Police request statement from Nasheed as MDP petitions for elections

The Maldives Police Service today requested former president Mohamed Nasheed give police a statement regarding an ongoing investigation, police media official Ahmed Shiyam has confirmed.

“The Maldives police service has requested former president Mohamed Nasheed to give a statement regarding an ongoing investigation. We have told him that we would go to any place which Nasheed wishes at a time convenient to him.”

Shiyam denied the allegation made by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) parliamentary group leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on local media that the police had requested Nasheed to be summoned. “The allegation made by the MDP is not true. We didn’t request Nasheed be summoned to the police station. That is a lie,” he said.

Lawyer and former MDP chairperson MP Mariya Ahmed Didi was also quoted in the local media as stating that Nasheed does not have to give a statement to the police. “There is no statement that President Nasheed has to give to the police,” she said. “Even what we have to say publicly- if they [the police] claim that, and want to prosecute, then they should do so. There are no courts that we recognise.”

Didi further stated that police had requested the statement from Nasheed and his secretary via SMS.

MDP member Omar Razak, Chairman of Works Corporation Limited, said Nasheed had refused to go to the station but had also refused to allow the police to meet him at his house, saying “‘my house is not a police station.'”

It is unclear whether the police will pursue the statement.

The police had earlier been issued an order to arrest Nasheed by the Criminal Court’s Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed, was was detained in January on government orders.

After saying he wished to investigate the warrant’s legality, newly appointed Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz decided against the arrest. He told local media his decision was based on concerns that the arrest would carry negative consequence for the public.

Meanwhile, MDP members gathered today to open the party camp (Haruge), which was trashed by police and opposition members on February 7 and has been closed since that time.

Opening the lock to cheers of “Long live Nasheed!”, Nasheed led the crowd into Haruge, stood up on a riser to wave the MDP flag, and then announced a party walk around Male’.

Last Wednesday party supporters were attacked by police near the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA), a common protest area, during what was also intended as a peaceful walk around Male’. Today’s walk only circled the island’s southern half, avoiding the MMA and attracting no security forces to the sidelines.

As thousands joined in and filled central Majeedhee Magu, people chanted a call raised during a previous protest mocking police as corrupt servants of the opposition leaders, waiving dollars and rufiya as they passed police buildings. Previously, the crowd gathered outside Haruge had verbally hassled two police officers driving by on their motorbikes, calling “Lari Lari! Yes sir!”

A lari is the smallest unit of the Maldivian currency – there are 100 in a rufiya (one US dollar is 15.42 rufiya).

The crowd also called for Dr Waheed to step down. One participant compared the setting to 2008, when Nasheed won the presidential elections against ruler of 30 years Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

“Then, they were throwing eggs at Gayoom’s car. People would come out and eat in the streets, like a celebration. Now, this is a march for the ex-president,” he said.

Following the walk, Nasheed signed a petition which was circulated at last evening’s rally and has been signed by several thousand individuals, party members claim. Identifying the power transfer as “actions against Maldivian law”, the petition declares the current government illegal and requests “a lawful government to save the Maldives from destruction and bring it safely ashore.”

Addressed to Parliament Speaker Abdulla Shahid, the petition requests the speaker and all members to:

1) Punish those fews individual who led the coup and formed the current government on February 7, 2012;

2) Launch a proper investigation into the coup, put those responsible for the coup before a proper justice system, and to properly punish those guilty of involvement in the coup;

3) Exercise the power invested in the Speaker and Parliament to hold elections as soon as possible.

The petition will be submitted to Parliament in the coming week.


MDP activists confront Finance Minister after covert harbor meeting

Ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) activists demanded Finance Minister Ahmed Inaz’s resignation last night after he was found holding a covert meeting with Mulaku MP Abdulla Yamin of opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

The Minister, who has not resigned from his post, and MP Yamin had not responded to inquiries at time of press.

Minivan staff who witnessed the event said one activist lay down in front of Yamin’s car while another “dragged” Inaz from the vehicle and took him to MDP headquarters at Haruge.

Activists interviewed today claimed that Inaz was not forcefully taken from the vehicle.

Activists alleged that the two politicians had held a secret meeting, possibly involving a bribe. Inside Haruge, Inaz was pressured to send an SMS message to President Mohamed Nasheed, currently in Sri Lanka, conveying his resignation.

Inaz left Haruge after police arrived to address the agitated crowds.

Police received information of the disturbance after midnight, but finding no signs of violence upon arrival did not take action.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam reported that no case had been filed from either side of the dispute.

“Even today, we have received no complaint from Inaz or from the MDP and have found no reason to investigate the matter,” he said.

MDP senior activist Ibrahim ‘Dhonbeli’ Haleem said he discovered Inaz and Yamin holding a discussion “for two hours” near Male’s South Harbor, “a dark area poorly lit that is only really frequented by boys and girls, not for official business.”

“I told Inaz it was wrong, that Yamin is an enemy and why is he going to this area to hold a business meeting. If he needs to discuss business he should do it in his office.

“Inaz admitted it was wrong, and the MDP activists were yelling and shouting so I took him on my bike to Haruge (MDP headquarters),” said Dhonbeli.

He said Inaz appeared scared, and following his appearance at Haruge Dhonbeli “took him safely home.”

Dhonbeli believed Yamin was attempting to bribe the Finance Minister on behalf of the “money holder” opposition party.

Yamin is the half-brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. He had not responded to phone calls at time of press.

Male’ City Councilor Lufshan Shakeed said he was among those who stood in front of Yamin’s car when he attempted to drive away. He explained that MDP activists were “ok if they meet in a cafe or on the roadside, but we don’t like these hidden discussions.”

Asked whether he expected the Minister would resign following last night’s encounter, Shakeed said “it’s up to him. The MDP activists and grassroots people are not very happy right now.”

PPM officials had not responded to phone calls at time of press.