed is a human rights and environmental activist who was the Maldives’ first democratically-elected president, serving from 2008 to 2012. Known as the “Mandela of the Maldives,” Nasheed was a founder of the Maldivian Democratic Party and led a campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience. This resulted in President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the country’s 30-year dictator, relaxing authoritarian controls and allowing political pluralism; Nasheed was subsequently elected in 2008 in an historic democratic election. On February 7, 2012, Nasheed was forced to resign the presidency after a coup d’etat organized by security forces loyal to the former president. The next year he was convicted under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Act and sentenced to 13 years in prison, which has been denounced by international human rights groups and governments as a politically motivated attack. Nasheed was given asylum in the United Kingdom in 2016 and has won numerous awards and accolades for his environmental activism and democracy-building.

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