UN backs call for unity government for Maldives

AP News
Posted: Feb 13, 2012 2:13 PM
UN backs call for unity government for Maldives

The United Nations on Monday backed Maldives' new leader's proposal for a national unity government though the ousted leader is calling for a snap poll to resolve a political crisis.

U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco called on all parties to come together "on the principle of inclusiveness and national unity, and reach a consensus on the way forward."

Former President Mohamed Nasheed resigned last Tuesday after months of public protests and fading support from the police and military. His vice president succeeded him and has been forming a government.

Nasheed later claimed he was forced out at gunpoint in a coup and demanded an early election. His claim sparked angry demonstrations in capital, Male, which the police put down in a violent crackdown. In far-off atolls in this archipelago, Nasheed's supporters captured and burnt down police stations, vehicles and court houses.

The new government insists Nasheed stepped down voluntarily, and although police have issued an arrest warrant against the former leader, there has been no move to arrest Nasheed.

Nasheed's supporters have since held nonviolent nightly protests. Speaking to his supporters at Monday's demonstration, Nasheed called Maldivians to civil disobedience if the new President Mohammed Waheed Hassan does not resign for an early election.

Maldives' next presidential election is scheduled for next year.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake said Saturday that the police, elections commission and the judiciary were not sufficiently prepared for a free and fair election.

Political unrest, simmering for the last few months, escalated after a senior judge was arrested by Nasheed's government and accused of political bias.

Hassan has invited Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party to join his Cabinet, which swelled to eight members after Sunday's appointment of six ministers.