Maldives names defence minister as violence spreads

Maldives names defence minister as violence spreads

 The new Maldivian president has made urgent cabinet appointments to try and contain violence that has spread across the archipelago since his predecessor said he was forced to resign in a coup.

President Mohamed Waheed appointed retired colonel Mohamed Nazim as defence minister and lawyer Mohamed Jameel Ahmed as home minister, presidential aide Mohamed Shareef said today.

"Even though the appointment of a national unity cabinet is taking time, the president made these two urgent appointments to take charge and control the spread of violence since Wednesday evening," Shareef told AFP.

Waheed was sworn in Tuesday just hours after his predecessor announced his resignation in a televised press conference. Nasheed later claimed that he had been forced to step down in what was an effective coup d'etat orchestrated by opposition leaders with the backing of the security forces.

Violence erupted across the holiday resort island chain yesterday as supporters of the former president stormed police stations and burned government buildings in outlying atolls.

In the capital Male, thousands of protesters clashed with security forces near the police and military headquarters.

Shareef accused Nasheed of inciting his supporters to unleash "anarchy" on the streets.
Maldivian police declined to give details of any casualties, but denied media reports that as many as three people may have been killed in the unrest.

Police Chief Inspector Abdul Mannan Yoosuf confirmed that violence in the capital had spread to far flung atolls, but added that tourist resorts were unaffected.