Maldives: Ex-prez defiantly awaits arrest as UN official meets top leaders

Nasheed claims he was ousted in a coup; current president insists he stepped down voluntarily.

Written by Agencies | Male | Published: February 10, 2012 11:44 am

A top UN official is meeting with the current and former presidents of the Maldives,trying to end the political stalemate in the Indian Ocean nation.

Friday’s meetings with UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco come as the former president,Mohamed Nasheed,claims he was ousted earlier this week in a coup. He is now facing an arrest warrant.

The current president,Mohammed Waheed Hassan,insists Nasheed stepped down voluntarily. His government has made no move to arrest Nasheed.

While the two politicians remain at odds,there has been no sign of violence since Wednesday. On Friday,there was no extra security to be seen in Male – not even within a few blocks of the presidential office.

Meanwhile,Nasheed awaited arrest in his house,vowing to stay and fight against the government he says ousted him in a coup with the connivance of the police and the military.

But,as rain fell on Male and supporters stood outside Nasheed’s family home,there was no sign of a move against him by the government or police.

Police Commissioner Abdullah Riyaz declined to comment,and the government said nothing on the subject.

Nasheed,the islands’ first democratically elected president,appeared to dare the government led by his former vice president,Mohamed Waheed Hussain Manik,to arrest him after violent protests on Wednesday spread outside Male.

The home minister has pledged (I will be) the first former president to spend all my life in jail,said Nasheed,who was relaxed and smiling and showed no signs of his reported beating on Wednesday.

He said he hoped the international community would act quickly as the facts on the ground are that tomorrow I will be in jail.

Nasheed said he would accept his arrest,as he had done 27 times before when former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was in power. Nasheed narrowly beat Gayoom in a 2008 election,defeating the man who had jailed him for six years in all.

On Wednesday,Nasheed declared that his resignation the day before was in fact a gunpoint coup engineered by a coterie of police,military and political rivals,and led thousands of supporters onto the streets where they clashed with riot police and troops.

Only about 330,000 people live permanently in the Maldives but there has been much interest in the tumult because of the huge number of holidaymakers who visit the islands.

The Maldives gets about one million visitors a year,most seeking a beach or scuba diving holiday getaway at resorts that charge up to $1,000 per night.

Earlier on Thursday,police commissioner Riyaz told reporters that 18 police stations and two courts on other atolls including the second-largest population centre,Addu,had been burned or attacked by Nasheed supporters the day before.

Nasheed called the violence spontaneous.

Newly sworn in Interior Minister Mohamed Jameel,at a news conference on Thursday,accused Nasheed and his supporters of terrorism,echoing a police statement the night before.

They said they are going to throw out the current constitutionally formed government,and following that,we saw this destruction,Jameel said. I would define it as the worst day in the history of the Maldives.

Jameel was the author of a pamphlet,criticising Nasheed’s religious policy as un-Islamic,which included anti-Semitic language,part of a spate of increasingly hardline Islamist rhetoric that has entered the Maldives political discourse.

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