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Friday, October 25, 2013

Maldives MDP opposition alleges harassment


Maldives MDP opposition alleges harassment

Supporter of Maldives former president Mohammed Nasheed with their mouths covered with tape sit near a campaign poster of Nasheed during a silent protest in Male, Maldives, Monday, Oct. 21, 2013The decision to annul the first round of the election angered many of Mr Nasheed's supporters
The main Maldives opposition party has accused the government of harassment after one of its MPs and another opposition-aligned MP were dismissed.
They were ejected from parliament by the Supreme Court but the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) accused judges of collaborating with the government.
An aide to the president has dismissed the allegation as "absolutely wrong".
The dismissed MPs say they will not accept the court ruling and will continue to serve as MPs regardless.
The situation in the Maldives is tense after the first round of a presidential election held in September was annulled by the Supreme Court.
The court ruled that electoral lists included made-up names and those of dead people.
International observers had all praised the conduct of the first-round election - in which former President Mohamed Nasheed, of the MDP, got 45% of the vote.
A second attempt at a vote was blocked by police last Saturday in a move declared illegal by the country's Human Rights Commission.
The new election will now be held on 9 November, and a run-off - if required - on 16 November.
'Unconstitutional'
In a 4-3 majority, the Supreme Court disqualified the two MPs - Ali Azim and Mohamed Nashiz - from parliament for the non-payment of a debt of $9m (£5.5m) for which they had signed as loan guarantors.
The Maldives chief justice, who was also on the bench, disagreed with the majority view that the MPs' alleged offence made them liable for disqualification.
Ahmed Naseem, who served as foreign minister under Mr Nasheed, told the BBC the case was an old one and had been resuscitated to reduce the MDP's thin majority in parliament.
He described the ruling as "totally biased and unconstitutional".
The party says corruption charges against government-aligned MPs have, in contrast, been dropped.
There are also police notices against three other MDP parliamentarians for alleged contempt of court.
A further one is the subject of an arrest warrant from the criminal court in a case of alleged alcohol and drug use. He has taken refuge in parliament.
Masood Imad, President Mohamed Waheed's aide, said it was "sad" that the MDP was blaming the government over the MPs' fate.
"The government has nothing to do with this - it's a judicial matter," he said. "We don't have any control over the judiciary and don't interfere with judicial matters."
Threat
In another development, the office of Mr Nasheed said there had been threats to his life from "al-Qaeda agents".
A spokesman for the office said it did not know who might be responsible but added: "I'm assuming the threat is real because there have been many such attempts in the past."
The spokesman has asked state security bodies to check the information and ensure Mr Nasheed's security.
On the death threat allegation, Mr Imad said that if Mr Nasheed gave a clear indication of who the alleged al-Qaeda figures were, "we'll arrest them and throw them out of the country".