Police negligent in investigating Rilwan’s disappearance, says Maldivian Democracy Network

Human Rights NGO Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) has accused the Maldives Police Services of negligence in investigating the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan.

In a statement issued today, MDN condemned the police’s failure to inform the public of progress in investigations and failure to confirm whether an abduction reported on the night Rilwan went missing is connected to his disappearance.

“It has been 77 days since journalist Ahmed Rilwan Abdulla was abducted. The Maldivian Democracy Network believes the Maldives Police Services has been negligent in conducting a timely investigation aimed at finding Rilwan and saving his life,” the NGO said.

Rilwan was last sighted at 12:55am on August 8 at the Hulhumalé ferry terminal in Malé. Eyewitnesses have since said they saw a man being forced into a car at knifepoint infront of Rilwan’s apartment building around the time he would have reached home.

The abduction was reported to the police and a forensics team confiscated a knife that was dropped on the ground.

Rilwan has not been seen or heard from since.

MDN also slammed Home Minister Umar Naseer and Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed for suggesting the NGO’s investigative report implicating radicalised gangs in Rilwan’s disappearance was responsible for police’s failure to finding Rilwan.

“Each day and every moment that passes without knowledge of Rilwan’s whereabouts could endanger his life further and deteriorate public’s trust in the police to ensure public safety,” said the NGO.

Inconsistency and negligence

MDN urged the police to clarify the connection between the reported abduction and Rilwan’s disappearance, stating “This organisation believes the Maldives Police Services is obligated to share the progress of investigations into criminal activity that have led to public outcry.”

Police statements on August 28 and September 4, and the police’s announcement that it was collecting forensic samples from three cars suggested they believed the abduction may be connected to Rilwan’s disappearance, MDN noted.

However, on September 16, the police said it had no concrete evidence to suggest the two incidents were related.

Police have yet to offer an explanation of this statement, and have not revealed who was forced into the car, MDN said. Moreover, the police have failed to reveal whether they are investigating the abduction as an unrelated and separate case.

Despite public outcry over the case and repeated requests for information on the investigation, the police have not shared any details with Rilwan’s family or the public, the statement noted.


The investigation – conducted by Glasgow based Athena Intelligence and Security – discounted theories of voluntary disappearance and suicide, and confirmed “hostile surveillance” of Rilwan at the ferry terminal by members of Malé based Kuda Henveiru gang.

Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed has accused the media and MDN for “obstructing” police investigations, claiming they had revealed leads.

Meanwhile, Naseer said the report had forced the police to change investigation technique and speed up the arrest of four individuals, leading to their early release.

“It has an extreme negative effect on an investigation when people who are not aware of the details of an investigation release reports and offer speculations based purely on hearsay with the intent of gaining some political advantage,” he said.

MDN today hit back at Waheed and Naseer’s claims stating, “instead of investigating allegations against [gang members] named in the report and clearing their names, the police attacked the report and attempted to cover up the criminal offenses outlined in the report.”

The media has previously publicised the names and photos of gang members identified in the report in relation to other criminal activity, the statement noted.

However, the police expressed no concern and “shamefully defended the gang members in the name of protecting human rights,” it said.

MDN also condemned the government’s claim that the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party was behind the report, stating “we condemn efforts to politicize this organisation’s work.”

The statement urged the police to refrain from “such undignified actions.”

Naseer has for the first time acknowledged gang involvement in Rilwan’s disappearance, on October 19 stating: “We already knew that there is a gang connection to Rilwan’s case. However, in a modern investigation, one doesn’t immediately arrest suspects. We leave them free and follow them and gather information.”

One man named in the report, Ahmed Muaz vandalised Minivan News’ security camera on September 25 shortly before two others buried a machete in the building’s door.

A Minivan News journalist received death threats shortly thereafter, which read, “You will be killed or disappeared next. Watch out.”

