Maldivain ex-leader exits Indian embassy: New Delhi

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed left the Indian embassy in the capital Male on Saturday, an Indian official said, 10 days after he sought refuge in the mission in a bid to avoid arrest.

Nasheed's exit came after a Maldivian court earlier this week postponed his trial for abuse of power when he was in office and India sent an envoy to the nation of 330,000 Sunni Muslims to try and end the political standoff.

"He (Nasheed) entered India's mission on Feb 13th of his own volition and decided to leave on his own," Indian foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said in New Delhi.

Nasheed, 45, is accused of abusing his powers after he won the first free elections in 2008 in the Indian Ocean holiday destination. The pro-democracy campaigner was ousted last year following a mutiny by police and troops.

"He is not planning to go back (to the embassy). He has ended seeking refuge there," Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party spokeswoman Shauna Aminath said.

Nasheed, a famed global warming activist, has condemned the charges of abuse of power against him as a "politically motivated sham".

The Maldivian court postponed the hearing scheduled for last Wednesday after police said they were unable to arrest the former president and bring him before the magistrate, according to Nasheed's party.

Presidential spokesman Masood Imad had confirmed the hearing had been cancelled but said that the case was still pending.

Nasheed's taking refuge at the Indian embassy in Male had strained relations between India and its tiny neighbour.

The Maldivian foreign ministry last weekend summoned Indian High Commissioner (ambassador) D.M. Mulay and accused India of allowing Nasheed to use its embassy for political activities.

India had appealed to its neighbour to guarantee "the integrity of the electoral process" before the presidential election set for September, but had strongly denied interfering in politics in the Maldives.

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