Connect with us


Opposition MPs want Maldives defence minister questioned over Facebook post

The minister said he used Facebook to get news of a threat out fast.



Opposition lawmakers want the Maldives defence minister to appear before parliament’s security services committee, after he announced on Facebook that there was a military operation to thwart “plots to destabilise the country.”

“The Maldives National Defence Force and Maldives Police Service are together looking into this very closely,” Adam Shareef Umar said in the post, urging people to report any information about dangers to national security.

Opposition MPs on the committee – Eva Abdulla, Mariya Ahmed Didi, Anara Naeem and Ibrahim Mohamed Didi – requested on Monday that he be summoned for questioning.

They accused him of being “very irresponsible” in a letter sent to the committee chairman who represents the ruling coalition in parliament.

“It is a very irresponsible act for the person who is the defence minister to be told of plots to destabilize the country and to post about it on Facebook,” the letter said.

But he told ruling party supporters at a campaign rally that he had chosen Facebook to get the information out to as many people and as quickly as possible.

The minister has fewer than 1,000 followers on Facebook, and the media became aware of his post after a military spokesman texted journalists with a link to it on Saturday night.

Eva Abdulla said the opposition was unconvinced by Shareef’s post because it could be “another ploy to crack down on the opposition.”

“Given that (President) Yameen has used imaginary plots and fake bomb scares to justify the imposition of state of emergencies, we are very sceptical of this announcement,” she told the Maldives Independent.

“If there in fact is a threat, it is highly irresponsible to not use official channels such as the (defence) ministry. Parliament must also be informed. The minister must provide accurate and sufficient information to parliament.”

Threats of multiple bomb scares in the capital in 2015 resulted in the announcement of a state of emergency, although the government claimed there was no danger to tourists.

It was imposed following an explosion aboard the president’s speedboat. The government said the blast was the result of a bomb, but FBI investigators found no evidence of one on the vessel.

Earlier this year the government announced its second state of emergency to thwart what the president described as a “judicial coup.”

Two top judges and a former president were among those arrested and thrown in prison, while key constitutional rights were suspended.

This article has been corrected in the first paragraph, fixing the name of the parliament committee.