Ex-leader`s allies seize few Maldives police posts

Last Updated: Thursday, February 9, 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 9, 2012 - 09:35

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