Former president returns from meeting of International Democrat Union in New Zealand

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has arrived back in the Maldives after attending a meeting of the International Democrat Union (IDU) in Wellington, New Zealand.

According to a statement from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), during the meeting Nasheed explained the political situation in the Maldives and how the deadlock could be resolved. Nasheed also had meetings with Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand Murray McCully.

Commonwealth Special Envoy to the Maldives, Don McKinnon, also addressed the meeting, along with New Zealand’s Chair of Parliamentary Foreign Affairs, and Peter Goodfellow, President of New Zealand’s National Party.


Maldivian cultural dances to be held at Expo 2012, South Korea

The Maldives will be represented through cultural dances on the big stage at Expo 2012 in South Korea.

An estimated 10 million people from around the world are expected to visit the three-month Expo held in South Korea’s coastal city of Yeosu.

The slogan for this year’s Expo is “The Living Ocean and Coast.” The Maldives’ slogan under this theme is “99% ocean, 1% sand, 100% Maldives”. The Maldives pavillion is designed depicting beautiful underwater scenery and Maldivian culture.

The main focus of the Expo 2012 is on the importance of preserving marine and coastal environments. The exhibition will offer a “golden opportunity for resolving imminent ocean-related problems facing developing countries,” according to the Expo 2012’s official website.

“The Maldives will use the opportunity to gain maximum exposure to potential tourists to the country, in line with the Government’s target of attracting one million tourists to Maldives this year,” said Senior Marketing Officer of the Maldives Marketing and PR Corporation (MMPRC), Fathmath Raheel.

Raheel said the MMPRC has invited local parties interested in selling Maldivian souveniers at the Korean Expo.

“Selling souveniers and authentic Maldivian products will be a very good way to inform people about the Maldives. We will provide assistance to any groups interested in doing this with their own funds at the expo,” Raheel told Minivan News.

The Maldives participation is sponsored by the government of South Korea.

In addition to the cultural dances performed at the Maldives pavillion as well as on the Expo stage, a one-day seminar on the travel trade will be held.

Each of the 104 participating countries will celebrate the National Day of their countries at the Expo. The Maldives’ National Day event will be held on June 4.

South Korea is among the top 10 countries in tourist arrivals to Maldives this year, with 6554 visitors arriving from January to April – growth of 20.9 percent on the same period last year.

“The South Korea market is expected to perform extremely well this year,” the MMPRC observed in its April report. “There is possibility of direct flights from South Korea to the Maldives which would further boost the market.”

Last year the country contributed 2.7 percent of tourist arrivals to Maldives.


Civil Court intervenes to stop dismantling of Usfasgandu

Security forces last night began the dismantling the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s camp at Usfasgandu in Male’, shortly before being ordered to halt by the Civil Court after the MDP challenged the legality of the operation.

The police search of the area, which began at around 9:00am, was performed after police obtained a search warrant from the Criminal Court on the grounds that the MDP had been using the area as a hub for criminal activity and black magic.

The warrant alleged that people in the Usfasgandu area verbally abused police officers and damaged a police vehicle on April 20, obstructed a Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) exercise of May 9, and that, on May 25 “MDP protesters threw a cursed rooster at MNDF officers.”

The order did not, however, provide legal basis for the dismantling of the demonstration area, a point made by the MDP to the Civil Court.

“We submitted a case against the Maldives Police Service saying that they cannot ask the MDP to stop any political activities and they cannot act to evacuate the place,” said MDP lawyer Hisaan Hussain.

Deputy Mayor of Male’ City Council (MCC) Ahmed Falah said he had seen the court order and that it did not give the police scope to dismantle the area. Minivan News also saw the warrant and can confirm Falah’s assertions.

“This proves that they don’t care about what the court says. The police didn’t go to the Civil Courts because they knew they would lose,” said Falah.

Both the MCC and the Criminal Court had referred the government’s previous complaints to the Civil Court.

“The new [Civil] court order says neither the police, nor any other parties, can dismantle the area,” he continued.

Police announced on Tuesday that they would begin to dismantle the camp at 10:00pm in order to preserve public order.

