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Police threaten ‘legal action’ over campaign posters of convicted leaders

The opposition was able to put up campaign posters on Friday without police obstruction.



The Maldives Police Service has threatened to investigate and take legal action against political parties and media outlets that “promote” convicted opposition leaders.

“As we have noted that activities and actions using photos and information of convicts, and putting them forward in a manner involving identity fraud, are against laws and regulations, we appeal against anyone conducting such activities in violation of the enacted laws and regulations,” reads a statement issued Saturday.

The legal basis for the threat is unclear.

It comes after the joint opposition put up campaign posters of jailed and exiled leaders in the capital on Friday afternoon.

Two teams led by candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ‘Ibu’ and running mate Faisal Naseem walked through Malé putting up posters of themselves and leaders of the joint opposition parties, including jailed former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed, exiled Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim, and Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla, who is currently under house arrest.

Their prison sentences were widely condemned by democratic nations and international human rights groups. But the government remained intransigent, rejecting in April calls from the UN Human Rights Committee to restore Nasheed’s right to run for office.

President Abdulla Yameen’s administration also appears defiant in the face of targeted sanctions threatened by the European Union.

In June, police officers cracked down on the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s campaign events, detained activists, and tore off campaign posters from private property, despite failing to produce court warrants.

Saturday’s police threat echoed warnings of legal action by the broadcasting regulator against media outlets that “promote” the convicted leaders.

The opposition is meanwhile continuing its campaign under the slogan Jazeera Raajje, emphasizing the “islandness” of the Maldives in contrast with the centralised development policy of the current administration.

On Saturday morning, Ibu Solih and Faisal Naseem resumed door-to-door visits in Malé. Ibu told reporters that he hoped the government would allow rallies and gatherings to be held in the capital.

With street protests effectively banned in Malé since late 2016, opposition activities have been restricted to the MDP meeting hall in front of the artificial beach. Riot police routinely take down banners and confiscate food trays and tables from MDP tea parties.

The housing ministry, which took over municipal tasks from the opposition-dominated city council, refuses to lease the convention centre or public spaces.

Photos from Jazeera Raajje