Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed resigned on Tuesday after weeks of protests over the detainment of senior criminal court Judge Abdulla Mohamed, who was arrested last month for corruption [JURIST report]. Nasheed, the country's first democratically-elected president, stepped down [press release], saying in a public address: "I believe if I continue as the President of the Maldives, the people of the country would suffer more. ... I wish the Maldives would have a consolidated democracy. I wish for justice to be established." His vice president, Mohammed Waheed Hassan [official profile], took over the presidency Tuesday afternoon, vowing to uphold the rule of law [press release], protect the Maldives Constitution [text, PDF] and prevent any attempted retaliation against former leaders. Hassan, who has worked as a UNICEF [official website] official, had called for the Mohamed's release [CSM report] while serving as vice president. Mohamed was arrested in an unprecedented move by the military, following his ruling to release a government critic. Local media on Tuesday evening reported that Mohamed had been released [Minivan report].
The Maldives has faced ongoing unrest since Mohamed's arrest, as well as other political struggles following the adoption of its constitution [JURIST report] in late 2008. Last month, the UN called for Mohamed's release 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 today's street protests, some worried that the violence may have been a coup attempt by Gayoon, but the government has denied [Reuters report] such claims.