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Maldives Prez resigns after mutiny



Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, center, attempts to address protesting policemen in Male, Maldives, Tuesday, February 7. The first democratically elected president of the island nation resigned Tuesday after the police and army clashed in the streets of the island nation amid protests over his controversial arrest of a top judge. (AP Photo)
 
MALE, February 7 (Reuters): Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed resigned on Tuesday after three weeks of opposition-led protests in the Indian Ocean archipelago boiled over into a police mutiny. Nasheed handed over power to Vice-President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik, saying continuing in power would result in his having to use force against his people.
"I resign because I am not a person who wishes to rule with the use of power," he said in a televised address. "I believe that if the government were to remain in power it would require the use force which would harm many citizens." Nasheed swept to victory in 2008, pledging to bring full democracy to the luxury holiday resort nation, but drew opposition fire for his arrest of a judge he accused of being in the pocket of his predecessor, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled for 30 years.
Mutinying police took over the state broadcaster and issued an opposition-linked station's calls for people to come on the streets to overthrow Nasheed. Protests began weeks ago after Nasheed ordered the military to arrest the top criminal court judge, whom he accuses of being in the pocket of Gayoom. That set off a constitutional crisis that had Nasheed in the unaccustomed position of defending himself of acting like a dictator.
"I resign because I believe that if the government continues to stay in power, it is very likely that we may face foreign influences," he said, without giving details. Gayoom's opposition Progressive Party of the Maldives accused the military of firing rubber bullets at protesters and a party spokesman, The official close to the president denied the government had used rubber bullets, but confirmed that about three dozen police officers defied orders overnight and smashed up the main rallying point of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party.

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