Protests rock Maldives following apparent coup d’etat

Police and supporters of deposed Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed clashed Feb. 8, leading to the death of at least two who were protesting Nasheed’s removal from power a day earlier in what is being called a coup d’etat. Clashes have spread beyond the capital of Male to several outlying islands, where protesters are reported to have seized several police stations. The Maldives had its first-ever democratic elections in 2008, bringing former political prisoner Nasheed to power and ending 30 years of rule under President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Nasheed now charges Gayoom and his supporters instigated street protests that preceded his removal. He said some 20 police and army rebels forced him at gunpoint to resign, which he later did live on TV. The weeks of protests were ostensibly over the detainment of senior criminal court Judge Abdulla Mohamed, who was arrested last month for corruption. But Mohamed was arrested by the military—an unprecedented move—following his ruling to release a government critic. Local media reported hours after Nasheed’s removal that Mohamed had been released .

Late last month, the UN had called for Mohamed’s release days after the Maldives Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked the High Commissioner for Human Rights to help resolve what they called a judicial system failure. The same week, a group of Maldives lawyers submitted a case to the International Criminal Court, calling Mohamed’s continued detention a violation of the International Convention on the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearance. (VOA, WSJ, Feb. 8; Jurist, Feb. 7)