The first rally of the newly formed “Maldivians against brutality” alliance of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and former rival Adhaalath Party (AP) is due to take place tonight.
At a press conference of the opposition alliance this afternoon, AP President Sheikh Imran Abdulla stressed the importance of a united and strong alliance to counter the “brutality” of President Abdulla Yameen’s administration.
“The goal of this alliance is to bring an end to the government’s brutality. That does not mean overthrowing the government,” Imran said.
The MDP’s national council adopted a resolution this week to work together with the AP after Imran called for the formation of a “national unity alliance” against the government.
MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed said today that the opposition alliance would form a steering committee to organise its activities and invited the public to attend the rally at the carnival area at 9:00pm.
“We need to put our clashing opinions aside and work together for national interest,” Waheed said.
Jumhooree Party (JP) Deputy Leaders Ameen Ibrahim and Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan meanwhile told the press that they were working with the movement in their “personal capacity” as the JP’s council has not officially joined the movement.
Ameen said the party decided against formally joining the alliance as the public might perceive that the party was working to protect its leader’s business interests. Last month, JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa Group was ordered to pay the state US$100 million allegedly owed as unpaid rent and fines in 30 days.
Imran contended that the two people suffering the most under Yameen’s government was ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leader, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, along with Gasim, listing former President Mohamed Nasheed as the third.
He further claimed that the target of an amendment proposed by a pro-government MP for discontinuing state benefits for convicted ex-presidents was Gayoom.
Former President Nasheed was found guilty of terrorism and sentenced to 13 years in prison last Friday (March 13).
Imran also alleged that a PPM member offered him a bribe today to scuttle the opposition alliance and claimed he could have accepted US$10 million in bribes from Indian infrastructure giant GMR to cease protests calling for the termination of the airport development deal in late 2012.
“I would like to tell all of Maldives that I would not sell my principles for money,” he said.
He further alleged that the AP chose to back Gasim in the presidential election despite the PPM offering large amounts of money in exchange for the religious conservative party’s endorsement.
Imran said the decision to form an alliance with the MDP has led to differences of opinion within the party, stating that the AP was the “most democratic” party in the country.
Imran played a pivotal role in the downfall of the Nasheed administration in February 2012, spearheading anti-government demonstrations against the MDP government’s allegedly anti-Islamic policies in 2011 and the military’s detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.
After backing Gasim in the 2013 presidential election, the AP later endorsed PPM candidate Abdulla Yameen against Nasheed in the second round run-off.
A “career” of toppling governments
Asked at a press conference yesterday whether the government was facing domestic and international pressure due to the opposition alliance’s activities, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb insisted that the government was stable with a strong parliamentary majority.
“We are not surprised. It’s always the same people. Whenever a new government comes, they will be with the government. But before too long, they would say ‘[the government] did this or that’ and [should be] toppled,” he said in an apparent reference to the AP.
“Their whole career is bringing a government and overthrowing the government. This has become the same career for them.”
The PPM deputy leader contended that the opposition was unable to back up its allegation of the government violating the constitution and has now ceased that line of attack.
Those who protested against Nasheed “for the sake of Islam and the nation” were currently working with a party they alleged had “sold off the nation,” he said.
The current administration has neither sold off state assets nor carried out any anti-Islamic activities, Adeeb said, adding, however, that some religious scholars considered music shows a serious “wrongdoing”.
If the religious scholars believed in Islamic principles “with such harshness”, Adeeb argued that earning money from the sale of alcohol and pork should be forbidden.
“But it was these religious people who took the hands of such a person and ran with him twice to make him president. I don’t want to name names,” he said.
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