MohamedNasheedWorld News

Mohamed Nasheed: Maldives ex-president injured in blast

image copyrightReuters

image captionSupporters say former President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed is in hospital receiving treatment

The former president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, has been injured in a suspected bomb blast in the capital, Male.

Supporters from the governing Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said the blast happened as he was about to get into a car outside his home on Thursday.

Initial reports suggested an explosive device had been fastened to a motorbike that was parked nearby.

Mr Nasheed was the first democratically elected president of the Maldives.

He won multi-party elections in 2008 but was ousted in a coup four years later.

Mr Nasheed, 53, is currently serving as the speaker in parliament which is the Indian Ocean nation’s second-most powerful position.

‘Targeted attack’

“Following an explosion… [the] Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Nasheed has sustained injuries and is currently receiving treatment,” a police statement said.

The hospital treating Mr Nasheed said he had suffered multiple injuries but was in a stable condition. Several other people are reported to have been injured.

In a tweet, the current president of the Maldives, Ibu Solih, said police had launched an investigation.

Ali Azim, an MP from the MDP, told the BBC the explosion appeared to be “a targeted attack against Mr Nasheed”. However, no one has claimed the attack and there are no reports of arrests.

Supporters of Mr Nasheed have gathered outside the hospital where he is being treated. The situation is reported to be tense and police with riot gear have been deployed.

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionPolice have secured the site of the suspected bomb blast that injured the former president

image copyrightReuters

image captionMr Nasheed, 53, is currently serving as the speaker in parliament

A reminder of challenges ahead

Anbarasan Ethirajan, South Asia Regional Editor, BBC World Service News

From outside, the Maldives is a dream tourist destination with turquoise water and sandy beaches. But most tourists do not go beyond their holiday resorts.

This Indian Ocean archipelago is an Islamic country where its residents follow Islamic traditions and beliefs. In some of the distant islands and atolls, some are conservative or even radicalised. The authorities blame the foreign hard-line preachers for the radicalisation.

The Maldivian security agencies say dozens of jihadists from the Maldives went to Syria to fight on behalf of the Islamic State group and other extremist organisations. After the war ended in Syria, some of them returned.

When I met Mr Nasheed in Male in 2019, he said the government was looking at this issue seriously.

Mr Nasheed is not only a pro-democracy icon, but also someone who doesn’t hesitate to talk against religious radicals. Security agencies estimate that hundreds of youths have been radicalised and it’s a big concern for them.

With so many foreigners visiting the country – bringing much-needed tourism revenue – they do not want any jihadist attacks attracting international headlines. But the attack on Mr Nasheed is a clear reminder of the challenges the Maldivian authorities face.

Mr Nasheed was barred from contesting the 2018 presidential elections after he was convicted of criminal charges.

However, he returned to the country from self-imposed exile after his party won the 2018 presidential elections and then entered parliament.

The Maldives is a largely Sunni Muslim nation made up of 1,192 individual islands south-west of the Indian sub-continent. It is renowned as a holiday destination for its beaches and luxury resorts.

Its political history has been unsettled since the electoral defeat of long-serving President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in 2008 ended decades of autocratic rule.

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