Police orders removal of national flag from Gayoom’s office

Police orders removal of national flag from Gayoom’s office
March 12 13:10 2017

The police have ordered the removal of the national flag from former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s office in Malé.

Abdul Aleem, secretary-general of the Gayoom faction of the Progressive Party of Maldives, said a policeman called him on Thursday night and told him that new regulations enacted by the home ministry require the flag to be taken down.

“I told him to call back during office hours. We have not heard from the police since then,” he told the Maldives Independent.

According to the 13-point rule gazetted on Wednesday, permission must be sought from the home ministry before erecting the national flag on private premises. If a member of the public or a political party is authorised to do so, the flag must be hoisted down after 6:00pm.

The regulations also prohibit flying another flag higher than the national flag. But the flag of an independent state can be flown alongside the Maldivian national flag at the same height.

Political party flags are presently erected on several islands across the Maldives.

The new rules have drawn widespread criticism from political parties and several prominent lawyers have questioned its legality.

“The Maldivian national flag is the proud symbol of Maldivian identity. Using the flag with respect is the right of all Maldivians,” Gayoom tweeted on Friday.

He also suggested in a tweet the following day that the rule is aimed at his faction of the divided ruling party. “Changing laws and regulations to target a particular person is not a principle accepted by the world,” he said.

Gayoom departed for India on a private visit last week. But military bodyguards were prevented from accompanying the former president, shortly after he declared support for a no-confidence submitted by opposition lawmakers to remove the speaker of parliament.

After losing a bitter power struggle with President Abdulla Yameen for control of the ruling party, Gayoom had withdrawn support for his half-brother’s administration in late October.

Meanwhile, the opposition Adhaalath Party has also condemned the new regulations.

“The national flag is the symbol of the state rather than the symbol of the government. The state is the symbol of the collective public as a whole,” the religious conservative party tweeted. 

Jumhooree Party MP Ali Hussain and lawyer Maumoon Hameed meanwhile argued that the regulations lack legitimacy as it does not derive authority from a law passed by the parliament.