The opposition on Tuesday held a rally in Sri Lanka calling on the Maldivian government to implement the Supreme Court’s ruling of February 1, ordering to release nine prominent political leaders and to reinstate 12 unseated Members of Parliament.
About a 100 protesters gathered in front of the Maldivian Embassy in Colombo, carrying placards, banners and posters calling to release the political leaders, judges, police and armed forces personnel arrested under the state of emergency, which was declared by President Abdulla Yameen soon after the apex court’s shock ruling. They also called to release political leaders including former president Mohamed Nasheed and Jumhoory Party leader Qasim Ibrahim.
While the protesters sat near the embassy, Lankan police were present in the area to facilitate traffic flow.
The former chief of the elections watchdog, Fuwad Thaufeeq, who took part in the protest, stated that many people questioned the rulings of Maldivian courts and one of the first steps for reform would be to implement the apex court ruling of February 1. He added that, in his view, complying with the ruling would not lead to any national security threat, but by refusal to implement the order could lead to such a circumstance. He also urged the government to release the arrested political leaders.
Meanwhile, Maldivian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Mohamed Shareef had stated that Tuesday’s protest in Sri Lanka exposed Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s unpopularity.
Speaking to Mihaaru, Shareef stated that he had heard the demands of the protesters but they did not voice any issues that should be implemented by the embassy. He added that, had the protesters called for the arrest of the former president Nasheed, he would have given it a deep thought as the former president is residing in Sri Lanka at the moment while he should be serving a jail term.
According to the ambassador with more than 10,000 Maldivians residing in Sri Lanka, the crowd gathered near the embassy was very few in number. Shareef also criticized the opposition, noting that none of the leaders were present with the protesters. He further said that the ruling coalition had held much larger events in Sri Lanka and assured that the majority of Maldivian residents in Sri Lanka would vote for President Yameen in the upcoming presidential elections. He also declared that since the Maldivian Embassy belonged to the people of the Maldives, it would facilitate the needs of the citizens equally without any discrimination.