Senior officials from the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) showed up in support for the party chairperson, Fayyaz Ismail, who was summoned by the Maldives Police Service (MPS) for questioning on Thursday regarding an ongoing investigation involving the Road Development Corporation (RDC).

MDP has interpreted Ismail’s summoning as a politically motivated act of intimidation orchestrated by President Mohamed Muizzu in the lead-up to the parliamentary elections scheduled for 21 April.

Ismail, a critic of the government’s alleged misuse of state resources, was questioned at the Police Criminal Investigation Department. In a demonstration of support for Ismail, many MDP leadership members assembled near the Criminal Investigation Department building in Malé. This included party president Abdulla Shahid, Malé City Mayor Adam Azim, and various party leaders, including former cabinet ministers and other party members.

Mahfooz Saeed, Ismail’s legal representative, clarified that the police did not indicate that he was under any criminal investigation. He was questioned about a payment made to his account from a company associated with him, following a payment the company received from RDC, stated Saeed.

“Today, the police did not mention a criminal investigation against Ismail or any connection with him in the RDC case,” Saeed stated. The police indicated that Ismail was only summoned to collect information, he added.

Following the questioning, Ismail spoke to reporters, characterising his summoning as an attempt by the Muizzu administration to suppress opposition and instill fear in the lead-up to the upcoming elections. All the financial information the police were seeking had already been submitted in his Asset Declaration forms to the President’s Office website during his tenure as the Economic Development Minister under the previous administration, he said.

“Undeniably, this is an act of intimidation. In a democratic society, even if there were any ties to the alleged corruption, the timing of my summoning would not have been today. The chairperson of the opposition party has been summoned on the eve of the parliamentary elections, a tactic seemingly designed to instill fear. They appear to be misinformed,” asserted Ismail.

The case in question was filed with the police in September 2022 and is currently under investigation by the police and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).