Another night of protests in the Maldives, and one more rally tried to push its way to the commercial hub in Male.
Maldives Police Service said that a demonstration of about 300 people, led by MPs and politicians from former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Z-DRP faction of the opposition, was held at the artificial beach area of Male on Tuesday evening. As many as 30 persons were detained following instances of fisticuffs between the police and protestors.
They later attempted to march to the main commercial area of Male on numerous occasions. However, the police repeatedly blocked their path and protestors returned to the artificial beach area. Police and the protestors apparently came in “contact” and Mr. Gayoom’s spokesperson Mohamed Hussain Shareef claimed that police had ‘baton charged’ protestors. The Maldivian Police has denied this.
According to the police report, last night’s protest was considerably less violent than the previous three nights’. Opposition activist Umar Naseer was “briefly detained” last night for refusing to follow police instructions but released without charge at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, police said.
President’s Office Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair said: “The government understands that many people are concerned about the economy and recent price rises and we are doing everything possible to ease the situation. The government decided to halve the import duty on diesel fuel in yesterday’s cabinet meeting, to help combat rising fuel prices associated with global oil price rises and the managed float of the Ruffiya,” said Mr. Zuhair.
The government condemned the Z-DRP for orchestrating this week’s often violent protests and calling on people to topple a democratically elected government. “It is unclear what Mr. Gayoom hopes to achieve through violent protest. His faction says it wants ‘the price of things’ to fall. Perhaps Mr. Gayoom could explain how throwing bricks, smashing windows and torching motorcycles helps reduce the cost of living,” said Mr. Zuhair.
President Mohamed Nasheed unseated former President Gayoom in the Maldives first democratic elections in late 2008.