The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has continued its campaign against the businesses of those it alleges to be involved in financing a coup on February 7. Yesterday’s protests occurred outside the Shell Beans cafe, owned by the new Vice President Mohamed Waheed Deen and his family.
The group continued its ‘Noon’ campaign (meaning ‘no’ in Dhivehi), gathering outside the popular restaurant on Male’s northern harbour front.
Former Education Minister Shifa Mohamed said she was pleased with the protest, having forced the cafe to close at one point.
Shifa said “I don’t think [the staff] truly know what kind of order they are working for. We will protest until they know what these people have done. We will ask foreigners to boycott Shell Beans.”
The campaign was launched just under two weeks ago and has gathered 1900 supporters on its Facebook page. The boycott’s list of products to target includes Granini juice, Lavazza coffee, Red Bull energy drinks, Marlboro cigarettes and Lindt chocolate.
These products are imported to the Maldives by Euro Store. Shops under boycott include MP Saleem’s ‘Redwave’ grocery chain and MP Mahloof’s clothing store ‘The Jeans’.
Protestors also called for a boycott of Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa Gas and his airline Flyme. The campaigners alleged Gasim Ibrahim to be one of the main financiers of the coup.
Rasheed Carpentry and Construction Company, alleged to have ties to defense minister Ahmed Nazim, and PPM VP Umar Naseer’s security services Alarms and Whale Submarine tourist attraction are also included in the list.
After the protest the group from the MDP women’s wing, marched back towards the newly established demonstration area at Dharubaaruge. Shifa stated that the group will shortly be sending representatives to Thimarafushi and Kaashidhoo. Both constituencies are to hold by-elections in one week’s time.
The group also intends to engage in demonstrations tonight, focussing on the World Health Day theme. Shifa stated that she was particularly concerned with the recent discussions in parliament regarding the Aasandha health care scheme.
“We are very concerned. It is the only successful measure of redistribution [of wealth] that we have given to the people. They are trying to take it away,” Shifa argued.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed, addressing his followers at Dharubaaruge on Wednesday night, argued that the government was wasting state funds that could finance the scheme on promotions and bonuses for security forces personnel.
The Maldives Police Service (MPS) recently announced plans to promote 1000 officers, whilst the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) announced two years of allowances was to be paid to qualifying officers in a lump sum.
After financial problems with the scheme were discussed in the People’s Majlis this week, Financial Committee Chairperson and Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim described the current application of the scheme as a “hole in the pocket of the government” but vowed to reform the system, assuring that “Aasandha is here to stay.”