Maldives’ ex-president fears arrest
MALE THE OUSTED ex-president of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed, who claims he was forced from office in a coup, said he expected to be arrested on Thursday as protests and violence escalated in the holiday paradise.
Nasheed, the Indian Ocean country’s first democratically elected president, said at his modest family home in the capital that a court order had been issued for his detention and he anticipated being sent to jail.
“They have issued a warrant to arrest me now and said that I will be the first former president to spend the rest of his life in jail,” he said. “I hope the international community will take note and do something right now.” While dozens of supporters surrounded the home, elsewhere in the country the police and army struggled to take control after a night described by a presidential aide as “anarchy”.
“What happened is utterly disgraceful and it is the saddest day in the modern history of Maldives,” newly appointed Home Minister Mohammed Jamil Ahmed said.
Maldives police commissioner Abdulla Riyas said 18 police stations had been attacked on outlying islands in the archipelago, while numerous court and government buildings had been looted and torched. Police had received the order for Nasheed’s arrest, but they “had not yet carried it out”, Riyas said, while refusing to explain the reasons for the delay.
The images of rioting are potentially devastating for a country which depends on tourism thanks to its crystalclear turquoise waters, coralfringed beaches and ultra-luxury resorts.
The violence began spiralling out of control on Wednesday when thousands of Nasheed supporters massed in the capital Male following his resignation the day before.
After small skirmishes, in which stones were thrown at police, officers then attacked the demonstrators with batons and beat a number of senior figures of Nasheed’s party, several of whom were hospitalised.
Nasheed himself was beaten and briefly detained.
As unrest spread to the far corners of the nation of more than 1,000 islands, new president Mohamed Waheed, who is accused by his predecessor of taking part in a coup, struggled to maintain order.
“There’s no law and order at all. It’s a complete breakdown,” the mayor of the second- biggest city of Addu, Abdulla Sodig, said.
Waheed made two emergency cabinet appointments — home and defence — and troops were dispatched to Addu and other populated areas to help the police regain control.