Male, Feb 9: Supporters of the Maldives former president rioted through the streets of the capital and seized some remote police stations 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.