Maldives parliament approves VP, Cabinet nominees

The Maldives parliament on Wednesday approved the president's nominees for vice president and the Cabinet following a controversial power transfer in February.

The vote is a clear indication of President Mohammed Waheed Hassan's consolidation of power amid opposition allegations that he was part of a coup that unseated former President Mohamed Nasheed.

A government statement said lawmakers had approved tourist resort owner Waheed Deen as vice president. A 14-member Cabinet also was approved by a majority of the 77 parliament members.

Hassan took over when Nasheed resigned after weeks of public protests and eroding support from the police and military. Nasheed claims he was forced to resign at gunpoint and has challenged Hassan to resign and order an immediate election.

Hassan said last week that he would hold an election in July 2013, the earliest permitted by the constitution. The vote was originally scheduled for late 2013.

Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party boycotted Wednesday's parliamentary vote.

The Maldives is an Indian ocean archipelago of 300,000 people known for its luxury tourist resorts. Nasheed became the country's first democratically elected president in 2008 after 30 years of autocratic rule.