Attempted arson at MDP campaign meeting hall in Male’

Two petrol bombs were thrown toward the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s ‘Janbu Jagaha’ meeting hall in Male’ Saturday night (September 21), reports local media.

Two people on a motorcycle threw the bombs at the meeting hall around 11pm, but the flaming projectiles landed on the pavement, an eyewitness told CNM.

However an alternative local media report stated that articles of clothing were set on fire and hurled at the MDP meeting hall.

“Over the weekend some people apparently tried to torch the Male’ campaign coordination centre on Majeedhee Magu [Male’s main thoroughfare],” MDP MP & Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Minivan News today.

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) told local media they are investigating the attempt to set the meeting hall on fire.


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”.


Police refute media reports of “petrol bomb” set off under Education Minister’s car

Police have refuted media reports of a “petrol bomb” set off under Education Minister Shifa Mohamed’s car last Thursday while she was in Jamaluddin School.

A press statement issued today explained that police received reports of a blast from a bottle exploding inside the school compound at 8:00am on Thursday.

A second bottle blew up 20 minutes later while officers were at the scene.

“The investigation so far has revealed that what exploded was a ‘PET’ bottle, there was no trace of petrol in the bottle and it was not made with any kind of explosive substance,” reads the police statement.

It added that media reports of a “petrol bomb” detonating under Education Minister Shifa’s car outside Jamaluddin School “contained false information.”

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam told Minivan News that the substances inside the bottle produced a gas which caused the plastic bottle to burst with a bang.

“It’s the sort of thing kids do for fun,” he said. “But after the reports that it was petrol bomb we had a lot of people calling us very concerned.”

Police had no information to suggest that Shifa’s car had been deliberately targeted, Shiyam said.

Police appealed to media outlets to cover such incidents “more responsibly” to avoid unduly alarming the public and parents of school children.

The Education Minister was not responding to calls at time of press.