Police arrested 52 persons during last night’s protest who they claim are connected to various gangs in Male’.
A group of youths, led by opposition MPs, have commenced series of protest demanding the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed after the government decided to shift the fixed Rf12.85 dollar exchange rate within a 20 percent band.
Police said those arrested were known to be involved in crimes such as robberies, assault and battery and theft.
”We would like to note that gang members active on the front line of such protests at a time when the police are trying to curb the rise in gang related crimes could potentially obstruct the work of police,” said police in a statement. ”We advise people to conduct any activities that obstruct work by police to try make the society peaceful.”
”Some of the protesters who were covering their faces were reported to have sharp knives and such weapons with them,” police said, adding that some of the handmade explosives used in the demonstration could have potentially caused casualties.
Police also said that owners of shops near the intersection the protesters have called ”Tahrir Square” have repeatedly complained that the protest was causing damage to their businesses.
”Therefore, we would also like to remind protest organisers that the protest disturbs the residents of the area and causes damage to the business of shops located in the area,” said police.
Police appealed to politicians to cooperate with the work of the police to curb the rising crime rate in the Maldives.
The Police request for political cooperation comes after opposition MPs have said they would not pass the Crime Prevention Bill presented to the parliament which gives police the authority to search houses without a court warrant, suspend the right to remain silent all persons accused of crimes mentioned in the bill, and grants them the authority to hold persons in detention for 90 hours without a court warrant.
The bill has a ‘sunset clause’ making it active for 18 months, however the international community has expressed concern that the bill contradicts rights guaranteed in the constitution.
Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed told the press that he did not trust the police to provide them so much power, alleging that that police were violent and brutal in dispersing Saturday night’s protest, and that police would misuse those powers to arrest politicians.
No force was used during last night’s protest, police said, however a number of officers were injured by rocks, paving stones and other thrown objects.