The current government has “economically paralysed” Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim, its Deputy Leader Ameen Ibrahim has said.
“Even though Gasim has not been put behind prison bars, the government has economically paralysed him,” Ameen said at a press conference of the opposition’s newly formed “Maldivians against brutality” alliance today.
Gasim could not actively participate in opposition activities as the government has “cornered” the tycoon by targeting his businesses, Ameen said.
While the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) accepted the Adhaalath Party’s (AP) invitation to form a united front against the government, the JP’s national council is yet to decide whether the party will join the new alliance.
However, Ameen and several other senior JP members have been working with the alliance, claiming their participation was in an “individual capacity.”
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, AP President Sheikh Imran Abdulla accused the government of planning to seize all of Gasim’s assets and making sure he was “unable to move his hands or legs” in his defence.
Meanwhile, in an appearance on Gasim’s Villa TV, MDP Vice President Mohamed on Saturday said Maldivians should not wait and watch while the government destroyed Gasim’s Villa Group.
On March 1, the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) gave a 30-day notice to Villa Group to pay US$100 million allegedly owed as unpaid rent and fines.
Moreover, in February, the tourism ministry seized several islands and lagoons leased to Villa Group as part of an out-of-court settlement.
After officially leaving the ruling coalition in January, the JP formed an alliance with the MDP in January and launched nightly protests on February 10 against what they alleged were repeated violations of the constitution by President Abdulla Yameen’s administration.
Gasim himself and other JP leaders took part in the protests, which culminated in a mass rally on February 27.
Following former President Mohamed Nasheed’s arrest on February 22 ahead of a surprise terrorism trial, Gasim called on the Prosecutor General to withdraw the “politically motivated charges” and vowed to continue protests.
However, after failing to return from a trip to Sri Lanka to attend the February 27 protest march, Gasim has not appeared in opposition protests. He has also not made any public statements since a meeting with Home Minister Umar Naseer on March 5.
Villa Group is one of the largest companies in the Maldives with the holding company Villa Shipping and Trading Pvt Ltd conglomerate operating businesses in shipping, import and export, retail, tourism, fishing, media, communications, transport, and education.