Released MPs continue protests while Vice President claims situation “is embarrassing”

The government has claimed it had “absolutely no role” in the decision made by police on Thursday evening to take senior opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) leaders into custody.

DRP Vice presidents Ali Waheed and Umar Naseer, and MPs Ahmed Ilham and Ahmed Mahlouf were among those taken to the nearby prison island, Dhoonidhoo, after being escorted from DRP headquarters at 10:30pm on Thursday night by riot police. They were released at 3am early the next morning.

An MDP gathering taking place at the artificial beach was disrupted when DRP supporters in the party’s nearby headquarters began playing loud music, with tension between the supporters of both sides turning violent when some began to throw chairs, rocks and water bottles.

“Police tried to control the area using teargas but some people would still not obey police orders, and we were forced to take 19 people into police custody,” said Sub Inspector Ahmed Shiyam with the Maldives Police Service.

“The intention was to remove them from Male’ until the city was brought under control, then release them,” he said. “Anybody who was there would understand how difficult the situation was to control. Police felt [detaining the leaders] was the easiest way to control the situation.”

Shiyam called on those organising the demonstrations to “show some responsibility” and ensure they were able to control the gathering and obey police rules and regulations.

However running protests by the various parties continued to erupt sporadically across Male’ yesterday afternoon, with supporters for various parties clashing outside the homes of Parliamentary Speaker Abdulla Shahid, DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, Home Minister Mohamed Shihab, and Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.

Last night crowds gathered again at the artificial beach during a DRP meeting, which turned violent after a group of people crashed into the party’s gathering and took the microphone away from somebody who was speaking.

MDP and DRP supporters threw stones at one another, which led to the arrival of team of police who requested the crowd disperse as it was disturbing the peace. DRP Vice President Umar Naseer continued using the loud speaker in the party’s office to announce that the demonstrations would not stop until President Mohamed Nasheed resigned.

Police then announced they would be using tear gas, and deployed two grenades into the crowd before arresting 31 people. At 12:30am Naseer called on the remaining demonstrators to gather again at 9pm tonight.

Shiyam said there had been reports of many civilian injuries during the two nights of violent clashes, although nothing serious. Six police officers had also sustained injuries, he said.

Vice president response

Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan said in a press conference this morning that the political demonstrations were regrettable while more than 90 diplomats and senior government officials from some 40 countries were visiting for the donor conference.

Waheed also said he regretted last week’s brawl in parliament, over a no-confidence motion against the Auditor General Ibrahim Naeem.

”As the vice president of the country I regret these things and as a Maldivian I am embarrassed,” he said, calling on Maldivians “not to take part in such activities” for the benefit of the country.

“Countries do not provide aid for a certain party or for a certain government, but the country as a whole,” he said.

Waheed said almost all the countries which provided aid to the country would attend the conference, which starts tomorrow at Bandos Island Resort, and appealed to the major political parties not to hold meetings and rallies in a manner that might affect the conference.

“Political issues are not solved on the streets, they should be solved through discussions,” he said.

DRP response

DRP Spokesperson and Vice President Ibrahim Shareef told Minivan News the party had no intention of disrupting the donor conference and harming the country’s national interest, and said he did not blame police “who are doing a very professional job under the circumstances.”

Instead, he accused the MDP of using “criminals and hired thugs” to attack DRP supporters, saying that the crowd that attacked DRP’s headquarters last night were armed with batons and iron bars.

“We saw some very well known MDP activists in the crowd,” he said. “Some people were very badly injured and taken to hospital with broken arms.”

“We are a very peaceful party and the leaders are very moderate, and DRP has many people experienced in political leadership,” he said. “But when people are injured and attacked they will react, and if mobs are forming it is only out of self-defence.”

He said he “did not know” why the MDP would be provoking DRP supporters ahead of the donor conference.

“The government pays lip-service to democracy while being totally dependent on hand outs,” Shareef said. “the international community has a role to play because the government must listen to it.”

He warned that unless the government “does its job properly” and ensured political stability, “the consequences will be beyond anyone’s control. The government must stop using thugs to attack our supporters,” Shareef said.

