The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) held two protests on Saturday, continuing the party’s call for early elections and the resignation of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan.
Both protests began from ‘Usfasgandu’ behind Dharubaaruge, the party’s new protest hub following the government’s recent closure of the MDP’s permanent protest site near the tsunami monument.
The first protest started at 5:30pm from Usfasgandu, and concluded at Sultan Park near the Islamic Centre at 6:30pm.
Former Education Minister Shifa Mohamed, former Home Minister Hassan Afeef and former National Security Advisor Ameen Faisal were seen in the frontline of the protests.
The protest was peaceful and there were no reports of police confrontations or arrests. However, angry protesters had some verbal arguments with the police.
The second protest started at around 10:00pm from Usfasgandu. The protesters marched their way from Sosun Magu, passing the parliament and towards President Waheed’s residence, Hilaaleege.
The protesters made their way in front of Dr Waheed’s residence at around 11:00pm.
Surprisingly, only a handful of Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officials were on guard at the time when protesters arrived.
Some of the protesters sat down in front of the presidential residence, and continued their call for resignation of President Waheed and his government, and called for early elections.
Spokesperson for Dr Waheed, Masood Imad, said the protesters called for President Waheed’s death, and accused the party of “inciting fear”.
MNDF officials later dispersed the crowds from the premises and closed routes leading towards Dr Waheed’s residence.
The protesters peacefully retreated several blocks and there were no reported confrontations.
After the MNDF had blocked all the routes to Dr Waheed’s residence, protesters headed towards current Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim’s residence.
The protesters gathered outside the minister’s residence and reiterated their calls for the “coup government” to step down and hold elections, and then headed towards artificial beach along Majeedee Magu.
During the protests, a recording of former president Mohamed Nasheed stating that MDP “would not sink” was played continuously, with crowds roaring in support every time the recording was played.
MDP’s women’s activist Aishath Aniya led the protests while former Ministers, Shifa Mohamed and Dr Musthafa Luthfy, and MDP MP Rugiyya Mohamed, were seen in the frontline of the protest.
The protests concluded back at Usfasgandu, and MP Rugiyya handed the MDP flag to its flagman at Usfasgandu.
Shifa addressed the crowds at Usfasgandu and said that the government needed to hear the people’s voice, and the call for early elections.
“Today marks two months after the democratically elected president was brought down by a coup. We will not stop until democracy is restored,” she said.
MP Rugiyya and Dr Luthfy also spoke to the protesters at Usfasgandu, and thanked them for their determination.
The protests ended with a prayer from Mohamed Hafiz, the head of MDP religious affairs council.
A police media official confirmed that there were no confrontations or arrests during the protests. The MDP is to hold another protest tonight.
The MDP has been holding series of demonstrations after the transfer of power that took place on February 7, claiming that the government was brought down illegally in a coup d’état led by rogue police and military personnel, and funded by several local resort owners with political interests.