President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik made seven new appointments to the cabinet on Sunday morning.
The majority are hard-line opposition figures, while several are long time supporters of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Only two of the new appointments (the tourism and and health portfolios) have previously undeclared political affiliations.
Dr Waheed has faced pressure from his predecessor former President Mohamed Nasheed, who has challenged the legitimacy of Dr Waheed’s government claiming that he was forced to resign in a bloodless coup d’etat on February 7 at the hands of rogue police and military officers.
Dr Waheed said yesterday that he wanted cabinet to “represent all major political parties”, hoped that Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) would be represented, and said he would “keep posts vacant for them”. The MDP has so far rejected any participation in Dr Waheed’s government.
Mohamed Hussein Shareef ‘Mundhu’ was appointed as the Minister for Human Resources Youth and Sport. Shareef has been the spokesperson for former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom since his last term in office and also holds the Acting Secretary General’s post in Gayoom’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM).
Aishath Azima Shakoor was appointed as the Attorney General. She once held the same post under the former administration and is known be one of the most successful lawyers in the country with a record number of wins in controversial cases against Nasheed’s administration. She is a council member of Gayoom’s PPM.
Ahmed Mohamed ‘Andey’, Deputy Leader of leading opposition party Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), was appointed as the Minister of Economic Development. He has been an outspoken critic of Nasheed’s privatisation policies and the state’s budget formulation. He was the former CEO of the State Trading Organisation (STO) under Gayoom’s administration, the organisation implicated in blackmarket oil trading with the Burmese military junta under the former chairmanship of Gayoom’s half-brother, Abdulla Yameen.
The DRP was the first official party registered by Gayoom before he announced his resignation from politics in February 2010, becoming the party’s ‘honorary leader’. He became increasingly politically active and later fell out with his anointed replacement, Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, and formed the PPM after an acrimonious split.
Dr Asim Ahmed, a member of the DRP, was appointed as the Minister of Education. He has not been a particularly active member in the country’s political spotlight.
Dr Ahmed Shamheed was appointed as the Minister of Transport and Communication. He is a member of minority opposition Jumhooree Party (JP) and works as a Director at Villa Shipping and Trade, owned by JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim. He served in the ministry of planning and development under Gayoom’s administration. He is also a director of the Maldives Tourism Development Corporation Board (MTDC).
Ahmed Adheeb, was sworn in as the Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture. Adheeb is the President of the Maldives National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) is well known as a critic of the Nasheed’s economic policies. Under his leadership, the MNCCI made a failed attempt in court to halt the enactment of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Act, citing worse economic ramifications and violations of law. He is a widely respected economic analyst.
Dr Ahmed Jamsheed was meanwhile appointed as the Minister of Health and Family. Jamsheed, formerly Director General of the Centre for Community Health and Disease Control (CCHDC) resigned from his post, over concerns about reduced workloads, and later joined as the Cheif Operating Officer (COO) at ADK hospital. He is one of the leading and most outspoken public health experts in the country, and has been extremely active in promoting both public health and combating malaria epidemics in the Maldives.
Dr Waheed earlier appointed Deputy Leader of minority opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DQP) Dr Mohamed Jameel as the Home Minister and retired colonel Mohamed Nazim as the Defence Minister last week. Both are also notable supporters of Gayoom. Most recently Dr Jameel, Gayoom’s Justice Minister prior to the separation of powers, was an outspoken critic of Nasheed’s religious policies, authoring a pamphlet entitled ‘President Nasheed’s devious plot to destroy the Islamic faith of Maldivians’ and attacking his “business dealings with Jews”.
Dr Jameel is the only member in the cabinet from DQP, Dr Shamheed only member from JP while including Nazim the ministerial posts held by DRP members reach three and PPM stands at two.
Meanwhile ministers are yet to be appointed to the Finance Ministry, Islamic Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Fisheries Ministry and the Housing Ministry.
Abdullah Riyaz, former Assistant commissioner dismissed by Nasheed was appointed as the Commissioner of Police and Major General Ahmed Shiyam, appointed as Chief of Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).
“No self interest”
Speaking after the appointments, President Dr Waheed said that remaining cabinet ministers will be appointed in a week, and expressed his hopes for MDP’s participation.
“We all are with that hope. Because, today the country needs all of us to work together to establish peace, and take the country out of the deep pit of economic and political [problems] to find a prosperous future for our children,” Dr Waheed said.
He also added that: “I cannot do this work without the benevolent and sincere help of the [cabinet ministers]”, who he claimed had the full potential to serve the nation with “no self interest” during these “special circumstances”.
The newly appointed cabinet ministers must be approved by the parliament, in which MDP currently holds 35 seats, a single seat behind total opposition combined.
Minivan News could not get MDP’s comment on the new appointments as no member was available at the time of press – however, MDP has steadily rejected the legitimacy of Dr Waheed’s government accusing him of participating in what they call an opposition backed coup to force Nasheed out of office.
MDP Thodoo MP Ali Waheed has earlier stated that MDP will do everything to “stop the implementation of Dr Waheed’s every order” through parliament if he continues to remain in office, and ignores the party’s call for new elections in the next two months.