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Maldives opposition seeks action against cops for impeding rally

Mohamed Visham
03 August 2016, MVT 11:50
A police officer switches off the microphone after storming the opposition rally held at the MDP camp on Monday.
Mohamed Visham
03 August 2016, MVT 11:50

Maldives opposition is set to ask the police watchdog to take action against the riot police officers who "illegally" entered an opposition camp to impede a rally on Monday.

The newly formed opposition alliance has been holding nightly rallies outside the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) camp in front of the artificial beach.

Just before midnight on Monday, around a dozen Specialist Operations police officer barged into the camp while the rally was ongoing.

Maldives United Opposition (MUO) shadow judicial reform minister Hisaan Hussain on Tuesday told reporters that the police officers had barged into the camp, destroyed party property and man handled party members without a court order.

Hisaan insisted that the National Integrity Commission (NIC) must penalise the police officers.

"Not only the individual police officers. But we will also seek action against the commanders who ordered police to forcibly enter the camp," Hisaan said.

MDP meanwhile has also filed cases against several police officers accused of brutality and obeying unlawful orders.

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.

Police have repeatedly insisted that article 33 of the Freedom of Assembly Act allows restrictions for “protecting the rights and freedom of others.”

However, MDP has continued to insist that the police cannot ban a gathering in advance.

The 2013 law authorises the police to order organisers to curtail the duration of a gathering, to maintain a specific noise level, to end the gathering before a specific time, to refrain from using loudspeakers, to refrain from using foul language, and to hold the gathering at a specific time.

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.