Arrest Warrant Issued for Former Maldives Leader

Posted February 9th, 2012 at 11:50 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

A criminal court in the Maldives has issued an arrest warrant for the country's first democratically elected president, who says he was ousted in a coup earlier this week.

An official from former President Mohamed Nasheed's party says the court has ordered the arrest of Mr. Nasheed and his former defense minister, but that the charges against them remain unclear.

The former president told reporters at his home in the capital Male Thursday that he hopes the international community will respond quickly because he expects to be jailed soon.

Mr. Nasheed's wife and daughter have fled to Sri Lanka. But the former leader says he will fight the proceedings and not leave the Maldives because, as he put it, “the whole country will go to the dogs” .

Mr. Nasheed resigned Tuesday after numerous calls by protesters and police officers for him to step down. His former deputy, Waheed Hassan, was sworn in as president hours later. He has denied claims of a plot to oust Mr. Nasheed.

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

On Wednesday, clashes between police and supporters of Mr. Nasheed spread throughout the capital to several outlying islands. The national police commissioner, Abdullah Riyaz, said 18 police stations across several islands were destroyed, and damage had been done to other government buildings.

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

In an opinion piece published in The New York Times Thursday, Mr. Nasheed said his administration inherited from the nation's earlier dictatorship “a looted treasury, a ballooning budget deficit, and a rotten judiciary.”

Mr. Nasheed said the judiciary was hand-picked by then-President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the archipelago for three decades. Mr. Nasheed said the judges provided protection for Mr. Gayoom and his allies, many of whom are accused of corruption, embezzlement and human rights crimes.

In the opinion piece, Mr. Nasheed said “dictatorships don't always die when the dictator leaves office.” He said warned the people of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya — where autocrats were toppled last year — that “powerful networks of regime loyalists can remain behind and attempt to strangle their nascent democracies.”