While police arrested a 32-year-old suspect Thursday night on charges of stealing the security camera – clearly identifiable on the CCTV footage – the Criminal Court released the suspect with conditions the following day.


PPM “obstructing” elections: MDP

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has alleged that the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) had stopped signing voter lists for the January 18 local council elections to “obstruct” the vote.

The PPM claims the party was not given sufficient time to crosscheck 16 voter lists. According to the Elections Commission (EC), 295 independent candidates had also declined to sign lists, claiming they did not have the funds to travel to and stay in Malé for the approval of the register.

Condemning the ruling party’s decision, MDP in a statement today said it believed PPM’s “sudden decision to stop signing voters lists on baseless allegations is part of the party’s continued agenda to obstruct free and fair elections.”

Candidate signatures on voter lists were stipulated by the Supreme Court in its 16 electoral guidelines issued following the annulment of the first round of presidential polls held on September 7, 2013. The EC has described the guidelines as restrictions.

The police stopped a re-vote on October 19, 2013 at the eleventh hour after the PPM and the Jumhooree Party refused to sign voter lists.

The EC has long argued candidates are not required to crosscheck lists, but the Supreme Court had required candidate signatures to ensure the lists present at the polling booths are prepared by the commission.

The Supreme Court’s guidelines effectively give veto over elections to candidates and “undermines the power of the institution and contaminates the electoral process,” the MDP said.

According to the MDP, the Commonwealth – in an unpublished report – has criticised the Supreme Court’s issuance of 16 guidelines as beyond the court’s mandate, arguing that only the People’s Majlis has the legal power to compile such a guideline.

“We do not believe a free and fair election can be held as long as the Supreme Court continues to influence the Elections Commission,” the statement said

The MDP has called on political parties to allow the EC to work independently, and to allow citizens to exercise their vote in a free and fair election without bribery and undue influence.

The Maldives Police Services has previously told local media it will seek legal advice on how to proceed should candidates refuse to sign the lists.

However, speaking to Minivan News today, a police media official said the police will seek advice once the EC reaches a decision. EC President Fuwad Thowfeek said the EC is currently discussing the issue.

Fuwad has suggested the EC may hold elections in all the constituencies where lists have been signed.

Speaking to Minivan News on Sunday, Fuwad condemned the PPM’s decision suggesting that the party does not have “good intentions.”

PPM’s coalition partners – the JP, the Adhaalath Party, the Maldives Democratic Alliance (MDA) – and the MDP have completed signing all lists.

“If elections are delayed, it will increase expenditure and present a number of issues. We will not be able to hold elections within the constitutionally mandated deadline,” Fuwad said.

The EC has asked the Attorney General for advice on following Supreme Court guidelines, but has not received an answer yet, said Thowfeek.


Maldives’ Elections Commission calls on “all friends of democracy” for help conducting presidential poll as scheduled

The re-registration process for the presidential election first round – scheduled for November 9 – ends today at 10pm tonight (October 25).

Newly eligible voters and those who will be voting in a location other than their home island can collect forms from the Elections Commission Secretariat in Male’, from Island Council offices and online.

After re-registration is completed, the EC will receive rejected re-registration forms tomorrow (October 26). On the same day, the names of elections day officials will be sent to candidates for vetting as outlined in the SC guidelines.

“The Elections Commission of Maldives calls upon all friends of democracy to help us deliver a free, fair, transparent and inclusive presidential election as scheduled on 9 November 2013”, said a commission statement yesterday.

“So far over seventy million Maldivian Rufiyaa [US$ 4,566,240] has been spent on the unsuccessful attempts to hold the Presidential Election in the Maldives,” the Elections Commission (EC) stated in a press release issued Wednesday (October 23).

State-funded programs had to be halted in order to hold the October 19 re-vote, Minister of Finance and Treasury Abdulla Jihad has said previously.

This is the fourth time in two months the EC is preparing to hold a poll for the Maldives’ presidential election.