Hisaan reported that, at 10:15pm, the Civil Court instructed the Attorney General (AG) to tell the government forces to halt their activities.

Hisaan said that this instruction was given in order to allow the judge time to consider the MDP’s complaint. Subsequently, the judge issued an injunction at 10:40pm, halting the polices activities until the Civil Court reacheda verdict on the case, she explained.

In a statement released late last night,  police confirmed the receipt of the Civil Court order and announced they  had ceased its activities. The statement did say that that the operation was close to being completed by the time the warrant to desist was received.

Minivan News witnessed Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) personnel working in the area at around 11:30pm, although they seemed only to be moving benches around the site. Nothing that could be described as dismantling was witnessed at this time.

Hisaan said that although the case was submitted against the police, it stipulated that all parties cease dismantling activities in the area.

Sun Online has reported that some items were returned to the camp after the Civil Court order was received. All the seating had been removed from the raised area and the stage had been fully dismantled.

Hisaan claimed that the dismantling of the camp continued after the court had ordered it to cease “in violation of the court order”, and that police were in contempt of court. She said that the MDP intended to make the courts aware of this.

The police statement said that it would take the 48 hours granted to it by the Criminal Court in order to complete its investigations. The area remained sealed off to the public at

The original Criminal Court order was shown to MDP MP Mariya Didi before the search commenced yesterday morning.

Members of Male’ City Council (MCC) were left furious, having themselves received no court order, nor any notification of the impending search.

When approached for comment during the police’s search, MCC Mayor Ali Manik said that he was “too angry to talk”.

Hisaan said that Mariya had asked to see the court order, but that legally speaking this did not amount to the warrant being officially served to the MDP.

The Usfasgandu area was one of 32 plots of public land handed over to the MCC as part of the decentralisation act in 2010. Recent months have seen a running feud between the council and the national government, which has made repeated attempts to reclaim a number of these plots.’

The leasing of the area to the MDP for its political activities has been used by the government as justification for its attempts to reclaim the area, alleging violation of the decentralisation statutes.

After having had a request for a warrant to clear the site turned down by the Criminal Court, the Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed told local media on May 27 that, in the period since the court had rejected the police’s request for a warrant on May 20, he had received several complaints regarding criminal activity in the area.

A Criminal Court order was obtained by the next afternoon – May 28 – and the search conducted early on May 29.

The details of the warrant, however, included incidents which allegedly occurred before the original request for a court order was made. Jameel told Haveeru on May 27 that no “No complaints of any criminal activities had been raised with us at the time [the police were asked to take the area – May 20].”

At a meeting of the MDP’s legal team today, the decision was made to send a letter to the police, asking them to respect the court order and to return any property removed from the site by 10:00pm tonight.

Hisaan added that the MDP, despite its requests, had still not received the items confiscated from the Rahlugandu camp on March 19.


No nominee agreed for Commission of National Inquiry, clarifies Commonwealth

The Commonwealth has issued a statement clarifying that neither the government or former President Mohamed Nasheed have  yet agreed on a nominee to the Commission on National Inquiry (CNI).

The CNI was former by President Mohamed Waheed to investigate the controversial circumstances which brought him to power on February 7. Former President Nasheed resigned, allegedly under duress, after elements of the police and military joined opposition demonstrators in an assault on the main military base in Male’.

Nasheed and the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – and subsequently the Commonwealth – criticised the independence of the three-member CNI, which is presently chaired by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Defence Minister.

Pressured by the Commonwealth, the government agreed to allow a retired foreign judge and a representative for Nasheed sit on the panel, but imposed conditions on this nominee:

  1. “Be a person of integrity with high ethical, moral and professional standards with at least an undergraduate degree from a recognised university”
  2. Not have been politically active during the past two years;
  3. “Not have held a Cabinet post or served as a member of the People’s Majlis during the past two years”
  4. “Not have taken a public stand on the events of 7 February 2012.”

The government as of Monday had rejected all nominees put forward by Nasheed – who is currently attending the Executive Meeting of International Democrat Union (IDU) in New Zealand – however yesterday afternoon President’s Office spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza confirmed its acceptance of Mariyam Manaal Shihab. Local media subsequently reported that the nominee had been withdrawn.

