Opposition rallies encourage terrorism, says PPM

Opposition protesters called for the overthrow of President Abdulla Yameen’s government through a suicide attack, the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has alleged.

In a statement on Wednesday, the PPM called on the Elections Commission, the Maldives Police Services and the Prosecutor General to take the call “encouraging terrorism” as a serious matter.

Since February 12, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and former PPM ally Jumhooree Party (JP) have been protesting nightly against alleged unconstitutional acts by the PPM, including the controversial dismissal of the Auditor General and two Supreme Court judges.

However, the PPM said opposition parties had failed to demonstrate how the government had breached the constitution and were only attempting to disrupt public order.

“This party believes these protests are aimed at obstructing President Yameen’s administration’s successful work at establishing peace and security. [The opposition] is disrupting the economic, social and political order in the country,” the statement read.

PPM Spokesman Ali Arif told Minivan News that the PPM “does not have any problem with protests held within the boundaries of law” and that “the leaders who organize the protests are ultimately responsible for what is being said on the mic.”

In response to the opposition’s claim that the government had lost legitimacy with the JP’s split from the PPM, Arif said the Maldivian people had voted for President Yameen and Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel, and not the PPM, JP coalition.

“The people marked a ballot paper that had the name of President Yameen and Dr Jameel as his Vice President. Neither the Constitution of the Republic of Maldives nor Maldivian laws include any mention of the word ‘coalition.’ In constitutional and legal terms the word does not exist,” he said.

When asked if the PPM would initiate talks with the opposition, Arif said: “street action is not the way to pave way for discussions and dialogue”.

Yameen, who gained 29 percent of the vote in the first round of 2013 presidential polls, was elected as president after JP’s Gasim Ibrahim backed him at the eleventh hour. Yameen won the election against MDP’s Mohamed Nasheed with 51.4 percent of the vote.

The PPM and JP coalition first fractured in May 2014 following the ruling party’s refusal to back Gasim for the Majlis Speakership.

Speaking to supporters last night, MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy denied that the opposition had called for a suicide attack, but said: “everyone gathered here  is willing to sacrifice not only their lives, but their goods as well, in order to bring good governance to the Maldives.”

“We are a coalition of MDP and JP, the majority of the Maldivian people. This is why President Yameen should listen to our demands and stop repeatedly violating the constitution.”

The Maldives Police Services arrested two protesters from the rally last night. In response to media reports that police had used pepper spray at the rally, a spokesperson told Minivan News that officers had used “adequate and necessary force.”

Government supporters are to march today calling for an end to anti-government protests. The march will begin at 4 pm from the Artificial Beach in Malé.

Tourism Minister and PPM’s vice president Ahmed Adeeb tweeted in support of the rally and called on “All Youth who Support President Yameen” to attend the rally “against Nasheed & Gasim, destroying our future”

The Broadcasting Commission of Maldives today released a statement reminding all media outlets to follow broadcasting code of ethics, stating that “some content broadcasted in relation to the ongoing protests are in violation of the broadcasting code of ethics”.

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Opposition alliance a “waste of time”, says Gayoom

Former President, and leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has described the opposition’s alliance to defend the Constitution as a “waste of time”.

Gayoom told reporters that the current government has in no way violated the Constitution and that there is no reason for any party to talk about defending it.

“Therefore, when some people have come out claiming to defend the Constitution, it makes me laugh,” Gayoom told reporters before travelling to the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) this morning.

The former 30-year ruler, who will participate in the summit as a panelist and a speaker, also questioned the intentions of the opposition, stating that “our President Abdulla Yameen pays special attention to follow the Constitution”.

Gayoom’s comments are the first from a high level member of the ruling party since the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Jumhooree Party’s (JP) decision to work together in defending the Constitution.

The parties are alleging that the government is narrowing civil liberties, intimidating political opponents, and destroying state’s checks and balances.

PPM spokesman MP Ali Arif told Minivan News that the opposition parties were unable to specify which part of the Constitution the government has violated.

“We have asked them which specific part or article of the Constitution the government has violated. They cannot seem to answer the question. This is just noise, all these claims are baseless,” stated Arif.

He also said that amendments to the Judicature Act – which saw the removal of two Supreme Court judges, and amendments to the Auditor General’s Act – which saw the reappointment of the auditor general, were all legislative changes brought by parliament.

Former Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim has suggested his removal – just days after an audit report implicated the tourism minister in a US$6 million corruption scandal – was not legal without changes to the Constitution.

The Civil Court has, meanwhile, said the People’s Majlis had “forced” the Judicial Services Commission to deem Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan unfit for the Supreme Court bench without due process, through an “unconstitutional” amendment to the Judicature Act.

“In a democratic society the parliament brings changes to laws,” Arif told Minivan News today. “If the president does not wish to gazette the law, he can send it back but then again if the parliament passes the bill, it automatically becomes law. How is the president or government at fault?”

Meanwhile, the MDP and the JP held a third round of discussions at Maafannu Kunooz on Sunday (January 1) night, agreeing to officially sign a document concerning their joint efforts to defend the Constitution.

The document, scheduled to be signed at a special ceremony on Thursday (January 5), will be followed by a joint rally that evening at the Carnival area in Malé.

Although the Adhaalath Party has decided against joining the alliance, the Maldives Trade Union has joined the opposition, claiming that the government’s persistent violations of the constitution have “eroded crucial checks and balances and accountability mechanisms”.

The MTU was inaugurated in May 2014, with 180 members aiming to provide an independent voice for the protection of small and medium sized businesses.

Zahir formed the group after clashing with authorities over the new tax regime – introduced by the MDP government. He was investigated the the Prosecutor General’s Office last year for tax evasion.


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