Cabinet confirms decision to take over second MDP protest site at Usfasgandu

The new Maldives’ cabinet has announced its decision to hand over the Usfasgandu area to the Ministry of Housing and Environment.

The area is currently being used for protests by the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), after the party’s site near the tsunami monument was forcibly dismantled by police and military on March 19.

In a statement, the President’s Office said that during discussions concerning “the breach of agreement by the Male’ City Council (MCC) in utilising the land plots and other properties handed over to the City Council by the Ministry of Housing and Environment,” the cabinet had decided “to entrust the Minister of Housing and Environment with the authority to reclaim the properties from the City Council when required.”

Speaking with Mayor Ali Manik at the protest site, Minivan News was told that the government forces would arrive on May 14. Manik said he had received a letter from the Housing Ministry informing them of this plan at 1:30pm today.

Asked about the decision, Minister for Housing and Environment Dr Mohamed Muiz said that he was “not in a position to talk about that.”

The Housing Ministry informed the MCC one month ago that it intended to take control of the Usfasgandu area if the MDP activities did not cease.

During the same week in April the Housing Ministry was involved in a further dispute with the MCC after the re-allocation Dharubaaruge staff members from the MCC to the Housing Ministry.

This action prompted the council to lock the doors to the centre and send staff home. This action was subsequently described by Muiz as “unlawful” before policemen arrived to reopen the facility.

The following week the Housing Ministry informed the MCC by letter that it had less than 24 hours to remove its employees from the Huravee building in order to accommodate new government ministries.

Deputy Mayor of the Council Ahmed Falah maintains that MCC will refuse to accept these decisions and these disputes must be settled in the courts.

When asked about the current situation in the Huravee building, Falah said things were continuing “as normal. Still we are in there.”

The MDP’s international spokesman and Secretary General of the party’s parliamentary group Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, interpreted these actions as an attack on both freedom of expression and the decentralisation policies of the previous government.

“The coup administration is breaking up the decentralisation concept. The President’s Office is controlling everything – even down to the playgrounds on the islands. They are bringing back Gayoom’s policies of centralisation” said Ghafoor.

Ghafoor questioned the wisdom of the acquiescence of government-aligned parties in the face of such policies.

“They are also curtailing freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. The Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) perhaps do not have a good concept of their basic human rights. Do their members consider what will happen to their freedom of expression? Their grassroots supporters may realise this too late,” Ghafoor continued.

The area behind the Dharubaaruge convention centre has been utilised by the now-opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) since security forces ejected them from their camp at the nearby tsunami monument on March 19.

Dubbed ‘justice square’, the camp in the Lonuziyaaraih Kolhu area, had become the hub for opposition demonstrations since the contentious transfer of presidential power on February 7.

The government’s allegations that these activities were of questionable legality prompted its dismantling of the camp and the subsequent court case brought by the MDP leadership.

The dismantling of the camp came at the end of a day on which MDP led protests at the reopening of the People’s Majlis had turned violent.

Multiple casualties were reported from both protesters and security forces. The headquarters of Villa Television (VTV), owned by leader of the government aligned Jumhoree Party (JP) Ibrahim Gasim, sustained significant damage.

The court case, the first incarnation of which was dismissed on a technicality, continues with the issue of land usage forming the backbone of the state’s defense.

The government has argued that the leasing of such public spaces for political activities violates the terms which govern the MCC’s stewardship of such areas.

Hassan Latheef, a member of the MDP’s legal team working on this court case, scheduled to resume on May 13, said that the government had “no grounds” to take the land from the MCC in either the case of Usfasgandu, nor that concerning Rahlugandu.

When asked about the government’s position on the use of council land for political purposes, Latheef argued that there was nothing in the decentralisation act that prohibits this.

“I do understand that anything is acceptable and expected in a police state. The country is being taken from the people by a few coup leaders. The Maldives is now a police state,” Latheef contended.

Blocking the steps leading to the raised area used for the MDP’s gatherings at Usfasgandu, a sign read: “No court order, don’t take this place.”

The original ‘justice square’ camp was leased to the MDP by Male City Council (MCC), itself established through the 2010 decentralisation act under the governance of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

In a clear refutation of this argument, the MCC made the decision to lease the Usfasgandu area to the MDP for a three month period within days of the party’s ejection from the tsunami monument area.

