Male: Dozens of opposition demonstrators were arrested in the Maldivian capital Male Wednesday as violent protests broke out in the island nation following the arrest of former President Mohamed Nasheed on Tuesday.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) spokesperson Shauna Aminath told Xinhua that around 70 men, women and minors have been arrested and people had taken to the streets demanding Nasheed's release. Aminath said that an appeal stating Nasheed's arrest was unlawful was rejected by the criminal court on Wednesday.

"The party is closely monitoring the situation. Nasheed is being held illegally and we hope he is released soon," Aminath said.  Presidential spokesperson Imad Mashood told Xinhua that Nasheed will be presented to court on Wednesday afternoon for the hearing of the case against him for the abduction of Judge Abdullah Mohammed.

"Nasheed was taken under judicial custody to ensure his presence. Nasheed has a history of absconding court orders and avoiding the judicial process...," Mashood said.

The US on Wednesday expressed deep concern over the present political turmoil in the Maldives and urged all parties to remain calm and reject the use of violence following the arrest of former President Mohamed Nasheed.  The US embassy in Colombo in a statement said that the US was increasingly concerned about the ongoing events in Maldives.

"We understand that both the Police Integrity Commission and the Human Rights Commission are monitoring the situation, and that the Human Rights Commission has requested access to former President Nasheed. We urge all sides to remain calm, reject the use of violence, and avoid rhetoric that could increase tensions," the US embassy said.  The US also urged that the presidential elections scheduled for September 7 to be free, fair, credible, transparent and inclusive.


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