The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has denied claims police asked the party to reconsider plans for a mass protest in Malé on November 6.
The police, in a statement, said Acting Commissioner Ahmed Areef had met with representatives from the MDP on Sunday and asked them to reconsider the plans “given the present state of affairs in the country.”
The MDP is protesting the government’s refusal to release former President Mohamed Nasheed despite a UN human rights panel ruling his imrpisonment on a terrorism charge illegal.
The government, meanwhile, is preoccupied with an escalating power struggle at its leadership. Vice President Ahmed Adeeb has been arrested on suspicion of links to an explosion on President Abdulla Yameen’s speedboat. The government says the blast was caused by a bomb targeting the president.
Areef was appointed as acting police chief after Yameen sacked his predecessor for his close ties with Adeeb.
MDP said it had requested the meeting with Areef to raise concerns over the police’s obstruction of their street activities. Areef had not asked the party to reconsider plans for the protest, said Ali Shiyam, the MDP’s deputy chairperson.
“They asked us what we are up to protesting on Friday, citing the country’s current situation. We told them that if the country was in such bad shape, there would be a state of emergency. They did not request us to reconsider the protest. I was there, that is a big lie,” he said.
Shiyam represented the MDP at the meeting along with Ali Niyaz, deputy chairperson, and MP Rozaina Adam.
The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s (WGAD) opinion on Nasheed’s imprisonment was made public just days after the blast. The UN opinion has revived the party’s activities, which had come to a halt after the failure of talks for political reconciliation.
The police has imposed a number of restrictions on MDP’s activities, including limiting street gatherings to the pavement.
The mass protest will take place as scheduled on Friday afternoon, Shiyam said, adding that details are being finalised.
Correction: November 2, 2015
This article’s headline previously incorrectly stated that the police and MDP discussed a protest scheduled for May 6. The correct date is November 6.