Seven of the government’s 14 cabinet ministers have been assigned Special Protection Group (SPG) bodyguards from the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).
Colonel Abul Raheem of the MNDF said that the bodyguards had been designated upon the ministers’ request.
SPG bodyguards are of the same type provided to the President, Vice President and the Speaker of the House.
When asked if this was in response to any specific threats, Raheem was keen to point out that the move had not come as a specific response to recent events.
“This is not because of what happened recently – security guards have been requested previously,” said Raheem.
The security of government officials has become a prominent issue in the country following the murder of MP Dr Afrasheem Ali last week.
Following the murder, parliament’s ’241′ Security Committee summoned Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz to discuss issues including the MP’s murder and politicians’ safety.
After failing to resolve the case, the police revealed earlier this week that they will seek foreign assistance in its investigations.
Earlier this week former Education Minister Dr Musthafa Luthfy called for a review of security arrangements afforded to Maldivian politicians over fears of an increase in “orchestrated” political attacks in the country.
The comments were made after Luthfy had been struck in the face on October 6 by an unidentified assailant on the island of Kanduhulhudhoo, Gaafu Alif Atoll.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed last week requested, in writing, that his Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) security detail – provided under the Former President’s Act – not accompany him on a campaign tour.
The MNDF later released a statement saying that it could not take any responsibility for harm that might befall the former president whilst not under its protection.
A spate of high profile murders and an increase in assaults in the Maldives has led to criticism of the Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, with some going as far as to table a no-confidence vote in the People’s Majlis.
This week the cabinet has urged the President to take immediate measures to ensure safety and security in the country.
Local media reported that the cabinet’s security committee had decided to review businesses offering 24 hour services, and that police will conduct increases vehicle checks in an effort to maintain peace on the streets.
The government also announced its decision yesterday to submit a bill which will govern the implementation of the death penalty.
Despite being on the statute books, the Clemency Act and a lack of facilitating legislation has resulted on a de facto moratorium on capital punishment since 1953.