Maldives government changes in dramatic scenes after police elements join opposition protest

Vice President of the Maldives Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan has been sworn in as President of the Maldives following the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed in dramatic circumstances at 1:00pm today (February 7).

President Mohamed Nasheed appeared on ‘Television Maldives’ (TVM), and issued a brief statement this afternoon:

“I resign because I am not a person who wishes to rule with the use of power. I believe that if the government were to remain in power it would require the use force which would harm many citizens. I resign because I believe that if the government continues to stay in power, it is very likely that we may face foreign influences.

“I have always wished the citizens of this country well, now and into the future. I have made this decision and I wish for your prosperity in this life and the life after.”

The President’s resignation comes after elements of the police and 60-70 officers from the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) sided with opposition protesters and attacked the MNDF headquarters early this morning.

Minivan News at 8:00am on February 7 observed a group of 400-500 opposition protesters, interspersed with blue-shirted police officers, assaulting the MNDF building in Republic Square.

At the height of the violence there appeared to be no police riot control presence in the square. Military forces with riot shields held back the crowd at while soldiers in gas masks used grenade launchers to fire tear gas canisters from the turrets of base into the crowd.

“This government is over!” yelled a middle-aged man in a shirt and tie, dodging a tear gas canister. Several confronted Minivan News.

Younger rioters threw water bottles and rocks at the building, breaking windows. Another picked up a tear canister and attempted to hurl it back into the compound.

There were mixed reports that the military used rubber bullets to control the demonstrators. Minivan News only observed tear gas canisters being fired as of this morning, and the government at the time denied using rubber bullets.

The wind quickly dispersed the tear gas in the large open area, blowing south through the city.

Outside the main square the streets were as calm and quiet as a typical Male’ morning, as the school run began. Students walked through the hazy streets south of the square holding their clothes to their faces, and were handed water and paper towels by teachers at school gates.

At 10am this morning Minivan News observed military units protecting the President’s residence, and sirens as police units from other parts of the city converged on the square.

A government spokesperson this morning confirmed that “some elements within the police have not obeyed orders, and military and police are working to restore order.”

“The opposition has been calling for the police and military to mutiny and join the mob in bringing down the country’s first democratically elected government,” he said.

Opposition protesters and police supporters subsequently took over the Maldives National Broadcasting Commission (MNBC) and began streaming VTV over the station. The channel was later rebadged ‘TVM’, its name under Gayoom’s government. Opposition party leaders and MPs are giving interviews on TVM, interspersed with patriotic songs, news reports and live footage of Nasheed’s resignation and the Vice President’s appointment.

Subsequent to the rebranding of TVM, a government spokesperson told Minivan News the Maldives was in the throes “of an attempted coup”.

President Nasheed subsequently gave a press conference and announced his resignation.

Vice President takes over from Nasheed

Vice President Mohamed Waheed Hassan was sworn in as President this afternoon. Following his appointment Dr Waheed addressed the nation on TVM, and said he was grateful to the police and MNDF who had made “great sacrifices” to defend constitution.

“Today is the day the rule of law has been established in the country perfectly,” Dr Waheed said.

“I will not order the police, military or any person to do anything against the law – I promise it to the public. Everyone will have the protection of constitution and laws.”

Dr Waheed also said the President and has family would receive protection under the law.

“I call upon all political parties, the Maldives National Defense Force, and the public that this is the time to put aside personal hatreds and jealousies, and prioritise to work for the interests of our nation. And I ensure that we will work to restore peace and prosperity of the nation, to deliver a harmonious and peaceful living to the people.”

Police attack MDP headquarters

A group of police, believed to be affiliated with a ‘starforce’ unit under the former government, reportedly refused to obey an order after dispersing a crowd of opposition protesters at the artificial beach last night.

Minivan News observed a group of protesters and police with batons running south towards the tsunami monument just after midnight, before returning to the artificial beach.

Shortly afterwards, a group of up to 10 people in police clothing attacked the MDP ‘Haruge’, headquarters, smashing some glass.

Following incident at the Haruge, a rogue police unit reportedly arrived in Republic Square and was monitored by MNDF officers. The police were reportedly joined by further officers.

Minivan News is currently seeking confirmation that the home minister was attacked in the violence last night. Former MDP Chairperson Mariya Ahmed Didi and senior MDP figures are reportedly being treated in hospital after a stab wound, and there were reports of both police and MNDF officers being treated for head injuries in hospital.

TIMELINE February 7:

10:40 – Minivan News has observed that a large group of MNDF officers have joined opposition demonstrators in Republic Square. The President was reported to be still in Male and under military protection. The opposition is claiming he has been arrested, but the government has disputed this.

10:45 – Many shops and businesses, including the Bank of Maldives, have temporarily closed branches in Male’.

11:01 – A government source confirmed that they were aware that a number of MNDF personnel had joined the demonstrators. Minivan News observed 60-70 uniformed officers.

11:12 – Opposition protesters and rogue police have taken over the Maldives National Broadcasting Commission (MNBC) and are streaming VTV over the station. The occupiers have reportedly renamed it TVM.

