The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) were using areca palm trees planted in Malé by the city council for black magic to curse President Abdulla Yameen with ill health, an anonymous senior government official has alleged.
“The palm trees were planted with black magic,” the unnamed official told newspaper Haveeru today, claiming that the sorcery or black magic was the reason for the main opposition party’s concern and preoccupation with the felling of the trees in the early hours of October 24.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed alleged that masked Specialist Operations (SO) police officers in plainclothes chopped down the palm trees with machetes.
Patrolling police officers from the Maafanu police station arrested two of the perpetrators, Nasheed told the press on Tuesday (October 28), claiming that the suspects were handed over to the SO on the orders of a senior official from the SO command.
The pair were taken to the police Iskandhar Koshi barracks on an SO vehicle, he claimed.
Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed held a press conference yesterday and denied police involvement in the incident, dismissing the opposition leader’s allegations as “baseless”.
Haveeru meanwhile claimed to have learned that the palm trees were cut down because senior government officials believed the MDP was using the trees to practice black magic.
The local daily claimed that senior members of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) believe that the trees were planted for use in black magic or sorcery, noting that several areca palm trees were uprooted during anti-government protests in January 2012.
The MDP-dominated city council planted the palm trees – donated by the Indian High Commission – in October 2011 as part of efforts to make the capital greener.
Haveeru also referred to rumours of President Yameen undergoing brain surgery in Singapore to remove a tumour following his most recent unofficial trip to the country.
President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz had dismissed the rumours as false and assured that the president and first lady were in good health, after MDP leader Nasheed had questioned Yameen’s absence from the country.
A close associate of President Yameen told the newspaper that the president did not seek treatment for a brain tumour.
Instead, the associate claimed, the president sought treatment for infections caught during his Hajj pilgrimage and had to be admitted at a Singapore hospital.
The anonymous government official said the president’s close associates believe that black magic or sorcery using the palm trees were responsible for the president’s ill health.
The associates advised President Yameen that the palm trees were the cause of his health problems, the senior official said.
“[They] believe that [President Yameen’s] health worsens with every palm frond that falls off the areca palm trees. And that his health would worsen further with every tree that blossoms,” the anonymous official was quoted as saying.
The official further claimed that the housing ministry had sent a letter to the home ministry requesting the trees be taken down.
“Those who [chopped down the trees] did it because the home ministry wouldn’t,” the president’s close associate told the local daily.
“This has to be done for the sake of national security as well. That is the palm trees can be taken down when the head of state’s life is in danger,” he was quoted as saying.
“President Yameen got relief when the palm trees were cut down. And the black magic is being exposed by the MDP’s actions, isn’t it? Less than 24 hours after the palm trees were cut down, [MDP MP Reeko] Moosa [Manik] announced he would contest in the [MDP’s presidential] primary.”
Police officers have also told Haveeru on condition of anonymity that former President Nasheed’s allegations were true.
“We were on duty that night. The police command said masked men were cutting down the trees,” a police officer claimed.
A second police source alleged that the two or three groups of officers from the SO SWAT who cut down the trees were wearing SO balaclavas or masks.
“The Maafanu police caught two groups. They caught one on Lily Magu and he fell when they struck him on the back,” the police source alleged.
Credible sources have corroborated the claims to Minivan News, revealing that the incident has caused a rift between the SO and capital police commands.
In May 2012, police raided the MDP’s Usfasgadu protest camp over “suspected black magic performed in the area.”
The search warrant obtained from the Criminal Court alleged that on May 25 “MDP protesters threw a cursed rooster at MNDF officers.”