The former president of the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Maldives awaited arrest in his house on Thursday,vowing to stay and fight against the government he says ousted him in a coup with the connivance of the police and military.
Mohamed Nasheed spoke to reporters at his home on a narrow lane in Male,as rain poured and hundreds of onlookers gathered under umbrellas awaiting the arrival of police.
Nasheed,the islands first democratically elected president,appeared to be daring 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.
However,there was no sign of the police by early evening. Police Commissioner Abdullah Riyaz,when asked by Reuters if and when a warrant would be served,declined to comment.
Nasheed said he would accept his arrest,as he did 27 times before,under the reign of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom,who jailed him for six years in all.
The former president spoke a day after he declared his ouster in 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 3,30,000 people live permanently in the Maldives but there has been much interest in the tumult there this week because of the huge numbers who visit the islands on holiday.
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.
A criminal court has issued arrest warrants for Nasheed and his former defence minister,but the charges against them were unclear.
Newly sworn in Interior Minister Mohamed Jameel,at a news conference on Thursday,accused Nasheed and his supporters of terrorism. They said theyre going to throw out the current constitutionally formed government… and then we saw this destruction, he said. I would define it as the worst day in the history of the Maldives.
Jameel was author of a pamphlet criticising Nasheeds 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.