Addu City, February 23 (newsin.asia): Addu City, the second largest in the Maldives after capital Male, was abuzz with activity on Friday with thousands pouring in to see First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim kick off a rally to express support for her embattled husband , the Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen.
A full throated slogan: “Do not meddle or betray my country and religion. Do not become a traitor and betray when you know what has happened in our history” rent the air as the First Lady arrived to a tumultuous welcome from a charged crowd of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) supporters.
Addu City is said to be the hub of the opposition but this appeared to be off the mark given the size of the crowd and the surcharged atmosphere.
The rally organized by the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) was designated as Mage Deena Mage Gaumaa (My religion My Land) to distinguish the party from the opposition which is said to be drawing inspiration from the non-Islamic West and is not indigenous in the true Maldivian sense.
The purpose of the rally was to show support for President Yameen who was confronted by a Supreme Court ruling on February 1 which he claimed to be a “judicial coup” to get the opposition to take over the government.
The court had ordered the immediate release and re-trial of nine top opposition leaders who had been jailed on charges of terrorism ,bribery ,murder and fraud. Among the nine were two prominant opposition leaders, MDP chief Nasheed and Jumhoory Party leader Gasim Ibrahim.
The court also ordered the reinstatement of 12 MPs sacked earlier for crossing the floor. The two orders would have politically weakened Yameen both inside and outside parliament.
He tried in vain to convince the Chief Justice that the said orders would ruin the country, and would violate the constitutional autonomy of the Executive in law and order and security matters.
Yameen declared a State of Emergency on February 5 and arrested former President Mamoon Abdul Gayoom, Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Justice Ali Hameed on various charges.
Meanwhile opposition leader Nasheed asked India to send a “military backed Special Envoy” to the Maldives to make Yameen yield. Initially unresponsive India recently issued a statement calling for implementation of the February 1 Supreme Court order “in letter and spirit”.
But Yameen considered this to be unwarranted and based on an improper understanding of the situation in the Maldives.
The slogan against “betraying” the country in the Addu City rally was meant to convey distaste for the opposition’s bid to get foreign help to overthrow the legitimate government of the Maldives.
Addu has an anti-colonial history too. The British had a military base in Gan till the 1970s which was removed under nationalist pressure.
The people of Addu are distinct from those in Male speaking a different dialect and they had enjoyed a brief period of independence as the Suvadive Republic, from 1959 to 1963.
The Addu rally could also be seen as the beginning of Yameen’s campaign for the September 2018 Presidential election.
The Election Commission has announced the start of preparatory work for the poll. As yet, incumbent President Yameen is the only candidate.
Former President Mohamed Nasheed is eager to throw his hat into the ring as the candidate of the joint opposition led by his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). But as of now he cannot contest as he had been sentenced in 2015 to 13 years in jail for terrorism. He is now in self-exile in the UK as a fugitive leading a movement to oust Yameen from power “through constitutional means” and with the help of Western powers.
Nasheed has been expecting the international community to force Yameen to release him from jail and let him contest the September election.
(The featured image at the top shows Maldivian First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim arriving at the Addy City rally)