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Protests in Male after Nasheed's defiant speech

February 08, 2012 23:25 IST

The Maldivian Democratic Party has claimed that Mohammad Nasheed was forced to resign as president by the military, which threatened a bloodbath in the capital if he did not step down. B Raman reports

Addressing a meeting of the National Council of his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) at Dharubaruge on the Wednesday afternoon, Mohammad Nasheed -- who was forced to resign as the president on February 7 -- called upon Dr Mohammed Waheed Hasan, who was sworn in as the president after his resignation, to immediately step down from the office of president and promised immediate elections.

The council rejected an invitation from Dr Waheed to join theĀ  national unity government formed by him and proclaimed that Nasheed's government was the only "legitimate" government of the country and would not negotiate with the government formed by Dr Waheed.

Addressing hundreds of party workers, who rushed to Dharubaruge after hearing of his presence there, Nasheed said, "I will never back down until a lawful legitimate government is sworn in." Nasheed called upon the chief justice to investigate Tuesday's coup "and bring those responsible to justice."

"We will never allow the national defence forces and the police to be hijacked by the opposition. We will assure our key pledges of affordable housing, transport networks, closure of the doors opened towards narcotics, and bringing down the commodity prices," Nasheed said.

According to the MDP, Nasheed was on Tuesday forced to resign by the military, which threatened "a bloodbath in the capital" if he did not step down from the presidency.

MP Alhan Fahmy, former foreign minister Ahmed Naseem and several party MPs said the MDP would not negotiate with Dr Waheed's government and declared that Nasheed "is still the legitimate president."

Party president Dr Ibrahim Didi, who on Tuesday night said on television that he supported cooperation with the new government, told the council, "I was misinterpreted by the media stating that I was open to the idea of a unity government, but I only stated that I would decide after consulting the party council."

As the meeting ended, Nasheed said, "I call upon all of us to march to 'Haruge' (MDP camp) after this meeting and open it, for it was the place where freedom of speech and expression originated." The supporters of Nasheed started marching to the party camp with Nasheed leading them. The marchers clashed with some opposition supporters near the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA).

According to latest reports tweeted by supporters of Nasheed, some MNDF elements were on their way to the scene after the police failed to disperse the marchers with pepper spray. Nasheed is marching at the head of them.

B Raman