The opposition and police have raised fears of violence at a mass antigovernment protest on May Day, as a political crisis triggered by the jailing of ex president Mohamed Nasheed deepens.
The religious conservative Adhaalath Party has accused government ministers of planning to release convicts on Friday to incite violence as a pretext to crack down on protesters.
The police meanwhile told opposition leaders they have received reports that the demonstration will not be peaceful, and have ramped up riot training exercises for its special forces this week.
Tensions are high in Malé with the opposition Maldivians against brutality coalition vowing to bring 25,000 people out on to the capital’s streets demanding Nasheed and ex defence minister Mohamed Nazim’s release. But president Abdulla Yameen has labeled the opposition’s demands unconstitutional and has said he will not negotiate or resign on May Day.
Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Abdulla Imran speaking at a rally in Malé’s suburb Vilimalé accused Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb of seeking the release of 200 dangerous criminals to “shed blood” on May Day.
“Adeeb has sent a 200 strong list of the most dangerous and vile criminals to the courts seeking their release, in order to confront protesters,” said Imran.
The sheikh has also previously accused Adeeb of corruption and illicit connections with gangs.
Speaking to Minivan News Adeeb dismissed the allegations, saying the opposition must ask state institutions to investigate any allegations of wrong doing.
“I don’t think they will be able to do much on May Day,” he said.
The tourism minister had previously challenged the opposition to a confrontation on May Day, saying that the government “will not tolerate any bloodshed of or even a scrape on any young person, police officers or military officers.”
“Even if its May 1, June 1 or that grand February 27, if you dare to confront us, come, this government stands ready,” Adeeb said.
Over 10,000 opposition supporters took to the streets of Malé on February 27 following Nasheed’s arrest, but the rally was unexpectedly called off at 6pm when the police threatened a crackdown.
Police are meanwhile continuing riot trainings for its Specialist Operations unit at Feydhoo Finolhu Island.
The police held separate meetings with the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Jumhooree Party (JP) yesterday, according to a statement.
Superintendent of police Abdulla Shareef told MDP chairperson Ali Waheed that opposition politicians were inciting violence at daily protests and threatening the country’s independence and sovereignty. He said the police will take actions against any acts that violate rights.
The MDP and JP however assured the police the protest would be peaceful and will respect the law, the statement said.