Emergency rule has been imposed in the tiny South Pacific nation of Tuvalu after protesters marched through the capital demanding the resignation of the country's finance minister.

The one naval patrol boat owned by the island nation of about 12,000 is guarding the coastline near the homes of Governor General Iakopa Itaeli Taeia and Prime Minister Willy Telavi, on the main island and capital, Funafuti.

Communications Minister Kausea Natano says the emergency was declared to prevent moves to destabilise the government.

Natano told The Associated Press on Friday from Funafuti that the demand that Finance Minister Lotoala Metia resign was creating instability. He said Metia had been placed under police guard after threats to his safety.

- AP