Non-violent sit in protests have swept through the Maldives, with thousands of citizens deprived of their constitutional right to vote determined to shut down the country until elections are held.
“We will continue to protest until we can get an election. The protests symbolise that this country has no where to go without an election. Everything has to stop, everyone has to stop and think,” MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Minivan News today.
Police arrived at the Elections Commission (EC) in the early morning of Saturday (October 19), forcibly preventing the scheduled election going ahead, in the apparent absence of explicit orders to do so from either the courts or the executive.
Police had also previously obstructed the run-off election which was due to be held on September 28.
Chief Superintendent Abdulla Nawaz told the press yesterday that police had “made the decision ourselves” after “seeking advice” from, among others, President Dr Mohamed Waheed and Attorney General Azima Shukoor, after the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and the Jumhooree Party (JP) had refused to sign the final voter lists.
The Supreme Court’s guidelines issued following its annulment of the September 7 election’s first round of polling said the EC was to hold elections before October 20 with the support of relevant state institutions, EC Chairperson Fuwad Thowfeek has noted.
Once the midday torrential rain abated, Maldivians nationwide spontaneously began staging non-violent sit in protests demanding that their right to vote be upheld on Saturday (October 19).
At around 2:40pm on Saturday 30 protesters gathered outside of the People’s Majlis (Parliament) in Male’, and refused to move when asked to by police.