Reporter Ibrahim ‘Asward’ Waheed returns to Maldives following major surgery

Raajje TV reporter Ibrahim ‘Asward’ Waheed yesterday (April 19) returned to the Maldives following major surgery in Sri Lanka after being attacked with an iron rod in February.

Asward told local media he was very happy to return to the Maldives and added that the attack on him was an attack on media.  He told local media that he would remain undeterred in his role as a journalist.

Asward, 22, is news head of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)-aligned broadcaster Raajje TV.  He was attacked with an iron rod at 1:18am on February 23 while riding a motorbike near the artificial beach area of Male’.

Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz described the attack via Twitter as a murder attempt.

The attack left Asward unconscious.  He was later transferred to a hospital in Sri Lanka for treatment, where he had to undergo major surgery last month to correct a maxillary fracture (broken jawbone).

Police submitted cases against two suspects to the Prosecutor General’s Office April 16
on charges of assaulting Asward in February. The investigation into the murder attempt remains ongoing.


Germany calls for Dr Waheed’s govt to “consolidate legitimacy” with “independent inquiry”

Germany has called for Dr Waheed’s government to “consolidate its national and international legitimacy” by holding an “independent inquiry” into the circumstances around Nasheed’s resignation this week.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle expressed “deep concern about recent developments in the Maldives, particularly the violent attacks against elected officials and supporters of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).”

Germany has taken note of President Waheed’s intention to form a government of “national unity”.

“The participation of all major parties represented in Parliament will be a decisive precondition to its political authority,” Westerwelle said, calling on the new leadership “to uphold the principles and norms of democracy and the rule of law and guarantee the right to peaceful demonstrations.”

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the Maldives for 30 years prior to Mohamed Nasheed’s victory in the country’s first democratic election in 2008, meanwhile hit out at international media in an interview with AFP, calling them “biased for depicting this as a coup or something illegal”.

“Mr Waheed is the democratically elected president of the Maldives, according to our constitution. I called him and congratulated him,” Gayoom told AFP over the phone from Malaysia.

He denied personal involvement in what Nasheed’s side has termed a coup d’état after “200 police officers and 80 Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officers” sided with opposition protesters on Tuesday.

“No, I had no involvement at all. I had no personal involvement in anything like a coup organised by myself,” AFP reported Gayoom as saying. “He (Nasheed) resigned on his own.”

Gayoom said he would return home “within days”, and did not rule out a bid to reclaim the presidency.

“I haven’t decided yet. You can say I am keeping my options open. I don’t think I will but I cannot rule it out. It depends on the circumstances,” he told AFP.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is meanwhile sending his special envoy M Ganapathi to assess the situation in the Maldives. High level delegations from the UN and Commonwealth are active in the capital, while US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake is due to arrive tomorrow.

Male’ remains calm this evening. But meanwhile, far from the diplomats and international media thronging in Male’, MDP supporters in the southern-most city of Addu are alleging that a brutal police and PPM crackdown against the former ruling party is taking place in retaliation for the destruction of court and police buildings on Wednesday evening.

An MDP member told Minivan News this evening that he was dragged from his house, cuffed, and thrown into a pickup “like a dog.” He was taken to Gan with 33 others where the station had been burned by Nasheed supporters on Wednesday evening.

“They poured petrol around us and said: “We will burn you, we can do anything because no one knows where are you are and no one will come to save you,” he said.