Maldives united opposition laments permission delay to hold first rally

An earlier MDP rally held in the capital Male. PHOTO/MDP

An earlier MDP rally held in the capital Male. PHOTO/MDP

Maldives United Opposition has slammed the government over the delay in granting permission to hold its first rally in the capital Male later this week.

The newly formed opposition alliance had said it will seek to oust incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and form an interim government to ensure free and fair elections scheduled in 2018.

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

The MUO had announced its plans to hold its first rally on Thursday and had put in a request for permission over a month ago.

MDP secretary general Anas Abdul Sattar said housing ministry is yet to reply to the request.

He labelled the delay as an attempt by the government to obstruct the opposition.

Anas revealed that the government has also denied several requests by his party to hold a rally.

Meanwhile, the police had also denied a request by MDP to hold a march on Monday to mark its 11th anniversary.

However, MDP has planned to kick off the street march at 9pm Monday despite a police warning to block the anniversary celebration.

Police citing traffic jams and inconvenience to pedestrians had reiterated its stand to block off the march.

MDP however, has insisted that it would only yield to a court order.

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.

Police have repeatedly insisted that article 33 of the Freedom of Assembly Act allows restrictions for “protecting the rights and freedom of others.”

However, MDP has continued to insist that the police cannot ban a gathering in advance.

The 2013 law authorises the police to order organisers to curtail the duration of a gathering, to maintain a specific noise level, to end the gathering before a specific time, to refrain from using loudspeakers, to refrain from using foul language, and to hold the gathering at a specific time.

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