Officials from the Maldives Police Service (MPS) as well as the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) were on Wednesday summoned to the People’s Majlis Committee on National Security regarding the case of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s security being breached by the opposition.
It has been decided that the committee meetings regarding the case will be held behind closed doors.
Wednesday’s committee meetings were also closed off.
Minister of Defence and National Security Mariya Ahmed Didi, in consultation with the leadership of the National Defence Force, has constituted a special committee to investigate the matter as well.
MP Mohamed Aslam, Parliamentary Group Leader of the main-ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Chair of the National Security Committee, submitted the case to the committee regarding the breaching of the president’s security.
Submitting the case, MP Aslam stated that all provisions of the protection, secure transportation, security and travel are to be taken care of by the Ministry of Defence and National Security, as stated under the President’s Salary and Allowances Act.
This being said, the lawmaker noted that the issue of opposition protestors blocking the president’s motorcade is a matter of concern for the president’s safety.
The committee has since reached the decision to summon relevant agencies and institutions to seek details of the case. The committee will be seeking if there was negligence in the conduct of the incident and if there was proper communication between the police and armed forces.
As this is the first time a group of protestors have blocked a president’s motorcade, the committee members have unanimously agreed that the matter should be probed as a serious matter.
The members also called on authorities to take all the necessary precautions to ensure such an incident does not repeat, as this is the first time that a security failure of such extent has taken place, while the motorcade of the leader of the country was passing through the streets.
President Solih’s security was breached, after protestors from the opposition coalition comprising of Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and the People’s National Congress (PNC) blocked his motorcade while he was returning from an event on the evening of March 13. Several arrests were made shortly after.
The Maldivian president’s security was breached by the opposition while he was returning from the official function held in Hulhumalé to celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day.
His motorcade was passing through Boduthakurufaanu road when opposition protesters stopped his car and blocked his path.
Videos that have been circulating on social media show that the president’s motorcade was blocked near Cibo restaurant. The videos show police officers trying to stop the protestors from blocking the motorcade.
Some protesters took to social media saying that the president was unable to travel through the area and had to withdraw the motorcade.
A total of five individuals were arrested in connection with the case, out of which three currently remain in police custody after the Criminal Court recently ordered the release of two suspects. They were released on conditional bail after considering that this decision would lessen the danger to the safety of society. The court also deemed that there was no more legal means through which they could be kept in police custody.
Out of the five arrested then, the Criminal Court remanded two by five days and the remaining two suspects were given a 15-day remand. Arrested that evening were three men and a woman.
The People’s Majlis Committee on National Security Services or the 241 Committee is also looking into the matter of President Solih’s motorcade being obstructed, with the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) also having launched a probe.
Commanding Officer of the Presidential Guards, Colonel Abdullah Ibrahim was temporarily relieved of his duties, in connection with the case. The unit has since been temporarily handed over to Deputy Commander Major Ahmed Haleem.
Parliamentarian for Hanimaadhoo Constituency Abdul Ghafoor Moosa on Tuesday, called the 241 Committee to inquire whether the motorcade was stopped deliberately and whether the safety of the route was ensured. He went onto say that action must be taken against both the parties involved in the incident after investigations conclude. As such, he sought to clarify why MNDF chose the route when the opposition protest was on going on.
The committee decided to investigate the actions of the institutions involved and how the opportunity was facilitated for the opposition to breach the president's security.
As an additional point, it was decided to investigate the reason why the motorcade had to be turned around.
Speaking to press on March 14, President Solih confirmed that he had received the police report on the incident of his motorcade being obstructed. He added that his security is being handled by the defense ministry and that he would make a statement regarding the incident after receiving the report of the findings from the defense ministry.
The president’s security breach has shaken the nation, with some people asserting that this act cannot be seen as a political gimmick, with some even stressing that President Solih wasn’t given the full level of security he required at the time.