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Maldives issues arrest warrant for ex-president

Former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed said Thursday he would remain in the country [BBC video] and try to regain his office after reports indicated that a warrant has been issued for his arrest. The specific charges are unclear [BBC report], but Nasheed maintains that the warrant is politically motivated. Nasheed, who resigned on Tuesday [press release; JURIST report], has said that he was forced out of office in a coup. Nasheed told reporters Thursday that he would remain for the good of the country: "They are going to arrest me [but] I am certain that you cannot suppress anything by brute force. ... I am not leaving the country for my own safety. How can I do that? This country will go to the dogs if I leave." Nasheed's vice president, Mohammed Waheed Hassan [official profile], took over the presidency Tuesday afternoon. Hassan issued a statement [text] Thursday renewing "his commitment to restore peace and order in the country." Nasheed has accused [BBC report] Hassan, who had called for his removal [CSM report] while serving as vice president, of participation in the coup.

The Maldives has faced ongoing unrest since the military in January arrested the chief justice of the nation's criminal court, Judge Abdulla Mohamed, after he released a detained opposition leader. Last month, the UN called for Mohamed's release [JURIST report] days after the Maldives Minister of Foreign Affairs [official website] asked the UN to help them resolve [JURIST reports] what they called a judicial system failure. The same week, a group of Maldives lawyers submitted [JURIST report] to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] the case, calling Mohamed's continued detention a violation of the International Convention on the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearance [text]. In the country's first democratic elections in 2008, Nasheed defeated longtime political opponent Maumoon Abdul Gayoon [BBC profile], ending his 30-year rule. During Thursday's street protests, some worried that the violence may have been a coup attempt by Gayoon, but the government has denied such claims [Reuters report].

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