[QODLink]
Central & South Asia
Fresh protest rocks troubled Maldives
Opposition leader is briefly detained as hundreds rally against "financial mismanagement" by government.
Last Modified: 04 May 2011 09:24
Street protests have hit Maldives over its troubled economy. [AFP]

Maldives police briefly detained an opposition politician on the fourth night of anti-government protests in the capital Male, amid growing public anger over the island country's troubled economy.

The police arrested Umar Naseer, deputy leader of the opposition Dhivehi Raithunge Party, and 30 others who had gathered along with three to four hundred protesters in front of the Maldives Monetary Authority late Tuesday night, Ahmed Shiyam, police spokesman, said on Wednesday.

Some reported a bigger turn out of thousands.

Nazeera and 24 protesters were released within a few hours, while the rest remained in custody for further questioning, Shiyam said.

Public discontent

Maldives have in the past few days witnessed violent protests over alleged wasteful spending and financial mismanagement by the government.

Many are unhappy with President Mohamed Nasheed's decision last month to float the Maldivian currency rufiyaa, which is pegged against the US dollar, within a 20 per cent band. The float led to a quick drop in value and soaring prices for key necessities. Most commodities are imported to the Maldives, an archipelago of 1,200 islets in the Indian Ocean.

Nasheed announced a 50 percent cut on fuel import tax on Tuesday, as an effort to abate "drastic fluctuations in diesel prices in the Maldivian market in quick successions due to unpredictable world fuel prices".

"The government understands that many people are concerned about the economy and recent price rises and we are doing everything possible to ease the situation," Mohamed Zuhair, the president's press secretary, said.

While noting the public's discontent with the economy, the government condemned former president and opposition party leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom for organising such a demonstration.

Nasheed was elected president in the country's first multi-party election in 2008, ending Gayoom's 30-years of one-party rule, but the country has recently struggled with soaring food prices and unemployment.

"Peaceful protest is legal and welcome in the Maldives’ new democracy. But former President Gayoom is taking advantage of the economic situation to cause violence in the streets. These protests are more to do with Gayoom trying to shore up his position in the opposition, than the state of the economy," Zuhair said.

"In the Middle East, you have democrats on the streets bringing down dictatorships. Ironically, in the Maldives, the remnants of the former dictatorship are trying to bring down a democratically elected government," he added.

Source:
Al Jazeera
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
Iran's government has shifted its take on 'brain drain' but is the change enough to reverse the flow?
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
join our mailing list