The joint opposition remains undaunted and determined to forge ahead despite the jailing of leaders, parliamentary group leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih declared Thursday night.
“I got more signals that we must complete the work we have started. I got more courage from them,” said the veteran lawmaker, popularly known as Ibu, as the opposition coalition resumed weekend rallies at the Jumhooree Party headquarters in Malé.
“I was put in cell number eight. Once the dawn broke messages of ‘good morning’ were passed on from the cells next to me. One of those is MP Ilham Ahmed. Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed was in the cell in front of me. Former police chief Ahmed Areef was in the next cell. The message I got from them was to continue our work with renewed courage.”
He also spoke about meeting with representatives of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives at the Dhoonidhoo detention centre. Other speakers at last night’s rally criticised the watchdog for its failure to act in response to numerous torture and mistreatment complaints.
“HRCM representatives told me ‘Ibu, we are trying. What we can do is take notes and raise the issues.’ I told them that I know. But I asked them why they should not publicly raise these issues so that the public would also be aware,” he said.
Ibu was among 141 people arrested from an opposition mass protest in the capital on March 16. The minority leader was released along with MP Ali Azim, also from the Maldivian Democratic Party, and two others.
Other MDP leadership figures were released before the 45-day state of emergency expired. But 11 high-profile detainees – including former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and four lawmakers – were charged with terrorism and bribery over an alleged conspiracy to remove President Abdulla Yameen from office.
Following his release, MP Ahmed Nihan tipped Ibu to become the opposition’s presidential candidate.
“I have no doubt that Ibu deserves the MDP presidential ticket,” the ruling party parliamentary group leader tweeted.
The MDP has since urged Nihan to refrain from commenting on the opposition’s leadership.
“We are talking about an inclusive election where political parties decide who will contest on their behalf,” MDP chairman Hassan Latheef told the Maldives Independent.
“The decision of who MDP’s or the opposition’s presidential candidate is going to be will not be made by the government or the president or even Nihan. Leave that to the political parties and the opposition and ensure that the election is going to be an inclusive election.”