Ex-leader`s allies seize few Maldives police posts
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Last Updated: Thursday, February 09, 2012, 09:35
  
Male: Supporters of the Maldives former president rioted through the streets of the capital and seized some remote police stations today to demand his reinstatement, as the country's new leader appealed for an end to the political turmoil roiling this Indian Ocean island nation.

Allies said former leader Mohamed Nasheed and other top party officials were beaten by police in the street chaos. The nation's first democratically elected president, Nasheed resigned Tuesday after police joined months of street protests against his rule and soldiers defected.

Today evening, Nasheed supporters took control of some small police stations but larger ones stayed under official control, police spokesman Amhed Shyam said. Residents told local reporters that as many as 10 police stations on small islands may have been seized.

The Maldives is made up of nearly 1,200 scattered islands, some of which have just a few hundred residents. Nasheed said today he was forced to resign at gunpoint and he promised to fight to return to office.

"We will come to power again," Nasheed said. "We will never step back. I will not accept this coup and will bring justice to the Maldivians."

Nasheed's party insisted his ouster was engineered by rogue elements of the police and supporters of the country's former autocratic leader, whom Nasheed defeated in the Maldives' first multiparty elections in 2008. Others blamed Islamic extremists in the Muslim country where some have demanded more conservative government policies.

New President Mohammed Waheed Hassan denied claims there was a coup or a plot to oust Nasheed. The former vice president, he said he had not prepared to take over the country and called for a unity coalition to be formed to help it recover.

"Together, I am confident, we'll be able to build a stable and democratic country," he said, adding that his government intended to respect the rule of law.

Later in the day, he appeared to be consolidating his power by appointing a new military chief and police commissioner. He later swore in defense and home ministers, the first members of his new Cabinet.

Nasheed insisted he was pushed from power by the armed forces. "I was forced to resign with guns all around me. They told me, if I don't resign, they won't hesitate to use arms," he said.

Speaking to about 2,000 wildly cheering members of his Maldivian Democratic Party in the capital, Male, he called for Hassan's immediate resignation and demanded the nation's top judge investigate those he said were responsible for his ouster.

Nasheed then led an anti-government demonstration. Police responded by firing tear gas. "If the police are going to confront us we are going to face them," Nasheed told the rally. "We have to overcome our fear and we have to get strength."

Nasheed's supporters began rioting, throwing fire bombs and vandalizing a private TV station that had been critical of Nasheed's government.

Reeko Moosa Manik, a lawmaker and chairman of the party, was beaten unconscious by police and hospitalized, said his son Mudrikath Moosa. Nasheed and other lawmakers were beaten as well, he said.

Hassan, who had promised to protect Nasheed from retribution, said his predecessor was not under any restriction and was free to leave the country. However, he said he would not interfere with any police or court action against Nasheed.

PTI


First Published: Thursday, February 09, 2012, 09:35


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