Maldives National Party (MNP)’s leader, Dhangethi MP Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim said on Sunday that his party does not support yelling in streets to ‘out’ a specific country, but neither does it support heavy reliance on another country.
He made the comment in a press conference by MNP on Sunday afternoon.
Referring to the ‘India Out’ campaign by the opposition coalition, composed of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People’s National Congress (PNC), Nazim said the police had the authority to sop such action.
“Police Act states that they have the authority to stop actions that disrupt domestic affairs and bilateral relations with foreign countries. Police are legally mandated to stop such action,” he said.
Nazim said he does not see the police utilizing their authority to stop such action.
He also criticized the decision to deploy soldiers along with the police to stop the campaign.
“Soldiers don’t need to be deployed because some 30 or 40 people are out on the streets,” said Nazim, a former defense minister.
Nazim said he does not see cause for a joint operation between the police and the military to stop the ‘India Out’ campaign.
He said that the police were hesitating to utilize their legal authority, and were instead hiding behind a presidential decree to get it done.
Nazim said that the decree issued by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in April, banning the ‘India Out’ campaign, was unconstitutional.
He said that MNP does not believe a fundamental right can be constrained with anything other than a law passed by the parliament.
President Solih issued the decree banning the ‘India Out’ movement on April 21, deeming it a threat to national security.
All state institutions have been instructed to enforce the decree.
However, the opposition coalition continues to put up banners and graffiti the walls of buildings with slogans linked to the movement.
President Solih said in his decree that the ‘India Out’ movement was a deliberate attempt to hinder the longstanding relations between Maldives and India, and international efforts to maintain security in the region, and that incitement to hatred against a specific country put Maldives at risk of loss of peace and stability, huge economic and social burden, and isolation in the international arena.
The opposition coalition has filed a lawsuit over the decree, calling the move an infringement on the right to freedom of expression.