The circumstances of Shihab’s nomination appeared further confused after Nasheed issued a press release today expressed “disappointment and concerns over leak of the nominee from him to the Commission of National Inquiry established to look into the events that led to the forceful resignation of President Nasheed on February 7 after a military and police-backed coup.”

“The understanding between the Commonwealth’s special envoy and President Nasheed was that the names proposed by him would not be revealed without discussing with him,” said MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor.

“However, the administration had publicly announced one of the nominees without consulting President Nasheed and this is unacceptable. The President has expressed disappointment and concern over the leak to the Commonwealth and we certainly hope such unprofessionalism would not continue in this process,” Ghafoor said.

The government meanwhile issued a statement condemning Ghafoor’s “misleading” statement, claiming that while “Nasheed’s latest nominee, Ms Mairyam Manal Shihab is an active member of the MDP and could have been rejected on these grounds, due to the nominee meeting all the other objective criteria, as set out by the Special Envoy of the Commonwealth, the Government accepted the nominee because they are committed to moving forward with the CNI.”

“The Government accepted Ms Manal Shihab and informed Sir Don McKinnon of this. Immediately after, Mr Nasheed withdrew Ms Manal Shihab as his nominee,” the government claimed.

“The Government is concerned by Mr Nasheed’s attempts to stall the work of the CNI by repeatedly proposing nominees who do not meet the criteria agreed between the Commonwealth and the Maldives Government. By withdrawing Ms Manal Shihab, his own nominee accepted by the Commonwealth and the Maldives Government, Mr Nasheed is showing contempt for the CNI.

“Mr Nasheed has claimed that the Government leaked Ms Manal Shihab’s name to the media – an accusation which is completely false. The Government conducts all of its communication with the Commonwealth to the highest standard, and does not release information to the media unless there is agreement with the Commonwealth to do so. As soon as the Government accepted Mr Nasheed’s nominee, they notified the Special Envoy of the Commonwealth.

“After withdrawing Ms Manal Shihab – his own nominee – Mr Nasheed has insisted that his uncle, Lieutenant Colonel Zubair Ahmed Manik should be appointed to the CNI which highlights Mr Nasheed’s disregard for the CNI. The Government urges Mr Nasheed to act immediately in accordance with the four point criteria agreed between the Commonwealth and the Government so that the CNI can continue with its important work,” it added.

The President’s Office further issued a list of all proposed candidates and their reason for rejection:

  1. Mr Mohamed Aslam (Minister of Housing and Environment in Mr Nasheed’s Cabinet at the time of the resignation);
  2. Ms Shifa Mohamed (Minister of Education in Mr Nasheed’s Cabinet at the time of the resignation and MDP activist);
  3. Mr Hassan Latheef (Minister of Human Resources, Youth and Sports in Mr Nasheed’s Cabinet at the time of the resignation and MDP activist);
  4. Hudha Ahmed (a cousin of Mr Nasheed and MDP activist)
  5. Aishath Velezinee (a State Minister in Mr Nasheed’s Government at the time of the resignation and MDP activist)
  6. Mr Bandhu Ibrahim Saleem (former Managing Director of Maldives Airport Company Limited, who is married to a close relative of Mr Nasheed),
  7. Ms Fareesha Abdulla (former Under Secretary, Legal Affairs, at the President’s Office at the time of the resignation)
  8. Ms Hisaan Hussain (former legal affairs Secretary at the President Nasheed administration and MDP activist)
  9. Ms Mariya Didi- (former MDP Chairperson, current contender for the MDP President and MDP activist)
  10. Lieutenant Colonel Zubair Ahmed Manik (uncle of Mr Nasheed and serving member of Maldives National Defense Force)

The Commonwealth Secretariat said in a statement today: “We would like to point out that the discussions between the Commonwealth Special Envoy, Hon Sir Donald McKinnon, the Government of Maldives and former President Nasheed on the appointment of a representative of Mr Nasheed to the Commission are still ongoing. No nominee has as yet been agreed upon between these parties.”

