Maldives on alert ahead of report on coup allegations

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 29, 2012 5:51 AM

By Neil Merrett

MALE (Reuters) - The Maldives has tightened security in the capital Male ahead of the release of a report into this year's transfer of power on the Indian Ocean islands that former President Mohamed Nasheed labeled a coup, officials said on Wednesday.

The Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry was appointed to look into the circumstances that led to the crisis in the tropical beach paradise on February 7 when Nasheed said he was asked to resign at gunpoint.

The report will be made public on Thursday. Police in Male have started searching boats and people arriving in Male, fearing potential unrest.

Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party nominee on the commission has already said some evidence likely to support Nasheed's allegations of a coup is missing from the report.

"Everybody knows what happened on that day. If the commission says it's not a coup, then it'll be big shock to all Maldivians. Nobody is going to believe it," Hamid Abdul Gafoor, Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party spokesman, told Reuters.

"People are arriving from other islands despite police trying to block them and send them back."

Police said they would not allow any unrest and asked people to stay away from planned protests.

Superintendent of Police Abdulla Nawaz said eight people have been taken into custody. President Mohamed Waheed's office said peaceful protests would be allowed.

The Maldives, for almost nine centuries a sultanate before it became a British protectorate, held its first fully democratic elections in 2008. Nasheed defeated Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who at 30 years in power was then Asia's longest-serving leader and accused of running the country as a dictator.

(Writing by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Nick Macfie)