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Maldives opposition offers financial aid to lure protesters

Mohamed Visham
24 July 2016, MVT 21:12
Police controlling protesters during the opposition alliance rally on Thursday. MIHAARU PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN
Mohamed Visham
24 July 2016, MVT 21:12

Opposition alliance is set to offer a financial aid for demonstrators arrested during anti-government rallies in a move to lure more numbers amid an increasing police crackdown on protests.

Maldives United Opposition (MUO) shadow home minister Ahmed Thasmeen Ali told reporters that the coalition had established a 'detainee and welfare' fund to provide relief for all those who are arrested for fighting for their rights.

The fund will be utilized to provide assistance for protesters sentenced to jail or remanded.

Protesters remanded will receive MVR1,000 while a jail sentence for a protester would warrant MVR5,000.

Any injuries suffered during a protest would also be compensated from the fund.

Thasmeen explained that the amounts are designed as a one time payment but the coalition would provide further assistance based on individual situations.

"This is not something most would be bold enough to do. But this is nothing compared to the sacrifice they [people] are making. This is symbolic gesture in recognition of their courage and determination," Thasmeen explained.

A special committee has been designated to distribute the funds.

The newly formed opposition alliance had said it will seek to oust incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and form an interim government to ensure free and fair elections scheduled in 2018.

Five rival opposition groups had announced a united front to remove president Yameen from office.

The Maldives United Opposition brings together the Maldivian Democratic Party, the Adhaalath Party, two of Yameen’s former deputies and his former defence minister.

The coalition had announced a 19 member shadow cabinet comprised of senior opposition figures and former top officials of president Yameen’s government.

Numbers in recent opposition rallies have been dwindling as the government continues to crackdown A ban on street protests in the capital Male has been in force since a police crackdown on a three-day protest staged by the MDP last November.

The police have since blocked the opposition’s anti-corruption walks as well as marches by the media and civil society.

However, MUO's first rally on Thursday attracted thousands of people despite the government refusing to grant a venue for the opposition.

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