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Maldives police question opposition over protesters compensation fund

Mohamed Visham
31 July 2016, MVT 10:05
Hassan Latheef speaking to reporters after giving his statement to the police on Saturday. MIHAARU PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN
Mohamed Visham
31 July 2016, MVT 10:05

Police on Saturday questioned top officials of the newly formed opposition alliance over a recent decision to offer a financial aid for demonstrators arrested during anti-government rallies, Maldives United Opposition (MUO) said.

Police had summoned three members of the MUO shadow cabinet and confiscated their mobile phones.

Shadow home minister Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, Civil Rights Minister Hassan Latheef and Health Minister Sidhaathaa Shareef are all accused of impeding the rule of law.

After giving their statements, Thasmeen said MUO would cooperate with the police investigation.

"But we believe that helping people in need cannot be deemed as a crime," Thasmeen quickly pointed out.

Latheef said the police believe that the opposition fund will impede the authorities from upholding the rule of law.

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.

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 last week attracted thousands of people despite the government refusing to grant a venue for the opposition.

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