“Two of my shops have been attacked, this is very unhealthy,” he noted. “Now I hear some people are coming to Male’ from the islands. If the violence spreads to the islands it will be become uncontrollable. We are trying to calm and control things.”

He explained that it was sometimes necessary for DRP leaders to work with the sentiment of the crowd to cool the situation and stay in control.

Government’s call for calm

Spokesperson for the President’s Office Mohamed Zuhair accused the DRP of “just trying to oppose for the sake of opposition”, and said that if Umar Naseer’s calls for continued protests eventuated, “that will be a very undesirable message for international donors, who expect stability.”

The government was aiming for US$40 million in short-term funding to alleviate the current budget crisis, and seeking US$150 million per year over the next three years in longer term funding, he said.

Protests had “progressed from one thing to another” Zuhair claimed, beginning with efforts to oust the Auditor General, harass MDP functions and now disrupt the donor conference.

“The DRP accuses Naeem for using his corporate credit card to buy a tie and $400 on personal transportation. The DRP obviously think that if they are able to oust the AG, all his reports about the corruption of the last 30 years can be dismissed as not credible,” Zuhair said.

Police had an intelligience group monitoring the conference and were ready to make an appearance if necessary, he said.

Zuhair also noted that as an elected political representative, “there is no need for Mr Umar Naseer to jump over the president’s gate.”

“There is proper protocol and he need not go to that length if he wants to see inside Muleeage. He is welcome to see that there is no bar inside, as he has previously suggested.”


22 thoughts on “Released MPs continue protests while Vice President claims situation “is embarrassing””

  1. The DRP is a not a political party in my view. They only want power and bring the old dictatorship and fill their sin pockets working for the old dictator Gayoom and his family.

    DRP and it's leadership is now becoming like a terrorist organization trying to create terror in the city.

    These people are not mature enough to take any responsibly and are nothing short of hooligans, and their silly minds still think that they can bring a democratically elected government by creating propaganda and violence.

    If they want to bring the government down, they have to wait till the next presidential election.

    But even then, I 100% believe, the public will not vote in favor of DRP, because people are mature now and they know, voting for DRP is like voting for the destruction of all Maldivians and Islam.

  2. Interesting how Umar Naseer can actually talk about how he is against violence. I do not recollect ever hearing him apologize for his violent history. In Islam, Allah (swt) accepts and forgives those who repent, but we atleast need to know that he have repented since he is currently holding some political status. Admitting ones mistakes will be a good start without being scared of blamers as you should only be scared of Allah (swt).

    Yes anyone that is violent in any gathering should be arrested immediately by the police, no matter which party they are from. Safety is first priority and ofcourse police can use video evidence if any prosecution is necessary. As long as while in custody the ones that are arrested are treated properly, then there really is nothing to be concerned with. When Maumoon was in power, we were dragged through the streets while being beaten with batons and even while in prison, blind folded and handcuffed, we were stepped on, kicked around, tortures and threatened to not mess with the government of that time. So comparing the type of brutality the previous government ordered the police to carry out against dissent in the country, these days police under the new MDP government are much more peaceful when it comes to political activists - That is pretty much a fact.

    Currently the police only cares about safety of the majority and not any political party. So let them do their job and arrest anyone that breaks any laws, including trespassing on others properties or carrying any sort of weapon. They should again investigate all parties representatives to find any link between them and thugs.

  3. haha entertainment in maldives. and ppl gather to watch it. what a sad, pathetic place this has become to live in. with politicians like umaru naseer, ali waheed, mahuFool, this country will never prosper. we are seen "gunda"politicians we see in other 3rd world countries like sri lanka. Thuggery at its best. Such an embarrassment. Maumoon and them will be laughing at these puppets of them.

  4. Its a shame this is all happening again in Male'.But dont forget all this violence and pretest business is nothing new for Male'.It was originally started by DRP during maumoon era. Anni has forgotten the days how he has behaved just like the way umar naseer is behaving now. Its just that the media is giving a good guy coverage for MDP this time and bad guy coverage for DRP. But violence, protest and fighting is nothing new at all for Maldives. DRP started it, an dit is now continued by other parties. Maldives has become just like India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in this regard. Shame... Wish I could somehow escape from this land.