The September 7 first round poll received a unanimous positive assessment by more than a thousand local and international election observers, before Jumhooree Party (JP)’s leader, Gasim Ibrahim, who placed third in the poll refused to accept the results.

After agreeing to hear Gasim’s complaints, the Supreme Court then issued an injunction on September 23 to indefinitely delay the presidential election’s second round, before the police physically halted the EC’s ongoing preparations for the September 28 run-off.

The Supreme Court ultimately ruled to annul the first round – citing a secret police report which alleged electoral fraud, but was never presented to the EC’s lawyers – and delineated 16 guidelines to hold a revote by October 20.

With just 11 days to prepare for the next round of the presidential election – a process that usually requires a minimum of 45 days –  the Supreme Court issued subsequent rulings dictating managerial and administrative tasks the EC must undertake while preparing for the repeat first round.

The apex court’s guidelines also mandated police play a substantive role in handling the logistics and security of the election and ballot papers, as well as demanded that all parties sign the voter lists, effectively giving presidential candidates veto power.

The day before the scheduled October 19 election, candidates Abdulla Yameen and Gasim had still not signed the voter lists and were not responding to phone calls from the EC or officials sent to their homes. The pair subsequently demanded extensive fingerprint verification of the new voters’ registry – another stipulation of the Supreme Court midnight rulings.

The same evening both candidates sought a Supreme Court ruling demanding that the election be delayed.

Receiving only a brief instruction from the court to follow its guidelines, the EC prioritised the guideline requiring an election before Oct 20 and proceeded with the vote.

However, an hour before polls were due to open on October 19 police obstructed EC staff attempting to leave the commission’s office with ballot documents and equipment – later stating that police had decided not to provide cooperation to the EC as it had not followed the 16-point guidelines imposed by the court.

The Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) has since concluded that police illegally blocked the EC from conducting the re-vote of the presidential election on October 19 in contravention of the constitution, the Police Act, and the Elections Act.

Following the rescheduling of the election for November 9 – just two days before the end of the presidential term – Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek labelled the Supreme Court’s guidelines “restrictions” and expressed concern that they effectively allowed political parties to stop elections from happening.

The Elections Commission’s statement issued Thursday (October 24) recounts the presidential elections saga that has taken place over the last two months:

As mandated by the Constitution and Electoral Laws of the country, Elections Commission of the Maldives (ECM) held the first round of the presidential election 2013 on 7th September 2013. The conduction of the election was smooth and orderly without any serious cause for concern. National and international observers praised the election as free, fair, transparent and inclusive. In fact many international observers described the conduction of the election as one of the most peaceful and best they have observed. ECM was hailed for the way they have carried out such a smooth and peaceful election. One of the non-governmental organisations (NGO)’s stated that compilation of the voters’ list was excellent with a probable error rate lower than one percent. However one of the competing parties (Jumhooree Party) filed a case at the Supreme Court of Maldives to invalidate the election mostly arguing on the accuracy of the voters’ list. The Supreme Court after 22 days of deliberation found that the ECM had over five thousand (5000) fraudulent names on the voters’ list and annulled the result of the election. Since no candidate had achieved over 50 percent of the voters in the first round, ECM was on the verge of conducting the second round of the presidential election on 28th September 2013 when the Supreme Court ordered to annul the first round of the election. And as a consequence of annulment of the first round, the runoff was cancelled.

The main reason for the annulment of the election was based on discrepancies in the name or addresses of the voters. Nine hundred and fifty two (952) votes were invalidated due to slight differences in the name of the voters (some examples of discrepancies included Mariyam Sheran Mohamed Waheed Deen in the voters’ list as opposed to Mariyam Sheran Waheed Deen in the National Register and Ali Rila in the voters’ list was spelled as Ali Riza in the National Register etc.). Two thousand eight hundred and thirty (2830) votes were invalidated because the address in the voters’ list differed from their permanent addresses in the National Register even though their National Identity Card number and date of birth were the same and their National ID photo matched with the person who voted.

