Nasheed party lawmakers allege threats
The MPs of the Maldivian Democratic Party said the new regime was threatening them in an effort to pressurise them. "They have threatened that they will charge us all with terrorism charges," Maria Didi, MDP Member of Parliament and former Chairperson of the Party told reporters outside the People`s Majlis (Maldivian Parliament) late Sunday night.
After a lull of two days since violence broke out on Male`s streets following Nasheed`s resignation last Tuesday, his supporters had laid siege to the street outside the Majlis shouting slogans against the current regime headed by President Mohammed Waheed Hassan.
Didi said if terrorism charges are registered against them, "we will get a huge sentence of more than 12 years so that they can keep us away in jail for such a long time".
Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, spokesperson of International Affairs of the MDP too alleged victimisation. "A number of our MPS have been arrested, have been physically hurt," he said.
The protesters had assembled outside the parliament on a day when the new President inducted seven members into his expanded cabinet, including the country`s first woman Attorney General and an aide of former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. About half a dozen protesters were detained and were later released.
Gafoor, who is also an MP said: "We decide to meet inside the Majlis because we did not feel that any place outside the Majlis was safe. We feel threatened by the developments. We dont feel safe".
"The arrests were to intimidate us, terrorise us. This is a coup and there is no doubt about it. We feel the brunt of it," Ghafoor said. However, senior sources in the new regime denied there was any witch-hunt and said all efforts are on to bring normalcy to the streets.
Sunday evening, around 500 supporters of Nasheed had gathered outside the Majlis demanding release of their MPs and calling for resignation of President Hassan.
Over 150 anti-riot police personnel armed with batons and pepper spray pushed the protesters back after over an hour of standoff with them. They however returned to the scene less than hour after they were pushed back.
The protesters threw money, including a few US dollars and Euros at the police. A few water bottles were also thrown at the police who set up barricades on the street leading to Majlis to stop protesters.
Though there was never a violent clash, tension ran in the air as the protesters jeered the policemen.
However, unlike earlier last week, the policemen kept their cool and gently pushed back the protesters. "We have been keeping much restrain. We just want this area to be cleared as protests are not allowed on the street," a senior police official at the site told PTI.
A European Union team from Colombo also arrived yesterday as per the schedule to take stock of the situation.
Maldives` first democratically-elected president has said he was forced to resign as gun-wielding military men threatened that they would resort to using arms if he did not.
Meanwhile, sources said Maldivian MP Mustafa had been taken to court yesterday in a cheque bounce case, that has been pending for a long time and cases pending against few other MDP MPs were also being revived.
The move seems to be a strategy by the current regime to apply pressure on the MPs, either to defect or be disqualified from the Parliament, the sources pointed out.