“Sir Donald is continuing his efforts to facilitate agreement between the Government and former President Nasheed on a suitable nominee,” the statement added.

Sir Donald said: “It is imperative that confidentiality is preserved while these sensitive discussions are ongoing in order to provide space for the parties to reach a desirable outcome.”


Maldives to intensify Asian and Middle East tourism promotion: TTG Asia

The Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) is set to step up marketing efforts across Asia and the Middle East to try and capitalise on recent arrival numbers from similar emerging markets.

Travel news publication TTG Asia has reported that tourism authorities are pushing ahead with road-show events in Singapore and South Korea next month, after a similar strategy was held last month in a number of Chinese cities.

The report added that familiarisation tours for journalists based in a number of middle eastern markets like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Lebanon were also being conducted.

TTG Asia claimed that the strategy was designed to capitalise on improving visitor numbers to the Maldives during April from markets like China amidst declining custom from countries like Italy.


Fresh protests erupt after police dismantle MDP camp at Usfasgandu

Police cracked down on a fresh wave of demonstrations that erupted in Male’ on Tuesday, after police raided the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s protest camp ‘Usfasgandu’ and later began dismantling it.

The demonstrations were sparked following a MDP National Council meeting held right next to the police barricades near the swimming tracks. The clustered meeting of 43 members of the council took the stand that “enough was enough” and that party should take  to the streets to get their constitutional rights.

Immediately, 400 protesters gathered in the area to challenge the legitimacy of police and demand the return of Usfasgandu, saying that they had not done anything violent. Minivan News observed objects thrown at police barricades, which triggered a brutal police crackdown leading to arrests and injuries.

Minivan News observed one protester sustain a head injury after he was hit in the head by a police baton, and was taken to the hospital in a pickup truck refueling at the nearby petrol shed.

Minivan News also observed a cameraman from local TV station Raajje TV being pepper-sprayed by police while he was attempting to film police arresting a protester.

The confrontations between the police and the protesters continued up until around 6:45pm whereupon the protesters made several attempts to cross the police barricades towards Usfasgandu. The frustrated protesters threw two police barricades into the swimming tracks.

At around 8:45 pm the protesters left the area and headed towards the junction of Majeedhee Magu and Chaandhanee Magu in the centre of Male’.

Protesters gathered in the intersection calling for an end to police brutality and for the resignation of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan and senior officials of the government, including Home Minister Mohamed Jameel and Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, claiming that that the government came to power by a coup d’état. The protesters also called for early elections.

Soon after the protesters gathered, a lorry arrived with a sound system and participants began chanting over a mega phone.

The protesters said they had gathered in the area because the police had taken over their protest camp at Usfasgandu, and called on police to leave the camp.

At about 10:00pm, two vehicles containing police in riot gear arrived at the protesting area and began dispersing the crowd, which lead to heated confrontations between the police and the protesters. The police resorted to tear gas and pepper spray, and more protesters were arrested.

During the confrontations, the window of a shop in Majeedhee Magu was smashed after it was hit by an by an object thrown during the confrontations.

During the crackdown, police were seen using pepper spray on several bystanders who were standing in front of their houses on Majeedhee Magu who had not taken part in the protest.

At about 11:30pm, an injured young protester was taken into a nearby house, and then to hospital.

At the same time, some protesters again began gathering near the swimming track and the petrol sheds on Boduthakurufaanu Magu, where the protests earlier began.

Earlier at about 9:30 pm, the Civil Court issued a temporary injunction ordering the police and the military to stop dismantling the protest camp at Usfasgandu. The Criminal Court had earlier issued police only a search warrant.

The police let two protesters inside the police barricades near Usfasgandu after they produced a copy of the court order.

At about 12:10am, a group of pro-government supporters arrived and confronted the protesters, leading to heated arguments.

The protests ended at about 12:40am in the morning. Police revealed that 56 arrests had been made during the clashes, out of which two had been released at time of press. Those arrested included MDP MP and Spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy, the wife of former Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem, and two MDP councilors.

Confronted on twitter about the arrest of Naseem’s wife, President Mohamed Waheed tweeted back: “I am sorry to hear about Mana. I did all I can to expedite her release.”

