Chaotic scenes at Maldives parliament

Supporters of former leader prevent president from opening parliament, as police clash with protesters outside building.

    Backers of Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party blocked roads leading to Parliament and clashed with police [AFP]

    Supporters of fomer Maldivian president Mohamed Nasheed have clashed with police and stopped the country's new leader from opening parliament, three weeks after he says he was forced to resign in a coup.

    Opposition legislators prevented Mohamed Waheed from addressing the assembly in the capital Male on Thursday by removing seats reserved for the president and the speaker.

    Outside the building, supporters of Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party blocked roads leading to parliament, prompting clashes with police who attempted to push them aside with shields.

    Police said 14 officers were wounded, four of them seriously, in clashes with opposition demonstrators around the parliament. At least 34 people were arrested, according to the AFP news agency.

    'Determined to speak'

    According to the constitution, the president of the country must address parliament and officially open a new session after a change in leadership.

    A spokesman for Waheed said he was "determined to speak but the situation is still not conducive".

    Nasheed resigned last month after weeks of public protests and loss of support from the military and police.

    He later said he was ousted in a coup and was forced to resign at gunpoint.

    A political stalemate has followed, with Nasheed calling Waheed's government illegitimate and campaigning for early elections. Waheed, Nasheed's former deputy, says the transfer was constitutional.

    Nasheed was the Indian Ocean island nation's first democratically elected leader in decades when he took office in 2008, replacing Maumoon Abdul Gayoom who had ruled the country for 30 years.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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