Maldives opposition slams state TV over pres campaign rally coverage

Defence minister Adam Shareef speaks during president Yameen's re-election campaign rally held in Fuvahmulah on Thursday.

Defence minister Adam Shareef speaks during president Yameen’s re-election campaign rally held in Fuvahmulah on Thursday.

State broadcaster came under heavy fire from the opposition on Saturday after the state run Television Maldives (TVM) covered president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s re-election campaign rally in Fuvahmulah on Thursday.

Main opposition Maldivian Democratci Party (MDP) accused Public Service Media (PSM) which runs TVM of misusing public funds.

MDP spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy said TVM had failed to cover any of the opposition rallies.

“TVM doesn’t cover any news or rallies of the opposition parties which pays the highest amount in taxes. This case of bias and misuse of state funds must be taken up with the ACC [Anti Corruption Commission], the north-Maafannu MP Fahmy added.

However, PSM dismissed the accusations by insisting that it strictly acts within its policy.

PSM has been at the centre of controversy recently after it was forced to remove a report heavily critical of ruling party leader and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom following public outrage.

The entire report aired on TVM was based on a Tweet by Gayoom.

Gayoom who has been locked in a bitter power struggle with his half brother president Yameen called for courage to succeed in political endeavours.

“Integrity and courage are crucial for success in all political endeavours. If we allow fear to restrict our actions we will never deliver,” the elder Gayoom’s Tweet read.

PSM had interpreted the Tweet as Gayoom publicly supporting former president Mohamed Nasheed.

According to the report which was also published on the PSM website, accused the Gayoom who ruled the country for three decades before losing the 2008 president elections to Nasheed after linking the Tweet to the election “anti-Islamic” slogan “Fun without fear” used by Nasheed in the 2013 election campaign.

The report also said Gayoom now 80, was supporting his arch nemesis Nasheed.

Gayoom is also riding on the back of his lawmaker son, Faaris Maumoon to re-gain popularity within the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), the report alleged.

The report sparked intense public criticism especially on social media.

Most people labelled the report as libel which falls under the defamation law which was signed into law by president Yameen the same day.

PSM quickly removed the report after the public accused the state media of defaming the ex-president Gayoom.

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