Former Maldives President Awaits Arrest

Posted February 9th, 2012 at 7:10 pm (UTC-5)
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The former president of the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, awaited arrest Thursday after a criminal court in the capital, Male, issued a warrant for him.

Mr. Nasheed told reporters Thursday he hopes the international community will respond quickly to the situation because he expects to be jailed soon. His wife and daughter fled to Sri Lanka, but the former leader said will fight the proceedings.

Mr. Nasheed, the country's first democratically elected leader, said he was forced from office in a coup and that he feared the new President Mohammed Waheed Hassan was involved in the coup attempt. He has urged the country's judiciary to investigate those responsible for his ouster.

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

In Washington, the State Department said the top diplomat for South Asia, Robert Blake, spoke by phone with Mr. Nasheed and assured him that it was pressing the Maldivian authorities to protect his security.

U.N. Secretary-General Bank Ki-moon sent his envoy Oscar Fernandez-Taranco to the country Thursday. Taranco told reporters at Male airport he plans to meet with leaders of the government and the political parties, including the new and the former president. He said the purpose of his visit is to encourage Maldivian leaders to find ways to resolve the situation peacefully and urged calm and a stop to all violence.

The arrest warrant for Mr. 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.

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.

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