Protests as Maldives parliament opens

Opposition supporters demonstrate against President Mohammed Waheed Hassan, who they say took power in a coup.

    A demonstrator throws a bicycle towards riot police in Male, Madives on Monday. [AFP]

    The new president of the Maldives has opened parliament amid protests by the opposition, nearly six weeks after he took office in what his predecessor has called a coup.

    Police fired tear gas earlier on Monday as several hundred demonstrators blocked roads and shouted slogans calling for the resignation of President Mohammed Waheed Hassan. Waheed was prevented from opening parliament on March 1 amid protests by opposition legislators.

    Hassan was vice president when he replaced Mohamed Nasheed last month after his predecessor resigned following weeks of public protests and a loss of support from the military and police.

    Nasheed later claimed that he was forced to resign at gunpoint in what he called a coup. He demanded that Waheed resign immediately and call fresh elections. Waheed says the power transfer was constitutional.

    Television footage on Monday showed security staff in the parliament building forcibly removing four opposition legislators as they were trying to stop Waheed from making his opening speech.

    After a few hours' delay, Waheed made his speech in which he called for national unity. However, street protests continued.

    In Monday's speech, Waheed said the Maldives' constitution did not allow a presidential election before July 2013 and an early election would require constitutional amendment.

    “I will do everything in my power to bring together all the political leaders, to hold discussions on the matter,” he said.

    Nasheed was the Maldives' first democratically elected leader in 2008 after 30 years of autocratic rule.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    The shocking story of Israel's disappeared babies

    The shocking story of Israel's disappeared babies

    New information has come to light about thousands of mostly Yemeni children believed to have been abducted in the 1950s.

    Stories from the sex trade

    Stories from the sex trade

    Dutch sex workers, pimps and johns share their stories.

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    As the stigma associated with being childless persists, some elderly women in India risk it all to become mothers.