The joint opposition asked police Wednesday night to prevent President Abdulla Yameen from fleeing to escape prosecution for corruption.
The complaint was lodged hours after Yameen conceded defeat for the second time as his petition to annul the September 23 election was dealt a blow by the Supreme Court’s refusal to call secret witnesses.
“This is a critical moment as we’re receiving information from various sources that President Yameen is preparing to leave even tomorrow,” the Maldivian Democratic Party’s chairman Hassan Latheef told the press outside the police headquarters.
Coalition parties believe police have legal authority to hold Yameen for ongoing investigations, he added.
“We’re talking about corruption amounting to billions of rufiyaa,” he said.
Yameen repeatedly stated he was serving his final days in office during Wednesday’s surprise address.
The president “will never flee and is ready to cooperate with any investigation,” his spokesman Ibrahim Muaz Ali told newspaper Mihaaru as loyalists in the ruling party sought to reassure supporters.
Yameen “loves this country too much” to flee, MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla told protesters outside the party office Wednesday night, accusing the MDP chairman of seeking to “sow doubt and suspicion” among the president’s supporters.
He pointed to the first lady’s return Thursday morning as proof of Yameen’s intention to stay.
First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim travelled to Saudi Arabia for undisclosed reasons days after the election loss.
The first lady, who headed the re-election campaign office, was greeted at the airport by the president. Ruling party supporters gathered to welcome her at the official jetty in Malé.
– Backroom deals –
As calls grow for Yameen’s arrest, civil society groups have warned against “secret deals” to grant immunity for corrupt officials.
“It would be unacceptable if anyone in the outgoing administration negotiates their way out of facing the consequences of crimes committed in office,” said Mariyam Shiuna, executive director of Transparency Maldives.
“The Maldivian people have had at least 80 million dollars stolen from them in the scheme documented in the recent reports. They deserve for the handover of power to be characterised by transparency and accountability, not by impunity and back-room deal-making.”
Former president Mohamed Nasheed’s visit to Saudi Arabia this week fueled speculation of a deal brokered by the royal family.
But talks with Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman focused on relations with the incoming administration, the opposition leader tweeted Wednesday. “He did not say anything about President Yameen,” he added.
No other details of the meeting have been shared with the media.
Last November, the anti-corruption watchdog confirmed longstanding allegations that a local company implicated in funnelling the stolen cash deposited US$1 million into Yameen’s private account at the Maldives Islamic Bank.
More recently, the central bank’s money laundering watchdog informed police of US$1.5 million deposited into Yameen’s account and withdrawn in hard currency.
The bank was told the money was campaign contributions.
Photo of first lady and president by Raajje.mv
Monday roundup: minister accused of interfering in corruption probe
News in brief: Bank of Maldives posts MVR300m profit
Sunday roundup: tree replantation and unauthorised tourism
News in brief: drug routes and swallowed lego
Weekend roundup: Undocumented migrant workers fill up stadium
Maldives coral reefs show signs of resilience and recovery
Minivan Brief: Weaponised Islam and #MvTreeGrab
News in brief: 150kg of heroin seized en route to Maldives
Maldives NGO under investigation for ‘mocking Islam’ in radicalisation report
News in brief: US$1.5bn deal signed with Islamic finance corporation
Crime1 month ago
Immigration stopped 11 ‘imposters’ with fake passports
Crime3 months ago
Charges raised over street harassment for first time in Maldives
Crime3 months ago
Ex-vice president detained in India after fleeing Maldives
Politics2 months ago
‘Terrorist group’ behind Rilwan’s abduction
Society & Culture2 months ago
Five dead in tragic accident at sea
Politics3 months ago
Maldives backs India’s ‘right to amend laws as required’
Business & Tourism3 months ago
India becomes second largest market for Maldives tourism
Crime2 months ago
Rilwan killed by Maldives group linked to al-Qaeda, presidential commission reveals