The Supreme Court ordered re-polling under a 16 point guideline set out by the Supreme Court and ordered that first round of the presidential election to be held before 20th October 2013 and should a runoff be required, to hold the second round before 3rd November 2013. One of the most contentious clauses in the guideline was clause number five which gives veto power to candidates to reject the voters’ list.

The first round of the presidential election was set to take place on 19th October 2013. After the lists were finalized candidates were given time to sign the final voters’ list. Mr Gasim Ibrahim (Jumhooree Party) and Mr Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom (Progressive Party of Maldives) refused to sign the voters’ list. The reason for refusal being that they were unable to verify the voters’ list. Mr Mohamed Nasheed (Maldivian Democratic Party) signed the voters’ list. Even though two candidates refused to sign the list, ECM was preparing to go ahead with the election as scheduled. However due to police action in the early hours of 19th October 2013 (polling day) ECM was prevented from conducting the election. The police refused to provide security to the ballot paper and also prevented election related materials being taken out of the ECM office making it impossible to hold the election.

ECM has now again rescheduled the first round of election to take place on 9th November 2013 and to hold the second round (if required) on 16th November 2013. ECM has requested assurances from President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik that this time, election should not be disrupted by security services and to facilitate the smooth conduction of the election.

So far over seventy million Maldivian Rufiyaa has been spent on the unsuccessful attempts to hold the presidential election in the Maldives. Elections Commission of Maldives calls upon all friends of democracy to help us deliver a free, fair, transparent and inclusive presidential election as scheduled on 9th November 2013. The runoff (if required) is scheduled to take place on 16th November 2013.


President delivers address to parliament after six hours of heckling

Additional reporting by Mohamed Naahee.

President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik has delivered his opening address to a boisterous parliament amid protests inside and outside the parliament chamber.

Waheed, who was due to deliver the address at 10:00am this morning, finally finished it at 4:00pm on the fourth attempt after repeated obstruction by opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs.  Representatives from the party waved pieces of paper at him with phrases such as “illegitimate president” and “coup boss”.

Under the 2008 constitution, the head of state is required to deliver the opening address at the first sitting of parliament each year. The MDP contend that Waheed’s presidency is illegitimate, following the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed on February 7, 2012, amid a police and military mutiny. The party disrupted last year’s opening session by blockading the chamber doors from the inside, while outside supporters clashed with police in the streets.

A sit-down protest in the afternoon at the Sosun Magu intersection appeared peaceful, although police had barricaded the roads around the parliament building. Inside, local media reported that five MPs left the chamber voluntarily after being ordered to do so by Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid.

Deputy Parliamentary Group Leader of MDP Ali Waheed announced on Sunday that “usurpers don’t get to deliver presidential addresses”.

In his address, an English summary of which later appeared on the President’s Office website, President Waheed emphasised “independence and territorial dignity” and described his highest priority as “strengthening the principles of Islamic faith among the people.”

“Underscoring that the Maldivians have always defended their independence from foreign influence, President Waheed stressed on the sacrifices made by our ancestors with their lives and blood,” read the statement.

“In his Presidential Address, the President noted that the keystone of our independence is the allegiance of our forefathers to the ideals and integrity of the Maldives, and that the foundation of our unity lies in Islam. The President said that our common faith, language and ethnicity were the reason why our nation should not disintegrate into opposing factions.

“Continuing in this regard, the President reminded the people to be vigilant of the patience and determination necessary to maintain our independence and individuality, and to unwaveringly hold on to our Islamic faith,” the statement concluded.

According to local media, Waheed also remarked that the economy had “fallen into a pit” at the time he took over the presidency, with external debt of US$725 million.

Expropriating the airport from Indian infrastructure giant GMR – at the time the country’s single largest foreign investment at US$511 million – had increased foreign currency coming into the country and relieved the dollar shortage, Waheed said according to Sun Online.

