News / Asia

    Former Maldives President Awaits Arrest

    Former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed speaks with the media at his home in Male, February 9, 2012.
    Former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed speaks with the media at his home in Male, February 9, 2012.

    The former president of the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, awaited arrest Thursday after a criminal court in capital city Male issued a warrant for him and his defense minister.

    Nasheed told reporters at his home he hopes the international community will respond quickly because he expects to be jailed soon. His wife and daughter fled to Sri Lanka, but the former leader said he will fight the proceedings and will not leave the Maldives because, as he put it, "the whole country will go to the dogs" [fall into ruin].

    Nasheed, the country's first democratically elected leader, said he was forced from office in a coup and that the new president, Mohammed Waheed Hassan, his former second-in-command, should immediately step down.

    He said he feared that his successor was involved in the coup attempt and had seized the chance to take over. He has urged the country's judiciary to investigate those responsible for his ouster.

    Key Facts About Maldives

    • Maldives is a chain of almost 1,200 islands in the Indian Ocean.
    • Less than 200 of the islands are inhabited.
    • 80 percent of the land area is one meter or less above sea level.
    • Tourism is Maldives' largest industry.
    • Population in 2010 was 310,000 people.
    • Maldives gained independence in 1965

    Hassan has denied the allegations, however, saying he was unprepared to take control of the country. He also announced plans to appoint a unity cabinet in the next few days.

    The arrest warrant for Nasheed was issued a day after violent clashes Wednesday between police and his supporters spread throughout the capital to several outlying islands.

    Newly appointed Home Minister Mohammed Jamil Ahmed told reporters the violence marked the worst day in the Maldives' modern history.

    Nasheed resigned Tuesday after numerous calls by protesters and police officers for him to step down. His former deputy, Hassan, was sworn in as president hours later.   

    The resignation came after Nasheed ordered the arrest of a senior judge, sparking three weeks of protests.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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