People’s Alliance (PA) leader Abdulla Yameen has told local media outlets that he is being held against his will by the Maldives National Defence Force.
The MNDF has claimed Yameen sought their protection after violent clashes between MDP supporters, police and another group outside his house on the evening of July 14.
The leader of the minor opposition party, who was last week released from house arrest by the Supreme Court, had been accused by the government of corruption, bribery and treason. The MNDF have refused to present Yameen in court, despite an order from the Criminal Court on July 15.
The government has meanwhile said it intends to monitor the judiciary to ensure corruption does not obstruct the judicial process.
Speaking to private broadcaster DhiTV from the Presidential Retreat ‘Aarah’ last night, Yameen said he was contacted repeatedly by Chief of Defence Force Moosa Ali Jaleel and told that the army had orders to take him under protection by force if necessary.
Providing his account of the incident, Yameen stressed that he refused the offer of protection and requested that security forces control the crowd outside his residence.
He added that Moosa Jaleel informed him between 12:00am and 1:00am on Wednesday night that MNDF had “no choice” but to take him under military guard.
Yameen said he was at PA MP Ahmed Nazim’s house at the time when crowds began gathering outside his residence.
“MNDF suddenly somehow knew that I was at Nazim’s house and MNDF soldiers came and took over the whole area,” he said. “They started banging on the door and threatened to come in. Finally, my lawyer Abbas Shareef who was outside called me and said they have warned that they will break down the door and charge in if I did not come out.”
As he was a guest at Nazim’s house and did not wish to “dragged away so inhumanely”, Yameen continued, he left with the officers because “I was forced to and did not have any choice.”
Yameen, former Trade Minister and younger brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, strongly criticised the government’s handling of the political unrest in the capital.
“Imagine, every night they come out and smash and destroy so many places,” he said. “What about the rights of my neighbours? It wasn’t just my house that was damaged. What about the children that are traumatised?”
Yameen called on the security forces not to be “too concerned with one individual” and ensure the safety of the public.
“They know who it is that come out like this every time and holler,” he said. “They will do well to take legal action against those people. In no event should they have to neglect maintaining peace and all the soldiers come and protect me.”
Yameen and Nazim along with MP Gasim Ibrahim is currently under investigation for alleged corruption involving “cash for votes” in parliament.
A press release issued by the President’s Office on Thursday states that the unrest was precipitated by an attack on the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) rally on Wednesday night.
It adds that a group of people tried to incite violence and attacked participants at the rally.
In his weekly radio address on Friday, President Mohamed Nasheed said the government was “forced” to isolate political leaders after considering the consequences of inaction.
“Therefore, the isolated individuals will remain so for now,” he said. “The government has now decided to carry on with this.”
The Maldives was experiencing “teething pains” with the present political crisis, Nasheed continued, as multi-party democracy was in still in its infancy.
“When we mature for such a system, we have to always accept that we have to face a number of things that are inevitable and unanticipated,” he said. “I want to assure citizens, we have complete confidence that we can face this. We see the bigger picture. We know the difficulty we are facing today. God willing, we will emerge from it, and no matter how hard the road we have to walk, I have complete confidence that we can walk down it.”
Despite Nasheed’s apparent confidence in resolving the country’s political deadlocks lawfully and peacefully, the outbreak of violence has drawn the attention of international bodies such as the UN.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement “urging all political parties to restrain those who promote violence and confrontation, and to resolve their differences through dialogue.”
“Political rivalries should not be allowed to jeapardise the significat gains the country has registered in democratic reform,” Ki-moon said, pledging the assistance of the UN in resolving the situation.
The UN “recogises the positive steps taken by the Maldives to advance democracy in recent years, and underlines the importance of cooperation and accomodation among the various political actors as an essential ingredient of building democracy,” the statement read.
The United States has meanwhile urged the Maldives to accept offers of mediation from the international community to resolve the political crisis.
“We call on all sides to refrain from violence and to come together to resolve disagreements through dialogue,” the US Embassy in Colombo said.
US Ambassador Patricia Butenis and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse have already held mediation sessions in the country to resolve a deadlock between the executive and what President Nasheed has described as “elements within parliament.”