Several websites including the BBC have reported that a campaign is underway in the UK to boycott tourism in the Maldives.
According to the news sources, the campaign initiated by “Friends Of Maldives” and led by former High Commissioner to UK Dr. Farahanaz Faisal and Counsel Naushad Waheed, who is the brother of the current President Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.
They handed out leaflets at a press conference last night addressed by minister of tourism Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Gafoor.
The leaflets described the change of government on February 7 as a coup d’etat. They argued: “Maldives is no longer a paradise for those who live there. The three years of democracy is over and the autocratic rule of the 30 years of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom dictatorship is well and truly back,” according to the travel weekly website.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed and his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) are now supported by Naushad who recently withdrew support for his brother in protest over his "immoral and illegal seizure of power".
The demonstrators claimed opponents of the new regime were being treated with “brutality". The leaflets listed hotels and businesses they said UK holidaymakers should avoid because these have links to the current regime.
"He believes that he is serving his country as the leader of a legitimate government, but I do not agree with him," Naushad Waheed told the BBC while protesting against a visit to London by the Maldivian tourism minister.
"The new government I believe is guilty of committing human rights abuses against the opposition."
Tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor refused to accept or deny there had been a coup, but asked for time while an investigation into the change of power takes place.
He argued the Maldives is a democratic country and said: “The fact there are leaflets being handed to you outside shows how open we are. There is nothing to hide but we would like people not to jump to conclusions.”
"The fact is that we believe that on issues like tourism - a trade vital to the economy of the Maldives - petty rows over who runs the government are of secondary importance," Adheeb told BBC.