COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — The Maldives president announced Wednesday that he will call for an early presidential election following a contentious power transfer earlier this year, but the opposition said the plan fell short of its demands.
President Mohammed Waheed Hassan said the election will be held in July 2013, the earliest permitted by the constitution, according to a statement from his office. The vote was originally scheduled for late 2013.
Hassan took over in February when his predecessor, Mohamed Nasheed, resigned after weeks of public protests and eroding support from the police and military. Nasheed claimed he was forced to resign at gunpoint and challenged Hassan to order early elections.
Nasheed's opposition Maldivian Democratic Party insists that Hassan must resign and call an election immediately, claiming his ascendancy to power was illegal.
"This is exactly what we did not want," Nasheed's spokesman, Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, said of Wednesday's announcement. "Why doesn't he (Hassan) step down and let the people decide?"
Maldives is a Muslim nation of 300,000 people known for its luxury island resorts. Nasheed, a former pro-democracy political prisoner, became the first democratically elected president of the Indian Ocean archipelago in 2008 following 30 years of autocratic rule.