Government and opposition figures have continued to trade accusations this week after the attacks on the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in Addu last weekend.
Speaking at a public ceremony today, Tourism Minister and Progressive Party of Maldives Vice President Ahmed Adeeb claimed that the opposition leadership was “torching buildings and inciting violence”, reported local media.
President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz has also been accused of suggesting the attacks were coordinated by the MDP, prompting an angry response from Addu’s MDP leadership.
Muaz, who was not responding to calls at the time of press, is reported in local media as saying that creating unrest is unacceptable and that damaging property is not the way to win the love of the public.
Friday’s MDP rally in Feydhoo was attacked by masked men before its headquarters in Hithadhoo were set on fire. The incidents followed a series of arson attacks on the party’s offices and the homes of its member, who have also received persistent death threats.
In a press statement on Monday (October 13), president of the MDP’s Addu City branch, Ahmed Adhuham, condemned Muaz’s allegations, calling them irresponsible and unacceptable coming from the President’s Office.
Meanwhile, MDP chairperson Ali Waheed said in a press conference today that the MDP feels the Home Ministry, alongside Maldives Police Service (MPS), is not doing enough to ensure the protection of the party after the clear threats received.
“We have received numerous threats and all of these threats have been reported to the relevant authorities however we have received a letter from the MPS stating that some of the cases relating threats against MDP have been filed without any investigation,” said Waheed.
Waheed also claimed that the attacks are being carried out by a third party which helped the government come to power but is now stronger than the government.
“I do not believe that a government – which has not been able to implement a single project benefiting the public while having majority in the parliament – would have the need to interfere and attack MDP rallies,” said Waheed.
The MDP has filed cases with independent commissions including Police Integrity Commission, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives, and the Elections Commission.
Waheed said the party would not hesitate to involve foreign bodies if the threats were not adequately addressed by the MPS and Home Ministry.
Threats and Attacks
The MDP rally in Feydhoo last week was attacked by a group of masked individuals wielding wooden planks and rocks. 16 people were arrested before being released, with police citing a lack of evidence.
The ruling PPM was quick to condemn the attack, expressing concern that “such acts that harm political parties, public property, and lives”.
“All parties should have the opportunity to carry out political activities peacefully,” read a PPM press release.
Speaking in Fuvahmulah the day after the Addu attacks (October 11), MDP leader Mohamed Nasheed accused the PPM or senior government figures of being behind the attack. Nasheed’s residence in Addu was pelted with stones the following night.
The party’s main office in Malé was set on fire on September 25 after attacks on the two previous nights. Attempts were also made to set MDP parliament member Hamid Abdul Ghafoor’s house on fire.
MDP members and their families have received a large number of death threats from private numbers, with party spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy telling Minivan News last month that the threats had become too frequent to publicise adequately.
On October 5, Nasheed lodged a complaint at the UK Metropolitan Police Service regarding death threats he received while attending the Conservative Party conference.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union has previously described the government’s reaction to threats against elected officials as a test of the country’s democracy.
During a rally held last month in Malé, MDP MP and IPU member Eva Abdulla received a message threatening a suicide attack at the next MDP gathering. The message threatened to kill of MDP members, vowing to ‘fight to the last drop of blood’.
Waheed revealed at the press conference that an MDP rally will be held on October 25 at the carnival area in Malé, saying that MDP will not back down in the face of such threats.