11:22 – The headquarters of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has been set on fire.

11:36 – The MNDF personnel who joined the protesters were reportedly given the opportunity to leave if they wished, but were forbidden from taking weapons.

11:41 – The opposition aligned protesters have been issuing President Mohamed Nasheed ultimatums to resign – Minivan News was told 11:30am and 2:30pm by different sources.

11:47 – Government spokesperson confirms country is undergoing attempted coup, after state broadcaster hijacked.

12:13 – President’s office denies widespread reports that Nasheed has resigned. There is a press conference scheduled imminently at the President’s office.

12:32 – Minivan News observed no situation at the airport, contrary to earlier rumours circulating around Male.

12:54 – President’s Press conference is yet to start.

12:56 – MNBC is now showing as TVM, the name of the state broadcaster under President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

12:58 – Press conference has started.

1:19 – President Nasheed announces resignation, stating that his remaining in power would require the use of force against his own population, and he was not willing to do this “foreign influences”. Minivan News is currently clarifying his statements in English.

2:55 – Another press conference has been announced and is expected to start shortly.

3:00 – Vice President Mohamed Waheed Hassan is due to be sworn in as the 5th President of the Maldives, according to the rebranded Television Maldives (TVM).

4:38 – Vice President Mohamed Waheed Hassan is addressing the nation on TVM, praising efforts “police sacrifices” to protect the constitution and law.

5:00 – Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed, has been reported released.

6:31 –  The mood in Male’ remains tense. Maldivian Democratic Party supporters have been thin on the ground today.

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137 thoughts on “Maldives government changes in dramatic scenes after police elements join opposition protest”

  1. Let’s wee out those extremist police elements from police and employ those who have universal value. The rejection of some hardcore islamist police was expected in the face of hardship and when the time of their loyalty required they would definitely sideline with useless rowdy people. Hope the majority of Police and MNDF is highly disciplined force, otherwise Anni better leave this moronic crazy people and let the Mullahs go back to Stone Age with this fanatic society. Or call for a new election to see what the majority is after.

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  2. I salute our brave police and military officers! They are our national heroes!! We need to change this corrupt, thug style government immediately!!

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  3. This country is going down... seems for once your former President Gayyom was right when he said: "Maldivians are not ready for democracy!"... so now you will have him back, congrats, well done...so stupid!!! Now you'll have demoCRAZY!

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  4. Pr.Nasheed had an excellent chance to make history on being elected to office. Sadly he forgot that he was elected as the President of Maldives, and that his priority was all the people, not his Party. I've been saying this for 3 years.

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  5. Anni should now know he cannot continue to make orders against our constitution to the army or police against. HE SHOULD KNOW HE IS NOT ABOVE THE LAW! SEND HIM TO JAIL!!

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  6. This is the time to show the unity of the country men even u guys working police or army it doesn't matter because u all try to protect the nation then don't shoot your own people help them to save the country democracy good job army and police who joined with people i salute them ..by the name of islam we must stand for our rights ALLHU AKBAR..........!

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  7. Looks like this country and it's people want to go back to the dark ages with Gasim. Can't imagine how we can be so blind, today our uniformed officers have sold their loyalty to the Country to Gasim and his likes for god knows how many millions and self interest. Shame on all those in the police and defence force who let their country and it's people down. I am a Maldivian and I want my government to be democratically elected.

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  8. Sadly Papa Gayoom was right indeed: we are not mature for democrazy at all. Wait and see all of you foulmouthing President Anni...you are in for more chaos than you can imagine with your limited brains!!!

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  9. ALLAH gives the position of leading people to whomsoever ALLAH deems worthy.Nothing can change that..hope our country survives this without further loss of lives or property..INSHA ALLAH

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  10. Government is the great fiction,
    through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody
    else.
    -Frederic Bastiat
    oh no I said too much....

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  11. @JJ - Nasheed did not state that "his remaining in power would require resorting to “foreign influences”. Please do not misinterpret.

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  12. Iran wanted more too...now they get all the stoning and hanging the could ever wish for. Enjoy.

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  13. You stupid people! You have overnight destroyed your tourism industry which took years to build up.

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  14. Ignorant and lazy Maldivians. Without the guts, stamina and knowledge to fight for their hard won democracy. Welcome Mullahs and Corrupt bastards like Yameen and family. VP Waheed you can enjoy the fruits of your deluded dreams.

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  15. The first order of business for the next president should be to make an announce to international investors that Maldives is NOT sinking.

    That underwater dive is a shameful act that has made Maldives an international laughingstoc

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  16. Stupid Maldivian - I regrettably salute ur comment . We are indeed first class idiots

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  17. Any news on what happened to Eva, other MDP figures and some senior police officers who were badly beaten on the streets by the 'Police'?

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  18. the lazy police want to sleep at home,that's why they turned against the president,a little bit of work was too taxing for them,they need to eat,sleep and rest,that's why they forgot to serve the country and joined the citizens in creating terror....

