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Maldives welcomes Commonwealth coup probe

2012-02-13 08:56

Male - The new Maldivian President on Monday welcomed a Commonwealth mission to investigate the ousting of his predecessor as fresh clashes broke out in the streets of the restive capital Male.

President Mohamed Waheed agreed to a Commonwealth ministerial probe into the dramatic fall of Mohamed Nasheed, the nation's first democratically-elected leader who came to power in 2008, spokesperson Masood Imad said.

"The President welcomes the Commonwealth mission," Imad said. "Please come here and see the exact situation. We want not only the Commonwealth, but others too to come and see what really happened."

The nine-member Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which deals with serious violations of the 54-nation bloc's political values, decided on the mission after an emergency telephone conference on Sunday.

The Commonwealth Secretariat said the action would "ascertain the facts surrounding the transfer of power, and to promote adherence to Commonwealth values and principles".

The former president insists he was removed in a military-backed coup and on Sunday rejected a US call for compromise and the formation of a unity government.

Snap election


His Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters clashed with police in the capital on Sunday night as MDP law makers complained that one of their colleagues had been arrested and tortured in the southernmost atoll of Addu.

An AFP correspondent saw police use pepper spray to break up a group of about 200 people and arrest at least three demonstrators who shouted anti-government slogans.

Nasheed insisted on Sunday that the way out of the crisis was a snap election rather than recommending his party consider a coalition with his former deputy, who succeeded him.

"We want an election and we will campaign for it," Nasheed told large, cheering crowds overnight on Sunday.

His remarks came after US assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs Robert Blake spoke out against snap polls, asking both sides in the Maldives to make "compromises".