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Was it really a coup in Maldives?

AFP  New Delhi, February 09, 2012
First Published: 23:59 IST(9/2/2012) | Last Updated: 00:01 IST(10/2/2012)

The legitimacy of the new administration in the Maldives could hinge on who wins a high-stakes debate over whether the former President resigned of his own will or was ousted in a coup. When Mohamed Nasheed resigned at a televised press conference on Tuesday, the new administration and the army moved swiftly to quash any suggestion he had been coerced into stepping down.


But the next day Nasheed fired back with his own version of events, saying he was frogmarched into his office by armed police and army officers who stood around as he was forced to pen his resignation announcement. "They told me if I didn't resign they would resort to use arms," he told AFP in an interview. His successor and former VP, Mohamed Waheed, who was sworn in as the new head of state, insisted there had been no plot to overthrow Nasheed's government.

"It is wrong to describe the events as a coup. We did not know this was going to happen. I was unprepared," he said. But Nasheed's version appeared to be gaining some traction both at home and abroad.

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said she had "noted" the former President's account and said she was "deeply concerned" at developments in the island resort nation.

US state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stopped short of describing events as a coup but said the United States was seeking information from all sides. Washington often waits before declaring that a nation has experienced a coup, a designation that under US law requires all aid to be cut off.

Nasheed was provided space for an op-ed piece in the New York Times in which he asserted he had been overthrown "in a coup d'etat" and that Waheed "helped to plan it."

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