Former President Dr Mohamed Waheed on Tuesday claimed the MVR 1,000 penalty imposed on him over allegedly violating Health Protection Agency (HPA) guidelines was politically motivated.
The special alliance of the opposition alliance, comprising Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People's National Congress (PNC), was fined following posts on social media highlighting an improperly masked Waheed during a protest held by the coalition.
During a press conference held in front of Maldives Police Service's Headquarters, Waheed expressed that he did not violate guidelines.
"I was wearing a mask. I am not saying the mask did not lower as I was speaking. However, I was inside the premises of the building, not outside the street. I had my mask on even as I walked out to the pavement", retorted Waheed.
"The difference between me and an average citizen is that I am a political figure...".
Similarly, during a book signing event held by the Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Nasheed, various posts on social media depicted a mask-less Nasheed. However, punitive action by authorities have eluded the matter.
In a seemingly indirect reference to Nasheed’s impunity over the same issue, Waheed noted that he was continually "seeing pictures of political figures without masks" partaking in political activities.
"Only they would know the reason why [authorities] are imposing penalties on me but withhold on themselves", fired Waheed.
Reportedly, many individuals including prominent members of the opposition parties did not wear face masks during the protest and were also fined.
The Elections Commission (EC), on Monday, fined PPM and PNC with MVR 150,000 over holding protests across the country in violation of HPA's safety guidelines.
According to EC, the two opposition parties were each fined MVR 75,000 under the Political Parties Act, the Freedom of Assembly Act and the Public Health Act.
Waheed was vice president to former President Mohamed Nasheed, assuming office after Nasheed's controversial resignation on February 7, 2012. He was known to have close relations with his successor Yameen and PPM, and served as president until the 2013 presidential election with their support.