Petrol bombs found in mosque during second night of anti-government protests

A second night of violent protests in the capital city ended with the arrest of several demonstrators after petrol bombs were thrown at police in the early hours of this morning.

Protesters gathered last night near the Tsunami Monument in Boduthakurufaanu Magu and marched towards the intersection of Male’s main road of Majeedhee Magu and the tourist street of Chandhanee Magu; the same location as Sunday morning’s sit-down protest.

Protesters demanded the government lower the cost of living and called on President Mohamed Nasheed to resign, claiming people were increasingly unable to afford basic commodities following the government’s effective devaluation of the rufiya.

Police blockaded the area to vehicles and maintained a presence, but unlike Sunday used no tear gas or force on the crowd.

Riot police at the scene were bombared with petrol bombs, stones, water bottles, chilli sauce, “and a hammer”, according to police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam.

“The protesters were trying to incite police. Some police were injured but not seriously,” he said.

Police yesterday issued a statement claiming that the the first round of violent protests was premeditated after discovering a ready supply of rocks stashed near the intersection.

Several police were injured when the protest turned violent

During last night’s protests, “police received information that petrol bombs were being made in the toilet area of a nearby mosque. Police attended the mosque and found petrol bombs and equipment used to make them.”

Police water cannon and tear gas were deployed in the area, but were not used. A number of violent protesters into custody who were later identified as known gang members. No MPs were arrested.

“We saw two journalists injured by a stone, although not seriously,” Shiyam said.

Senior political figures at the protest included dismissed DRP Deputy Leader Umar Naseer, and DRP MPs Ahmed Mahlouf, Ahmed Nihan. Jumhoory Party (JP) leader MP ‘Burma’ Gasim Ibrahim, and DRP leader MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali visited the scene at around 1:00am.

Gasim addressed the crowd but did not stay long, while Thasmeen joined the protesters.

Spokesperson for the DRP, Irahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef, confirmed to Minivan News that the protest was authorised by the DRP Council – significant, as Umar Naseer was dismissed from the party last year for leading similar protests on behalf of the opposition without approval.

Meanwhile, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) parliamentary group leader and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik led a group of around 100 MDP activists in an apparent attempt to clash with the DRP supporters, but were quickly cut off from the demonstration by riot police.

Both crowds threw objects at each other, with Moosa’s crowd yelling that they did not believe that living costs had risen.

After warning protesters several times to leave the area, police dispersed the crowd by slowly moving into the intersection. The protest was finally dispersed around 3am early this morning.

Thrown rocks left on the street in the aftermath of the protest

Speaking to Minivan News, DRP MP and leader of the party’s youth wing Ahmed Mahlouf claimed that last night’s crowds were larger than the previous protest – particularly the number of young people present.

“The crowds are much greater than last night and I am confident that the turnout will be even bigger tomorrow night,” he said.

The protests would be begin at the artificial beach area every night at 8:45pm ahead of a “huge” protest scheduled for Friday, Mahlouf said.

He acknowledged that the protests had descended into levels of violence that “could not be accepted” with some groups of people throwing stones and cans of petrol at police that at one point also threating to set a shop on fire.

“There is some suspicion that the MDP may have paid these individuals to do this.  There were so many stones and petrol bottles thrown at police as well as hitting stores,” he said.

“We cannot accept these levels of violence and as protestors we just want to raise our voices and get our point across about high prices.  Even last night we were asking police to arrest these people, though this difficult to do in large groups of people.”

The protests have been claimed by some opposition politicians to have been organised by, and represent, youth groups in the country rather than a single partisan interest.

Amidst plans by organisers for further protests throughout the week, Mahlouf said his party would nonetheless be having a meeting today to decide whether to talk with police about possible means to reduce potentially violent confrontations.

“A lot of these techniques were used by the MDP before they came into power,” he claimed.  “I do not want to see a repeat of that.”

However, the MP claimed that a number of senior MDP activists had also joined the protests and spoke out concerning government economic policy, including some friends of President Mohamed Nasheed.

“We know people aren’t with them any more and that they don’t believe what he [President Nasheed] says,” he said.  “Even in the MDP leadership elections where he supported the appointment of both Ibrahim Zaki and Mohamed Aslam, the party has voted against him.”

MDP spokesperson Ahmed Haleem Zaki claimed that the intervention of opposition groups like the DRP in the protests formed part of wider plans to create “drama” that distracted from a failure to pass so-called anti-gang legislation in the Majlis this week.

