A Maldives court issued an arrest warrant on Thursday against former President Mohamed Nasheed, a day after his supporters rampaged in the capital and his claim of being ousted by a coup left unclear the stability of the fledging Indian Ocean democracy.
Police spokesman Abdul Mannan Yusuf refused to disclose the grounds for the criminal court's warrant, or say when Nasheed - who is living at his Male home, surrounded by supporters - would be arrested.
Later, Police commissioner Abdullah Riaz said it was not clear if the warrant was Constitutional. He declined to provide details, but said the warrant's legality was still being examined.
Nasheed had announced he was voluntarily resigning on Tuesday after months of protests against his rule and fading support from the police and the army. But the next day, as former Vice President Mohammed Waheed Hassan was forming a new government, Nasheed suddenly announced he had actually been pushed from power at gunpoint.
Thousands of his supporters swept into the streets. They clashed with security forces in Male, and attacked police stations in remote parts of this 1,200-island archipelago nation off southern India. The new government insists there was no coup.
The dispute threatens the crucial tourism industry of this mostly Muslim nation of 3,00,000 people, which relies on dozens of high-end resorts that cater to the rich and famous.
The developments also raise questions about the future of a democracy that only shed a 30-year, one-man rule with the 2008 multiparty elections that brought Nasheed to power.
The ex-President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed, who claims he was forced from office in a coup, said he expected to be arrested today as protests and violence escalated in the holiday paradise.
Nasheed, the Indian Ocean country's first democratically elected President, told AFP at his home in the capital that a court order had been issued for his detention and he anticipated being sent to jail.
"They have issued a warrant to arrest me now and said that I will be the first former President to spend the rest of his life in jail," he said.