Speaking to Minivan News, Deputy Parliamentary Group Leader of government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Abdulla Mausoom said that the party would not support such “extremist” activities on the parliament floor.

“DRP will never support such activities. We will support to uphold rule of law and therefore the party would behave and strictly follow the parliamentary regulations,” he said.

He further claimed that “irresponsibility” and “stubbornness” within the parliament would not favour the MDP, and said the party should replace its leadership with “democrats” instead of “rogue extremists”.

“There are a lot of democrats working with the MDP. Many of them are in the parliament as well. But their hands are tied, their mouths taped and their pens capped. They should not bow down to the extremist elements within MDP,” Mausoom said.


Majlis to reconvene amidst ongoing stand-off

Parliament is scheduled to reconvene today for the first time since MDP members obstructed President Mohamed Waheed Hassan from opening the Majlis with his constitutionally-mandated state of the nation address earlier this month.

However, a resolution to the current political stand-off that has so far prevented parliament from functioning since President Waheed came to power appears unlikely .

Amidst calls from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) for all parties to ensure that the Majlis is not impeded upon opening today, President Waheed is scheduled to try and give his speech despite pledges by Mohamed Nasheed and the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to continue block him until a date for early elections is set.

MDP fears

In a statement issued by the MDP last night, the party claimed that “the consent of the governed is the basis of any legitimate government.”

With calls from the bodies like the EU and the Commonwealth calling for early elections to be held, the MDP has claimed that it has “indirect” international backing for its stance that the current government has “ no democratic legitimacy”, at least whilst question marks remain over the controversial transfer of power last month.

“MDP believes the current regime has no democratic legitimacy as it was instituted through the mutinous actions of the security forces, in effect overthrowing the first democratically elected president through a coup d’etat,” the party stated.

“It is paramount that a regime that lacks the consent of the governed and that has robbed the People of their fundamental right to choose those who would govern them, must not have legitimacy conferred upon it by opening the People’s Majlis.”

The MDP added that it has been working with rival political parties and President Waheed as part of ongoing talks to try and find a resolution to the current political upheaval – though it claims it has had limited success so far.

However, the MDP’s stance has led to a stalemate in the reform process with the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) withdrawing from all party roadmap talks due to its blocking of parliament.

Disruptive elements

Criticising the MDP’s ongoing attempts to block parliament, Dr Waheed’s spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza said that the Majlis operated as a separate entity from the president and therefore calls to hold fresh elections were not related to allowing parliament to function.

Riza added that the government was therefore calling on former President Nasheed to “stop advocating violence” particularly among young people, in regards to blocking the Majlis and opposing the government.

“More than 200 youths currently face charges for torching public buildings since February 8,” he added.

Though Riza said that the public would be free to gather on some of the capital’s roads to protest, he added that inside the parliament chamber, it was for the Speaker of the Majlis, Abdulla Shahid, and not the government to ensure parliament functioned correctly.

The presidential spokesperson added that just as under the government of Mohamed Nasheed, the speaker had control of 60 Majlis guards that had the power to remove disruptive elements from the parliamentary floor.

The live feed continues here.

13:34 – One female protester seems to have fainted , while another has been badly affected by gas. “Milk has been put all over her to treat it,” reports Daniel Bosley from between the police lines on Sosun Magu.

13:30 – President Waheed reportedly tells protesters in the chamber “I’ll be back” after having to walk out once again.

13:29 – President Waheed is forced to cut short his speech amongst ironic clapping. Shouts of “long live democracy” are heard as he leaves the floor again.

13:27 – President Waheed is having to shout out his speech as MDP protestors directly heckle him creating a noisy Majlis floor.

13:24 – Police on Sosun Magu have reportedly begun warning protesters they will use “force” to restore order, according to witnesses at the scene.

