Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed, who announced his resignation on television, explained his move thus:

“I resign because I am not a person who wishes to rule with the use of power. I believe that if the government were to remain in power it would require the use of force which would harm many citizens.

“I resign because I believe that if the government continues to stay in power, it is very likely that we may face foreign influences.”

Said a member of Mr. Nasheed's inner circle: “When someone points a gun at your head and asks you to go, I don't know what to call that other than a coup.”

A spokesman of the PPM, an outfit floated by the former President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, said: “He had to go after all the atrocities he committed on the people. If not today, it would have been tomorrow.”

Key trigger

Lawyers and all court officers joined in a movement against Mr. Nasheed after he arrested a judge on charges of corruption last month. Police broke ranks on Tuesday morning and precipitated it.

Key players

The military: Visible in Male. It has been staunchly behind Mr. Nasheed all along. There have been differences of opinion on handling the current crisis.

Mr. Gayoom: Now in Malaysia. His newly founded party, the PPM, upping its campaign against Mr. Nasheed and Mr. Nasheed's ouster do not seem mere coincidences. Now, Mr. Gayoom is well-entrenched. He appears to have support from many atolls, going by reactions here, apart from the Nasheed strongholds of Male and Addu.

China: Mr. Nasheed held up its proposal to put up a $1 billion resort-cum-casino for long. China opened a diplomatic post here in November, coinciding with the SAARC summit; it is only the fifth country to do so.

India: Maldives is closer to India than most people think — Lakshadweep's farthest island in the south Arabian Sea, Minicoy, is hardly an hour by boat from the Maldives' northernmost atoll. Both the Maldives and Minicoy speak Diwehi.

What can happen

India, despite its public posture, can intervene and find a via media candidate who is acceptable

Mr. Gayoom can drum up support from a few in the opposition, minus the party he founded 30 years ago, the DRP, and installs his men — with tacit support from China.

Status quo continues till the next elections (2013-end) with international endorsement.

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