Two petrol bombs landed inside ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Haruge (headquarters) around midnight last night, January 7. MDP activists allege that the culprits were paid recruits of opposition Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM).
Police were called to the scene where they spoke to activists then inside the headquarters. Police officials today said the incident was minor, involving a few “bottles with petrol”, and that there was no confrontation.
No arrests have been made, and there is no investigation.
MDP activist Mohamed Areef described the incident to Minivan News.
“Some activists were just sitting near the wall of the haaruge, talking and playing chess. Then one bomb landed from over the wall, and I ran. Next another bomb was thrown just inches from my head.”
Areef said one man had sustained burns to his ankle, but that the injury was minor.
Areef noted that opposition PPM had held a gathering on January 5, and he was “quite sure [the attack] was planned by PPM. The party probably paid some people to do it.”
According to Areef, MDP will not retaliate.
PPM Spokesperson Ahmed Mahlouf denied that the party had any involvement in the matter.
“We have no interest in taking MDP Haruge, and we definitely do not support violence as a way of addressing issues,” he said.
Mahlouf added that the party had not held discussions regarding MDP “for two, three days”, and had no reason to launch petrol bombs into the ruling party’s headquarters.
“We are shocked to hear the news, and to hear that the blame has been put on us,” he said.
The incident follows several weeks of political controversy over demands made during a religious protest on December 23, in which PPM members and leaders joined six other opposition parties and religious NGOs in a call for stronger Islamic policies at the government level.
In response to these demands, the government ordered that all resort spas be closed and announced it was considering a ban on pork and alcohol. The first resorts to experience these effects were those owned by Jumhooree Party Leader and MP Gasim Ibrahim, the owner of Villa Hotels. Gasim subsequently sued the government over the matter.
Meanwhile, PPM argued that the demands against the sale of alcohol did not refer to the 100-plus resorts currently operating in the Maldives. However, going along with the high-stakes game of chicken the party announced that it would support the government’s suggestion to ban pork and alcohol provided “it has the courage” to do so.
Last week, the government requested a “consultative opinion” from the Supreme Court over the legality of selling pork and alcohol in a nation whose constitution is based on Islamic Sharia. Twenty-four hours later the government announced it was lifting the ban on spa operations in order to protect business interests while the court deliberates the matter.
The Judicial branch of the Maldives has been widely labelled as a remnant of the former regime, which appointed all of the current judges. A majority of the judges have little or no legal training, and have not been educated beyond grade seven. This year, MDP activists requested international support over the “increasingly blatant collusion between politicians loyal to the former autocratic President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and senior members of the judiciary – most of whom were appointed by Gayoom during his thirty years of power.”
Speaking at a press conference last week, President Mohamed Nasheed credited the spa controversy for having “woke the nation from its slumber and sparked a healthy national debate about the future direction of the country”.