Opposition supporters launched serial protests over the weekend calling for the release of former president Abdulla Yameen after he was convicted of money laundering and sentenced to five years in prison.
Hours after the verdict was delivered on Thursday afternoon, the joint council of the Progressive Party of Maldives and People’s National Congress decided to award the opposition coalition’s 2023 presidential ticket to Yameen and stage nationwide protests along with a civil disobedience campaign.
The 60-year-old opposition leader was found guilty of of investing US$1 million deposited to his bank account by a company that was used to channel resort acquisition fees stolen during his administration. But the charges were politically motivated, the trial was “grossly unfair” and the conviction was a “miscarriage of justice,” the opposition contended.
On Friday night, supporters protested outside the custodial centre in Malé’s ring road where Yameen was held, as the Maldives Correctional Services conducted medical checkups before transferring the inmate to the main prison on Maafushi island the following day.
Three protesters were briefly detained and released without charges.
Dozens of opposition protesters gathered in the central junction of Malé’s main thoroughfare Majeedhee Magu on Saturday night. But riot police pushed them back and dispersed the crowd. Naifaru MP Ahmed Shiyam was arrested along with former government officials. According to police, all detained protesters were released with warnings.
Channel 13, an opposition-run TV station, alleged that a journalist was injured while covering Friday night’s protest. Two protesters also suffered minor injuries, according to the opposition.
In a statement, PPM condemned the arrests of protesters and the alleged disproportionate use of force by police officers, vowing to continue protesting until Yameen is freed from prison.
Vice President of PPM, MP @Shiyamaldives and 4 of our council members were arrested by Police, at the peaceful protest held tonight, calling to Free President Yameen. We strongly condemn the actions of the security forces and call upon for immediate release of the detained. pic.twitter.com/jlHbkrVJHk
— Progressive Party of Maldives (@ppm_progressive) November 30, 2019
Progressive Congress Coalition strongly condemns the use of brutal and disproportionate force by police against peaceful protesters , causing severe injuries and several arrests. The current regime is systematically undermining political rights in the Maldives pic.twitter.com/VkjxbDMUOu
— Progressive Party of Maldives (@ppm_progressive) November 29, 2019