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PNC Vice President summoned by police over Nov 3 protest

Mariyam Malsa
22 November 2020, MVT 18:43
People's National Congress (PNC) Vice President and Baarah MP Ibrahim Shujau during a press conference. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/ MIHAARU
Mariyam Malsa
22 November 2020, MVT 18:43

The vice president of People's National Congress (PNC), Ibrahim Shujau, received a summons from Maldives Police Service in connection to the opposition protest held on November 3 to mark Victory Day.

Shujau, who also serves as the parliamentary representative for Haa Alif Atoll's Baarah constituency, was instructed to present himself for questioning at the police headquarters at 14:30 hrs.

The police arrested Shujau during the rally on Victory Day and detained him for a duration of four hours, as he was one of the leading figures in organising the gathering, which did not receive approval from the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

Citing public health concerns regarding COVID-19, the agency only greenlighted a virtual rally. At present, gatherings of over 30 people are prohibited as a protective measure to control the spread of COVID-19 in the capital.

Held in front of opposition partner Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)'s Office, the protest did not involve social distancing measures. The police had repeatedly requested Shujau to conduct the rally in adherence to HPA's safety guidelines.

Shujau previously revealed that the police intended to raise six charges against him including obstruction of justice and violation of HPA's safety guidelines.

Asserting that he opposed the charges, the PNC Vice President expressed the opinion that attempts to press criminal charges over an opposition political event held to ensure government accountability did not align with democratic principles. He added that these actions intended to reduce the opposition coalition's influence ahead of the upcoming local council elections.

Earlier, Shujau had claimed that HPA regularly permitted government activities unfairly, such as granting approval for the Managing Directors of certain state-owned companies to travel to other inhabited islands and interact with residents.

HPA continues to maintain stringent controls over public gatherings, particularly concerning opposition protests and demonstrations against controversial sexual assault cases. Meanwhile, the remaining rules implemented to control the spread of COVID-19 are being gradually relaxed to reflect improvements in the situation.

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