The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) on Friday marched through the streets of Male’ in support of this week’s Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) statement.
Former Tourism Minister Mariyam Zulfa said the march was intended to show that the people of the Commonwealth are ‘standing shoulder to shoulder’ in support of CMAG. The march was intended to demonstrate that the government’s claims the CMAG did not truly represent the people of the Commonwealth was incorrect.
CMAG met last Monday, calling again for early elections and threatening stronger measures should the government fail to improve the impartiality Committee of National Inquiry (CNI) the body assigned to investigate February’s transfer of power.
Zulfa reported that a group of around 10,000 people left the Usfangandu area at around 4:30pm yesterday, picking up more supporters as it progressed. The marchers were said to have returned to the Usfangandu area at around 6:45pm. Zulfa also reported simultaneous protests across the country.
At the start of the march, the group is reported to have headed towards the residence of the Speaker of the House Abdullah Shahid, where there was a brief pause while the protesters called for Shahid’s resignation. The group then continued past the Majlis, also stopping outside the residence of the Minister of Defence, Mohamed Nazim.
The MDP representation in the Majlis submitted a no-confidence motion against the speaker this week, arguing that Shahid had failed to follow parliamentary regulations consistently, and also that he had made decisions without adequately consulting all of the parties in the Majlis.
Zulfa explained the MDP’s belief that the speaker should have taken a leading role in pushing for fresh elections, citing the recent example of the coup in Mali, after which the speaker of the country’s legislature Dioncounda Traore assumed power and promised new polls.
“We have been very patient [with Shahid]. Now, instead of asking him for his leadership, we are asking him to resign,” said Zulfa. Responding to the president’s claim this week that early elections could be held in July 2013, Zulfa said: “We don’t call that early at all.”
“From the examples of other coup governments, we know that this is a stalling tactic,” said Zulfa.
July represents the earliest point that the president can move the elections forward under the current rules of the constitution.