Police arrested 18 opposition activists in Gaafu Alif Kolamaafushi on Thursday for vandalising the ruling party’s office on the island.
Council member Ibrahim Waheed told Raajje that the group were from the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party.
They were obstructed by supporters from the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives while they were putting up banners and flags ahead of a visit from opposition presidential candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, leading to an altercation on Wednesday. Some activists also sustained injuries, Raajje reported.
The arrested activists were named by local media as Abdulla Rasheed, Ahmed Saleem, Niyaz Hussain, Hussain Farhath, Ahmed Waheed, Mahooth Ismail, Abbas Abdulla, Ahmed Rauf, Hassan Najeeb, Muslim Najeeb, Ziyad Rasheed, Mohamed Rasheed, Razeen Rasheed, Ahmed Shuzan, Shahudh Mohamed, Ismail Shareef, Riffath Ibrahim and Amjad Ibrahim.
Senior PPM lawmaker Ahmed Nihan told the press that opposition activists had cut down the party’s flags at their headquarters, vandalized it and confronted PPM supporters. He also said that monuments in the island’s harbour area were damaged and flags were thrown into the water.
Home Affairs Minister Ahmed Azleen described the incident as a terrorist attack and said the matter was being investigated as a serious case, according to state-owned PSM.
He alleged this was the opposition’s attempt to sow instability. PSM also reported that ruling party offices in three other islands were vandalised.
Police asked Solih to postpone his visit, citing security concerns.
Spokesman Ahmed Shifan said the island lacked a conducive environment for campaigning and asked that Solih to stay away from the island and wait for stability, Raajje reported.