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Crisis in Maldives: Police issue warrant for ousted president

The former president of the Maldives awaited arrest in his house on Thursday, vowing to stay and fight against the government he says ousted him in a coup.

By Hussain Sinan and Krishan FrancisAssociated Press / February 9, 2012

Former Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed, center, greets supporters outside his residence in Male, Maldives, Feb. 9. A Maldives court issued an arrest warrant Thursday for Nasheed, one day after his supporters rampaged in the capital and his claim of being ousted by a coup left unclear the stability of the fledging Indian Ocean democracy.

Eranga Jayawardena/AP

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Male, Maldives

Maldives court issued an arrest warrant Thursday for former President Mohamed Nasheed, one day after his supporters rampaged in the capital and his claim of being ousted by a coup left unclear the stability of the fledging Indian Ocean democracy.

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  • Maldives

    Graphic Maldives
    (Rich Clabaugh/Staff)

Police spokesman Abdul Mannan Yusuf refused to disclose the grounds for the criminal court's warrant, or say when Nasheed — who is living at his Male home, surrounded by supporters — would be arrested. Later, Police Commissioner Abdullah Riaz said it was not clear if the warrant was constitutional. He declined to provide details, but said the warrant's legality was still being examined.

Nasheed had announced he was voluntarily resigning Tuesday after months of protests against his rule and fading support from the police and the army. But the next day, as former Vice President Mohammed Waheed Hassan was forming a new government, Nasheed suddenly announced he had actually been pushed from power at gunpoint.

Thousands of his supporters swept into the streets. They clashed with security forces in Male, the capital, and attacked police stations in remote parts of this 1,200-island archipelago nation off southern India. The new government insists there was no coup.

The dispute threatens the crucial tourism industry of this mostly Muslim nation of 300,000 people, which relies on dozens of high-end resorts that cater to the rich and famous. The developments also raise questions about the future of a democracy that only shed a 30-year, one-man rule with the 2008 multiparty elections that brought Nasheed to power.

Britain advised this week against all but essential travel to Male Island because of protests in the capital, but it noted the international airport and resort areas were operating normally. The United States is advising travelers to exercise caution, avoid protests and not engage in political activity while in the Maldives.

In nearby Sri Lanka, travel agents said they had seen no immediate drop in business, but predicted that would change if the crisis continued.

Rizmi Riyaz, of the firm Travel Global, said he was worried that tourists would soon "think twice (about going to the Maldives) as they are concerned about the situation."

The city of Male was calm but tense Thursday, with the streets crowded with commuters. Police said the violence in outlying islands had stopped.

Maldives police commissioner Abdullah Riyaz said 18 police stations on several islands, along with an undetermined number of court houses and police vehicles, were destroyed in the violence. Police said they detained 49 people after the Male rioting.

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