MALE - The ousted leader of the Maldives, who claims he was deposed in a coup, called for fresh elections on Friday and threatened street protests over the detention of his party members.

Mohamed Nasheed, who says rebel police and army officers forced him to resign Tuesday, claims up to 350 people connected to his former administration or his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have since been detained.

Several senior MDP figures were badly beaten during a demonstration Wednesday, allegedly by police, while at least two party councillors were among 75 arrested in the second-biggest city of Addu, its police chief told AFP.

Nasheed claimed police “stripped and hand-cuffed” his supporters and ransacked homes in Addu and said he would travel there in the next 24 hours unless the crackdown stopped. “We will get on the streets,” he warned. The local mayor of Addu, Abdulla Sodig, earlier told AFP by telephone that he was in hiding.

The new government, meanwhile, rejected Nasheed’s call for fresh elections, calling the demand “ridiculous”.

“Simply because an ex-president wants an election we can’t have one just like that,” President Mohamed Waheed’s spokesman, Masood Imad, told AFP. “There is a constitutional process to follow.” He said Waheed would be in office till November 2013 and thereafter the country’s elections commission will call new elections. “President Waheed is not going to hold onto power without holding elections,” Imad said. “Nasheed’s call for immediate elections is ridiculous.”

Nasheed told reporters earlier that his election demand was “non-negotiable.”

His threat of new protests could also spell further instability in the Indian Ocean country which depends on the hundreds of thousands of high-end travellers and honeymooners who visit its pristine islands.

A UN special envoy arrived Friday and was holding talks with the new administration of Waheed, the former vice president under Nasheed. He is accused by Nasheed of conspiring in the coup plot. Assistant Secretary General Oscar Fernandez-Taranco held an hour-long meeting with Waheed and later met with Nasheed, but declined to comment to journalists afterwards.

“There can be no externally generated solution to something that can be solved by Maldivians themselves,” Fernandez-Taranco said as he arrived, adding that the UN was concerned for Nasheed’s safety.

Nasheed’s proposed solution is for Waheed to step down and the speaker of parliament in the fledgling democracy to take charge until elections in two months time. “I can’t see how the government can be sustained without the president having a single seat in parliament,” the 44-year-old told reporters at his family home, where he has stayed since leaving office.  “Elections must be held. That is not negotiable,” he added.

Three weeks of opposition-led protests were capped by a police mutiny on Tuesday that led to Nasheed’s dramatic resignation and the end of his four years in power as the country’s first democratically elected president.

While he has repeatedly called for foreign support, no government has backed him and the United States dealt him a serious blow on Thursday when it announced that it recognised Waheed’s new regime as legitimate.

Regional power India has also declined to intervene, calling it an “internal matter” and congratulating Waheed as the new head of state.

Video footage distributed by Nasheed’s office emerged Friday apparently showing him pleading with security forces in vain to help quell a police mutiny and violent demonstrations on the morning of his resignation.

Diplomatic pressure has been applied to prevent police acting on an arrest warrant for Nasheed issued by a local criminal court on Thursday, diplomatic sources said.

Presidential spokesman Imad said police were obliged to execute the arrest warrant only if they felt there was a risk that Nasheed would not appear in court to answer charges which are yet to be made public.

“He can go anywhere in the country, but he can’t leave the country,” Imad said.

Waheed promised in a new statement that his “key priorities included the restoration of public confidence in democratic institutions by upholding the rule of law and uncompromising adherence to the constitution”.

Opposition to Nasheed, fuelled by political opponents and religious hardliners in the nation of 300,000 Muslims, escalated three weeks ago after he sent the army to arrest a senior judge over alleged misconduct.

The Maldives’ former strongman ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled for 30 years, dismissed his allegations of a coup and said the new government was legitimate.

“Mr. Waheed is the democratically elected president of the Maldives, according to our constitution. I called him and congratulated him,” Gayoom, who is currently on a visit to Malaysia, told AFP by phone.