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Maldives opposition accuses Muizzu of protecting criminals after attack on Prosecutor General

The Maldivian Democratic Party accused President Muizzu of affiliating with criminal gangs and failing to protect public officials, noting that such crimes have risen after he came to power. Opposition parties are bringing an impeachment motion against Muizzu citing his anti-India stance.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Male Published on: January 31, 2024 14:57 IST
Maldives, opposition parties, Mohamed Muizzu
Image Source : PTI (FILE) Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu

Male: The Maldivian Democratic Party - the largest opposition party of the Maldives  - has accused President Mohamed Muizzu's administration of protecting criminals, hours after a brutal attack on Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem, according to local media reports. The Democrats, another opposition party, also strongly condemned the attack and speculated that it was a "well-planned" assault.

Shameem was attacked on Wednesday morning and is currently receiving treatment at the Maldives's ADK Hospital, a prosecutor's office official told Adhadhu. He also suffered a crack in his wrist trying to evade the attack. It is believed that the attack was not carried out with a sharp object. 

In a statement, the MDP strongly condemned the attack and said, "The alleged close ties between top government officials and criminal gangs were resulting in open violent assaults on top state officials." The party accused Muizzu's government of failing to protect officials tasked with constitutional duties and responsibilities.

"This party also notes that after having successfully driven down violent assaults in the Maldives during the former administration, such crimes have increased after President Muizzu took office... This party believes that such fearless attacks on top state officials are a result of the close ties that top government officials have with criminal groups operating in the Maldives, and because of the protection the government provides these criminal groups,” the opposition party said.

Notably, Shameem was appointed as Prosecutor General during the government of former Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, under whom India and the Maldives established close relations. Solih also condemned the attack as a "politically-motivated" act and called on the government to bring the perpetrators to justice.

'Well-planned attack' on Shameem

The Democrats, in a statement, said, "Given that Hussain Shameem was attacked with a machete and that the attack was targeted on the road, the party considers the attack to be a well-planned attack. Such an attack on a person holding a highly constitutionally appointed position in the state to avoid politics and perform important duties within the criminal justice system is an attack on the entire system. It's a dangerous signal."

According to reports, Shameem was attacked with a hammer. He was parking his bicycle and entering the house when the attacker hit his left shoulder. The identity of the assailant and the cause of the incident has not been established, and the attacker is yet to be arrested. The police are, however, investigating the case.

"There was an incident this morning where Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem was injured due to physical assault . He's now in stable condition and being treated at ADK Hospital. He was attacked with a weapon. The motive for this attack is not clear yet. The police is investigating the incident," said Maldives Public Prosecutor Ahmed Shafeeu.

Impeachment against Muizzu

The incident came during a political standoff between pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu's government and the opposition MDP, which is on track to introduce an impeachment motion against Muizzu. The MDP has criticised the government's pivot towards China and still controls a majority of the Maldivian Parliament.

Earlier, the Maldives Parliament witnessed violence when government MPs (PPM/PNC party) disturbed the proceedings of Parliament and the Speakers during a key vote on parliamentary approval for the Muizzu government. A brawl between MDP MP Isa and PNC MP Abdullah Shaheem Abdul Hakeem was seen.

The main opposition MDP has announced its plan to impeach Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu, the government has approached the Supreme Court over the recent amendment to Parliament’s standing orders which makes the process of impeachment easier, as per reports. The MDP has reported gathered all signatures for Muizzu's impeachment.

The Maldivian Parliament currently requires 54 votes to impeach President Muizzu, instead of the previous 58, as, according to the amendment to the standing orders, the total number of MPs is now 80, instead of 87. The MDP and Democrats, have 56 MPs between them; 43 MPs from the MDP, and 13 from the Democrats. They, therefore, have the power to impeach the president, if they wish.

Last week, the MDP and the Democrats announced an alliance to work together in the Parliament "to hold the government accountable", labelling the government's anti-India stance as "extremely detrimental" to the country's long-term development. 

Muizzu won the election in the Maldives in November last year, riding on an 'India Out' campaign, and tensions between the two countries reached their highest point when he asked India to withdraw its nearly 80 military personnel stationed there. Earlier this month, Muizzu vowed to stop the emergency helicopter services as facilitated by India and fixed March 2024 as the deadline to stop the helicopter services and for the withdrawal of Indian troops.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | Maldives: Hussain Shameem, Prosecutor General appointed during Solih govt, brutally stabbed


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