United States’ Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake has encouraged the coalition of “former opposition” political parties affiliated with the new government to “work with all parties to reform and improve the capacity of the judiciary, the police and the election commission to ensure the election can be held in an orderly and peaceful manner.”
Meeting the press this afternoon in the National Art Gallery, Blake said that “a number of good ideas” were being explored to “try and bring former President Mohamed Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) into the national unity government.”
Blake’s suggestion follows that of new President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, who said on Saturday morning that he hoped some cabinet posts would be taken by the MDP: “I hope MDP will be part of my cabinet, and I will keep posts vacant for them.”
Nasheed’s supporters have criticised the legitimacy of Dr Waheed’s government and have refused to participate in his proposed ‘national unity’ government.
Challenged by a foreign journalist as to the legality of the transition, Blake said that US commitment was to the new government of the Maldives.
““The United states remains committed to working with all Maldivian people to ensure democratic and prosperous future for this important friend of the United States,” Blake said.
However he added said that there were “some questions regarding the transfer of power” and suggested that some sort of independent Maldivian commission be formed to investigate the issue, before arriving at conclusions.
As per the constitution, the Vice President is next in line for the presidency and the speaker of the parliament “has already said that the transfer of the power was constitutional.”
“Some people say it was a coup, some people say it was a peaceful and constitutional transfer of. power. That not for the US to decide, that is for Maldivians,” Blake said.
He did express concern over the “anti-semetic commentary” and strongly condemned it, and also praised Nasheed’s government “for working to improve [the country’s] relationship with Israel and show themselves as a modern and progressive government.”
Nasheed and his party supporters gathered in their thousands at the Artificial Beach in Male’, where they were shown a chronology of videos leading up the change of government. Crowd control police or military were nowhere to be seen, and the crowd eventually dispersed peacefully.
The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) yesterday held a mass protest against corruption and to bring justice to the country.
The protest started yesterday afternoon at 4:00pm near the social centre on the western side of the capital. More than 7000 people participated, holding banners expressing their views, wearing yellow T-shirts and waving yellow flags in the party’s colour.
Some wore T-shirts with the phrase ”I need some cash”, in reference to leaked audio tapes of Independent MP Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed requesting money from Jumhoree Party (JP) MP Gasim Ibrahim. A ‘donations’ box satirising the MP for Kulhudhuffushi was also spotted.
MDP Chairperson Maryia Didi and parliamentary group leader ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik walked with protesters through the streets of Male’ calling to for the constitution to be upheld and corruption eliminated, and demanded the arrest of Gasim and People’s Alliance party leader MP Abdulla Yameen.
The protesters came to a halt near the tsunami monument where Moosa Manik and Mariya Didi addressed the crowd.
”We will not quit until we hit the end of this,” said Mariya. ”Even if [the culprit] is a judge, an MP or a rich merchant, we will not hesitate or step back. We will do anything we should [to stop corruption].”
Moosa Manik meanwhile warned that government might as well open a “court of people” if the judiciary failed to take action against people who involved in corruption and bribery.
”We might have to open a court of the people and summon the people faced with allegations of corruption,” he said. “If we have to do this, we will not stop before delivering a verdict on them,” said Moosa. ”I am very clearly saying that the Supreme Court ruling to release Yameen and Gasim was unconstitutional.”
After Moosa’s speech the crowed dispersed, after being invited to attend MDP’s rally at the artificial beach later that evening.
MDP rally turns riot
President Mohamed Nasheed and MP Moosa Manik addressed the gathered MDP supporters at the rally that evening. Rough estimates put the crowd numbers at 10,000.
”Anyone can buy votes in parliament by giving one million rufiya in advance, and then later two million, total three million. I also can buy roze that way,” said Nasheed, alluding to the mysterious person ‘Rose’ hinted at in the leaked tapes.
”But I will never buy votes, even if it was the last thing I had to do,” Nasheed claimed.
The President said that if parliament’s decisions were dependent on money, the laws of the land would end up in such a way as to only benefit the rich people of the nation.
President Nasheed said he would not hesitate to “step outside of the chart” to preserve democratic governance in the Maldives.
“Believe this, I will not keep from action for my own protection. I will not stay in hiding to maintain my rule. I say repeatedly I will face danger. I will not back down in the face of any harm that might befall me. My life has given me a number of experiences. I will make use of it in the right way,” he said.
Later security official whispered in Nasheed, and the President was escorted away.
Moosa Manik, in his speech to the gathering, ordered the president to take necessary actions against those who have involved themselves in corruption.
