Maldives police warned Monday that people were planning “dangerous acts” on presidential election day to show the international community that the poll was neither free nor fair.
“We believe these acts are being done to create questions about the independence and fairness of the election, and acts that disrupt the peace and security of the country,” Chief Superintendent Ahmed Shifan said.
“In addition we have received information that, depending on the election result, people are preparing to carry out dangerous acts,” he told the media. Police later released a statement about the alleged threat.
There are concerns, in the Maldives and abroad, about the election which is due to be held on September 23.
President Abdulla Yameen has imprisoned his political enemies, while the ruling party has altered laws to guarantee that exiled opposition leaders cannot contest presidential elections. Free speech remains under threat, and there remain doubts over the electoral body’s independence and competence.
Shifan said police would not allow dangerous acts to take place and warned that harsh legal penalties would be imposed on those who planned, took part in or encouraged them.
He said police believed there would be arson and other criminal activities. He mentioned February 8 2012, when there was a crackdown on protests after former president Mohamed Nasheed declared he was forced to resign in an alleged coup.
Police action sparked riots and government buildings, courts and police stations were set alight in several islands including Haa Dhaal Kulhudhuffushi, Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo and Addu City.
Dozens of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters were injured during a police crackdown which a human rights watchdog described as “brutal” and “without warning.”
“As you know, on February 8 2012, there were arson attacks on properties belonging to the state, police and the public that caused severe damage,” Shifan said. “Some are planning to repeat these dangerous acts and show scary scenes.”
“We believe this is a direct obstruction of the presidential election,” he added.
The joint opposition accused the police of scaremongering and said the remarks were a “tactic to terrorise voters.”
“The Maldives Police has used ‘intelligence reports’ to arrest and sentence any political opposition to President Yameen,” it said Monday night.
“The joint opposition believes that the police statement is part of the narrative created whereby President Yameen can engineer any outcome he desires: either derail the elections or create a scenario whereby a ruling dispensation can prolong the Yameen rule, regardless of the popular franchise.”
File photo from Mihaaru
This article has been updated with comment from the joint opposition.