Police ban Maldives anti-corruption walk

Police ban Maldives anti-corruption walk
February 04 20:50 2016

The police have banned Friday’s anti-corruption walk organized by the Maldivian Democratic Party, citing concerns over clashes in the past and ongoing construction on a bridge and artificial beach project in Malé.

MDP Vice President Mohamed Shifaz, however, said the walk will go ahead as planned.

“The walk will take place tomorrow evening at 4pm,” he said, adding that the police’s order was “unconstitutional.”

Ali Niyaz, MDP deputy secretary general, said they had requested the police to present a court order if they wanted to stop the walk.

Anti-graft NGO Transparency Maldives has meanwhile called on all parties to join the fight against corruption, and appealed to the government not to obstruct the walk.

As much as US$100million is rumoured to be missing from funds obtained from the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Company’s lease of islands and lagoons for resort development. Watchdog bodies have branded the case the Maldives’ biggest ever corruption case.

President Abdulla Yameen has publicly acknowledged that funds were siphoned off and used to bribe the security forces, but has sought to pin the blame on his former deputy Ahmed Adeeb and his associates.

The MDP claimed today that it has received damning evidence of government involvement in terrorism financing, money laundering and bribery. The party has previously called for Yameen to face investigation.

The president’s office has denounced allegations, while Yameen, during a presidential address today, promised to “find the money lost through corruption.”

The MDP said it had received a report of a covert intelligence operation based on interviews with government officials and analyses conducted on material found on Adeeb’s personal laptops.

The evidence gathered appears to show that senior politicians, police, military, and judges are “working together in a single criminal conspiracy creating a haven for corruption, turning a nascent democracy into an industrial-scale kleptocracy,” the party said.

The dossier it reportedly received contains photographs, financial transaction records, detailed email exchanges proving impropriety and cheques. It has been shared with members of the international community, the party said

The former vice president is in police custody, arrested in October on suspicion of links to a blast on Yameen’s speedboat. He is now awaiting trial on corruption and terrorism charges.

The Auditor General’s Office and the Anti Corruption Commission are yet to issue reports on the MMPRC scandal. The audit report may be issued tomorrow.

Transparency Maldives meanwhile called on all parties, including the government, to restore “integrity for the benefit of the people and the country” instead of using “anti-corruption rhetoric as a tool for short-term political gain.”

“Independent institutions must fulfill their constitutional duties without prejudice and free from political influence,” the NGO said.

Former Auditor General Niyaz, had raised doubts over the ACC’s ability to investigate the scandal, claiming the watchdog has been “paralyzed” by a systematic crackdown on independent institutions.

Additional reporting and writing by Zaheena Rasheed and Mohamed Saif Fathih