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Warrant for Maldives ex-president

A criminal court in the Maldives has issued an arrest warrant for former president Mohamed Nasheed, who stepped down from power earlier this week but later insisted he had been ousted in a coup.

Police spokesman Abdul Mannan Yusuf refused to disclose the grounds for the warrant, or when Mr Nasheed - who is living at his home, surrounded by supporters - would be arrested.

Rioters have rampaged through the streets of capital Male to demand his reinstatement.

The new government of President Mohammed Waheed Hassan insists there was no coup, and that the change in power was legal.

A tense calm had earlier settled over a rainy Male, but the new defence minister vowed to punish those responsible for Wednesday's violence on the Indian Ocean archipelago, a mostly Muslim nation of 300,000 that is home to dozens of high-end luxury resorts. He called the destruction "acts of terrorism".

"The Maldives national defence force remains vigilant in enforcing the law and order and upholding the constitution of the Maldives," Mohammed Nazin told reporters, barely 12 hours into his new job.

What happened to Mr Nasheed, a one-time human rights campaigner, remained unclear. He resigned on Tuesday after police joined months of street protests against his rule and soldiers defected, but insisted he had not been forced from power. He was replaced by his vice president, Mr Hassan.

On Wednesday, though, Mr Nasheed said he had been ousted in a coup, and his supporters swept into the streets of Male and rampaged through a series of small, remote islands.

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