“Today parliament is supposed to be considering passing a bill that would give more power to police to arrest gang members,” he said. “This is a political problem where we have an important bill needing to be passed and the opposition parties do not want it to go through.

Haleem did confirm that fellow MDP MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik had turned up with some supporters during the protest, but said he was not himself responsible for instigating violence.

“Moosa was hit by stones and was then taken to hospital, but I can’t confirm if he was seriously injured or not,” he said.

Haleem claimed that Moosa intended to try to call for an end to violent confrontations and denied that his presence may have exacerbated confrontations at the protest site.

“We do not want violence as we are the [country’s] ruling party. Moosa was there to support police and ask protests to go home peacefully,” he claimed.

When questioned over whether MDP supporters were amongst the young people protesting, Haleem said that the party accepted that the cost of living was a major issue and that the last two years had thrown up a number of difficulties for the government in balancing the nation’s finances.

“However, we had the previous government who treated Maldivian money as if it was their own family fortune for many years,” he said. “They left the economy in such a situation that the government has been forced to take drastic measures. People know that the cost of living is high all over the world from China, to the US and the UK.”

According to Haleem, opposition parties had sought to use the protests to court drama and political instability in order to try and garner negative press coverage of President Nasheed through major news networks like CNN and Al Jazeera.

“I think [Nasheed] is very popular right now and that is why the opposition want drama,” he said. “[The opposition] thought they could compare the protests to mass movements in Egypt’s Tahrir Square – a site linked to the fall of former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak – but people are not stupid and know very well that this isn’t the case. After four or five months we expect the economic situation to have improved.”

Meanwhile, MDP coalition partner the Adhaalath Party, led by State Islamic Minister Sheikh Hussein Rasheed, has issued a press statement in support of the anti-government protests.

The Adhaalath Party said it believed that the youth protest was “a peaceful gathering.”

”Lowerer living expenses is one of the main pledges of this government,” said the party. ”We call on the government to find a wise solution for this issue.”

The Adhaalath Party said that the protest was conducted lawfully and that ”it is not acceptable to use tear gas and batons to disperse a lawful protest.”

The party also expressed concern that police officers and protesters were injured during Sunday night’s protest.

Currency in crisis

The government has struggled to cope with an exacerbating dollar shortage brought on by a high budget deficit – triggered by a spiralling public sector expenditure – in comparison with the foreign currency flowing into the country. Civil service expenditure has increased in real terms by 400 percent since 2002.

Banks subsequently demonstrated reluctance to sell dollars at the pegged rate of Rf 12.85, and high demand for travel, commodities and overseas medical treatment forced most institutions to ration their supply or turn to the flourishing blackmarket.

After a short-lived attempt to crack down on the illegal exchange of dollars, the government floated the rufiya within a 20 percent band, effectively allowing it to be sold at up to Rf 15.42 to the dollar.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), which has been critical of the government’s growing expenditure despite a large budget deficit, praised the decision as a step towards a mature and sustainable economy.

Police extinguish a thrown petrol bomb

“Today’s bold step by the authorities represents an important move toward restoring external sustainability,” the IMF said in a statement. “IMF staff support this decision made by the authorities. We remain in close contact and are ready to offer any technical assistance that they may request.”

However, many companies dealing in dollar commodities immediately raised their exchange rates to Rf 15.42, along with the Bank of Maldives.

The government’s move, while broadly unpopular, acknowledges the devaluation of the rufiya in the wake of increased expenditure and its own inability to overcome the political obstacles inherent in reducing spending on the country’s bloated civil service.

Yet as Maldives relies almost entirely on imported goods and fuel, and many ordinary citizens have found themselves harshly affected by short-term spike in prices of up to 20 percent as the rufiya settles.

“We do not really know, based on the breadth of the domestic economy, what the value of the Maldivian rufiyaa is right now,” Economic Development Minister Mahmoud Razee admitted at a recent press conference.

The government has said it hopes the rufiya will stabilise within three months.


25 thoughts on “Petrol bombs found in mosque during second night of anti-government protests”

  1. "... the intersection of Male’s main road of Majeedhee Magu and the tourist street of Chandhanee Magu; the same location as Sunday morning’s sit-down protest."

    Why, JJ and Ahmed Nazeer, are you scared to report that this junction is called "THE TAHRIR MAIDAN" by the organisers of this protest?

