Opposition allege govt. taking unfair advantage of health emergency

Protests held by opposition Progressive Coalition on February 26, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Police arrested some of the leading opposition figures behind protests planned for today before the protests had even begun, leading to immense criticism of the government by senior opposition figures later on.

Police and the Home Ministry had earlier warned that it will not permit any unlawful public gatherings during the tense situation with COVID-19 in the Maldives.

Despite this, dispersed groups of protesters were spotted across the capital in the evening. The protests were planned by the opposition Progressive Coalition under the banner "Where is my flat?" and also called for the freedom of jailed ex-president Abdulla Yameen. 

Progressive Coalition officials in a press conference afterward, alleged that the government was taking undue advantage of the current health emergency in place across the nation. They also condemned the conduct of the police regarding an incident where a protester was hurt today.

Progressive Coalition press conference on February 26, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The injured protester suffered head injuries after being collided into by another protester who was fleeing the police after breaking police lines. Video footage of the incident showed protesters running into a cafe near the PPM office as they are being pursued by police who were trying to control the protests.

One of them collided with a man standing near the cafe who suffered the injuries. The man suffered bleeding to the head and was assisted by police officers at the scene. He was later taken to the hospital in a police vehicle. No further details are available of the incident or the injuries to the man. 

Man injured during protests held by opposition Progressive Coalition on February 26, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Police stated that those arrested before the protests commenced were leading figures behind the planning of the protests and that they were arrested to stop the protests from being carried out in the capital.

Those arrested include former MP for Hoarafushi Mohamed Ismail as well as former MP Col. Nasheed. People's National Congress Council member Ahmed Nareesh as well as current MP Mohamed Nasheed (Mosta) were also among those arrested. 

A protester being arrested during protests held by the opposition Progressive Coalition on February 26, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Home Minister Imran Abdulla, later tonight, criticized opposition leaders and even stated that he was well aware of how opposition senior figure Abdulla Abdul Raheem (Adhurey) planned and operated protests.