3 opposition party’s MPs among 17 arrested in Maldives protests

Male, March 3 : The Maldives opposition denounced on Saturday the arrest of 17 protesters, including three MPs of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), in the latest round of defiance against the emergency imposed by President Abdulla Yameen a month ago.

The opposition, led by the MDP, said in a joint statement that police had arrested 17 demonstrators, including three MPs — Abdulla Shahid, Abdul Latheef Mohamed and Abdulla Riyaz — along with several activists and council members of the party during the latest protests in the archipelago, which began on Friday and continued early Saturday, Maldives Independent reported.

“President Yameen is abusing the Maldives Police Service to attack his political critics in the most cowardly way possible,” the opposition said in the statement.

Mickail Naseem, president of the MDP’s youth wing was also arrested.

Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, exiled in the UK and currently in Colombo, demanded on his official Twitter account all 17 detainees be released “immediately”.

MDP spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Efe news that although 17 people were “officially” arrested, “many more (were) removed from the protest and then released” and that even Nasheed’s mother had been attacked by anti-riot police.

According to the opposition, a total of 110 people had been arrested since President Abdulla Yameen imposed on February 5 a national state of Emergency of which 31 people remain in custody without trial.

The Maldives is experiencing deep political and institutional turmoil after a Februar 1 Supreme Court ruling ordering the retrial and immediate release of nine opposition leaders, and the reinstatement of a dozen opposition MPs.

Yameen’s government initially said it would abide the order but later rejected it, declaring a state of Emergency instead, claiming it had thwarted a coup attempt by former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, both currently in custody.

On February 5, the President declared a 15-day state of emergency, which he later extended a further 30 days.

/IANS

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