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  19. @stupid maldivian : Agree totally. Today i'm ashamed to call myself a Maldivian. Wonder seriously how people can be so dumb and not see what is good for them and what is bad. The last 3 years we have received more than what we have in the 30 years prior to that. Proud of president Mohamed Nasheed - a man of true democracy.

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  20. Such a cowardice and foxy coupe. How can the "excuse" of "not obeying to Nasheed's unconstitutional orders" be justified with what the same mutiny police and military did be said to the burning up of MDP Campaign office? Or the brutal manner in how these "traitors" went into places and beating the public including OLD people and women who LOVES DEMOCRACY? How could they do such things "if they were so HONEST to God and the nation"?

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  21. those who wrote against islam will be captured. JJ will be hanged. Insha Allah.. yaameen rasheedh will be jailled.. insha allah.

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  22. This only proves that Anni truly has an extremely high moral calibre after all, he has sacrificed his own power for his people's welfare, and, he has truly risen in the grand Universal scheme of things. In the grand moral scheme of things, He did not step DOWN! He, stepped UP!

    He has expressed true self sacrificial Mercy. He has expressed that which only the highest of mortals can express, true love for humanity. He has achieved the greatest achievement a human being can express, he has become, through his choice of choosing his ideals over his hunger for power, he has become something greater than a President, he has done something incredible? He has shown me he cares for the people more than he cares for power, my estimation of him just went up a thousand times, and for any who really understand how great he has become in a spiritual sense, he will forever be above ANY maldivian President EVER!

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  23. lol. ppl still talking about mullahs here. u ppl are either too narrow minded or just plain delusional. and Minivan spreading news its a coup as though it was against the ppls wishes. this is just too much.

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  24. That stepping down was a huge effort, the grandest expression of the true spirit of Jihad al_naffs I have ever seen from a politician! This was massive, a beautiful act of self sacrificial mercy which took all the courage, the moral fibre which any human being could possibly ever muster.

    Now Anni can go on to strive for something much greater than the Presidency. As a President he could never promote freedom, no President can for reasons I have discussed. He can go on to strive for freedom, and now, he is truly a GREAT GREAT GREAT GREAT LEADER.

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  25. Really ashamed to be a Maldivian today. In his resignation, President Nasheed has proved that he values the safety and security of this Country rather than holding onto power. May Allah bless you President Nasheed and give you the strength to continue your fight for democracy. Shame on Police and MNDF. There's no respect left for these uniforms anymore.

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  26. @ Ben Plewright on Tue, 7th Feb 2012 2:57 PM

    I TOTALLY AGREE. He's a TRUE HERO. He did bring a lot of good to the people against ALL ODDS - from the former dictators: (1) Judiciary (2) Parliament (3) Civil Servants (4) Police/Military. All of these were HINDERING to each and everything Nasheed was trying to convey to the people. A

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  27. An elected leader being deposed by a group of policemen....simply disgusting

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  28. I taught in the Maldives many years ago. When I heard that a coup was taking place I was reasonably confident that there would only be a very limited amount of violence. Ben Plewright is spot on. All Maldivians must be grateful that ex-President Nasheed is, above all else, an idealist. He did make horrible mistakes in running the country. I hope learns those lessons that he has now been taught, and that he will get re-elected about five years from now!

    For now, you Maldivians, mind your fragile tourism-based economy! And beware of religious extremism.

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  29. With all due respect to the feelings of our beloved brothers and sisters in MDP, for whom today is a sad and heartbreaking day, I recall how our once beloved "Hero", who was undeniably a "fighter" for greater rights, whom we -including me- elected in 2008, had to face such an undesirable fate cause of the egoist, selfish and arrogant cronies surrounding him. Shame on you reeko moosa manik, shame on you maria didi, shame on you ibra........etc. MDP should and must fight back by reorganizing their ranks and "walk the talk" to avoid dominance of one political ideology

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  30. Ben, u said it, President Nasheed has proven that he is indeed the People's President. There is no leader in the opposition who would resign from presidency to protect this Country. In fact they were willing to fight for power at any cost! You are truly our hero President Nasheed.

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  31. Hey guys, instead of praising anni and trying to make him a hero, first confirm if he ordered to shoot the police and protesters with live bullets or not in the dying moments of his presidency? I have reliable information he did order.

    That was the final blow and the moment the MNDF decided to change the regime. Subsequently and agreement was reached between all opposition leaders and anni. Anni personally called opposition leaders to assure his safety.

    Why aren't you guys asking the big question of why the President and Police Commissioner did not give in the the one and only demand of the police? Their demand was President and Commissioner to ensure that they don't have to follow unlawful orders. Why they could not ensure that? What was the big picture of anni? Operate outside chart until 2013?

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  32. Maldivians : you should not be ashamed. I saw similar situations In every country that move to democracy . It is time now for you to show how much you love your country by kerping up and fight for democracy to be installed. It hard, it is painfull, it is sad, yes indeed. You have to glue together now and recover. The world has their eyes on you . The tourism have their eyes on you.there is only one road to development: democracy. Gayoom was wrong as otherwise we could not be in power. It is time to go out to the streets and defend democracy. It is time to show how much you love Maldives.

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