The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has pledged to exert pressure on the Mohamed Muizzu administration to address fishermen’s grievances, including ensuring swift settlement of overdue payments. This commitment was announced during a press conference held by the MDP parliamentary group, signalling a proactive approach to resolving the financial plight faced by fishermen, particularly in the southern city of Addu.

Amid a series of demonstrations taking place near the Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company (MIFCO) Addu Fisheries Complex on Hulhumeedhoo Island, the MDP parliamentary group has expressed its intent to utilise parliamentary mechanisms to ensure the government fulfills its financial obligations to the fishing community. The protests, which commenced on Thursday, have led to the temporary suspension of operations at MIFCO’s fish processing plant, highlighting the severity of the fishermen’s discontent.

Ibrahim Nazil, the MDP parliamentary group leader and South Hithadhoo MP, voiced significant concern over the payment delay, which has now surpassed 80 days. With over 90 percent of Addu City’s fishermen participating in the demonstrations, Nazil underscored the urgency of finding a resolution to what he described as an “extremely concerning” issue.

The MDP parliamentary group has announced plans to hold the government accountable, including summoning the Fisheries Minister for questioning. Minister Ahmed Shiyam, previously questioned in parliament regarding this issue, reiterated the administration’s commitment to settling payments within 48 hours of purchasing catches. However, he acknowledged the challenges posed by the current fiscal situation and operational issues within MIFCO.

In response to the escalating situation, the MDP submitted an emergency motion to the parliament on Tuesday, urging the Muizzu administration to expedite the payment process. Presented by Maradhoo MP Ahmed Didi, the motion calls for non-interference from police and military in the demonstrations, prompt payment to the fishermen, and the establishment of a sustainable mechanism to prevent future payment delays

The recent protests in Addu City are part of a broader wave of demonstrations across the Maldives, including significant protests earlier this month in Hulhumalé, Malé, and Madaveli Island, Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll. Despite the government releasing MVR 46 million of the MVR 80 million owed ahead of the Eid al-Adha holidays, the issue of unpaid dues remains unresolved.