News / Asia

Commonwealth to Probe Government Change in Maldives

Supporters of Maldives' former President Mohamed Nasheed taunt a police officer during a protest in Male, Maldives, Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012.
Supporters of Maldives' former President Mohamed Nasheed taunt a police officer during a protest in Male, Maldives, Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012.

The Commonwealth said Sunday it is sending a team to the Maldives to investigate the sudden transfer of power in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

The nine-member Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group made the decision after emergency talks in London. In a written statement, the group said the organization has "agreed to constitute a ministerial mission which will visit ((the)) Maldives urgently to ascertain the facts surrounding the transfer of power, and to promote adherence to Commonwealth values and principles."

Its announcement came as new protests broke out in the capital, Male, and as the country's new president, Mohammed Waheed Hassan, swore in six new ministers and an attorney general, drawn from different political parties.  

The new appointees are heading up the ministries of economic development, education, health, tourism, transportation and the combined youth and sports bureau.  

Former President Mohamed Nasheed insists he was ousted in a military-backed coup.  He told supporters at a rally he would reject a U.S. call for compromise and the formation of a unity government.

Late Sunday, hundreds of Nasheed loyalists gathered outside the Peoples' Majlis, or parliament, and clashed with police.

((REST OPT))

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake, on a visit to the Maldives, met with the former president Saturday.  Blake said the island group is not ready for the early elections suggested by its former president.  He said the police, the election commission and the judiciary are not sufficiently prepared for a free and fair election process, and he urged broad compromise between political players as they sort out how they will proceed.

Earlier Saturday, President Hassan told the U.S. official that he has agreed to a probe about his political takeover. President Nasheed resigned under duress on Tuesday, but later said he had been the subject of a military-backed coup.  His former deputy, Mr. Hassan, was sworn in as president hours later.   

Washington recognized Mr. Hassan's administration Thursday, but then stepped back from the declaration, saying circumstances surrounding the transfer of power needed to be "clarified."

Mr. Nasheed has expressed disappointment with the U.S. stance. He has maintained that the new president was involved in helping remove him from office, allegations Mr. Hassan has denied.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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