Scores arrested in new Maldives protest against Nasheed ruling

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 30, 2012 7:37 PM
Scores arrested in new Maldives protest against Nasheed ruling

By Shihar Aneez

MALE (Reuters) - Maldives police arrested at least 12 people in the early hours of Friday to break up a protest by supporters of former president Mohamed Nasheed against a report that said he had been replaced legitimately.

Hundreds of angry supporters of Nasheed had blocked a main road in the capital Male for three hours before the arrests forced them to disperse. On Thursday, around 50 protesters had been detained.

After his removal on February 7, Nasheed, in power since 2008, said he had been forced to resign at gunpoint by mutinying police and soldiers.

Speaking late on Wednesday to thousands of followers in Male, he called on the public, the army and the police to rise up against his successor, President Mohamed Waheed, and demanded that next year's presidential election be brought forward.

But the commission, set up to look into the circumstances that led to the crisis, said on Thursday that the transfer of power had followed the constitution.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said the investigation had been objective and credible, while the United States commended the commission and called its investigation "thorough and inclusive".

Ahamed Adhuhan, a 21-year-old protester, told Reuters: "We are the people who were here and not the international community. We saw it with our own eyes.

"They only hear what other people say and surely they were not here to see what happened on that day."

Nasheed's resignation sparked rowdy protests by his supporters, some of whom complained of heavy-handed policing. The report said police brutality should be further investigated.

The Maldives, a sultanate for almost nine centuries before becoming a British protectorate, held its first fully democratic elections in 2008.

Nasheed defeated Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, an autocrat who was then Asia's longest-serving leader, having been in power for 30 years.

(Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Kevin Liffey)