The Deputy Leader of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Umar Naseer has claimed that he warned the close aides of Former President Mohamed Nasheed during the unrest of February 7 that Nasheed “might lose his life” if he did not comply with the calls for his resignation.
“I kept telling them to surrender or else you might even lose your life. I kept telling them repeatedly,” he said, adding that Nasheed had asked for security guarantees for his family.
There are also videos of the ex-colonel and former assistant police commissioners going into the MNDF headquarters, coming out and addressing the crowd, informing them that Nasheed has been told to “immediately and unconditionally resign” and then escorting him to the President’s Office under military guard.
Umar made the remarks while addressing nearly 1,000 supporters of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s PPM party, gathered at Artificial Beach on Sunday night, in its first rally since Nasheed was ousted from office and appointment of Gayoom’s hardline supporters into the new cabinet formed by President Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.
According to Umar, he was at the “commanding center” and mediating with Nasheed’s close aides, while political unrest escalated on Male’ during the late hours of February 6, as rogue elements of police and military joined the opposition protesters culminating into what the MDP claims was a coup.
“While the operation [protest] was going on that night, I was at the commanding center. I was talking to Nasheed’s close aides. I told them to surrender; otherwise [he] might lose life. I told them that repeatedly. But, firstly, they responded arrogantly saying they do not have to surrender [because] such a circumstance has arrived,” Umar claimed.
But around 8:30 the next morning, Umar claimed that Nasheed called him saying that he wanted to resign. Nasheed said that he would not participate in any political activities hereafter, Umar added.
“Nasheed called and said that he is prepared to resign. He requested arrangements to be made for him and his family to leave for somewhere else. I told him that it will be arranged and to prepare for resignation,” Umar claimed.
Following media coverage of those remarks, Umar released a statement today pointing out that he did not imply that President Nasheed’s life was threatened by police and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).
During the unrest, Umar said that he spoke to Former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu and told that their lives were in danger because of the large number of protestors on Republic Square.
“I said his life could be in danger because of the large number of people gathered there [Republican Square] and it seemed that police, MNDF did not have the capacity to control the crowd – not even us,” Umar said.
Umar said that “we feared from our hearts” that if the civilians [protesters] had entered the MNDF headquarters by using any means, Nashed, Tholhath and MNDF and police inside the building [at the time] would have been at danger.”
Nasheed and his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have however denounced the legitimacy of the new government, and accused Dr Waheed of participating in the coup.
Meanwhile last night, some MDP supporters also took to the streets near parliament, where some MPs were staging a sit-in calling for the release of MDP MP Mohamed Rasheed, who was among those arrested from Addu for vandalising and setting fire to police and public property on February 8.
“Six of our MPs were taken away last night, I was badly beaten myself,” said MP Mariya Didi last evening, describing the aggression done to her by police forces. “I’ve got bruises all over. I’ve still got a black eye.”
Didi referenced her colleague MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, who was flown to Sri Lanka following a police attack on a peaceful march around Male’ last week. “We’ve all been beaten up for many days in a room” by police and security forces, Didi summarised.
Although charges are being issued they appear to have no base. Didi compared the allegations made against her to those made during Gayoom’s administration. “The same politicians, the same members, are doing the same thing all over again. They think they can charge us with terror charges. If this is the case then we will get huge sentences of 12 years or more,” she said.
MP Hamid Abdul Gafoor seconded Mariya’s statements, adding, “This is a coup, there is no doubt about it, and we [MDP MPs] are feeling the brunt of it.
Gafoor claimed that many MDP MPs are blacklisted and unable to leave the Maldives, although officials have denied the existence of such a list.
Protesters last night put down their signs reading “You cannot terrorise our MPs” around 9:00pm and took up the cry “Lari Lari! Yes Sir!”, mocking the police as corrupt servants of opposition party leaders.
The protests continued without turning violent until 1:00am.
Rasheed was moved to house arrest today, along with three Addu city council members detained by the police.