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Maldives president parliament block

Supporters of the Maldives' former president have blocked the country's new leader from opening parliament, three weeks after he took office in a contentious power transfer.

Supporters of ex-leader Mohamed Nasheed blocked roads leading to parliament and then occupied the speaker's seat, preventing president Mohammed Waheed Hassan from making his inaugural speech to MPs.

Mr Nasheed resigned last month after weeks of public protests and loss of support from the military and police. He later said he was ousted in a coup and was forced to resign at gunpoint.

Backers of Mr Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party blocked roads to parliament and clashed with police, who attempted to push them aside with their shields.

At least three policemen were injured and a dozen protesters were arrested.

According to the constitution, the president must speak to the MPs and officially inaugurate a new parliamentary session after a change in leadership.

A political stalemate has followed, with Mr Nasheed calling Mr Hassan's government illegitimate and campaigning for early elections.

The new president, Mr Nasheed's former deputy, says the transfer was constitutional.

Maldives, a nation of 300,000 people, introduced democratic elections after 30 years of autocratic rule ended in 2008.

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