Speaking to Minivan News, Police Media Official Sub Inspector Hassan Haneef confirmed that a total of 56 protesters were arrested. He confirmed that out of the 56 arrestees, two had been released.

During the skirmishes, Minivan News observed a 17 year-old boy being arrested by police. Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef said that police had no record of the arrest of a minor.

“Even though it is not on our records, there may have been an arrest made, but he was not taken into custody,” said Haneef.

Minivan News understands the boy’s name is Hamdhaan Mohamed, who is at time of press was summoned to Criminal Court for extension of his detention period.

When Minivan News asked about the pepper spraying of Raajje TV Journalist, Haneef said that police would not have done it deliberately, and the cameraman may have been the unfortunate recipient of a pepper spraying that targeted at protesters.

“The police during such a time would not be able to distinguish between innocent observers and violent protesters. So there are chances that even someone who was observing might get pepper sprayed,” he explained.

“That is why we issue a warning before we begin dismantling the crowds. No one is supposed to stay after the warning is issued,” he added.

A photo of the incident on Sun Online appeared to show the cameraman was wearing a media pass and was directly targeted with the spray. Haneef maintained that it was difficult to identify a person.

“How can we see whether he had a MDP pass or DRP pass or a DhiTV pass?” he questioned.

He maintained that he was certain that the “boys” would not do such a thing deliberately, but he said if such a thing had happened, there was a mechanism to file a complaint.

“I am not saying such a thing happened but if it did, the person can lodge a complaint with Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), the Police Intergrity Commission or even us, we would then look into it,” he added.

Not a good sign: MDP

Speaking to Minivan News, MDP Spokesperson MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor alleged that the police were cooperating with “thugs from the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM)”, accusing them of infiltrating the peaceful protests to incite violent responses from the police.

“We have experienced all this in 2005, we have dealt with this mentality before, but now a large section of the population is aware of their rights and the stage is huge,” he warned.

“Tensions are high because of frustrations around the party talks and the commission of national inquiry, and that the administration is fragmented and not in control – this could be headed to a fist fight,” he added.

Ghafoor claimed in addition that a number of people in the national council had decided that they would no longer recognise the authority of the police as they had mutinied, and that some people had walked through the barricades.

“Lots of people were very angry [over the police actions],” he remarked.

He said that the police were “not acting like police”.

“The institution has broken down so much that people are having trouble believing there are innocent police out there on the street. Police are acting with impunity and clearly breaking the law, by sealing off the Usfasgandu area,” he said.

“People are talking about standing up to police and this is not a good sign.”

A female protester told Minivan News that the actions of the police were “animalistic” and “barbarian”.

“They were like animals at that time. Brutality has gone way out of control. They would stay at a distance and then they would barge in like barbarians and take away those that even were not a part of the protests,” she said.

The protester alleged that police had pre-identified political targets and sought to arrest them in the chaos.

Police crackdown on demonstrators near the Usfasgandu barricades:


Body of murdered 16 year-old discovered in park

The body of a 16 year-old boy was discovered this morning by police inside the park behind Kulliyathul Dhirasathul Islamiyya.

Police Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News that the body was discovered at around 6:00am by police officers patrolling the area.

“The body had many stab wounds and other injuries,” Haneef said. “Police are currently trying to verify the identity of the body.”

He said it was too early to say whether the boy was victim of a gang attack or an incident related to yesterday’s political unrest.

Haneef said according to the information police have received so far, the boy might be 16 year-old Mohamed Arahm, of Noree house in Hoarafushi of Haa Alifu Atoll, who was studying in grade 9 at Dharumavantha School.

A Hoarafushi Island Council member who identified himself to Minivan News as Mauroof, said  the council had received information that the body Arham had been discovered inside the park behind Kulliyathul Dhiraasathul Islamiyya.

‘’Mohamed Arahm left the island two years ago with this family,’’ Mauroof said. “When he left the island he was a good boy and he had no criminal record, and we do not know the reason for this attack.’’

Local newspaper Haveeru quoted a witness who saw the body as saying that Arham appeared to have been stabbed twice in the chest, and that his whole body was covered in blood.

