Maldives denies deal as ex-president back in action

Updated 24 February 2013
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Maldives denies deal as ex-president back in action

MALE: The Maldivian government yesterday denied any deal to allow former President Mohamed Nasheed to end his refuge at the Indian Embassy in the capital and resume election campaigning without fear of arrest.
Presidential spokesman Abbas Riaz said Nasheed walked out of the embassy on Saturday afternoon of his own will and there was no agreement with an Indian mediator who rushed to the Maldives last week to resolve a tense standoff.
“There is no deal, absolutely no deal with the Indians or anyone else,” Riaz said, in the government’s first reaction to Nasheed leaving the embassy to resume his political work.
Nasheed, 45, sought refuge at the embassy on Feb. 13, straining ties between regional power India and its small neighbor Maldives, after an arrest warrant was issued following his failure to attend court.
He says his trial is a “politically motivated” attempt to disqualify him from an election due on Sept. 7, a charge denied by the government.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said Nasheed was meeting with visiting Western diplomats yesterday and would start house-to-house campaigning from today.
“He is back on the campaign trail,” MDP spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said. “India arranged a deal to give political space for Nasheed to contest... but still there is a risk (of arrest). We don’t trust this rogue regime.” The Maldivian government insists that it will not interfere with a judicial process.
India sent its special envoy, senior diplomat Harsh Vardhan Shringla, to mediate an end to the crisis after Nasheed took refuge in its High Commission. New Delhi said in a statement shortly after Nasheed left the embassy that it had been working with all sides to “strengthen democracy” in the nation of 330,00 Sunni Muslims and urged all to maintain “peace and calm.”
Nasheed, a pro-democracy campaigner, won the first free elections in 2008 in the Indian Ocean holiday destination but was ousted last year following a mutiny by police and troops.
His court hearing slated for last Wednesday was postponed because he could not be arrested while he was inside the Indian Embassy.
During heightened anti-government protests just before he walked out of the embassy, three journalists were attacked and injured in two separate incidents early Saturday, police said.
A journalist from private, pro-opposition Raajje TV suffered serious head injuries after being beaten with an iron rod, police said, adding that he was flown to neighboring Sri Lanka for specialized treatment.
Two female state TV reporters were assaulted while covering an MDP protest and were admitted to hospital locally, but were reported to be out of danger, police said.
The US embassy in Male condemned both attacks in a message posted on its website.
“We urge all Maldivians to refrain from violence, and urge protesters and police to respect the right of all media outlets to cover demonstrations,” it said.
President Mohamed Waheed also condemned the attacks.
“The president has assured that the government would not step back in bringing to justice, those responsible for this act of brutality,” Waheed’s office said in a statement.


86 people killed in central Nigeria violence: police

Updated 41 min 49 sec ago
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86 people killed in central Nigeria violence: police

  • Analysts believe it could become Nigeria’s biggest security concern, eclipsing Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency that has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009
  • The violence — fueled by ethnic, religious and political allegiances — has killed thousands over several decades

JOS, Nigeria: Eighty-six people have been killed in an attack by suspected nomadic herders against farming communities in restive central Nigeria, police said on Sunday.
The discovery in the Barikin Ladi area of Plateau state came after days of violence apparently sparked by an attack by ethnic Berom farmers on Fulani herders on Thursday.
State police commissioner Undie Adie said a search of Berom villages in the area following clashes on Saturday found “86 persons altogether were killed.”
Adie told reporters six people were also injured and 50 houses razed. Bodies of those who died have been released to their families, he added.
The deaths are the latest in a long-running battle for land and resources that is putting President Muhammadu Buhari under pressure as elections approach next year.
The violence — fueled by ethnic, religious and political allegiances — has killed thousands over several decades.
Analysts believe it could become Nigeria’s biggest security concern, eclipsing Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency that has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009.
The Plateau state government said it had imposed restrictions on movements in the Riyom, Barikin Ladi and Jos South areas “to avert a breakdown of law and order.”
“The curfew takes effect immediately... and movement is restricted from 6:00 p.m. (1700 GMT) to 6:00 am, except (for) those on essential duties,” said spokesman Rufus Bature.
On Sunday, ethnic Berom youths set up barricades on the Jos-Abuja highway and attacked motorists who looked “Fulani and Muslim,” according to those who escaped the violence.
Plateau state police spokesman Tyopev Terna and Major Adam Umar, from the military taskforce in the state capital, Jos, confirmed the blockade and vandalism to several cars.
There were no official reports of deaths but Baba Bala, who escaped the violence on the road, said at least six people were killed.
“I was lucky the convoy of the (Plateau) state government was passing through the scene of the attack shortly after I ran into the attackers,” he said.
“I escaped with smashed windscreens and dents on my car. I saw six dead bodies and several damaged cars.”