Opposition protestors take to the streets; some arrested

Supporters of former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom protested on the streets of Male' city on Saturday night.

A large number of supporters from opposing Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Peoples' National Congress (PNC) gathered at Chaandhanee Magu and called for the release of their jailed leader, who was sentenced to five years in prison for money laundering earlier on Thursday.

The protestors were backed away from the area by the police, after which the crowd dispersed to different streets where they continued to voice their sentiments. They finally re-grouped in front of the PPM office on the outer main street of the city, where they continued the protest.

Some council members of the PPM-PNC joint coalition were arrested while the police attempted to break up the crowd. PPM confirmed the reports, although the police are yet to make a comment.

The PPM-PNC council are determined to continue protesting every night on the streets of Male' city until President Yameen is freed. The opposing coalition has refused to accept the verdict against their leader.

According to amendments brought to the Freedom of Peaceful Assembly Act by the former president during his administration, street protests, marches, parades, and other such gatherings can only be held with written permission from the police, or in areas designated by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The ministry listed the Carnival area in capital Male' as the only approved location to hold a protest.

The amendment was ratified while the then opposition, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) was protesting against the jailing of their leader and current Speaker of the parliament, Maldives' first democratically elected president Mohamed Nasheed.