Hundreds join anti-government protest in Maldives

May 6, 2011 (AFP) – Hundreds of anti-government protesters took to the streets of The Maldives for a sixth consecutive day Friday to demonstrate against soaring prices and demand that President Mohammed Nasheed resign. Eyewitnesses said more than 500 people gathered in Republican Square in the capital Male after Friday prayers to protest against economic reforms backed by the International Monetary Fund that have sent consumer prices soaring by 30 percent.

Maldivian Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem, speaking to reporters in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, denounced the demonstrations led by the party of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

“We will take appropriate action to arrest people,” Naseem said, adding that the protests were harming the economy in the tourism-dependent nation of low-lying islands.

Police have arrested scores of people in the past week and were out in force again Friday.

President Nasheed, who was jailed for protesting against Gayoom’s autocratic regime, unseated the ruler of 30 years in the country’s first multi-party election in 2008.

The Maldives, a country of 1,200 islands scattered in the Indian Ocean, is famous for its high-end holiday resorts but many of its p