Tue, February 28, 2012
World > Asia-Pacific > Maldives crisis - Trouble in paradise

Maldivian opposition demands early elections

2012-02-28 07:38:35 GMT2012-02-28 15:38:35(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

COLOMBO, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- The Maldivian opposition on Tuesday reiterated calls for an early election following a leaked audio recording in which a government official has allegedly said that former President Mohamed Nasheed was indeed ousted in a coup.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said that a senior political advisor of Maldives President Mohamed Waheed, former Attorney-General Hassan Saeed, has publicly admitted that Nasheed was ousted in a coup and that Waheed assumed the presidency following the coup.

MDP Spokesperson for International Affairs Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said in a statement that officially Waheed's regime, made up mainly of people close to the former autocratic President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and hard-line Islamic preachers, continue to deny that there was a coup.

"According to their public statements, Nasheed stepped down voluntarily and ceded the presidency to Waheed. In reality, in the days prior to the coup, the-then Vice President Waheed had repeatedly assured opposition groups that should Nasheed be forced out, he would step into the breach," Ghafoor said.

Ghafoor claimed that last week Saeed had told a group of students in London that the removal of Nasheed was indeed a "coup" though a "very unique" kind of coup.

The President's Office has, however, claimed that Saeed's comments were taken out of context.

"It's more than clear to us that this is a police and military backed coup. We must hold early elections to give back our people their right to elect a legitimate government," Ghafoor said.

Violence broke out in the Maldives earlier this month after Nasheed resigned as president following protests over his sacking of a criminal judge.

Nasheed initially said he stepped down as a result of the protests but later said he was forced to resign at gun-point.

The Maldives government last week said it had appointed a commission to investigate Nasheed's claims and also agreed to hold an early election but a date was not fixed.

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