Thu February 9, 2012
The Two-Way

Arrest Warrant For Former Maldivian President Is Questioned Amid Violence

Mohammed Nasheed is still waiting at home for police to take him to jail, after resigning his presidential office in a surprise move on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he threw his nation into turmoil, saying his shocking departure was really a coup, because he was forced to sign resignation documents by armed officers who surrounded him.

Nasheed's supporters rushed into the streets of the capital, Male, but they were met by armed officers, and several police stations were burned, says Reuters. The new Maldivian president insists there was no coup; but a day after the violence broke out, a criminal warrant was issued for Nasheed. The details haven't been publicized and the country's top police commander now says it may not be constitutional.

Mohammed Nasheed is probably best known for his environmental awareness work highlighting the plight of his nation of 1,200 coral islands, lying southwest of India. One of his his notable events was an underwater cabinet meeting intended to show the danger Maldivians face from rising sea levels.

But he also spent several years jailed for his work as a human rights campaigner, criticizing the acts of the former Maldivian president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Nasheed defeated Gayoon in the country's first democratic election in 2008. Criticism of Nasheed grew loud when he recently ordered the arrest of a senior judge whom he alleged to be corrupt; the BBC notes the judge was freed when Nasheed resigned this week.

Now Nasheed is calling for the new president to quit and for new elections to be held soon, says AP. The U.S. recognized the new government of Maldives; but Robert Blake, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for south Asian affairs will travel to Male Saturday to meet with Nasheed and the country's new leadership to help find a peaceful resolution to the crisis, according to AFP.

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