13:20 – Haveeru has reported that the police are now requesting protesters to being cooperating with them, whilst the Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) has strongly condemned the attack on the VTV building.

13:17 – Addu City Mayor Abdulla Sadiq has said there has been no reports of unrest in the country’s second city. He was unable to confirm if any events or demonstrations were currently being scheduled to occur in Addu.

13:13 – President Waheed has once again entered the parliamentary chamber only to leave again soon after.

13:05 – MDP spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor claimed that 20 MNDF are now inside parliament in an attempt to remove Milandhoo constituency MP Riza, Machangoalhi South MP Mohamed Rasheed and Thinadhoo constituency Nazim. Ghafoor told Minivan News that MPs Shifaz and Riza had been injured, meanwhile international observers are said to be looking on at events from the public gallery.

13:01 – President Waheed on his Twitter feed has condemned MDP members and Mohamed Nasheed for blocking parliament. “Anni must take responsibility for the chaos as he is directing the chaos in Male’,” he wrote.

12:51 – MDP members inside the chamber have alleged that the Majlis secretary general has compiled a list of MPs that are required to be removed from parliament before the session can start. The MPs claim this goes against the Majlis rules of procedure as it is for the speaker to say who is to be removed by security officials.

12:45 – The MNDF has confirmed that about 60 per cent of the fire at Neelan Fihaara is under control. People are reportedly taking some items that weren’t burnt in the fire out of the premises.

12:39 – Police have now moved crowds outside of ADK Hospital to the other side of Sosun Magu. Minivan News understands that rubber bullets have been fired.

12:36 – Colonel Abdul Raheem of the MNDF has told Minivan News that security would not hesitate to use rubber bullets to disperse crowds, calling them a “non-lethal weapon” that does not constitute excessive force.

12:35 – Haveeru has reported that some protesters have allegedly harassed and threatened some reporters and media personnel.

12:32 – President Waheed has once again left the chamber after disruptions by MDP MPs who have continued to bang copies of the constitution on their desks.

12:28 – The Majlis session has restarted. President Waheed is now in the parliamentary chamber.

12:25 – Protesters around Sosun Magu have claimed that rubber bullets are being prepared for use by MNDF forces.

12:20 – Minivan News has witnessed that police have cleared protesters from Sosun Magu to the west of the junction by Majeedhee Magu.

12:15 – Maldives Police has announced on Twitter that the protests in Male’ are no longer being considered as peaceful – “necessary force” is now expected to be used.

12:07 – Sun Online has reported that MP Shifaz fell and injured himself during scuffles withi the Majlis chamber. “What happened exactly is not yet clear,” the news agency added.

12:03 – Police are reported to have temporarily cleared rioters away from VTV studios.

12:02 – Several physical confrontations have been reported from within the Majlis with the MDP alleging that MP Shifaz has been taken away by the MNDF suffering from a broken leg.

11:56 – An MDP supporter within the Majlis has alleged that Baarashu Dhaaira MP Shifaz has been beaten unconscious by MNDF forces.

11:52 – Outside ADK Hospital several men have been seen covered in blood. Minivan News has witnessed some figures attacking the VTV building with bricks. Soldiers are blocking the doors to VTV studios.

11:48 – “Police are continuing to deploy gas as protesters are being driven back down the street [Sosun Magu],” reports Daniel Bosley. “Some are attacking soldiers on their way past.”

11:45 – Soldiers in gas masks have been spotted outside the VTV building on Sosun Magu. Unconfirmed reports suggest four people have been arrested on the street so far.

11:40 – Fire-fighters are still having difficulty controlling the blaze in the Neelan Fihaara area.

11:36 – Under parliamentary rulings, the speaker must call the name of an MP three times to leave the chamber for contempt before they can be removed by Majlis security. Two MPs have been removed at present. “It could be a long day,” one observer with knowledge of parliamentary proceedings has noted.