  2. "Gasim addressed the crowd but did not stay long, while Thasmeen joined the protesters."

    Thasmeen, too, addressed the crowd. In fact, Thasmeen is the first leader of a political party that have addressed this crowd. Gasim came to the scene and said anything only after Thasmeen.

    One thing that I noticed was that the crowd erupted, cheering to every sentence Thasmeen said. Thasmeen undestands the anger that is brewing because the costs have sky-rocketed. Thasmeen understands the hardships faced by the average Maldivian because of the high costs.

    Like the youngsters who organised these protests, Thasmeen was energetic in addressing them. He was sympathetic and can empathise with the crowd. This is what is lacking in the speeches of the government members because of which they seem so alienated from the average Maldivian.

    Gasim's speech was more about disciplining the crowd. He urged them to protest peacefully and not to harm others and not to damage property. Gasim did not address the main cause of the protesting.

    It was good to see these senior figures supporting the crowd.

    Another thing that I was quite happy to see was that despite the differences in their views, the opposition is quite united in these protests. We see representatives and MPs of almost all political parties there. There were also quite a few independent MPs. Even the 2 factions of DRP were quite united in what i saw last night. For example, the way Nihan helped Thasmeen stabilise himself over the make-shift stage on the back of a lorry, when Thasmeen was climbing the stage to deliver his speech, was admirable. Nihan, you have proved to me that you are a good guy. 🙂

    "The government’s move, while broadly unpopular, ..."

    Saying that it is "broadly unpopular" is an understatement, JJ. You are missing the point here. The govrnment's move has made life very difficult for the vast majority of Maldivians. I understand that the government had little choice. But, what originated the problem and what lead to it were not addressed by the government. Not that they even can do this. How can you make them say that it is because of our MISMANAGED economy that the public had to suffer?

    The bottom line is, I feel we are sinking into a hole from which we cannot come out in the near future unless drastic changes are made to the current style of running this country.

  3. thank god for the protests. prices are coming down, Osama Bin Laden is killed by the Americans, US Dollar price rises, US Stock market had a good day.

  4. "DRP were quite united in what i saw last night. For example, the way Nihan helped Thasmeen stabilise himself over the make-shift stage on the back of a lorry, when Thasmeen was climbing the stage to deliver his speech, was admirable. Nihan, you have proved to me that you are a good gud guy."

    Awww.... (tears)

  5. Violence is never the answer. no good would come out of it. Besides a protest cannot bring about any changes to the cost of living or dollar value.

  6. i think economy is taking to kick back after the protests, dont you think?

  7. widely accepted that the petrol bonbs were planted by MDP activists... I call the Maldivian police to arrest these MDP activists including Reeko Moosa

  8. This is organizes drama putting the blame on the youth of this Country. This is the only way they can say NO to sunset law. If the law come to be effective all the so called body guards will lost. Less crimes and easy living for the common man. The oppostion wants the common person to live with difficulties so that they can be used to shout on the streets.

  9. This is organized drama putting the blame on the youth of this Country. This is the only way they can say NO to sunset law. If the law come to be effective all the so called body guards will be lost. Less crimes and easy living for the common man. The oppostion wants the common person to live with difficulties so that they can be used to shout on the streets.

  10. How did these people make cost of living go down with just two nights of protest is simply amazing. I am beginning believe these protesters should take over world band and IMF.

    Its so good to see Gasim Ibrahim during these protest, our economies mega father who did so much good to our economy he really should have spoken lot longer, actually he should have written his speech in English and spoken in Dhivehi that way it will be more comprehensive and he should have produce more solution for this government like he did before for the government of DRP.

    Thasmeen I know you can do it. You absolutely had no hand in bankrupting our country. If you give more speeches like you did last night we have no choice but to vote for you.

    Gang masters, Murderers, torturers and the people who looted our country for the 30 years finally found a new bunch of gangsters to loosen up there noose since it has been getting tighter day by day and very soon you cannot play these games anymore.

  11. “THE TAHRIR MAIDAN” haha, I am laughing my butt out. hahaahha, JJ Please address that cross section as that Maidhan.

  12. the protests have been done for a good cause. reeko must be illusion if he belives that the cost of living has not increased a lot. glad reeko got a stone there.

  13. It is highly possible that the highly violent group of people with their faces covered had a link with petrol bombs in mosque. Only this time they can remotely be associated with islamists but can be suspectd of the above mentioned violent group with support from MDP in a desperate attempt to divert the international media focus to this issue and save the humiliation. Nice play. We all know the weakness of major international newspapers. They all love reporting terrorisms do not demand hard facts in reporting such issues.

