Will protest even if Malé is put under lockdown: Opposition

Parliament member of Faresmathoda constituency, Hussain Mohamed Latheef (Sembe) | Photo: Majlis

Malé, Maldives – Parliament member of Faresmathoda constituency, Hussain Mohamed Latheef (Sembe) has said that the oppositions protest will be held in Malé City’s even if a lockdown in announced.

MP Hussain said this after Health Minister Ahmed Naseem (Kerafa Naseem) has said that Malé City was in a situation where a lockdown might be inevitable. While speaking at a workshop held to formulate a law for tour operators and tour agencies in Maldives, Minister Naseem said that the level of Covid-19 spread in Malé City was unclear.

Minister Naseem also said that the spread of the virus in Malé City was ‘out of control’ and that more than 200 cases are expected by today from Malé City alone. He further added that if conditions does not allow for a lockdown, stricter measures will be imposed in the capital to control the spread of the virus.

The opposition announced the Fridays protest in a press conference held on February 21, 2021 in which the People’s National Congress (PNC) Vice President Mohamed Nimaal stated that supporters in numerous atolls have requested to join the rally planned for next Friday, with many ready to complete 14 days of quarantine after attending the protest.

Opposition leaders have urged all supporters in Malé to show up next Friday. Nimaal said that he is sure this will be a large event, one that will be attended by numerous people that want their voices heard by the government.

This comes after a series of protests led by the opposition by taking to the streets of Male’ of which, the latest was in protest of the recently published list of “Hiyaa” flat winners.

The protests were initiated with the aim to bring justice to people who have lost or did not receive their apartments after ‘Hiyaa’ Public Housing Scheme was released on the 10th of February. Many protesters and police officers have suffered several injuries during clashes which have occurred during these demonstrations.

The PPM and PNC coalition decided to keep protesting and take action following a recent decision of the High Court, to uphold an earlier sentence by the Criminal Court’s which has led to Former President Yameen continue his 5 year money laundering sentence in Maafushi Prison.

Head of Malé City Police, Chief Superintendent of Police Abdullah Shareef has previously stated at a Health Emergency Operations Center (HEOC) press conference, that legal action would be taken against any further protests in the capital city. He added that the opposition has been advised against these protests multiple times and that further protests would be considered as an obstruction to justice.

However, Former Chief Justice of the Maldives Dr. Ahmed Abdullah Didi has said that legal action cannot be taken against the opposition for protesting, replying to statements from Maldives Police Service saying that protests are not allowed.

The opposition has continued to protest in Male’ by violating several guidelines released by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While most protesters do wear masks, social distancing is not followed, which is very alarming as Covid cases in Maldives are at an all time high.