Maldives police pepper sprayed a number of figures in the opposition to restrict a demonstration for the release of former President Mohamed Nasheed, now jailed.

Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer declared on Twitter that he had asked the police to keep the protesters in the beach. He cited a legal reference, “Law 1/2013, Art 33, 41,” to defend his decision to end the demonstration by midnight. “Others have a right to sleep & move freely,” he tweeted.

Opposition MP Eva Abdulla told Al Jazeera a number of officials from the opposition were injured and hospitalised after police had approached them at around 11 pm. According to her, the “entire leadership” was pepper sprayed. Abdullah said the officers had moved in without a court order.

"Party Deputy Chair [Shifaz Mohamed] and party VP, former housing minister [Mohamed Aslam are] in hospital. Parliamentary group leader [MP Ibrahim 'Ibu' Mohamed Solih] heavily pepper sprayed. Chilli spray I think," Abdulla wrote.

“[They] barged into our party rally centre [and] disconnected electricity.

The MDP protesters, in addition to their demand to release the former president, want ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim and opposition leader Sheik Imran Abdulla to be free as well. Nasheed, the first democratically-elected president of the country, resigned after there had been public outcry about his role in the arrest of a senior judge. He was eventually sentenced to 13 years of imprisonment for ordering the arrest.

On Twitter, Maldives police acknowledged using pepper spray on the demonstrator. It tweeted that the pepper spray had been used to “the unruly protesters.”

The island nation, well-known for being one of the top travel destinations in the world, has seen a politically difficult time recently.

According to The Associate Press, authorities alleged there was an assassination attempt post a blast in President Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s speedboat. The opposition accuse Gayoom of political vendetta with the arrest of top MDP leaders.

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