MALE, Maldives (AP) — The first democratically elected president of the Maldives, who was ousted from power last year, said Thursday he will prosecute those behind his removal if he is returned to office in Saturday's election.

Mohamed Nasheed said that he will bring the "perpetrators of the coup" to justice.

Nasheed claimed that he was forced to resign at gunpoint in February 2012 and his supporters rioted before being put down violently by police. A commission of inquiry later dismissed Nasheed's claim of a coup.

Nasheed's resignation came after weeks of public protests after he ordered the military to arrest and detain a senior judge. He lost the support from the military and police as a result.

Nasheed's election as president of this India Ocean archipelago in 2008 ended a 30-year autocracy under which he was repeatedly jailed for his pro-democracy activism.

"Many have suggested to me that one of our flaws was that we did not prosecute the former dictatorship," he said. "I don't think we are going to do it again but I do believe that the perpetrators of the coup must be brought to justice."

Nasheed is a candidate from the Maldivian Democratic Party and two of his three challengers will be Yamin Abdul Gayoom, a brother of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom who ruled Maldives for 30 years and Mohammed Waheed Hassan, who was deputy to Nasheed and replaced him after his resignation. Nasheed has accused Hassan of betraying him.

Both Nasheed and Yamin say they are confident of securing 51 percent of the vote in the first round of voting itself which otherwise will require a second round face-off between the two leading candidates.