  5. Everyone talks about DRP-MDP. Has anyone questioned the role of PA in all of this?

  6. I thought we have a presidential system of government, Where is the president, when issues like this are happening and at the brink of national security collapse we are right now. Do we need to hear from the vice president or president right now?

  7. The reason for all these turmoil is clear-cut and government needs to do some bargaining over the AG allegation. AG has already been proven guilty of corruption acts in the investigation carried out by Anti-Corruption Commission. So why does MDP want to protect AG? The government could even resume investigation of the previous cases by making another appointment to AG.

  8. Are you kidding me!?

    Of course elections provide Accountable and Legitimate governments! It is legitimate by the act that the election was free, fair and meaningful. It is accountable by the fact that they can be VOTED out of office at the next election!

    What is not acceptable is that many people still do not respect the democratic process. They are trying to work outside of the rule of law, and go beyond what is acceptable.

    The current budget crisis is the fault of the previous administration and their policy of endlessly borrowing without any thought for the future. Without any plan for national development. And we are suffering as a result. Of course we're dependent on hand-outs! This is because we're a least developed country, even if we have lost our LDC status - that does not change that 40 percent of the country still lives below the poverty line.

    The wealth of our tourism industry skews the measures of wealth because of how ridiculously uneven the distribution is. We are a poor country with huge socio-economic problems.

    These demonstrations need to take a hiatus for the time being. For the good of the nation, as well as the Maldivian people.

  9. DRP should be ashamed to speak for democracy. The leader was crowned and failed to contend in an election. DRP lacks even basics of democracy.

    The law enforcement authorities should properly punish Umar Naseer and others for breaching the peace and climbing the fence of presidential palace. In democracies there are rules and people have to play by the rules. No body is above the law. Even Maumoon, Nasheed and Nasty Umar Naseer have to account for their acts.

  10. from what I see I think it is better to back to the old dictatorship regime. Democracy is not suitable for Maldives.

  11. I always support VP in the diplomatic way of dealing the situation rather than showing the iron fist of president NASHEED. This is not the picture we Maldivian wants to see. we don’t want a democracy that is practice among some of our neighbors, we should go by the teaching of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) way of life.

  12. “Political issues are not solved on the streets, they should be solved through discussions,”

    How can the VP be making such statements when the current president Nasheed was the one who taught the Maldivians to take to the streets!!!

    I remember him running around man possessed and screaming as like a spoiled brat. Go to youtube and check out the videos of how our president Nasheed as leader of a major political party solved issues by discussions!

    MDP taught us this madness. MDP has to take the responsibility of the current events taking place in Maldives.

    Bottom line is MDP has to get out. And this has to be done by using whatever means necessary!

  13. Hiyani: Back then, 1 word against government meant jail time.

    While I agree it did teach us some violent ways. I think we should be mature enough to do things more peacefully.

    And besides, why is DRP following MDP route? Don't they claim they are better than MDP.

  14. When we were campaigning against the previous administration it was a desperate fledgling democratic movement struggling against decades of tyranny and an oppressive machine that was built up of years.

    Street demonstrations was the last result after negotiations failed, after years of torture abuse and dereliction.

    Today, instead of even TRYING to talk - the first action any party/group does is to take to the streets! There is no effort at negotiation, there is no attempt at reaching peaceful resolutions.

    Before, we were banding together to remove an illegitimate and tyrannical government. Today the government is legitimate - it was voted for by the people. It is held accountable by the people. And if it does not do a good job, it will be ousted by the people in AN ELECTION.

    That is how democracy works! People need to understand the concept of democratic responsibility. Of cooperation. And of protecting the Rule of Law.

  15. @Hiyani: You claim that MDP taught you to run around screaming in the streets. The next breath you claim that MDP has to "get out". So it is obvious that you are no fan of MDP. If you do not like MDP then why are you emulating them? Just because somebody, especially somebody who you do not like, did something you do not have to follow suit.

    Arguments like those of Hiyani shows that logical thinking is something unfamiliar to most Maldivians. This is no surprise considering that logical thinking is not taught in the schools. Instead what is taught is logical fallacies like argumentum ad verecundiam (argument from authority).