Haveeru also reported that Arham was the only boy in the family.

Meanwhile, the Education Ministry has issued a statement condemning the act and calling for the investigation to be hastened, and those responsible found and penalised.

The Ministry also sent condolences to the family of the deceased.


Didi and Fahmy allegedly poised to reprise MDP leadership roles in JP

Local newspaper Haveeru has reported that the former President and Vice-President of the Maldivian Democratic Party, Dr Ibrahim Didi and Alham Fahmy are on the verge of joining the Jumhoree Party (JP).

The paper quotes “reliable sources” – as it did when successfully predicting the defection of Shifag ‘Histo’ Mufeed from the MDP to the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) at the start of the month.

Prominent figures within the JP reportedly told the paper that the pair had both held discussions with the party leader Ibrahim Gasim although Dr Didi has denied that any such meeting had taken place.

Haveeru continued, stating that the pair have insisted on retaining Presidential and Vice-Presidential positions within the new party. This would require an amendment to JP regulations, for which a meeting of the national council has supposedly been arranged.

Both Dr Didi and Alhan were not responding at time of press.

Didi and Alhan were removed from their posts in the MDP after being accused of making statements in contradiction of the party’s official line concerning the the events that led to the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed on February 7.

A motion of no confidence was supported by 95 percent of the MDP’s National Congress on April 30. Both men disputed the legitimacy of the process which led to their ousting.

Dr Didi filed a complaint with the Elections Commission (EC), which was later dismissed, whilst Alhan staged a poorly attended ‘free MDP’ rally, protesting against what he alleged was the negative influence of Nasheed on the party.

Didi told Haveeru earlier this week that he intended to challenge this decision. In the same interview he said it was “very likely” that he would soon leave the MDP for another party, criticising what he described as the undemocratic inner workings of the party.

Should Alhan, who is currently the MP for Feydhoo constituency,  join the JP, its representation in the Majlis would rise to four. This would bring the overall number of MPs in the pro-government coalition up to 46 out of the total 77 , reducing the MDP’s numbers to 31.

At the time of Shifag’s move to the PPM, the party’s group leader Abdulla Yameen told Minivan News: “The MDP will have to make extra efforts, they have an uphill battle to fight. They will have to arrest the movement of MPs to other parties.”


Comment: To serve and protect dictators

You cannot teach an old dictator new tricks.

As the Maldives continues to experience the reversal of their democracy, the Maldives Police Service was out on the streets once again yesterday, demonstrating their tired old Gayoom-era tricks.

Early Tuesday morning, an unprecedented number of police arrived at Usfasgandu, the protest site on the south eastern side of Male’, where pro-democracy protesters led by the MDP have been demonstrating for months calling for early elections.

Armed with a search warrant, they forcibly evicted the protesters from the scene. Hundreds of police men and DED officials then combed through the area, later claiming to have recovered such criminal loot as a box of condoms and a potentially illegal “brown substance” – conveniently wrapped in MDP membership forms, lest anyone doubted their story.

The scenes evoked memories of March 19, when a joint police and military raid on the previous MDP protest camp at the nearby Raalhugandu area recovered more unlawful substances and cans of illegal alcohol, that were rather thoughtfully stored by the protestors in convenient MDP branded boxes, presumably with a large colourful arrow pointing towards it.

Those familiar with the Maldives’ painful transition to democracy would remember a time when the police were routinely employed by the state to harass and intimidate dissidents and crush all opposition.
Those times, it is evident, have come roaring back.

“Rule of law”

According to the Police narrative, the mutiny that culminated in the toppling of the first democratically elected government was ostensibly led by patriotic police officials who were disillusioned with the ‘unconstitutional orders’ they were being handed by the elected leaders.

In keeping with that noble spirit, hundreds of police officers publicly renewed their vows to “uphold the rule of law” in dramatic television footage captured at the Republican Square on that fateful morning.
It is the pride of any nation to have a Police Service that espouses such fanatical devotion to the “rule of law”.

Yet, one can’t help but call into question the sincerity of the Maldives Police Service’s newfound love for their constitution, and their hastily arranged commitment to the ‘rule of law’.