The MDP was widely supported by urban populations of the Maldives in last year’s local council elections, securing 100 percent of the council seats in Addu City in the south and Kulhudhufushi in the north, and nine of the 11 seats in the capital Male’.


13 thoughts on “Cabinet confirms decision to take over second MDP protest site at Usfasgandu”

  1. Great! These people have become a public nuisance! A dozen hundred people should not be allowed how the rest of the population in Male should spend their free time and move around! We have got only the Bodu Thakurufaanu Magu to take a walk or a ride... And these people are occupying the place!

  2. this has become a public issue and a problem for the rest of the Maldivians. Maldivians are not only the member of MDP but there are peolel belong to other parties and and a large number of Malidivian population does even belong to any party.

    Having said this, MDP members also should have equal right but can not be superior to any other citizen.

    Nasheed need to let go it and he is a failure and need to accept this and he lost how office due to his arrogance and dictatorship.

    Maldivian had said no to dictatorship and it is not because of the name " Maumoon" but we said no to principles.

    Anni took the constitution to his own hand and translated to his own terms and wishes and no oneself can understand what is written in our constitution. He himself has lifted above the human being and he was ousted because of those reason.

    Now he need to understand to play politics in correct way not to harm the country and its volatile economy for his now benefit.

    Anni need to understand to digest the difference in opinion and he need to learn how democracy works.

    Anni you can retire from politics and you will never be able to come back to power and better go back to UK where you have spent most of your life.

  3. Hamid dont talk about decentralisation now when you all lost the power? While Anni (Bodu Hulhu)was the president what were his policies? Was he decentralising in the areas where the opposition parties are controlling the council? Dont talk crap Hamid? Its already too late now to take over the "hidhu kolhufushi". If MDP can use hidhu kolhufushi as for 2013 campaign purposes, all the other parties also should be afforded the same.

  4. Another biased report.
    Why didnt you mention that male city council is issuing all the facilites under their control only to MDP. They are denying other political parties to hold their rallies by refusing to give lands and halls to them. The major political parties like DRP PPM jumhoori party adhaalath have all requested space for their activities but MDP controlled city council had refused. This was reported in other papers except this MDP mouth piece minivan news.
    I support government taking control of these lands. If land is given it should be given fairly to all political parties equally not only to MDP.

  5. As usual the same sponsored group of MDP haters being paid to comment on this page.

    At citizens we have lost our freedom of expression, vote and right of expression. The new regime in the meantime help themselves. the Maldives is dieing.

  6. CMAG should keep out of our country and affairs. They should not comment on what they don't understand and they are old and dead as a power, not that they ever had any in the first place.

  7. @ Ahmed.

    "At citizens we have lost our freedom of expression, vote and right of expression."

    See. People with brain and eyes can see it's you who are spreading non-sense here. The freedom of expression you have in the Maldives cannot be found anywhere in the world. If you dont believe me try calling the president a baghee next time you see him on the street. Shout at him and his cabinet members and the army personal and the police officers and the judges and whoever is in a position of authority. See if anyone tries to stop you.

  8. The Usfasgandu area, the Tsunami Monument area... all parks and everything belong to the people to enjoy themselves while living in a concrete city filled to the brim with construction going on at every other house.

    It does not belong, nor can be "given" to any political party.

  9. “They are also curtailing freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. The Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) perhaps do not have a good concept of their basic human rights. Do their members consider what will happen to their freedom of expression? Their grassroots supporters may realise this too late,” Ghafoor continued

    @ Hamid freedom expression is not only for you clowns. What about rest of the people. This area is the only the open place for people & children to hang out in Male. You just cant hijack public areas.

    MCC is confused and doesnt even know their mandate. City Council is to work with govt irrespective which party you are from. It is not your mandate to decide the legitimacy of Govt.

  10. I have to agree with most of the comments here that it is the right of the general public to lead a peaceful and secure life.
    They should also have the freedom to go anywhere they want to go that is allowed to the general public.

    However, all this that is going on is not acceptable. One cannot sleep peacefully these times because of all this loud shouting and demonstration that goes on most nights.
    No one party has any right over the other.

  11. About time! These yellow thugs thinks they own public areas of Male'!

  12. A military cabinet could announce anything that doest represent majority of this city neither they are elected no their Commander
    Majority of the male city are MDP members and male city is governed by MDP elected members If not usfasgandu we will gather somewhere else as long as we live in male we also has the rights not only a minority of oppositions has the rights


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