Members of the People’s Majlis have been asked to avoid going outside at night, as the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) enhances personal security from today onwards.
Described as “a step in ensuring the safety of all members of the parliament”, MPs were informed that additional personal security would be made available to any member who requested it.
“The MNDF also requests you to pay special attention to your safety and protection if you absolutely need to go outside tonight,” continued the message from the Majlis Secretariat yesterday (October 19).
MNDF spokesman Hussain Ali has confirmed that the decision was made after discussions between the Majlis and the Ministry of Defence, though he declined to comment on the specific reasons for the timing of the increased protection.
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has today suggested that the move indicates 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,” read a party press release this evening.
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 mention by the party’s spokesman.
Attacks on elected officials have become more common in recent years, most notably the brutal murder of Progressive Party of Maldives MP Dr Afrasheem Ali in October 2012.
Earlier this year, MDP MP Alhan Fahmy was nearly paralysed after being stabbed in the back in a busy restaurant in the capital Malé.
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] spoke about the lack of thorough investigations of these cases, perpetrators not facing trial, the failure of law enforcement in the face of atrocities committed out in the open, the failure of the People’s Majlis to look into the cases, and the creation of a culture of intimidation in the Maldives,” explained an MDP press release after the meeting.
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 targetted by suicide bombers.
A subsequent rally held in Addu City was disrupted by youths with wooden planks and rocks before the party’s headquarters in Hithadhoo were attacked by arsonists.