The Edition


Maldives opposition denies 'coup' allegations

Mohamed Visham
28 August 2016, MVT 13:34
Former president Nasheed (R), former VP Dr Jameel (3R) and MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed (L) with Canadian High Commissioner.
Mohamed Visham
28 August 2016, MVT 13:34

Opposition alliance Sunday denied accusations that it was seeking foreign help to stage a 'coup' to unseat president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

BBC had reported on Thursday opposition plans to move against the president “within weeks.”

The report was met by intense government criticism accusing the opposition of plotting the illegal overthrow of a democratically elected government.

Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) international spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor hit-back at the allegations by pointing out that the "opposition did not need to stage a coup to topple a weak government."

He alleged that the "autocratic" government, desperate to hold onto power was labeling the opposition efforts as a 'coup.'

The report comes in the wake of an imminent opposition led sit-down in neighbouring Sri Lanka.

Jailed former president Mohamed Nasheed currently living in exile in Britain has reportedly flown in for the meeting.

According to reliable sources, Nasheed has flown to Sri Lanka to take part in ‘an important sit-down over the present crisis in the Maldives.’

Former vice president Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed who heads the Maldives United Opposition (MUO) has also join the talks in Sri Lanka.

The Indian Ocean archipelago adopted multi-party democracy in 2008 after three decades of rule by Yameen’s half brother, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

But it has been gripped by turmoil since its first democratically-elected leader Nasheed was toppled in 2012 in what he claims was a coup.

Nasheed, whose jailing last year on terror charges has been widely criticised by the West, has since secured political asylum in Britain after travelling there for medical treatment while on prison leave.

Opposition parties, some of which had opposed Nasheed earlier, have united in their campaign against Yameen.

The newly formed MUO had vowed to oust Yameen and form an interim government to ensure free and fair elections scheduled in 2018.

The MUO has brought together the MDP, the Adhaalath Party, two of Yameen’s former deputies and his former defence minister.

In a bid to thwart the opposition efforts, Yameen has looked to tighten his grip on power by introducing a series of controversial legislation pushed through the government controlled parliament.

A strict defamation law has come in to force, with stiff punishments for comments or actions considered insulting to Islam or which “contradict general social norms”, which was quickly followed by tighter restrictions on demonstrations in the capital Male.

The death penalty is also being reintroduced, after a 60-year unofficial moratorium. The moves have drawn criticism from the UN, the UK, the EU and the US.

Yameen who has been repeatedly linked to the biggest corruption scandal in the history of the archipelago has also instigated a series of purges of the security forces in his three-year tenure.

Most recently, several soldiers were detained inside the military headquarters before being released last week.

Sources within the military say that four soldiers have been detained inside the military headquarters including a soldier named Fathah who was in security detail of Nasheed’s spouse, Laila Ali.

Police launched a criminal investigation into some of the soldiers, shortly after they were released.

The arrests come in the wake of the defence ministry barred soldiers from meeting politicians and foreign diplomats.

MNDF had said soldiers are barred from meeting ministers, lawmakers, political appointees, candidates seeking public office, political party leaders and political activists without prior permission from a senior military official.

The ban also extends to foreign diplomats, officers of foreign armies and other foreign representatives

Soldiers have also been barred from social gatherings attended by politicians and foreigners.