11:33 – “The police and local people are now trying to escort police vehicles from the fire. Firemen are still working to put out the blaze,” Naahee adds.

11:29 – Meanwhile, a fire has continued to rage in the Neelan Fihaara. “The fire has even spread to the land in front of the nearby auctioning market,” reports Mohamed Naahee. “ The police garage is right next door.”

11:26 – “There are people now ferrying cases of water to the protest’s front lines in what appears to be a measure to counter the tear gas deployed by police,” reports Daniel Bosley on Sosun Magu. “People are dousing themselves in water.”

11:23 – Protesters on Sosun Magu are said to be cheering as a riot shield is taken from the police and held aloft. An ambulance has arrived on the scene.

11:20 – Confrontations appear to be escalating in the capital with local media reporting that police have now called for the protest on Sosun Magu to be broken up. Outside Majeediyya school, flags and pavement stones are reported to have been thrown at police.

11:16 – “The situation has really escalated on Sosun Magu with tear gas now being deployed. However, the MDP supporters appear to be regrouping,” reports Minivan News’ Daniel Bosley.

11:13 – A Minivan News reporter has witnessed police deploying tear gas on Sosun Magu.

11:08 – Tensions are escalating across the capital amidst claims that a police officer has been injured in scuffles with protesters. Sun online reports that tear gas has been used in response.

11:02 – Haveeru has reported that protesters gathered near the Health Ministry building have begun throwing bottles of water at police as well as trying to breach their lines. Military personal have also now removed MP Alhan Fahmy from the parliamentary chambers.

10:56 – Local media is reporting that military personnel have now been called to Sosun Magu to assist police with a large protest taking place on the street. A spokesperson for the police told Minivan news that they would be working in collaboration with military officials. “They [the MNDF] will be helping us where needed,” the spokesperson added, without elaborating on the nature of the assistance.

10:50 – Outside the chamber, police are said to have cordoned off more than 15 streets including those surrounding the President’s Office and the Majlis in a bid to try and control protests.

10:46 – Meanwhile, Sun Online has reported that President Waheed was not provided with a traditional “red carpet welcome” when entering the Majlis. He instead entered the parliament gate straight from his car.

10:36 – Haveeru has reported that police have been informing protesters gathered on Sosun Magu that peaceful protests will be allowed as part of their constitutional rights, but action will be taken against anyone found to “impede” police.

10:35 – MPs are drumming on tables with copies of the constitution. President Waheed is reportedly in the Majlis, though not yet in the parliamentary chamber, according to state media.

10:33 – Shahid has called for an intermission amidst continued disruption by MDP MPs.

10:27 – Speaker Shahid has asked MP Alhan Fahmy to leave the chamber due to ongoing disruptions as he tries to establish order to the football match-esque atmosphere. MDP MPs are shouting “Baagee Waheed” for their part.

10:23 – The Speaker has called for President Waheed to deliver his address. The MDP MPs have begun their protest.

10:20 – Parliamentary Speak Abdulla Shahid has just started the Majlis session. He has begun with a eulogy for the late Fathulla Jameel. The MDP have vowed to begin their protest after respecting the eulogy.

10:10 – A group of about 200 anti-government protesters replete with MDP and Maldivian national flags have been witnessed in a sit down demonstration outside Majeediyya school – one supporter has claimed it is the school midterm break at present.

09:55 – A Minivan News journalist in the area surrounding the Majlis says that the situation directly outside parliament remains quiet at present, with a somewhat noisy group of protesters currently having gathered at Sosun Magu as police work to enforce a designated route for demonstrators.

The reporter adds that police have blocked access to the Majlis via Fehimagu.

09:45 – A police spokesperson had told Minivan News that there has been no reports so far of conflicts with groups of protesters that are beginning to gather around Male’.

The spokesperson said that the police were hoping to use “minimum force” to keep the protests under control as the Majlis is set to reopen, but the situation would be reviewed as the day progresses.