Maldives ex-president says to back constitutional changes

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 24, 2012 1:26 PM

COLOMBO (Reuters) - The former president of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, ousted last month in what he said was a bloodless coup, said on Saturday his party was willing to work with the new administration to make the constitutional changes needed to hold an early election.

Nasheed, who says he was forced out of power at gunpoint on February 7, does not recognize the current government as legitimate. His party has staged weeks of mostly peaceful protests against it and blocked parliament sessions.

"If they want to change the constitution we are willing to work with them to change the clauses of the constitution to have one election instead of one early election and another one again in 2013," Nasheed told reporters during a visit to the Sri Lankan capital Colombo.

Nasheed, the first democratically-elected president of the hideaway resort islands southwest of India's tip, is in neighboring Sri Lanka for talks with diplomats.

His successor, President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik, briefly addressed parliament to symbolically open the session after protesters blocked several earlier attempts.

The Commonwealth last month suspended the Maldives from its democracy watchdog group. It has backed early elections to end any question over the legality of the transfer of power.

(Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Karolina Tagaris)