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Maldives president clears way for early elections to end violence

• By Dean Nelson, New Delhi

More than 100 supporters of his Maldivian Democratic Party have been beaten and arrested since the country's first democratically-elected leader Mohamed Nasheed was forced to resign following a revolt by police and army officers last week.

Many of them said they were beaten with iron rods, stripped and tortured with pepper spray in retaliatory raids by police after protesters torched 18 police stations and court houses throughout the islands.

Mr Nasheed has waged a campaign of mass street demonstrations since then and called for the new president Dr Waheed Hassan, his former vice-president, to hand power to the speaker of the country's parliament and for fresh elections to be held within two months.

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