”In the constitution, it very clearly it states that the cabinet requires parliament’s consent,” he said. ”Parliament’s consent does not that MP’s should take a votes over the cabinet.”
During Moosa’s speech, a group of people passing by stopped and attacked MDP supporter. A group of around 50 MDP supporters ran towards the group, but were able to escape.
MDP activists gather near Yameen’s house
Following the attack, a group of MDP supporters headed toward Yameen’s house. The crowd ran across the main road Majeedee Magu and tried to forcibly enter the MP’s house.
As the crowd arrived at the businessman’s residence, a police squad was deploying in front of it to protect him. The crowed tried to enter Yameen’s house but police raised their batons and threatened the protesters, causing them to become angry.
Members in the crowd warned the police not to hit anybody with their weapons, and angrily demanded police make way for them to enter Yameen’s house.
When police refused, the crowd threw stones and water bottles at Yameen’s house. After a while, a second group of people positioned on nearby buildings began showering police and the MDP activists with pavement blocks, injuring many.
MDP activists spread out
After the rally came to a halt, MDP activists divided into groups and gathered at different points across the city. One group gathered near the house of PA deputy leader and MP Ahmed Nazim, who was recently charged for attempted assault on political figures, threatening independent commissions and corruption.
Another group gathered near Gasim’s house, a second near the Speaker of the Parliament’s house and opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Abdulla Shahid, a third near the home of Chief Judge of the High Court Abdul Gany a fourth group near the the home of the Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed, who recently denied police an arrest warrant for Yameen and Gasim.
MDP supporters also hoisted MDP’s flag in the DRP head office located near artificial beach, and threw stones at the windows.
MNDF and Police control the riot
After police were unable to control the more violent MDP activists, the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) was deployed in riot gear, with shields and long batons.
Meanwhile, groups of MDP activists came into conflict with people supporting the opposition leaders, exchanging barrages of thrown bottles, pavement blocks and stones.
In one heated encounter police ordered journalists to leave the area and Minivan News was unable to determine exactly what happened afterwards. Some reports claimed that MNDF and police beat the gathered protesters with their batons.
Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said that nine police officers were injured in the night’s violence, with one in a serious condition. Six civilians were also injured during the riot, he said.
Police used pepper spray near Yameen’s house and tear gas numerous times in different areas in an effort to disperse the crowed.
Some people living in the areas police sprayed by tear gas and pepper spray have complained to the police, claiming their children suffered breathing difficulties due to the use of the toxic chemicals.
A short statement from the MNDF reveals that the national security council decided after an “emergency meeting” last night to offer protection for MPs.
“The Honourable MP for Mulaku Abdullah Yamin Abdul Gayoom is now under MNDF protection,” it read. Minivan News understands that Yameen is being held at the Presidential Retreat on Aarah.
At a press conference this afternoon, DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali laid the blame for last night’s unrest squarely on the shoulders of the government and supporters of the ruling MDP.
“We believe that this was created by supporters of the government,” he said, adding that senior officials had appeared on state media in the past week in a bid to “create unrest.”
The majority leader of parliament expressed concern that the situation has reached “the point where the army is arresting people.”
He added that citizens were in “a state of terror” as there was no rule of law in the country, warning that further escalations could lead to open conflict.
Following last night’s events, said Thasmeen, the opposition members no longer believed in the country’s safety and security.
“Things are now reaching the point where we have to mobilise our supporters for protection and security,” he said. “None of us want unrest. But if we do not believe that the rule of law exists in the country, if everyone does not get the safety and security they deserve, we have to do it even if it means mobilising our supporters.”
The MP for Kendhoo said the DRP was considering taking measures in parliament in response to the actions of the security forces, which he called “unlawful.”
A 16 year-old boy was stabbed by a group of four men last Thursday night.
The men came on motorbikes when the victim was near Fen building on Ameenee Magu, a person familiar with the victim told Minivan News.
”There were some friends of the boy nearby,” he said, ”but before they could help him, the attackers fled.”
He said the victim was stabbed once in the back and that he was not seriously injured.
”The attack on the boy was not because he was looking for a fight. It was a random attack,” he said. ”When they see anyone of us alone, they will come and stab that person. It doesn’t matter even if he is a friend.”
He said that the gangs have been fighting with each other for a long time, and sometimes stop for a while, but the battle is never really over.
The victim was admitted to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) for treatment.
One suspect has been arrested, says police sergeant Abdul Muhsin.