President Abdulla Yameen defended last night the government’s decision to reintroduce the death penalty, contending that enforcing capital punishment for murder is necessary to ensure public safety and maintain law and order.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of a three-day symposium held in Malé to train campaign leaders for his 2018 re-election bid, Yameen slammed international criticism the Maldives faced after his administration ended a six-decade moratorium on the death penalty in 2014.
“When some people raise questions about it, what I want to say is, why not stop our government from doing it? Not by tying our hands, but help us solve the reasons that cause [violence],” he said.
“But it isn’t easy for them to talk about that or give us the money or facilitate resources for us.”
Yameen’s remarks come as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on a death sentence handed to a 22-year-old man found guilty of murdering MP Dr Afrasheem Ali. If the apex court upholds the verdict, Hussain Humam could become the first Maldivian executed by the state in more than half a century.
According to a High Court ruling in December, the president cannot commute the death penalty for individuals convicted of first-degree murder if all of the victim’s heirs desire capital punishment. The government has also earmarked funds to build a facility to implement the death sentence this year.
In his speech last night, Yameen also renewed appeals for the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party and Adhaalath Party to engage in “inclusive, participatory discussions” with the government. The allied parties
The allied parties are demanding the release of their respective leaders as a condition to join the all-party talks.The opposition has also questioned the government’s sincerity in initiating a new round of talks, accusing the government of failing to honour commitments made during negotiations in July last year.
But Yameen urged the opposition to “test” the government’s sincerity without imposing conditions. The opposition, on the other hand, has demonstrated a lack of sincerity by submitting a no-confidence motion against the speaker of parliament, he said.
“How can we cure a sick person without showing him to a doctor? Won’t we only know whether he is sick after seeing a doctor? And you’d only know how good or sincere the doctor is if you come to meet him, isn’t it?” he asked.
Yameen also said that the aim of the symposium was to train salesmen for the “President Yameen 2018” product.
“When new products are introduced, there is no use for old products. We are trying to sell which product could take the country forward. In its essence, there is no difference to selling products and a campaign for the presidency.”
Yameen’s spokesperson, Ibrahim Muaz Ali, meanwhile told the press yesterday that the president’s campaign office has now trained 1,200 “campaign leaders” from across the country.
More than 400 supporters from the capital and its suburbs participated in the third campaign symposium that concluded on Saturday night, Muaz said. Two symposiums were held last year for campaign workers from the north and south.
The absence of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives, from the previous symposiums had fuelled rumours of a split between the Gayoom brothers.
Gayoom had declined an invitation to inaugurate the first symposium in September as the chief guest.
Muaz told the press yesterday that Yameen’s campaign office – headed by First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim – did not invite Gayoom to the third symposium.