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Protests delay opening of Maldives Parliament
Maldives police use tear gas as protesters try to stop new president from opening Parliament
By The Associated Press

MALE, Maldives (AP) ' Authorities in the Maldives used tear gas Monday as they tried to stop opposition demonstrators from preventing the country's new president from opening Parliament.

Several hundred demonstrators blocked roads and shouted slogans calling for the resignation of President Mohammed Waheed Hassan, who took office last month in a contentious power transfer. Hassan was prevented from opening Parliament on March 1 amid protests by opposition lawmakers.

On Monday, police used tear gas against the demonstrators, while television footage showed security staff in the Parliament building forcibly removing four opposition lawmakers who were trying to stop Hassan from making his opening speech.

A fire raged at a marketplace close to the street demonstrations, with military personnel and firefighters battling the blaze. It was unclear how the fire started.

Hassan's speech was delayed, and authorities were waiting for the protests to end.

Hassan was vice president when he replaced President Mohamed Nasheed last month after his predecessor resigned following weeks of public protests and a loss of support from the military and police.

However, Nasheed later claimed that he was forced to resign at gunpoint in what he called a coup. He demanded that Hassan resign immediately and call fresh elections.

Hassan says the power transfer was constitutional.

The Maldives, an Indian Ocean archipelago that is home to 300,000 people and known for its luxury resorts, introduced democratic elections after 30 years of autocratic rule ended in 2008.

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