- - Thursday, August 30, 2012

MALDIVES

An inquiry commission has determined that the Maldives‘ first democratically elected president was not forced to resign, as he has claimed.

Mohamed Nasheed, who resigned Feb. 7, insists he was ousted at gunpoint, a claim he reiterated in an interview with The Washington Times in June. He said he was forced to resign following a “coup” staged by Islamic radicals, the police and the military.

In its report Thursday, the Maldives’ National Commission of Inquiry found no evidence to support Mr. Nasheed’s claims.

“With regard to the idea that there was a ‘coup d’etat,’ nothing in the Maldives changed in constitutional terms — indeed, the constitution was precisely followed as prescribed,” the report says.

Vice President Mohammed Waheed Hassan assumed power after Mr. Nasheed stepped down.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland welcomed the release of the report and commended the commission’s leaders for their “commitment to a thorough and inclusive investigation and review process.”

SYRIA

Activists say rebels shot down warplane

BEIRUT — Syrian activists said rebels shot down a government warplane over the northern province of Idlib on Thursday, the second time in a week that opposition fighters claimed to have brought down an aircraft in the escalating civil war.

Two activist groups, the Local Coordination Committees and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the plane was seen crashing near the Abu Zuhour air base. Idlib-based activist Alaa al-Din said rebels shot it down with heavy machine guns.

The government had no immediate comment, and the report couldn’t be confirmed independently.

Over the past month, President Bashar Assad’s regime has been relying much more heavily on air power, escalating the fight with rebels as its ground forces have been stretched thin fighting on many fronts, including Syria’s two largest cities, Damascus and Aleppo.

The increased use of air power is likely a factor in the high daily death tolls, which activists say have been averaging 100 to 250 lately.

UZBEKISTAN

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