Protests delay opening of Maldives Parliament


MALE: Fresh violence erupted in Maldives including inside the Parliament that was scheduled to open today with supporters of the former president, Mr Mohammed Nasheed attacking the police and preventing the President, Mr Mohammed Waheed Hassan from making his opening address.

Mr Nazim Sattar, Mr Nasheed’s younger brother has been arrested along with 17 other protesters. Even before Mr Waheed came to Parliament chambers’, Mr Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members removed his chair as well as that of his cabinet ministers and shouted slogans asking for his resignation.
 The session, which was to be opened with Mr Waheed’s speech, has been delayed.  Heavy police deployment was made inside the People’s Majlis (Parliament) premises and outside but some MDP protesters got inside the security zone after tearing through the barriers.
 Some police officers have been injured as MDP protesters threw stones and wood bricks at them. Even some petrol was splashed on certain police officials, who are holding on to their position at the moment.
 The police have not been given the order to use force to disperse the protesters. Some of the shops belonging to supporters of the current government have been vandalised.
 Meanwhile, Majlis chamber’s internet connection is completely cut down along with telephone lines.
 The Parliament session was scheduled to begin today, less than a month after the then president, Mr Nasheed resigned paving the way for his Vice President Waheed to be sworn in as the new head of the government.
 Hours after his resignation on 7 February, Mr Nasheed alleged he was forced to resign and claimed there was a coup, a charge denied by the current regime.
 What followed was a deepening political crisis and violence. International community along with India has held number of talks with stakeholders here to find a peaceful route.  India had sent its envoys thrice to Maldives including the Foreign Secretary, Mr Ranjan Mathai, who came twice.
 The Foreign Secretary during his earlier visit on 15 February, had helped broker a deal between the political parties here on the issue of early elections.
 However, a final decision is yet to be made on the dates for early polls and necessary amendments to the Maldivian constitution.


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