Maldives names defence minister as violence spreads

  • AFP, Male
  • |
  • Updated: Feb 09, 2012 11:24 IST
  • Mohamed Nasheed

    File photo of Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed who resigned after weeks of demonstrations. Agencies

  • tear gas

    A Maldives soldier kicks a tear gas canister towards police during a clash in Male, Maldives. The first democratically elected president Mohamed Nasheed of Maldives ...

  • Maldives soldier

    A Maldives soldier fires a rubber bullet towards police during a clash between them in Male, Maldives. The first democratically elected president Mohamed Nasheed of ...

  • Maldives soldiers

    Maldives soldiers, left, are involved in a clash with police officers, right, in Male, Maldives. Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed presented his resignation in a nationally ...

  • Maldives police

    Maldives police officers assume taking an oath before joining a protest against the military in Male, Maldives. Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed announced his resignation today ...

  • Opposition supporters

    Opposition supporters stage a protest at the Republican Square in Male, Maldives. Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed announced his resignation today following weeks of public protests ...

  • Hassan Manik

    People gather outside a building in Male, as news breaks that mutinying police has taken over the state broadcaster, in this still image taken from ...

  • Republic Square

    In this handout photograph provided by Haveeru News Service, opposition activists celebrate at Republic Square following the news that a group of police officials have ...

  • Maldivian President

    In this handout photograph provided by Haveeru News Service, Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed (C, wearing white) walks towards the military headquarters after meeting special police ...

  • Maldivian police

    In this handout photograph provided by Haveeru News Service, mutinying Maldivian police are seen amid a cloud of tear gas as they confront the military ...

The new Maldivian president has made urgent cabinet appointments to try and contain violence that has spread across the archipelago since his predecessor said he was forced to resign in a coup.

President Mohamed Waheed appointed retired colonel Mohamed Nazim as defence minister and lawyer Mohamed Jameel Ahmed as home minister, presidential aide Mohamed Shareef said on Thursday.

"Even though the appointment of a national unity cabinet is taking time, the president made these two urgent appointments to take charge and control the spread of violence since Wednesday evening," Shareef said.

Waheed was sworn in on Tuesday just hours after his predecessor announced his resignation in a televised press conference.

Nasheed later claimed that he had been forced to step down in what was an effective coup d'etat orchestrated by opposition leaders with the backing of the security forces.

Violence erupted across the holiday resort island chain on Wednesday as supporters of the former president stormed police stations and burned government buildings in outlying atolls.

In the capital Male, thousands of protesters clashed with security forces near the police and military headquarters.

Shareef accused Nasheed of inciting his supporters to unleash "anarchy" on the streets.

Maldivian police declined to give details of any casualties, but denied media reports that as many as three people may have been killed in the unrest,

Police chief inspector Abdul Mannan Yoosuf confirmed that violence in the capital had spread to far flung atolls, but added that tourist resorts were unaffected.

The Maldives is dependent on tourism and its resorts, popular with high-end honeymooners, are mostly located on otherwise uninhabited coral islets .

Yoosuf said police were planning a "joint operation with the armed forces" to bring the situation under control."

It is the Maldives' worst unrest since clashes in 2003 following the death of an inmate at the hands of security forces, an event which sparked the process of democratic change on the Indian Ocean islands.

In Washington the State Department called for calm and said a senior US envoy would visit the Maldives on Saturday, but stopped short of describing events as a coup.

Nasheed said he suspected Waheed, his former vice president, had known of a plot to overthrow him.

 

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