What is one to make of the brazen criminal actions of the rogue Police and military personnel who went on a public rampage, ransacking the MDP party quarters and beating up their activists?

How does one explain away the storming of the State broadcaster and airing on it content from a private TV propaganda outlet belonging to businessman politician Gasim Ibrahim – who is alleged to be among the primary financers of the coup d’état?

What does one make of the intensely politicised nature of a police department that appears to stop just short of publicly swearing allegiance to a certain political party run by a former dictator?

Exactly which law were the Maldives Police Service upholding when they threatened and physically assaulted elected MPs and the democratically elected President of the Nation? Under which clause of the Police Act did they assault some of their own senior officers inside the Police HQ on the day of the coup d’état?

Certainly, the rule of law could not be more violated than when the Police continued to dismantle the Usfasgandu camp site last night, in direct contravention of court orders forbidding them from doing exactly that? From their actions, it is plainly obvious that the Maldives Police Service couldn’t care less about “the rule of law” – which continues to be the ruse employed to explain away their treason on February 7.

For their part, Waheed and his newly appointed Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz have also publicly lauded the police for their unapologetic actions on February 7th, hailing it as a great example of ‘upholding the rule of law’.
There has been no investigation, and not a single police officer or military personnel has been booked for the brutality and wild excesses of that dark day.

Instead, in keeping with the Gayoom-era tradition, the Police have been richly rewarded for their services. For their troubles, the newly installed regime has lavished the Police and military with a record number of promotions, and monetary rewards.

Waheed – the problem, not the solution

With his various public utterances about ‘National unity’ and pledges to uphold the constitution, Waheed has attempted to project his regime as some kind of force for stability.

Unfortunately, Waheed’s appeal to ‘unity’ appears to be about as hollow as the Police Service’s professed love for the ‘rule of law’. He continues to eagerly defend the indefensible by refusing to take action against identified cops, who brutalised civilians in full public view and continue to do so with impunity.

While his helmeted riot cops continue to beat back thousands of angry protesters every week with their batons and shields, Waheed appears to not be interested in even acknowledging their sincere grievances. Instead, in the months following the coup d’état, he has lost no chance to colour the supporters of the MDP – by far the largest political party in the country – as ‘terrorists’.

It must be noted that the MDP led protests that have continued unabated since February have been largely non-violent, marked by weekly rallies and public forums – and often music, dancing, exhibits, videos, and speeches.

Yet, during the latest raid yesterday, Police again took into custody several MDP leaders, including MDP spokesperson and MP Imthiyaz ‘Inthi’ Fahmy, and a couple of elected MDP councillors. When enraged protesters poured out onto the streets again last night, the Maldives Police Service responded yet again with heavy-handed tactics.

Apparently pleased with this campaign of intimidation, Waheed’s Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed said on his public twitter account, “I commend the way our MPS attend (sic) Usfasgandu”.

From delaying tactics and misinformation, to harassment and intimidation, Waheed’s regime appears to have played all its cards since February 7th, and yet it is clear that the protesters simply aren’t willing to go back indoors until their demands are met.

The fact of the matter is that the continuing unrest – where a significant percentage of the population feels robbed of their legitimate government in highly questionable circumstances – can only be resolved by free and fair elections, and ensuring justice for the victims of mindless police violence.

These are absolutely essential for the public to restore their confidence in the government and heal the deep rifts with the security forces.

However, thus far, Waheed has shown no inclination to quit his stalling tactics, keep his erring ministers in check, ensure justice is served to the criminals in uniform, or stop his posturing against international bodies like the CMAG, or actually let the public have their say as a way out of the crisis.

Thus, it naturally follows that Waheed is the problem and not the solution – for he and his newly adopted network of Gayoom cronies are exactly what lies between the public and their vote.

To maintain this unsustainable status quo, Waheed has resorted to the same tactics that Gayoom did – namely, taking the Maldives Police Service off their leash and letting them loose upon the public, assigned with the singular task of cracking down on dissent with impunity.

Thus, the regime that was brought to power in a hail of batons, shields and tear gas continues to be sustained by the same ugly means and the country as a whole continues its free-fall into a dissolute police state.

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