Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s family residence was raided Wednesday evening by police officers over an investigation into a coup plot.
The raid came hours after the police detained a former opposition lawmaker, Ilyas Labeeb, and seized his phone on the same charge. The criminal court has meanwhile issued a warrant for Nasheed’s arrest on a charge of misusing state funds.
Some ten officers spent half an hour at Kenereege in Malé at 9pm, according to Nasheed’s cousin and opposition MP Eva Abdulla. The officers searched all of the bedrooms and bathrooms, but said they did not find any items of interest, she said.
“This is absolutely unjustified. President Nasheed has been away for a very long time. Only his parents live there now.”
Nasheed, who was granted political refugee status by the British government in May, travelled to Sri Lanka earlier this month with other leaders of the Maldives United Opposition, a broad coalition of opposition parties and former senior government officials that is seeking to oust President Abdulla Yameen over human rights abuses and charges of corruption.
A warrant has also been issued for Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, Yameen’s former deputy and the head of the MUO. The police have previously seized the phones of other opposition figures and placed them under investigation on various charges.
Ilyas was accosted by a group of policemen at a café in Malé at 6pm and taken to the police headquarters, where his phone was seized on charges of involvement in a plot to topple the government.
He was released within an hour, lawyers said.
Tensions remain high in Malé. The security forces were on alert Tuesday evening, with soldiers stationed at the supreme court, the Republic Square and the president’s residence at Hilaaleege.
The Progressive Party of the Maldives-dominated parliament recently approved a bill barring protests in Malé.
Defying the law, some hundred raincoat-clad opposition protesters gathered a block away from Hilaaleege at midnight Tuesday but were dispersed by riot police.
Yameen’s spokesman has confirmed to the BBC that he was aware of a “formal attempt at ‘legally’ overthrowing the government.” Ibrahim Hussain Shihab called the pot “disingenuous to the people of the Maldives and in clear breach of international legal norms.”
The president is meanwhile battling a breakaway faction of the PPM led by his half-brother, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the Maldives for 30 years.