Thursday, February 9, 2012

Maldives court 'arrest warrant' for Mohamed Nasheed

A criminal court in the Maldives has issued an arrest warrant for former President Mohamed Nasheed, officials from his party say. 

The report comes a day after Mr Nasheed was among dozens injured in Male when riot police used tear gas against protesters as unrest intensified. 

Mr Nasheed resigned on Tuesday amid protests over his rule. He says he was forced to resign by security forces. 

It is unclear what the charges against the former president might be. 

Senior officials in Mr Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) say there is also a warrant for the arrest of his former defence minister, Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu. 

There are reports, too, that the family of Mr Nasheed have fled to neighbouring Sri Lanka. A spokesman for the Sri Lankan president told AFP that Mr Nasheed's wife and daughter had arrived in Colombo.

Safety concerns
Mr Nasheed is at his residence talking to the media. Thousands of supporters have also gathered there. It is not clear when he might be arrested, but MDP officials said security forces were on their way to arrest him.
The BBC's Andrew North, who is also at the residence, reports that Mr Nasheed has said he is worried about his safety.

The UK's High Commissioner to the Maldives, John Rankin, has expressed his concern that no harm comes to Mr Nasheed.

"It would be matter of serious concern for us and the international community if it did," Mr Rankin said.
Security forces have also been deployed to the Maldives' second-largest city of Addu, where there have been reports of more violence. 

On Wednesday several thousand Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters, led by Mr Nasheed, marched through the streets of the capital in protest at his ousting. 

The violence spread to outlying islands, where there were reports that several police stations had been overrun by supporters of Mr Nasheed.

That night, police said on state television that the protests led by Mr Nasheed were "an act of terrorism". 

But Amnesty International has issued a statement saying that Maldivian security forces attacked supporters of Mr Nasheed during the demonstrations and also failed to protect them from counter-demonstrators.