Maldives ex-leader says Chinese projects akin to land grab

The exiled former leader of the Maldives says this year's presidential election could be the last chance to extricate his country from increasing Chinese influence, which he claims amounts to a land grab in the guise of investments in island development.

Mohamed Nasheed told reporters in Sri Lanka's capital on Monday that current President Yameen Abdul Gayoom has opened the doors to Chinese investment without any regard for procedure or transparency.

He said China is "buying up our lands, buying up our key infrastructure and effectively buying up our sovereignty."

Nasheed is disqualified from contesting the presidency this year due to a prison sentence. He is now living in exile in Britain after going there for medical treatment while in prison.

There was no immediate response from the government.