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Opposition protestors demand release of ex-pres one year after imprisonment

Mariyam Malsa
28 November 2020, MVT 19:31
Opposition protestors aboard boats demanding the release of former President Yameen. PHOTO: PPM
Mariyam Malsa
28 November 2020, MVT 19:31

The opposition, on Friday, organised protests to commemorate the one-year mark of former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's incarceration.

Supporters of the opposition coalition, which consists of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the People's National Congress (PNC), initiated demonstrations in the Greater Male' Region aboard boats that departed from the harbour of Hulhumale'.

During the protest, demonstrators demanded the incumbent administration to immediately halt injustices against former president Yameen and release him from prison.

According to the opposition, similar rallies were also held in several inhabited islands across Maldives.

Previously on November 22, the opposition coalition had revealed intentions to launch a series of protests under the theme of "Maldives against injustice".

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.

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

Following the announcement, Maldives Police Service summoned leading members of the opposition parties for questioning regarding 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.