Country Listing

Maldives Table of Contents



Security Concerns

Since independence Maldives has faced no external threats but has experienced three major internal threats. In May 1980, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom disclosed details of an abortive coup against his regime. According to Gayoom, former president Ibrahim Nasir, supported by nine British ex-Special Air Services mercenaries, masterminded the plot. Nasir denied this allegation but in April 1981, the authorities sentenced Ahmed Naseem, former deputy minister of fisheries and brother-in-law of Nasir, to life imprisonment for plotting to overthrow Gayoom. Attempts to extradite Nasir from Singapore failed. In July 1990, Gayoom pardoned Nasir in absentia, ostensibly because of his role in the independence struggle. In 1983 Gayoom encountered another unsuccessful coup attempt.

The most serious challenge to Gayoom occurred in November 1988, when former Maldivian businessmen Abdullah Luthufi led a seaborne mercenary force of about 150 Sri Lankan Tamil separatists who invaded Maldives and attempted to seize key government installations. Gayoom asked the Indian government for assistance and Bombay deployed a 1,600-member contingent to Maldives. This unit quickly suppressed the coup attempt and restored order. In September 1989, Gayoom commuted to life imprisonment the death sentences imposed on twelve Sri Lankans and four Maldivians who participated in the coup attempt. A few weeks later, India withdrew its remaining 160 troops from the Maldives. By the early 1990s, internal security had improved, largely because Gayoom had embarked on a democratization program.

Data as of August 1994