Two officers each from the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and Maldives Police Service joined the ongoing Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) demonstration last night after resigning in protest of the security forces’ role in the change of government on February 7.
The four ex-officers – Staff Sergeant Shafraz Naeem and Fire and Rescue Lance Corporal Mohamed Imram from MNDF, along with Staff Sergeants Imran Abdulla and Mohamed Niyaz from the police – were introduced to the cheering crowd shortly after midnight by former Housing Minister Mohamed Aslam as “honourable and patriotic sons of the Maldives.”
The four officers were “not alone” in their decision, said Aslam, insisting that a number of officers in the police and army were “of independent thought.”
Speaking after Aslam, former Defence Minister Ameen Faisal urged protesters to stop harassing and taunting security personnel with chants of’ “Money, money, yes sir!” as “only a few officers” participated in the police mutiny demanding President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation in the early hours of February 7.
President Nasheed and members of his cabinet took to the stage to shake the ex-officers’ hands while the crowd saluted them.
The army has since issued a statement contending the two officers had not resigned and were absent without leave (AWOL). According to MNDF, the pair also had a history of disciplinary problems and administrative action had been taken against them.
Meanwhile the MDP’s mass protest demanding a date for an early presidential election entered its third consecutive day today, with more boatloads of supporters continuing to arrive in Male’.
Protesters from Thaa Madifushi swam ashore after 4:00pm today claiming they were not allowed to dock at the harbour while a large vessel from Haa Dhaal Kulhudufushi arrived this morning.
Addressing the gathering after midnight on the first day, President Nasheed urged supporters to “not do anything apart from expressing merriment.”
A number of protesters spent the night at the tsunami memorial area while the protest resumed the next day with a carnival atmosphere. Volunteers cooked rice with sausages while a children’s evening was arranged in the late afternoon.
On the second night, bodu beru (traditional Maldivian music) groups and local musicians entertained the crowd with improvised songs taunting the police. Among the performers were Sameeu, Fasy, Shiuz and musicians associated with the Dinba family.
Police have meanwhile told local media that the institution would not attempt to obstruct the gathering as long as it remained peaceful.
Speaking for a few minutes after 5pm today, President Nasheed said what was at stake was the freedom of future generations.
“One of the main reasons we can’t stay home indifferent is because we are very much assured in our hearts that there would be nothing more important for us to do than this after giving up our future,” he said.