  14. Yea it's raining $'s now. We are flush with cash so we should do something for the honorable opposition members who supported the protests...

    Maybe we should give Thasmeen a bigger loan from BML, the 13% of all BML loan funds wasn't enough. Also assign half the GDP to Yameen $800 million we gifted him is fast running out with extra gangster hands to grease.

    Qasim's staff in Villa should work for free, can't they understand that if the boss has difficulty paying salaries by the 20th of the month then he probably doesn't have the cash to pay them?

    Tahrir Square indeed.

  15. Cos of these damn idiots protesting every night, we common people has to suffer. Dont they realise they are blocking a very important area in Male'. Thigothah ehcheheege agu thiri nukuriyya maa ragalhu.
    Btw the dollar rate was fluctuated, it doesnt have to be 15 it can be 11 as well. why dont u protest infront of banks and ask them to sell at lower rate.

  16. Gayoom = violence.

    It was the same when he was President. It's the same when he organised protests today.

  17. Sorry jj and naseer, some of us don't believe this party crap, we didn't believe it when maumoon did it, and we don't believe it when the current government does it either.....minivan is simply an MDP mouthpiece , nothing more...

  18. I just noticed that JJ and Ahmed Nazeer have started posting articles under both their names, more or less as a joint effort.
    Did you both get married (I mean to each other)?

  19. Please Minivan,

    As a propaganda outfit, your only utility is in (mis?)informing the international community.

    In this regard, you have already failed. Give it up, weigh your losses and rethink your strategies.

    President Nasheed's intentions and other subjective factors play no part in national events. I truly believe that the average member of the MDP accept with all their heart that their tribal leader has done no wrong. I do not blame them for their indignation at those who protest against their infallible leader. This is not the first time this has happened in history.

    Supporters of Qayyoom reacted the exact same way at the outset.

    The economy has begun to crack and splinter. This happened during Nasheed's reign. Therefore, whether Nasheed's intentions are good or whether he will try his hardest to fix the situation in the future is irrelevant. The populace will blame him for everything that is happening now. Please let's not be silly. This is elementary politics.

    JJ, et. al.,

    You are paid to act as a propaganda outfit. So try your hardest. I sincerely believe you have been defeated. Let us see if you can spin harder and faster than those who are reporting actual events (albeit in a light that favors the opposition).

  20. @ tsk tsk you sound an awful lot like one of those Gayoom supporters who you say reacted indignantly to MDP protests demanding democracy. were you just well placed to observe that or do you count yourself among the dictators lickspittle?

    you lot have been crying foul every time Anni has sneezed since Nov 2008. the economy is in this mess because your cult leader ran up record deficits, bribed civil servants with world record increases in compensation and indebted future generations.

    i doubt this website would be of much use as a propaganda outlet now Gayoom's gone. far from producing propaganda, the MDP government is letting DhiTV and VTV falsely portray a DRP-led public disturbance as a "youth protest".

    it is also elementary politics that two and a half years is an eternity for any president to turn things around. a lot can happen between now and 2013. the dynamics will be very different. stability/continuity vs umar naseer street crowd. the council elections suggest that MDP doesn't need too many more votes to reach 50 percent. of course a low turnout and divided opposition would help.

  21. Qasim and his Guru Ilyas-Gayyoom Gang are the Dirty Money-hungry crooks who are responsible for today's economic situation of the Maldives and the Maldivian people because these guys continuously squeezed the country's income for a period of 25 - 30 years very independently and systematically...

    So, i wonder why such crooks appear before the public? i know why...because such guys are shameless guys!!!

  22. There are some politicians who give shelter to anti-social elements. These same politicians are also responsible for current dollar crisis in the country. Finding of petrol bombs in a mosque is "sad & dangerous" for Maldives in general and Male' in particular. This is first step towards 'terrorism'. The Police and MNDF should make all-out effort to catch the culprits and should be given an exemplary punishment. Mosque is a holy place where people of all walks of life come to pray and becoz of certain people its given a bad name.

  23. Yes sola u r right they protesting in the wrong place I'm afraid to be out this days I'm not meaning they should not do but the protesters doing good but wrong place they should b near banks n why not in near president house ! For all the protester wish u all the very best but pls careful do not hurm pple n property


Comments are closed.