Police in Maldives resorted to tear gas and batons to break up a protest on Sunday demanding President Mohamad Nasheed step down, according to Associated Press.
Dozens of protestors were injured and several arrested in the capital Male. Male is a favorite destination for wealthy Arabs and also Arab professionals, in addition to being a touristic favorite of Europeans seeking year-round sunshine.
Around 5,000 people converged on Saturday night “to protest economic hardship, government mismanaged and wasteful spending” the AP said.
Police spokesperson Ahmed Shiyam said officials asked the crowd to disperse but protestors threw objects at the police which forced them to act in self defense. He said 10 were arrested on charges of property damage.
But a spokesperson for the opposition party, Dhivehi Raithunge Party, said 30 protestors were detained which included his party lawmaker and leading activists.
The spokesman, Mohammed Shareef, said, “Dozens of people were hospitalized with injuries,” but AP could not confirm his account.
Mr. Shareef said the demonstration was organized “to protest the government’s alleged inaction on rising unemployment and soaring prices of essential items caused by the devaluation of the currency,” reported the AP.
Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago of 1,200 islets has a population of 300,000 and is heavily reliant on tourism.
Mr. Nasheed was elected president in the country’s first multiparty election in 2008 after 30 years of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s one-party rule.
(Muna Khan of Al Arabiya can be reached at: email@example.com)