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Former Maldives president arrested

March 5, 2013 at 2:14 PM

MALE, Maldives, March 5 (UPI) -- Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of the Maldives, was arrested Tuesday in what was viewed as an attempt to prevent him from running for office.

The arrest of the country's first democratically elected president sparked violent protests by his supporters, The Wall Street Journal reported.

As police took Nasheed to a detention center on a nearby island, protesters blocked traffic, threw stones at police and set fire to a police motorcycle, police spokesman Hasan Haneef said.

Haneef said police have been ordered to bring Nasheed before judges Wednesday on charges he abused his power.

"The whole intention" of the arrest is to "summarily sentence him and disqualify him for presidential elections," said Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, a spokesman for the Maldivian Democratic Party of which Nasheed is a member.

Nasheed was elected to office in 2008 and ousted in February 2012 in what his supporters said was a coup by armed forces loyal to former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the Maldives in an autocratic manner for three decades.

Nasheed's arrest came after he ignored two court appointments.

The charges against him stem from his dismissal, while still president, of a judge Nasheed said was blocking a corruption investigation against Gayoom.

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