Maldivians demand resignation of the president, 2011

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Timing
Time Period:  
1 May
2011
to
7 February
2012
Location and Goals
Country: 
Maldives
Location City/State/Province: 
Male
Goals: 
To make the president resign
 

The Republic of the Maldives is a chain of islands in the Indian Ocean southwest of Sri Lanka. The country is threatened by becoming completely covered by the sea because of climate change.

In 2008, after thirty years of one-party rule, Maldivians created a new constitution and held multi-party elections. They participated in direct presidential elections for the first time. The new government of President Mohamed Nasheed faced many challenges, including huge debts left by the previous government and the continuing impact of a 2004 tsunami. Nasheed accepted the advice of the International Monetary Fund to institute an austerity program aimed at lowering the country’s deficit. Prices of food and other goods rose by 20%. The government blamed the global economy for the rise in commodity goods prices, but during the Arab Awakening (2011) people began to protest against declining living standards.

Maldivians initially protested for a week from 1 May to 6 May 2011, holding the government accountable for mismanagement of the economy. They demanded the resignation of the President Nasheed. Thousands gathered on each night in various locations, such as Republican Square in the capital city, Male, and Artificial Beach.

Police used tear gas and batons to disperse the protesters and arrested more than 300 people. Presidential supporters also went into the streets to demonstrate against the opposition.

Between May and December Nasheed’s opposition re-formed with a new framing, charging that the government was not in alignment with Islamic values. The alliance, including some who initially supported Nasheed in the 2008 election, was made of six political parties and some nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

Unified by their belief that they needed to protect their faith, they organized two mass rallies. On 23 December 2011 campaigners rallied to defend Islam and the next day to support “moderate Islam.”

Thousands of demonstrators attended each event. They flew banners and Maldivian flags, wore t-shirts and yelled slogans including, “We stand united for Islam and the nation,” and “No idols in this holy land.”

Police and the MNDF (National Defense Forces) maintained a close watch on the protests but this time did not intervene.

On 16 January 2012 President Nasheed ordered the arrest of the chief justice of the Maldives Criminal Court, complaining that he inadequately prosecuted the corruption practiced by the former president. This arrest led to multiple protests that lasted 22 days. Protesters demanded the judge’s release and the resignation of President Nasheed.

On 7 February Maldivian police defied government orders to break up the protests and joined the protesters’ side. President Nasheed realized he had lost the loyalty of the military when it also refused to disperse the crowd. The president resigned his office later that same day.

Research Notes
Influences: 

Arab Spring (1)

Sources: 
Shafeeg, M. A. (2012, February 18). Maldives in still mode. Maldives in Still Mode. Retrieved May 10, 2013, from http://mashafeeg.wordpress.com/tag/protest/

Voigt, K., & Report, J. M. (2012, February 10). Q&A: The Maldives - Trouble in paradise. CNN. Retrieved May 9, 2013, from http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/08/world/asia/maldives-dispute- explainer/index.html?_s=PM:ASIA

Kumar, G. P. (2012, February 10). Dramatic last moments of Nasheed as Maldivian president. Firstpost. Retrieved May 10, 2013, from http://www.firstpost.com/world/dramatic-last-moments-of-nasheed-as-maldivian-president-209377.html

Burke, J. (2012, July 02). Mohamed Nasheed resigns as Maldives president. The Guardian. Retrieved May 10, 2013, from http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/feb/07/mohamed-nasheed-resigns-maldives-president

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Times Online. (2012, February 7). Times Online. Retrieved May 10, 2013, from http://www.sundaytimes.lk/index.php?option=com_content

MNDF and Police Standoff. (2012, February 7). MDN Political Violence Watch. Retrieved May 10, 2013, from http://politicalviolencewatch.org/reports/view/206

Human Rights Commission of the Maldives. (2013, January 20). Human Rights Commission of the Maldives. Retrieved May 10, 2013, from http://hrcm.org.mv/news/page.aspx?id=112

Forum One Communications. (2012). Maldives. Freedom House. Retrieved May 10, 2013, from http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2012/maldives

Minivan News. (2011, December 23). Protests proceed peacefully as a majority defends Islam. Minivan News. Retrieved May 10, 2013, from http://minivannews.com/politics/protests-proceed-peacefully-as-a-majority-defends-islam-29826

Police block protests in Maldives - Central & South Asia - Al Jazeera English. (2011, May 6). Al Jazeera English. Retrieved May 10, 2013, from http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia/2011/05/20115694931454154.html

Achin, K. (2011, May 4). Maldives Braces for More Anti-Government Protests. VOA. Retrieved May 10, 2013, from http://www.voanews.com/content/maldives-braces-for-more-anti-government-protests-121321604/167416.html

Police block Maldives protest over food prices. (2011, May 05). BBC News. Retrieved May 10, 2013, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13311483

Radhakrishnan, R. K. (2011, May 3). Blake leaves strong message for Maldivian opposition. The Hindu. Retrieved May 10, 2013, from http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article1988267.ece

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Alexis Dziedziech 4/27/13