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Maldives president orders probe into violence accompanying rise to power

Maldives President Mohammed Waheed Hassan [official profile] appointed a commission on Wednesday to investigate the violence that accompanied his rise to power. Hassan assumed power of Maldives when former president Mohamed Nasheed resigned [JURIST report] on February 7 following weeks of protests. Nasheed claims he was forced from office in a coup. Supporters of Nasheed took to the streets after his ouster and burned down government buildings in violent demonstrations. The three-member commission was appointed [AP report] by Hassan following criticism from international organizations including the UN. The UN Development Program [official website] called for an investigation [press release] into the violence after a visit to the country by UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco early this month.

The Maldives has faced ongoing unrest since January when the military arrested the chief justice [JURIST report] 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 report] what they called a judicial system failure. The same week, a group of Maldives lawyers submitted [JURIST report] the case to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website], 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 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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