Protests block Maldives' president from parliament

MALE Thu Mar 1, 2012 8:21pm IST

Maldives' President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik speaks during a news conference at the president office in Male February 11, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer

Maldives' President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik speaks during a news conference at the president office in Male February 11, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

Related Topics

MALE (Reuters) - Protesters in the Maldives blocked the new president from entering parliament on Thursday, the latest salvo in a political crisis that has begun to hurt the Indian Ocean archipelago's reputation as a laid-back luxury tourist paradise.

Thousands of supporters of ex-president Mohamed Nasheed, who says he was forced to resign last month under threat of violence, surrounded the People's Majlis, while legislators from his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) stopped proceedings inside.

New President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik, who was due to address the opening session, was unable to enter despite the presence of scores of riot police and soldiers.

Nasheed, the islands' first democratically elected president, and his party say he was ousted in a bloodless coup on February 7 and that Waheed's government is illegitimate.

They have vowed peaceful street protests until early elections are called. Polls are due in October 2013.

Police spokesman Ahmed Shiyam said 44 people had been arrested, and fourteen officers were injured in skirmishes. Many protesters sat on the street outside parliament, wearing goggles and surgical masks in anticipation of being tear-gassed.

The United States criticised the "disorderly protests", and urged dialogue to create the conditions for an early poll.

"The United States encourages all parties to continue to work collaboratively and peacefully toward a solution ... and not allow violence to further complicate the situation," the U.S. Embassy for Sri Lanka and the Maldives said in a statement.

The 54-nation Commonwealth said it had appointed its former secretary-general Donald McKinnon as special envoy to the Maldives. Along with India, the Commonwealth has been at the forefront of diplomatic efforts to end the standoff.

The Commonwealth last month suspended the Maldives from its democracy watchdog group and it has backed early elections to end any question over the legality of the transfer of power.

Images sent out on Twitter by MDP legislators from the parliament chamber showed them sitting on the speaker's desk, while others blocked Speaker Abdulla Shahid from entering.

Later, soldiers forcibly removed two MDP legislators. That is not without precedent in the rambunctious parliament, which saw a quarter of its sessions canceled because of disruptions and is ranked among the archipelago nation's most corrupt institutions.

(Additional reporting by Adrian Croft in London; Writing by Bryson Hull; Editing by Robert Birsel)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Gaza Conflict

WORLD SHOWCASE

Torture by CIA

Torture by CIA

Obama says that after 9/11, 'we tortured some folks'.  Full Article 

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

African leaders agree steps to fight runaway Ebola outbreak.  Full Article 

Opponent Freed

Opponent Freed

Putin opponent sought by Russia released from custody in Bulgaria.  Full Article 

Russia Threat

Russia Threat

NATO must change to better repel Russian threat - UK's Cameron.  Full Article 

MH17 Crash

MH17 Crash

Experts recover human remains at Ukraine crash site despite new fighting  Full Article 

Collateral Damage

Collateral Damage

How Iran sanctions fears hurt humanitarian trade  Full Article 

Ebola Outbreak

Ebola Outbreak

WHO chief says Ebola out of control but can be stopped  Full Article 

Graft in China

Graft in China

Exclusive - China's Xi likely to promote army general who exposed graft: sources  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage