The Maldives Police Service (MPS) has submitted a report on the alleged police actions obstructing the inaugural assembly of the People’s National Front (PNF), a party led by former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, following a directive from President Mohamed Muizzu.

President Muizzu had earlier expressed concern over the police’s non-compliance with specific instructions of non-interference and demanded a thorough investigation into the matter. He had requested the report to be delivered ‘before sunset’ on Wednesday.

The police said that they acted on instructions from the Education Ministry to halt proceedings in order to protect the school the rally was convened at.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, President Muizzu said that he had repeatedly instructed Home Minister Ali Ihusaan and Commissioner of Police (CP) Ali Shujau not to send Special Operations (SO) police due to ‘political reasons’.

“I then called the CP. I asked him why this happened. I gave clear instructions. I want this to be investigated. Who gave what instructions and how it happened. I have also instructed the Home Minister that I should receive the [complete] investigation report by sundown today,” the President explained.

The PNF rally was initially planned to be held at Ghiyasuddin International School (GIS). However, when the school later withdrew the venue PNF tried to continue with the rally, resulting in riot gear clad police deploying pepper spray — one police officer fell into the crowds in the ensuing chaos.

“… There was a lot of tragedy because something I didn’t want to happen happened. Something I specifically said should not happen. So I really didn’t sleep last night. And I’m thinking about it. I don’t think I can rest until I get this report and get to the bottom of this,” Muizzu said in a statement to select local media outlets.

The president said the SO police went to GIS last night after being repeatedly and very clearly being told not to do such a thing. The police were informed that action would be taken even if such an instruction came from another government body, Muizzu said.

“I am very sorry for what happened last night. I met the police very recently. I talked about it that evening as well. That evening I told the police and before that I gave instructions to the CP, senior officials and Home Minister that they will not receive any kind of instruction, no instruction, from me to let anyone undertake any political harassment,” the president said.

He said that any such instruction, should they be given to the SO, would come from him directly.

“It looked very bad last night. I have given very clear instructions that we should not send SO police, we should not send them. If we have to send them, I will know when we get to that point. I will [specifically] instruct to carry out such an action,” he said.

The President was at a campaign event when police intervened in the PNF rally. The President said that the CP was ordered not to send police but neither the police nor the Home Minister had informed him of the action.

“After the event I was informed and I saw the photos in the newspaper where SO police went and barricaded the place and then did various things. It is very sad, I had very clear instructions,” he said.

He immediately called Home Minister Ihusaan, he said.

“… I called the Home Minister and asked him how this happened when I had given clear instructions. Then the Minister said that he had [also] personally instructed the CP,” the president said.

Muizzu said he did not believe police purposefully violated his instructions.

“I don’t accuse anyone. I don’t believe that someone I have appointed would do such a thing on purpose,” he said.

The President said he wanted to take action on the issue and win back the trust of the people.

“I will get the investigation report today and take the necessary action against those who did this. I want to restore the confidence of the people in the police force. I want them to have confidence in my administration,” he said.

While police said they would cooperate with the investigation, they did not disclose the reason for the violation of the president’s order stating that the investigation was ongoing.

The PNF’s inaugural rally, after being obstructed by police, was eventually held at the ‘Raalhuganu’ area yesterday with Yameen’s son, Zeine Abdulla Yameen, appointed as interim party President.

Meanwhile PNF’s Interim Senate Member Mohamed Jameel Ahmed today said that President Muizzu was engaging in outright lies to defend his administration especially since, according to Ahmed, the administration had initially blocked PNF’s registration.

When the President announced that the police obstruction was in violation of his orders, Ahmed, in a social media post, said President Muizzu was lying in an attempt at damage control after his administration’s initial hasty actions.

Ahmed alleged that the administration did what it did to stop PNF’s inaugural rally. According to Ahmed this included State Electric Company (STELCO) not providing electricity for the rally, the Education Ministry repeatedly threatening and intimidating GIS throughout the day, Elections Commission (EC) along with the Education Ministry and police repeatedly threatening PNF since the day before the rally, attempts to entice the catering company to cancel, and the police while having no legal justification to enter GIS, being clearly ordered to stop the rally by any means.

President Muizzu was forced to speak out in justification of his administration’s actions because of the dissatisfaction of the people and political leaders across the country, Ahmed said.

Ahmed said President Muizzu’s words might gain an iota of weight were Home Minister Ali Ihusaan and Education Minister Ismail Shafeeu to be sacked.

Former president Yameen knows that President Muizzu is trying to prevent his release before the parliamentary elections and the formation of PNF, Ahmed said.