The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has condemned the Maldives National Defence Force’s (MNDF) decision to cease providing security to MPs despite continuing death threats.
“We note with concern that security provided by MNDF to members of the People’s Majlis from [October] 20 to 23 was stopped while death threats were made repeatedly to MDP MPs and without the security services investigating the threats and taking action and despite the present danger to the MPs,” read a press statement issued by the main opposition party last night (October 24).
The party contended that providing security to MPs was not optional as Article 105 (b) stipulates that “the security services of the state shall ensure the protection and safety of all members of the People’s Majlis.”
The MDP accused senior officials of the security services of ordering the military to cease providing protection and criticised Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed for failing to ensure the safety of opposition MPs.
The decision was made to intimidate and obstruct opposition MPs from “freely fulfilling their legal responsibilities” as elected representatives, the statement added.
The parliament secretariat sent a text message to MPs on Thursday (October 23) stating that the MNDF would cease providing security as of midnight.
The MNDF informed parliament that the decision was made after assessing the current situation, the message read.
Meanwhile, death threats were sent via text message from an unlisted number to several MDP MPs and senior members yesterday.
“Tomorrow is the last day for all of you. Watch and see. [We] will kill you,” read the message.
An MDP rally is due to take place at the carnival area of Malé tonight.
On October 19, the MNDF urged MPs to stay in at night and offered to provide personal security upon request.
The move followed the escape of two dangerous convicts from Maafushi jail, who were both apprehended in Malé last week.
The MDP said at the time that the MNDF’s offer for protection indicated the “loss of domestic security and extreme levels of fear.”
“It also shows the extent to which senior officials of the government responsible for ensuring public safety and security have lost control of terrorist activities,” the party said in a press release.
A series of attacks against the MDP’s premises and upon the homes of some of its members in late September followed months of death threats, described as too numerous to publicise by the party’s spokesman.
The Inter Parliamentary Union has previously said the government’s reaction to the death threats would be a test of its democratic credentials.
A delegation from the IPU visited the Maldives late last year, requesting an urgent assessment of the political situation following repeated allegations of threats and intimidation against Majlis members.
“The frequent intimidation, harassment and attack of MPs as they go about their work have been deeply worrying,” read an IPU press release after the delegation’s visit last November.
After meeting with the IPU earlier this month, union member and MDP MP Eva Abdulla raised concerns over the personal safety of MPs and journalists in the Maldives.
Eva – who has been in personal receipt of threats against both herself and her family members – also received a threat suggesting the MDP’s next gathering would be targeted by suicide bombers.
A subsequent rally held in Addu City was disrupted by youths with wooden planks and rocks before the party’s office in Hithadhoo was set on fire.