Political unrest continues in the Maldives following the issuing of a warrant for the arrest of former President Mohamed Nasheed by the Criminal Court on Thursday morning.
The unrest was sparked three weeks ago after the military took Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed, into custody on the military training island of Girifushi – the same island used to hold Nasheed’s underwater cabinet meeting.
Nasheed’s government had accused the Chief Judge of political bias, among other allegations going back to 2005 under Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s administration. The judicial watchdog body – the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) – had concluded an investigation into allegations of political bias, however the judge sought an injunction from the Civil Court against his investigation. The JSC complied with the Civil Court order.
A warrant was also issued for the arrest of former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim.
Minivan News is currently attempting to confirm the charges against the pair with the Criminal Court.
Nasheed resigned in dramatic circumstances on Tuesday, handing power to Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, after elements of the police sided with opposition protesters. The group had attacked the main military base in Male’, and then took over the state broadcaster, rebranding it ‘Television Maldives’ (TVM), its name under Gayoom’s government.
President Dr Waheed then held a press conference on Wednesday morning in which he pledged to create a “national unity government”, and praised the police defectors for their “great sacrifices in upholding the constitution”. He denied there had been a coup when challenged by reporters: “Do I look like someone who is attempting a coup?” Dr Waheed replied.
That afternoon former President Nasheed rallied Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters in Male’, announcing to his party and foreign media that he had been forced to resign under duress, declaring Dr Waheed’s government illegitimate and calling for elections.
Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) last night denied using force against Nasheed prior to his resignation.
Thousands of MDP supporters, including many women, took to the streets for what the party claimed was a “peaceful” protest walk around Male’. A brutal police crackdown, in which Nasheed was beaten and 50 people were hospitalised, including MDP Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa, sparked a wave of violence and vandalism across the country’s islands directed at police buildings, courts and other public buildings. Dramatic footage of the protests and the injured was shared on social media networks.