February 10, 2012

Maldives crisis: UN envoy to meet rival leaders

A UN envoy is due to meet the current and former presidents of the Maldives to try to end the political crisis gripping the tiny Indian Ocean nation.
Ahead of the talks, UN Assistant Secretary General Oscar Fernandez-Taranco urged all sides to "remain calm and prevent any type of violence".
Former President Mohamed Nasheed says he was forced to resign after a coup.
New leader Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik denies this. Protests turned violent on Wednesday.
Mr Nasheed was among dozens injured in the capital, Male, when riot police used tear gas against protesters.
Mr Nasheed is currently leading a rally through the streets of Male, which began after Friday prayers, the BBC's Andrew North in Male reports.
There has been no sign of the new government trying to carry out a warrant it says it has issued for his arrest.
So far the streets in the capital are quiet, but there are concerns about possible clashes after Friday prayers, our correspondent adds.
Snap election call
Mr Nasheed resigned on Tuesday following weeks of protests over his rule.
On Friday, he reiterated that he had been ousted in coup, saying he was threatened at gunpoint.
"About 18 or so military personnel came up to me and said that if I didn't resign in one hour they would resort to using arms," Mr Nasheed told the BBC from his home in Male.
"They gave me a piece of paper and told me to write it - I wrote it and signed it, and they took the letter."
Mr Nasheed also urged the new leader to hand over power to the Speaker of parliament, adding that fresh elections should be then held within two months.
New President Hassan denies the coup claims and says his aim now was to form a coalition to help restore stability ahead of fresh presidential elections due next year.
The army also rejects Mr Nasheed's version of events.
On Wednesday, several thousand MDP supporters, led by Mr Nasheed, marched through the streets of the capital in protest at his ousting. Riot police fired tear gas and broke up the demonstration - dozens of opposition supporters were arrested and several badly beaten.
The violence spread to outlying islands, where there were reports that several police stations had been overrun by supporters of Mr Nasheed.
Tensions in the Maldives escalated in January after the government ordered the arrest of a senior judge in the Maldives criminal court.
Protests over the arrest of the judge are widely seen as having hastened the downfall of Mr Nasheed. The judge was released soon after Mr Hassan took power.
Foreign governments are advising those visiting the islands to be careful. The archipelago receives nearly a million visitors a year - but most head straight to their resorts and never reach the capital.

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