Fisheries Minister Dr Mohamed Shainee came under fire for blaming former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and the unified opposition for the recent murders and upsurge in violence in the capital.
“Murdering youth and setting places on fire to destabilise the nation out of greed for power cannot be accepted @maumoonagayoom,” the minister tweeted Tuesday after a 25-year-old man was killed in the second fatal stabbing in Malé in less than a week.
The tweet drew more than 300 responses amid criticism of law enforcement authorities.
“Quickly blaming a political opponent shows the government has zero intention to conduct a credible investigation into these senseless murders,” said MP Eva Abdulla of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party.
Dhiyana Saeed, a former attorney general, said: “Those who took over our freedom of speech and expression in the name of protecting our reputation from harm are now carelessly defaming a person without any evidence and any right.”
Home Minister Azleen Ahmed told the press Tuesday evening that according to the police the murders were gang-related.
Azleen said statistics show that crime rate rises during periods of political turmoil but stopped short of blaming the opposition. “Whether this is a coincidence or deliberate planned, I cannot say yet,” he said.
But he said the police are “preparing to take legal action” against those who assist and encourage gangs.
“We are investigating to see if any person or party is really playing a bad role in this politically. We can only confirm political involvement and backing from politicians after the investigation is concluded,” he said.
Asked about Shainee’s rally, Azleen denied allegations that the participants were members of Malé’s gangs.
The home minister also slammed media reports that were critical of the police after the stabbings and murders.
The police’s efforts to clamp down on opposition activities does not “compromise the safety and security of the country”, Azleen said, calling suggestions to the contrary “irresponsible”.
He urged the media not to disseminate information that could cause fear and panic or undermine public trust in the security services.
Speaking to the Maldives Independent, Aminath Nadira, a senior aide of former President Gayoom, called the ministers “completely incompetent”.
“[Shainee] is trying to point fingers at others to conceal his own crimes. We all know he is the one who gathered at the carnival area with those groups. So there is nothing more to say about this,” she said.
“Now the home minister has shown us that he is inept to be in the position. He said he does not know anything when questioned by reporters [Tuesday]. I am very confident that they will not conduct any investigation into this.”
“I wonder how serious the police serious and organized crime unit is right now. As far as I know, the CCTV video footage of the murder scene was not taken as evidence even 24 hours after the death. But they are very effective in chasing politicians. The state institutions must be responsible for the current disruption of public peace.”