The Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) has claimed the government will face “serious international pressures” if opposition People’s Alliance leader and Mulaku MP Abdulla Yameen is not released in the next seven days.
“The Qaumee Party has undertaken important efforts in the international arena towards this end,” reads a press statement the party issued today, adding that a delegation of DQP officials, including Dr Hassan Saeed and Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, were currently in the United Kingdom.
“If President Mohamed Nasheed’s government does not release the political party leaders arrested and kidnapped in violation of the laws and constitution in the next seven days, the Maldivian government will have to face serious international pressure.”
It adds that the government and President Nasheed would have to bear “full responsibility” for any possible international restrictions.
Yameen and Jumhoree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim were taken into police custody after the government accused them of bribery and treason in a ‘cash-for-votes’ scandal at parliament. Several tapped phone conversations to this effect were leaked to the press shortly afterwards.
After the High Court ruled the pair would be kept under house arrest for 15 days while the case was investigated, an appeal to the Supreme Court resulted to their release early last week, on grounds of insufficient evidence.
Yesterday police complained their investigation into the allegations of parliamentary corruption were being obstructed by the judiciary, after senior police investigating the case were suspended from appearing in court.
The DQP today claimed that President Nasheed’s detention of Yameen after his repeated calls for the release of Burmese opposition leader Aung Sun Suu Ki, showed a “lack of sincerity,” and urged the government to accept international offers of mediation.
“Confused and grieving”
Meanwhile Yameen, who is currently under the ‘protection’ of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) at the Presidential retreat ‘Aarah’, spoke to Minivan News today and said his family are “confused and grieving” at his detention.
Yameen said the MNDF were treating him “very well” at Aarah, and that he had no complaints about this, however he was unable to meet with anyone and was “stranded.”
‘’I was not brought here upon my request, [the MNDF] requested I go with them, in order to cool down the situation of Male’,’’ Yameen said. “I asked them to allow me the chance to go on my own, to any island I wished. MNDF officers tried to [accommodate this], but the political appointees in the MNDF security council denied my request. When I refused to go with them, the two officers who came to take me told me that their superiors had ordered them to take me by force if I refused to come along.’’
“I do not want that protection from them, and I have told them,’’ Yameen told Minivan News, proposing that his detention was one of the actions Nasheed had recently said would be “out of the chart.”
‘’My whole family is now consumed with confusion and grief; I have a small child who is attending a pre-school,’’ he said.
President Mohamed Nasheed said in his weekend radio address that isolated political appointees would remain isolated was a reference to him, Yameen claimed.
“When I knew the MNDF planned to bring me here, I requested they bring one of my lawyers with me, to make sure that the MNDF was taking me to Aarah,’’ he said, “but they denied my request.”
Yameen said he had asked the MNDF when he would be freed, but they had replied they “did not know what to say about that.”
‘’It is unlawful and illegal to keep someone isolated, in the name of providing security, against his will,’’ Yameen alleged. “This government is a dictatorship ruling arbitrarily using the power of the fist.’’
He called on the armed forces to work within by the law and to understand that they were accountable and responsible for their actions.
Meanwhile, the main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has commenced a series of protests demanding the release of the opposition leader and calling the government to conclude its “unlawful acts”.
DRP MP Ahmed Nihan claimed that the government was to be blamed for the recent unrest and violence in Male’.
”They caused it so they could arrest Yameen, they created the scene that Male’ was in chaos,” said Nihan.
”It was not the real Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) activists who were out on the streets that day, I can recognise their faces. They were boys that belong to different areas of Male’, even the police will know them.”
Nihan said DRP protests would be “a series of peaceful gatherings” in front of DRP’s head office.
”Yameen’s arrest violates the chapter on freedom in the constitution,” he added.
Press secretary for the president’s office, Mohamed Zuhair, said Yameen requested MNDF provide him security and that he was not allowed to go to any island he wished, because they felt they were best able to protect him at Aarah.
Acting outside the law
Independent MP Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed said on his blog that he interpreted Nasheed’s “acting outside of the chart” as meaning “acting outside of the constitution”.
MP Nasheed, who has acknowledged asking MP Gasim for “cash” but denies allegations of corruption and misconduct, said he believed he might “also be isolated in this manner.”
“Whether [isolation] is constitutional, or can be done with the existing laws, is another question,” he said.
As a consequence, Nasheed warns, the system put in place by the constitution and its authority is undermined and “the rights and powers guaranteed by the constitution come to an end.”
“[This was a] purposeful violation of the constitution by an act, definitely deliberate and forewarned, carried out in [a presidency] was given after swearing to rule in accordance with the constitution,” he writes.
The constitution was drafted in light of “years of experience where all the powers of the state were concentrated in the presidency”, he continues, and prioritises separation of powers, checks and balances and protection of fundamental rights over “the convenience of the president”.