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International pressure stops Maldives President Nasheed from arbitrarily arresting Opposition Leader Gayoom

As midnight passes in the Maldives, the capital Male’ is quiet waiting for news of President Nasheed’s threatened arrest of former president and Opposition Leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Government sources report that mounting international pressure forced President Nasheed to rescind his orders to the army and police to apprehend Gayoom. These sources confirm that the governments of India and Sri Lanka immediately contacted the Nasheed Government and expressed concern at this arbitrary action.

Earlier this evening, unconfirmed reports rapidly spread through the country that President Nasheed had ordered Chief of the Defence Forces Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel to arrest Gayoom before midnight tonight. Military sources report that President Nasheed threatened Major General Jaleel with dismissal should he not implement the executive order. They reported that Brigadier Roy Jayasundra was standing by at the head of armed personnel with executive orders to remove Major General Jaleel if latter did not apprehend the opposition leader.

Police sources also report that Police Commissioner Ahmed Faseeh too was ordered to arrest Gayoom. The military and the police were to be coordinated by Defence Minister and acting Home Minister and political head of the police, Ameen Faisal.

Top ranking officials of the Nasheed government nor senior officials at the Maldivian Foreign Ministry could be contacted by international media for comment. Both Indian and Sri Lankan governments also reported excessive difficulty in contacting the Foreign Minister and top presidential aides.

The threatened demonstration by MDP lynch mob in front of Gayoom’s residence was also reportedly called off in the light of international pressure of President Nasheed. Gayoom spent the night peacefully hosting a dinner for newly elected members of Parliament. Reports coming in just now state that large crowds of Gayoom followers still remain outside Gayoom’s residence, prepared to peacefully oppose any attempt to arrest Gayoom.

Tonight’s events and recent dictatorial actions by President Nasheed in violation of democratic tenets give rise to serious concern about the future of democracy in the Maldives. As the new parliament is sworn in on Thursday, priority matters on its agenda include affirmation of independent commissions and the judiciary. Following President Nasheed’s assumption of power on November 11, 2008, the MDP led majority in parliament had rubber stamped Nasheed’s stooges to all independent commissions. Nasheed gained this majority in parliament by appointing eight of his henchmen as president’s members to parliament, a laughable act as Nasheed and his party had repeatedly rioted outside parliament during Gayoom’s rule calling for the expelling of Gayoom’s eight members. Gayoom’s eight members had received death threats from Nasheed’s MDP blood hounds within and outside parliament.

With the tables now turned as opposition greatly outnumber MDP in the newly elected parliament, opposition leaders have publicly stated that they would give short shrift to Nasheed stooges such as a long time Nasheed drinking buddy and confidante Auditor General Maakun Naeem, MDP stalwart Human Rights Commissioner Nanreethi Saleem and the corrupt Civil Services Commission head Dr. Mohamed Latheef.

With less than 48 hours to go, and President Nasheed on the warpath, it remains to be seen if Gayoom can hold onto his pledged 35 parliamentary seats, or if this majority will evaporate into thin air like the 70+ Gayoom majority in the last Constitutional Assembly.

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