15 Feb 2019

Former Nauru president seeks asylum in Australia

6:04 pm on 15 February 2019

A former Nauru president in need of critical medical treatment is seeking asylum in Australia.

Former Nauru president Sprent Dabwido

Former Nauru president Sprent Dabwido Photo: supplied

Sprent Dabwido, who was president between 2011 and 2013, told the ABC that the Nauru government was making it difficult for him to get the help he needed.

Mr Dabwido is one of the so called Nauru 19 whose trial was permanently stayed last September, following charges over an anti-government protest.

However, he had difficulty getting his passport returned by Nauruan authorities after the case.

He said Nauru's government reneged on an earlier promise to reimburse costs for his attempt to access overseas medical treatment for his cancer.

Mr Dabwido's refused to surrender his passport again as requested by the government, which was recently castigated for persecuting the group of 19.

His application for a protection visa in Australia now rests with the Australian Home Affairs Department.

Mr Dabwido was president of Nauru during negotiations for the reopening of Australia's offshore asylum seeker processing centre on the island in 2012.

His bid for asylum in comes in the same week that Australia's Parliament passed a bill, on which the government was out-voted, easing medical transfers for refugees exiled to Manus Island and Nauru.