The Elections Commission (EC) has issued a statement expressing concern that the police have been attacking and arresting Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters during peaceful protest gatherings.
The commission also said it had noted that the police had dismantled all MDP protest sites across the country.
‘’We are especially concerned with how the police dismantled the MDP protest camp at Lonuziyaarai Magu (tsunami monument area),’’ the commission said. ‘’Security forces have to act within the law.’’
The Elections Commission advised police not to use unlawful force against political parties.
President of the Elections Commission Fuad Thaufeeq today told Minivan News that the commission did not know of any reason why the area should be closed for protesting.
”According to the information we have the area belongs to Male’ City Council and the MDP did get the required permission from the council,” Thaufeeq said. ”The police dismantled the area after the MDP had been there for a long time.”
‘’It is the right of all the political parties to conduct political activities any where except those areas prohibited for political activities by law,’’ the EC said in the statement. ‘’No one has the right to unlawfully obstruct anyone from obtaining this right.’’
Police Superintendent Ahmed Mohamed said “certain institutions” were making statements “without asking the police their side of the story”, and appealed to these institutions not to do so.
Yesterday in a statement police said that ‘’the major operation that took place yesterday evening was to restore the peace to the capital city as well as to investigate the complaints received from public sources that criminal activity was taking place at the camping site.’’
‘’Police had definite reason to believe that the violent attacks in Male’ was connected to the protestors who started demonstrations from the Lonuziyaarai Magu ‘Raalhugandu Sarahadhu’,’’ the statement said. ‘’The police acted in this operation empowered by law under the clause 244 of Constitution of Maldives and clause 6 of Police Act 5/2008.’’
The police said the area was vacated in order to preserve the site for inspection and to search for evidence suggesting any illegal activity in the area.
‘’The public is informed that items confiscated from the area will be returned to their rightful owner in accordance to the proper police procedures, and local media is advised to report facts responsibly to the community,’’ the statement added.
The area was initially closed to journalists as police moved in to dismantle the protest site on Monday night. Police subsequently allowed journalists access and displayed a number of beer cans they claimed had been found at the site.
The protest camp has been running near the tsunami monument since the MDP government was ousted on February 7, in what former President Mohamed Nasheed maintains was a police and military-led coup de’tat, sponsored by several wealthy resort owners affiliated with the former opposition.