South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Published in The BBC News on Feb. 22 ::

Police in the Maldives have arrested opposition leader and ex-President Mohamed Nasheed on terror charges.

They relate to his order to detain a judge while in office in January 2012.

The case against him was dropped last week, but the allegations have been reintroduced under anti-terror laws that punish acts against the state.

Mr Nasheed – a former human rights campaigner who was president from 2008 to 2012 – had been planning to lead an opposition demonstration next Friday.

He was the Indian Ocean archipelago’s first democratically elected leader, but resigned amid an army mutiny and public protests over the judge’s fate.

He alleged that he had been removed by a coup, but this was denied by his vice-president, who replaced him.

The current president, Abdulla Yameen, was elected in controversial polls in 2013 and is the half-brother of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who served for 30 years as president and was widely accused of autocracy.

Correspondents say Mr Nasheed’s latest arrest adds to growing instability in the country.

President Yameen has recently become alienated from key former colleagues.

He arrested his defence minister, accusing him of plotting a coup. He has also been deserted by another former ally, a resort tycoon who has now joined hands with Mr Nasheed.

Mr Nasheed’s party described his arrest as “a desperate and reckless attempt by President Yameen to cling onto power in the face of growing opposition”.