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Arrest Nasheed, says court as ex-president's family flees

Source : IANS
Last Updated: Thu, Feb 09, 2012 12:00 hrs

Colombo, Feb 9 (IANS) The crisis in the Maldives deepened Thursday with a court ordering the arrest of ousted president Mohamed Nasheed, who assured that he doesn't "want a war" as his family fled the country and took refuge in Sri Lanka.

The Criminal Court in the Maldives ordered the arrest of Nasheed and former defence minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu, reported haveeru.com.

The arrest order was issued Thursday, a day after violence quickly spread to other parts of this picturesque nation of atolls after Nasheed, who quit Tuesday, took to the streets along with thousands of his supporters.

With Nasheed finding himself in the midst of a turmoil, his family fled to Sri Lanka, a country nearest to the Maldives that is located over 750 km away. Nasheed's wife Laila Ali arrived here Wednesday night, reported the Sunday Leader.

She spoke to President Mahinda Rajapaksa over telephone after her arrival. Rajapaksa then telephoned new Maldivian President Mohamed Waheed and urged him to ensure the safety of Nasheed.

Nasheed had run into widespread anger after a senior judge, Abdulla Mohamed, was arrested by the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) over a fortnight ago on corruption charges.

Recounting the sequence of events that led to his ouster in Male, Nasheed said Thursday: " Two hundred or so police and 80 military officers helped the opposition change the government. Police and military were very brutal; they beat me very badly. We all fear for our safety."

"The Maldives is in a very serious situation," he added.

"I never fought and I don't want a war. When police come with a warrant, we will go with them," Minivan News quoted him as saying.

Eva Abdulla, a Nasheed supporter who is a lawmaker of the Maldivian Democratic Party, said: "Given the kind of brutality we saw on TV last (Wednesday) night, I don't know how calm people will be."

Abdulla said several lawmakers have been detained by the police Wednesday but they had returned to their homes early Thursday. She added that all of them were beaten up, reported CNN.

Describing new President Mohamed Waheed as a "puppet leader" for the police, she said: "This is not a legitimate government."

"We will not negotiate with an unconstitutional government," CNN quoted Abdulla as saying.

The extent of violence became clear a day later when reports poured in.

Gutted vehicles and buildings in the picturesque Maldivian atoll Addu, which hosted the SAARC summit last year, were a stark reminder of the violence.

Photographs on Haveeru online Thursday show that police stations were targetted in Addu. Police vehicles were torched. The fire brigade struggled to douse the flames.

One Haveeru image showed at least four charred motorycles. Another was of blackened walls of the Hithadhoo police station. A policeman wearing protective gear is seen walking away with a carton containing documents.

A dramatic image clicked at night was of a building aflame. It was not clear whether it was a police station.

Heart-shaped Addu atoll is in the southern extreme of the country.

In a bid to shore up his power, new Maldives President Mohamed Waheed appointed two new ministers, including an army colonel who will be the minister of defence.

Waheed appointed Mohamed Jameel Ahmed as the home minister and Mohamed Nazim as the minister of defence and national security late Wednesday, the President's Office said.

The president asked the ministers to employ their "experiences" to curb turmoil that has gripped the atoll nation after Mohamed Nasheed was forced to resign as president Tuesday following street protests.

--Indo-Asian News service

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