The President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, resigned on Tuesday, February 7, after facing weeks of protestors calling for his resignation. Nasheed’s popularity has been decreasing steadily, as the country faces economic woes lingering since the 2004 tsunami. Last month, Nasheed also made an unpopular decision to have the military arrest Abdulla Mohamed, a criminal court judge accused of acting in concert with the former president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, as well as the Progressive Party of the Maldives, which, incidentally, is Gayoom’s party.
For weeks now, protestors have gathered each night to voice their opposition to Nasheed’s decision to have Mohamed arrested. Internal unrest reared its head on Monday night when police officers refused their orders to break up the protests, seemingly signifying their own call for the president to resign. On Tuesday, following Nasheed’s resignation, Vice President Mohammed Waheed Hassan took the presidential oath of office. Officials close to the outgoing president firmly argue that the events that have unfolded are indicative of a “military coup” and not just “a popular revolt,” especially when the police officers’ inaction on Monday is taken into consideration.
Nasheed, elected president in the country’s first democratic elections in 2008, was known worldwide for his immense concerns on the issues of global warming and climate change. As the leader of island nation, Nasheed wanted to explore the option of purchasing lands, possibly in Sri Lanka and India, to help relocate the Maldives people should rising sea levels threaten to engulf the county. He issued a statement on his website, wishing for the Maldives to have “a consolidated democracy. I wish for justice to be established. My wish is for the progress and prosperity of the people.”
Looking beyond the economic turmoil the country has faced since the tsunami, what are your thoughts about Nasheed’s choices as president of the Maldives? More specifically, did Nasheed’s ordered arrest of the criminal court justice warrant such a protest? What about his concerns regarding the rising sea level and his plans to purchase lands to relocate?