MDP gears up for mass protest on Nov 27

MDP gears up for mass protest on Nov 27
November 14 14:00 2015

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) is gearing up for a mass protest in Malé on November 27 to pressure the government to release former President Mohamed Nasheed and other jailed politicians.

The main opposition party originally planned to hold the anti-government demonstration on November 6, but was forced to call it off after President Abdulla Yameen declared an unprecedented 30-day state of emergency and suspended the constitutional right to freedom of assembly.

Mohamed Shifaz, MDP’s vice president, told the press on Thursday that the party decided to reschedule the protest for November 27 when the president lifted the state of emergency after six days.

“A large number of people would want to save this country and come to Malé for that. We also wish for as many people as possible to come to Malé and participate,” he said.

He added that the MDP is organising transportation for supporters to travel to the capital.

In September, a UN human rights panel ruled that Nasheed’s imprisonment on a terrorism charge in March was illegal and politically motivated. But the government rejected the judgment as “flawed and premature” and said it “will not be made to act on the basis of a non-binding opinion.”

Shifaz said the party will also demand the release of ex-Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim and Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla. Nazim was found guilty of weapons possession in March and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

The retired colonel maintains he was framed by rogue police officers acting on the orders of then-Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb, now under arrest on suspicion of plotting to assassinate President Yameen.

Sheikh Imran was accused of inciting violence at a 20,000-strong anti-government rally on May 1. After more than 160 days under state custody awaiting trial on terrorism charges, Imran was transferred to house arrest last month.

The MDP meanwhile held a rally at the artificial beach on Thursday night and resumed its weekly protest marches on Friday afternoon.

Despite cancelling the November 6 mass protest, the MDP also organised food parties at its meeting hall during the short-lived state of emergency.

In an interview with The New York Times, Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon had acknowledged that one aim of the emergency decree was to stop the MDP’s mass protest.

The MDP had resumed its anti-government campaign in September after a three-month hiatus. A moratorium on street protests was part of a deal made with the government seeking the release of Nasheed and other jailed politicians.

Citing the government’s refusal to honour its commitments, the MDP withdrew from the talks after Nasheed was taken back to Maafushi jail in late August and sought to reorganise protests and “direct action.”