Male: Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed resigned today following weeks of public protests over his controversial order to arrest a senior judge. The country's Vice-President Mohammed Waheed Hassan is set to take over in what is seen as a political settlement, reportedly negotiated by the Army.
Sources said Mr Waheed will be sworn in this afternoon as the head of an all-party government called the National Government of Maldives. Mr Waheed emerged as a consensus candidate as protests in the country escalated, sources said. They came to a head today when hundreds of policemen started demonstrating in the capital, Male, after officials ordered them to withdraw protection for opposition supporters who were protesting. The mutinous police took over the state television broadcasting station, joining opposition protesters calling for President Mohamed Nasheed to step down.
A little later, Mr Nasheed used an address to the nation on state television to announce that he was stepping down and was immediately whisked away amid high security to the Presidential palace. He has been described as being under "military protection". Senior Army officer Brigadier Ahmed Shiyam earlier told reporters that Mr Nasheed had agreed to step down and hand over the presidency to his Vice-President. The military stepped in after the police rebelled.
The new government, sources said, can continue at least till 2013, when elections are due.
Mr Nasheed's resignation comes after days of protests in this Indian Ocean country of lavish beach resorts. He fell out of public favor after he ordered the military to arrest Abdulla Mohamed, the chief judge of the Criminal Court. The arrest came after the judge ordered the release of a government critic, calling his arrest illegal. The vice president, Supreme Court, Human Rights Commission, Judicial Services Commission and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights have all called for Mr Mohamed to be released. The judge is still in custody.
This marks a stunning crash for Mr Nasheed, a former human rights campaigner and former political prisoner, who was elected in 2008 when the Maldives staged its first democratic presidential election, unseating the long-serving autocratic regime of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. He is also an environmental celebrity, travelling the world to persuade governments to combat the climate change that could send sea levels rising and inundate his archipelago nation.
The Maldives, a country of 1,192 Indian Ocean islands scattered across the equator, is famous for its upmarket holiday resorts and hotels that cater for honeymooning couples and high-end travellers.
Story first published:
February 07, 2012 13:13 IST