An internationally-backed commission has determined that the former president of Maldives was not ousted in a coup and instead said the transfer of power was "legal and constitutional."
Former President Mohamed Nasheed, the country's first democratically elected leader, said he was forced to resign at gunpoint following a coup in February of this year.
But in a report released Thursday, the Maldives' Commission of National Inquiry said Nasheed's resignation was "voluntary and of his own free will" and "not caused by any illegal coercion or intimidation."
The commission did say that acts of brutality against protesters in the aftermath of Nasheed's resignation "must be investigated and pursued further by the relevant authorities."
The findings were backed by the Commonwealth - an association of former British colonies - and the United States. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called on all Maldivians to respect the commission's findings, exercise restraint, obey the rule of law and "continue to express themselves in a peaceful and nonviolent manner."
Despite the appeal for calm, the report's release triggered protests by the former president's supporters, who took to the streets of the capital.
Nasheed's deputy, Mohammed Waheed Hassan, was sworn in as president days after Nasheed stepped down following massive protests against his decision to order the arrest of a senior judge.
The Waheed government has set elections for July of 2013.
The Republic of Maldives is a Muslim-majority nation made up of about 1,200 islands scattered in the Indian ocean, southwest of Sri Lanka. The country is famous for its luxury beach resorts and hotels.
Former President Nasheed gained international prominence for his efforts to draw attention to the issue of climate change, including once holding a Cabinet meeting underwater.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.