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Opposition leaders summoned by police over planned protests

Mariyam Malsa
27 November 2020, MVT 21:27
PNC Vice President Ibrahim Shujau speaking at a press conference. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/MIHAARU
Mariyam Malsa
27 November 2020, MVT 21:27

Leading members of the opposition coalition, on Thursday, were summoned by the police for questioning, regarding plans to hold protests across Maldives to commemorate the one-year mark of former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's incarceration.

According to the opposition, intentions to kickstart protests on November 28 have not changed despite leading members being questioned over the plans.

On November 22, the opposition coalition which consists of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the People's National Congress (PNC), announced plans to initiate a series of protests under the theme of "Maldives against injustice".

Speaking at a press conference held by the opposition, PNC Vice President Ibrahim Shujau asserted that the coalition would not follow the Health Protection Agency (HPA)'s guidelines, since the ruling coalition had also failed to adhere to the regulations which were implemented to control the spread of COVID-19.

"The entire Maldivian population should come out on the 28th. The events will be carried out without considering [Director General of Public Health] Maimoona [Aboobakr]", Shujau stated.

The PNC Vice President also added the opposition would conduct campaign activities for the incoming local council elections scheduled for March, in combination with the protests.

At present, HPA prohibits public gatherings of more than 30 individuals. While the remaining rules implemented to control the spread of COVID-19 are being gradually relaxed to reflect improvements in the situation, the opposition has maintained that there was a double standard concerning the implementation of safety regulations.

Several opposition leaders have claimed that safety guidelines are being applied more loosely to the political activities of ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and asserted that the double standard was intended to clamp down on the opposition, particularly to obstruct campaigning for the local council elections.

Ex-President Yameen was jailed on money laundering charges linked to the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC)'s embezzlement scandal which resulted in a potential loss of MVR 4 billion in state revenue.

The state charged former President Yameen over a transaction of USD 1 million to his account in Maldives Islamic Bank (MIB) by SOF Pvt Ltd -- a company implicated in the MMPRC embezzlement scandal, considered the largest corruption case recorded in Maldivian history.

Additional money laundering charges have been raised against the jailed president as he approaches the one-year mark of imprisonment, following Criminal Court's verdict announced on November 28, 2019.

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