    Those of us who are not in any political party (and I remind you that we are the majority) did not like it when MDP did it and we do not like when DRP does it either. What you need to understand is that to win an election you need to convince the majority to vote for you. Currently no party has the numbers to win an election solely on the support of own members. Neither MDP nor DRP is doing a very good job of convincing us. Why preach to the choir when their vote is secure? It is those not in the choir that you need to reach out to. But you can not reach out to us by making a nuisance of yourselves.

  16. @Ibrahim Yasir and Hiyani.

    Its a shame to compare president Nasheed with Umar Naseer. I did search U tube. I did not see any video of Nasheed jumping the gates of the President Gayoom's residence.

    In fact none of the videos show him instructing people to climb the gates of presidential palace.

    Of course he demonstrated but in style where he was calm and collected. Only the star force jumped at him and dragged him.

    I'm afraid Umar Naseer can never be Anni. Those days are gone. Everyone had their chance to challenge the dictatorship but no one but Anni and handful did. Others like Umar Naseer and Hirigaa Zahir did not lift a finger until they knew that the cause was clear. So no matter how much they jump around in the name of democracy, no one is going to believe that.

    Now anyone can say or do anything without the fear of being arrested or tortured. But when we really needed someone to stand up for Maumoon's dictatorship only Anni was there. He is my hero.

  17. Unconfirmed reports say that police officer Mohamed Nadheem (Adam Zahir's cousin) and dismissed police officer Abdulla Riyaz are at the helm of the unrest in Male during the past three days. Will Minivan News be able to give us some insight on this.

  18. @ Hiyani

    Try thinking a bit broadly for a change. President nasheed took to the streets bcos he dit not have any option. The whole country was ruled by one man and family and his cronies.

    However, its a total diffenrent picture now. You can have open dioluges with different institutions... all doors are open.

    Umar Naseer and his party of idiots acting like a bunch of crazy idiots is embarrassing us to no end.

  19. The Western democracy can never be applied to our societies. We differ in many ways. Our Culture are so different from theirs. It takes a very long time to bring the kind of democracy we actually except and this is the whole problem. Western democracy needs to be well blended to adopt to our society n culture. We simply thot democracy is freedom for everything. The best way is to have a dictatorship, but a good one. One must have national interest. Not personal interest or gain. Take some advance devoloping countries in S,Asia today.

  20. Dictatorship can never be allowed again. There is no such thing as a benevolent dictatorship.

    Democracy however is a universal value. Even in the Middle East, EVERY survey which has been done unanimously shows that democracy is the most preferred form of government.

    We must protect democratic development, and following Singapore's example in autocracy is not the answer. We cannot so easily forget the repression, torture, and aggression of the past.

    Do not think that we have a full democracy now. We have taken but the first step. We need to continue to strengthen democracy and civic participation, lest we regress back into autocracy.

  21. I have come to know that someone with whom I share this computer has been posting comments on this. This is a practical joke being played using my name. I request all comments under my name (Naimbe [email protected]) be removed from this. I am a blogger and I only write on my blog. Thank you.

  22. People in Question (Accusations of Nepotism):

    Ilyas - Immigration Controller - Appointed by Gasim (against GIP recommendations - because GIP wanted Ilyas in Parliament) but he has been doing an amazing job and has very high approval ratings from the public.

    Bigey - State Minister for Youth and Sports - Appointed by President Nasheed as an MDP appointment. Bigey is a prominent MDP actor and has been firmly dedicated to MDP since its inception. GIP had no say in his appointment. Bigey has proven himself to be a competent and capable manager.

    The ONLY appointment GIP is responsible for - who is related by marriage to the VP:

    Ali Rasheed - Deputy Minister of Economic Development - Former head of the Maldives Chamber of Commerce, received his Masters from Nottingham University. He is not only one of the most efficient bureaucrats in the government - he is well educated, well liked, and one of the best appointments this government has made.

    ** Unlike the previous administration, this government is clear and transparent. My family has been involved in the former-opposition since the late 1980s so it is only natural that they will have ties to the other former-opposition groups as well. Do not distort the facts or make unwarranted accusations. Rumor mongering, slander, and libel is not acceptable. (even if someone else is using your computer)

    This is of course my view:


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