Members of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) have vowed to put ousted President Mohamed Nasheed “in solitary confinement”, at a rally held last night.
An approximately 300 PPM supporters arrived at 10:30pm to the Artificial Beach area, calling on the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to stop “attacking” the security services and bring peace to the streets of Male’.
Interim Vice President of PPM Umar Naseer, along with several council members of the party including MP Ahmed Nihan, Ahmed ‘Maaz’ Saleem and Deputy Minister of Transport Ahmed Nazim, led the rally.
Speaking during the rally, PPM council member Saleem said the party had been requesting the government bring an end to the MDP’s protesting for the last six months.
“One month after the transfer of power, we went and asked the government to put an end to the street activities but nothing happened. The second month we went, nothing happened. Third, fourth and fifth month we went but nothing was done. Now we have decided it is time we come out,” he said.
Saleem blasted the government of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan for not being able to “put down” Nasheed “and his 200 hounds”.
“We had to come out because the government has failed to do anything about ‘Keneryge’ Nasheed and the 200 dogs that are behind him. In each island there are five dogs like that. These dogs should be put behind bars,” Saleem said.
“I believe ‘Keneryge’ Nasheed is not behind the ruthless actions [against police]. Instead he is leading these violent attacks. What we know is that Nasheed’s family were the only people who attempted to bring about a coup d’état in this country,” he alleged.
Saleem claimed that Nasheed during his presidency had “done injustice” to the people, for which he should face trial.
Deputy Minister of Transport Ahmed Nazim, who spoke after Saleem, repeated calls for government to take action against MDP protesters and to bring peace to the streets of Male.
He also highlighted the party’s efforts to topple Nasheed’s government, and praised the patience of those who took to streets to “end Nasheed’s dictatorship”.
“When we come out to do something, we won’t back down. We proved that when we came out to bring Nasheed down, and we only stopped after bringing an end to Nasheed’s dictatorship,” he said.
“Now we have come out to put an end to all this. I assure you all, we will only stop after putting Nasheed in solitary confinement,” Nazim said.
Following Nazim’s speech, members of the rally gathered near Boduthakurufaanu Magu as hundreds of MDP protesters passed by.
Verbal confrontations took place between the MDP protesters and the participants of the rally. PPM members called the MDP protesters “ganjabo” (hash user) while the MDP protesters called back “golhaabo” (toddy thief) and “baaghee” (traitor).
With an apparently lower turnout than expected, MP Ahmed Nihan was observed calling people in the Artificial Beach area to gather closer and not confront the MDP protesters prior to his speech. Umar Naseer later reiterated Nihan’s calls.
MP Nihan, speaking in the rally after the situation had calmed down, stated that the party had come out to inform the government that they too had the power to take action against those who broke laws and jeopardised the peace and stability of the country.
Nihan also raised skepticism over the UNHCR report on the Maldives, questioning the UN’s motives and claiming that they had been silent over the recent “extremist attacks” on the Burmese Rohingya Muslims.
“Where is the UNHCR when our Muslim brothers in Burma are suffering? I challenge Nasheed to at least for once condemn those attacks,” he said.
Nihan described the day of Nasheed’s toppling as the new “victory day” for the Maldivian people, and vowed that he would not stop until Nasheed was brought in front of justice.
“I am saying this as the deputy chair of the parliament’s temporary committee set up to look into crimes that Nasheed has committed. I assure you we will thoroughly investigate what he has done in the last three years,” he said.
Nihan also claimed that Nasheed had used up to MVR 300 million (US$19.45 million) as money received from the state as privileges for a former president, which he alleged was not used in a proper manner.
“People laughed at me when I first proposed the bill of privileges for former presidents in 2009, but today it is Nasheed who is getting the most of it. Up until today, he has eaten MVR 300 million from the state as for privileges, but I am now considering putting an amendment to that law to bar him from that,” Nihan said.
He vowed he would propose an amendment to the act to make sure that the former president would only be eligible to receive state beneficiaries if he stayed within the law and “refrained from causing public nuisance”.
Toppling Nasheed was a “Golden Goal”
Speaking during the rally, Umar Naseer said that Nasheed knew that the current government could not be toppled from the streets.
“Mohamed Nasheed is very much aware that the government cannot be toppled from the streets. Umar Naseer knows how it can be done,” Naseer said.
Naseer said he succeeded in his work on February 7, which he had begun after Nasheed assumed presidency.
“I scored the golden goal and went home,” he said.
Naseer also promised that in a PPM government, the death penalty would be implemented.
“We will bring peace to this country, from Haa Alif atoll to Seenu Atoll. Here in the Maldives, people can’t murder others, they can’t stab people to death and they can’t rape women either. If they murder they would face death penalty,” he said.
He also followed Saleem in labeling MDP protesters as “animals”, and stated that after PPM takes over the presidency, “barking animals” will not roam the streets of Male’.
“Even former President Ibrahim Nasir drove away the asses and monkeys that were living in Male’. So for reasons concerning public health, some animals that ‘shout too loud’ will be not allowed to live in Male’ in a PPM government,” he said, in reference to the MDP protesters.
PPM announced that the rallies would continue every Saturday night throughout the month of Ramadaan.
Minivan News tried contacting Umar Naseer but he had not responded at time of press.
PPM “sick and in need of serious counseling”
Speaking to Minivan News regarding PPM’s rally, former Transport Minister and MDP National Council member Adil Saleem described actions of PPM members as “sick”, and the party in need of “serious counseling”.
“They just don’t get us. President Nasheed could be in jail but he will inspire every heart. The voice of freedom will only get louder,” he said.
Following the comments made about arresting Nasheed, Adil said that the PPM would “try anything at this moment”.
“I’ve been inside police headquarters and their detention centre. There is no proper police service now. So the possibility of a rogue element arresting him is possible. Later the service will have no option but to defend the actions of the rogue officers. Anything is possible,” he said.
“My first arrest was the previous night near the Dhiraagu head office. They took me to the station and told me I was mistakenly arrested for sexually assaulting a female officer on the road. These officers were saluting us six months back,” he said.
He further said that he believed the rally was “a desperate act” by PPM, as international pressure grew.
“I don’t believe anyone who had associated him or herself with the coup and still has brains left would want to go on display at PPM gatherings, when all the pieces of the very clear puzzle are falling into place. I don’t believe they have much support,” he concluded.