Maldives opposition to hold rally despite govt u-turn

MDP supporters gathered for the march to mark its 11th anniversary on Monday. MIHAARU PHOTO/ALI NAAFIZ

MDP supporters gathered for the march to mark its 11th anniversary on Monday. MIHAARU PHOTO/ALI NAAFIZ

Newly former Maldives United Opposition (MUO) is set to press ahead with plans to hold its first rally later Thursday despite a sudden u-turn by the government on its decision to grant a venue for the rally.

Housing ministry had finally yielded to opposition pressure on Tuesday after top opposition officials camped inside the housing ministry to obtain the permit to hold the rally more than a month after putting in the request.

However, Housing minister Dr Mohamed Muizzu called a sudden press conference on Thursday to annul the permit insisting that the government cannot allow a rally intended to incite the public to commit an unlawful act.”

“We will not allow anyone to undermine the peace and stability of the country,” Muizzu said during the press conference before walking out without taking questions.

The MUO brings together the Maldivian Democratic Party, the Adhaalath Party, two of president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s former deputies and his former defence minister.

During the press conference Muizzu had also refused to recognize the opposition coalition saying that the permit was originally given to MDP

Responding to Muizzu’s comments, MDP pointed out that the ministry has always allowed for joint political party gatherings.

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) continues to hold its rallies jointly with its coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), MDP argued.

MDP had also urged authorities not to stymie the rally.

Meanwhile, a ban on street protests in the capital Male has been in force since a police crackdown on a three-day protest staged by the MDP last November. The police have since blocked the opposition’s anti-corruption walks as well as marches by the media and civil society.

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