Petrol bombs launched into MDP Haruge

Two petrol bombs landed inside ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Haruge (headquarters) around midnight last night, January 7. MDP activists allege that the culprits were paid recruits of opposition Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM).

Police were called to the scene where they spoke to activists then inside the headquarters. Police officials today said the incident was minor, involving a few “bottles with petrol”, and that there was no confrontation.

No arrests have been made, and there is no investigation.

MDP activist Mohamed Areef described the incident to Minivan News.

“Some activists were just sitting near the wall of the haaruge, talking and playing chess. Then one bomb landed from over the wall, and I ran. Next another bomb was thrown just inches from my head.”

Areef said one man had sustained burns to his ankle, but that the injury was minor.

Areef noted that opposition PPM had held a gathering on January 5, and he was “quite sure [the attack] was planned by PPM. The party probably paid some people to do it.”

According to Areef, MDP will not retaliate.

PPM Spokesperson Ahmed Mahlouf denied that the party had any involvement in the matter.

“We have no interest in taking MDP Haruge, and we definitely do not support violence as a way of addressing issues,” he said.

Mahlouf added that the party had not held discussions regarding MDP “for two, three days”, and had no reason to launch petrol bombs into the ruling party’s headquarters.

“We are shocked to hear the news, and to hear that the blame has been put on us,” he said.

The incident follows several weeks of political controversy over demands made during a religious protest on December 23, in which PPM members and leaders joined six other opposition parties and religious NGOs in a call for stronger Islamic policies at the government level.

In response to these demands, the government ordered that all resort spas be closed and announced it was considering a ban on pork and alcohol. The first resorts to experience these effects were those owned by Jumhooree Party Leader and MP Gasim Ibrahim, the owner of Villa Hotels. Gasim subsequently sued the government over the matter.

Meanwhile, PPM argued that the demands against the sale of alcohol did not refer to the 100-plus resorts currently operating in the Maldives. However, going along with the high-stakes game of chicken the party announced that it would support the government’s suggestion to ban pork and alcohol provided “it has the courage” to do so.

Last week, the government requested a “consultative opinion” from the Supreme Court over the legality of selling pork and alcohol in a nation whose constitution is based on Islamic Sharia. Twenty-four hours later the government announced it was lifting the ban on spa operations in order to protect business interests while the court deliberates the matter.

The Judicial branch of the Maldives has been widely labelled as a remnant of the former regime, which appointed all of the current judges. A majority of the judges have little or no legal training, and have not been educated beyond grade seven. This year, MDP activists requested international support over the “increasingly blatant collusion between politicians loyal to the former autocratic President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and senior members of the judiciary – most of whom were appointed by Gayoom during his thirty years of power.”

Speaking at a press conference last week, President Mohamed Nasheed credited the spa controversy for having “woke the nation from its slumber and sparked a healthy national debate about the future direction of the country”.


MDP activist sentenced for contempt of court

A well-known activist of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Hussein Ilham of Happy Side in Galolhu, and his brother Abdulla Irushad, have been sentenced for contempt of court by Judge Aisha Shujoon Mohamed.

Ilham was sentenced for three months while  his brother received one month under Article 88(a) of the Penal Code for disrespecting the court.

The judge said that Hussein Ilham and Abdulla Irushad disrespected the court during an ongoing case involving real estate, and that there were people who had entered the court without being presented.

The verdict does not mention whether they both interrupted or if they were presented to the court.

Chairperson for MDP Mariya Ahmed Didi did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.

Vice president of opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Umar Naseer said that he was not surprised to hear that an MDP activist was sentenced.

”I am surprised to hear that they have been free all this time,” Umar said.

He said the judicial system was a very independent system and claimed ”MDP is trying to hijack it.”

He also accused all MDP members of”drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana.”

Press Secretary for the President’s Office Mohamed Zuhair said he was sorry to hear the news, but said he did not believe that it would bring the party’s reputation into disrepute.

”The judiciary system needs to be reformed,” he said, ”it needs more qualified and disciplined judges.”