A near miss for the former president . . .
The Maldives’ former president and current speaker of parliament, Mohamed Nasheed, has survived an assassination attempt after a bomb detonated outside his home on Thursday. His injuries were initially life-threatening, but he is reported to be in stable condition. Police, who have arrested three of the four suspects, have said little about possible motives. Many believe that Islamic extremists are responsible. The Maldives, a Sunni Muslim-majority country, reportedly has the highest number of people per capita who have fought alongside ISIS in Iraq and Syria. In November, authorities arrested eight people who were building explosives and allegedly planning an attack on a school.
A man both “loved and loathed” . . .
Nasheed is no stranger to political drama. After years as a political prisoner and living in exile, he became the Maldives’ first democratically elected president in 2008. But he resigned four years into his tenure, facing a possible mutiny and fierce opposition protests. The subsequent government charged him with terrorism – charges widely believed to be politically motivated – and in 2015, he fled the country again. The election of current president Ibrahim Solih in 2018 is credited as having steered the country back toward democracy and improving the human rights situation, clearing the way for Nasheed’s return.
In the crosshairs . . .
Globally, Nasheed is perhaps best known for his activism on climate change. While president, he made bold commitments to his island nation’s carbon-neutral future. And in 2009, to underscore the point about the dangers of rising sea levels, he held the world’s first underwater cabinet meeting. Domestically, however, Nasheed is also known as an outspoken critic of Islamic extremism – a position that has put him in the crosshairs of some religious hardliners. So too has his investigation into major corruption in the country’s tourism industry. In fact, on the morning of the bombing, Nasheed tweeted that he had a list of people implicated in a tourism scandal. Investigators will be under heavy pressure to get to the bottom of this attempt on the life of the country’s most high-profile politician.
- Al Jazeera: Who tried to kill Maldives’ ex-president Mohamed Nasheed?
- The Guardian: Maldives police arrest prime suspect in blast that wounded former president
- Human Rights Watch: Attack on ex-Maldives’ president show costs of impunity