Four MPs arrested as police allege violent coup attempt

Four MPs were among 10 people arrested Wednesday night as police cracked down on “illegal demonstrations and violent riots” aimed at overthrowing the government.

Opposition MPs Mariya Ahmed Didi, Mohamed Ameeth, Ali Hussain and Faisal Naseem were arrested along with former environment minister Mohamed Aslam from the gathering on the capital’s main thoroughfare, according to the Maldivian Democratic Party.

Five female protesters pepper sprayed at close range were also taken to hospital with the help of Red Crescent volunteers.

Accusing the opposition of disrupting public order and inciting violence “with the sole purpose of overthrowing the lawfully elected government,” police said in a statement that nine people were taken into custody “for obstruction of justice and for being unruly” in addition to one individual suspected of dousing a policeman with used engine oil.

Police also seized 105 packets of “pepper water” alleged to have been prepared for use against officers.

Tensions are running high in Malé as the opposition gears up for a mass protest on Friday with supporters expected to travel to the capital from across the country, prompting threats of license cancellation against fishing vessels that ferry protesters.

Branding the March 16 gathering “unlawful,” the police spokesman said Wednesday that arrests have been made in connection with alleged plans to create chaos and confront the security forces.

Several members of the MDP’s national council are among 45 people detained under emergency powers.

Daily demonstrations have been taking place since President Abdulla Yameen declared the state of emergency last month in reaction to a shock ruling for the release of nine prisoners, citing a “judicial coup” to remove him from office.

Several constitutional rights, including freedom of assembly and due process rights, have been suspended.

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Source URL:  Maldives Independent

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