The new President of the Maldives, Mohamed Waheed, confirmed that a court warrant for his ousted predecessor, Mohamed Nasheed, had been issued on Thursday.
In an interview with ABC Radio Australia, Waheed said the warrant indicated that there were court proceedings being taken against Nasheed. However, he insisted that Nasheed would not be arrested and that his government was committed to ensuring his safety.
Nasheed, who claims Waheed’s government forced him out of office in a coup on Tuesday, told Reuters that he was at his family home in the capital Male awaiting his arrest. The news agency says his supporters waited outside, but by nightfall on Thursday no police or government representatives had arrived.
“The home minister has pledged [I will be] the first former president to spend all my life in jail," Nasheed was reported as saying.
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Meanwhile, the newly sworn-in Defence Minister, Mohammed Nazin, vowed to punish those responsible for instigating riots on Wednesday that left up to 50 people injured. Thousands of supporters of Nasheed clashed with police, and government buildings and police stations were torched.
Nazin described the incidents as "acts of terrorism", AP reports, and added that the defence force would enforce law and order and track down those involved.
The local Minivans News says that the group leader of Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Ibrahim Solih, denied their supporters were behind the unrest.
“We did not do anything wrong,” he is quoted as saying. “All we wanted was to take a peaceful march around Male. But near the Maldives Monetary Authority, military armed with shields stopped us from moving forward. And without any warning we were attacked with tear gas, while police Star Force marched in, beating us with batons,” Solih said.
The Minivan News also reports that the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) and the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) released statements raising concerns over police actions and asking them not to use force against people.