Vice president labels impeachment a ‘constitutional coup’

Vice President Dr. Mohamed Jameel has called his party’s attempt to remove him a “constitutional coup” and suggested that the international community should intervene.

Speaking to the New Indian Express from London on Tuesday, Jameel said, “This is a constitutional coup in the guise of constitutional reforms.”

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) submitted a resolution to impeach Jameel with cross-party support. A two-thirds majority or 57 votes is required to impeach the president or the vice-president.

The petition was submitted with 61 signatures. PPM MPs have publicly accused Dr. Jameel of incompetence and disloyalty.

“There is a complete disregard for parliamentary procedure just to get the tourism minister after me. This is personal vengeance,” Jameel said.

Jameel, who reportedly sounded anxious, told the New Indian Express: “Friends of Maldives should step in..They understand what’s happening.”

When asked if he meant Indian government should intervene, he added: “I don’t need to spell it out. But, it is clear what their role should be”.

The vice president broke his long silence on the imminent impeachment with a statement on Twitter yesterday. “It is a violation of the people’s rights when a party or an organization, at their whim, without any legal basis, removes an officer directly elected by them,” he wrote.

He was not responding to calls at the time of going to press.

Senior party officials have said that they are seeking to replace Jameel with Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb.

Jameel denied allegations of incompetency and told the New Indian Express that he had been carrying out his duty as the President Abdulla Yameen had ordered him to.

“The President has to tell me that I have not performed properly, but he never told me that,” he said.

Opposition politicians have meanwhile claimed President Yameen is fatally ill and wants a more loyal deputy ahead of a life threatening surgery. The government continues to deny rumors of the president’s health.

In the statement on Twitter, Jameel accused the PPM parliamentary group of greed and said that MPs have arbitrarily amended the constitution for their personal interests.

The parliament last week passed the first amendment to the constitution with overwhelming multi-party consensus to set the new age limits of 30-65 years for the presidency and vice presidency. Adeeb is now 33. The constitution previously stated that candidates must be 35 years of age.

Dr Jameel left to Sri Lanka last week after President Yameen authorised a medical leave. A senior PPM MP told Minivan News that Jameel had departed to the UK without informing the president’s office.

The MP said President Abdulla Yameen has asked the vice president to return to the Maldives and answer to the party’s parliamentary group about his impeachment.

However, Jameel told New Indian Express that he obtained permission before travelling to the UK and that he was attending a human rights seminar in London.

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Heated Viber exchange exposes rift between Gayoom brothers

A heated exchange on a social media group set up between MPs of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has been leaked and exposes a widening rift between President Abdulla Yameen and his-half brother and president of 30 years, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

In the Viber group, tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb reprimanded newly elected Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Faris Maumoon for his absence from a vote on a constitutional amendment that set an age limit of 30 to 65 years for the presidency and vice president.

“Faris you have let down HEP Yameen on the very first vote,” Adeeb told the newly elected MP for Dhiggaru.

adeeb-faris-chat 2

Faris is nephew to President Yameen and the eldest son of former President Gayoom.

Gayoom, is the leader of the PPM, and had opposed the change to set an upper age limit of 65 years. The former president, who is now in his early 80s, had served six terms from 1978 to 2008.

The ruling coalition is seeking to replace Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed with the 33-year-old tourism minister.

Tensions are reportedly running high within the PPM with Gayoom also unhappy with the vice president’s imminent impeachment.

Adeeb warned Faris against discriminating based on his background: “I have served this party and sacrificed more than any individual and it’s time for a change.”

“If anyone has the strength to confront us, u are all welcome. But this will happen Insha Allah.”

President Yameen was elected on Gayoom’s popularity. But in the past 18 months, he has created his own power base, with hand picked MPs and ministers. His right-hand man is Adeeb.

Several senior PPM officials have confirmed to Minivan News that screenshots of the Viber conversation circulating on social media are authentic.

Faris replied saying that his “only aim is upholding President [Abdulla] Yameen’s government,” but said: “Proper discussion and deliberation cannot be bypassed.”

Adeeb then said “this is definitely not helping this country to take forward, and Faris not coming to vote shows your commitment and those who have elected you.”

Faris had won a by-election for the vacant Dhiggaru seat earlier this month after former ruling party MP Ahmed Nazim was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

“Sir, I have every commitment and [support] to yourself and to the youth of our country. Especially the educated youth,” Faris told Adeeb.

After parliament voted to accept the amendments for consideration, Gayoom sent a text message to the PPM parliamentary group leader saying: “I am deeply saddened. There is no point to a man whose opinions are not considered staying on as PPM president.”

Former PPM MP Ahmed Mahloof has meanwhile called on Gayoom to retract support for his half-brother’s administration.

Opposition politicians have claimed President Yameen is fatally ill and wants a loyal deputy ahead of a life-threatening surgery, but the government has denied the rumours of the president’s health.

In a separate message to the PPM parliamentary group – also leaked online – Adeeb spoke of the importance of affording the space for President Yameen ” to rule this nation without internal resistance.”

“This nation needs to be sorted and it needs to give room for HEP Yameen to rule this nation without internal resistance. We need HEP Yameen’s policies to be implemented in this nation and PPM party, there is no nation where President is not the leader of the political party he represents.

“I have witnessed how difficult it is for HEP Yameen to rule with many frictions, I think we need to discuss this at party level,” wrote Adeeb.

He signed off as the “Elected VP.” Adeeb is also the vice president of PPM.

Addressing participants of a motorcycle rally yesterday, Adeeb said the country is very “stress free” at the moment and that there was no cause for anyone to worry.

The current administration will govern the nation in a “stress free” manner, he said.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed was transferred to house arrest last week based after doctors advised a “stress free environment” and rest for back pain.

The opposition MPs’ backing for the constitutional amendment was widely perceived as part of a deal in exchange for the opposition leader’s transfer to house arrest.

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Comment: May Day! May Day! May Day! Maldives

“When dictatorship is a fact, revolution becomes a right.” – Victor Hugo.

By many accounts, the atmosphere in Male’ is both festive and fearful right now. And so it would be. Today, supporters of democracy in the Maldives and those who want to prolong the increasingly autocratic regime of Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom are going head to head. Both sides are ready to give it their all, whatever happens, whatever it takes.

For democracy

There is little doubt that the country is heavily divided. On the side of democracy supporters are at least 48% of the electorate who voted for Mohamed Nasheed in the 2013 election stolen by Yameen Abdul Gayoom through the Supreme Court. Added to this are a majority of the 23% who in 2013 voted for Qasim Ibrahim, the tourism tycoon who helped fund Yameen’s win and is now being persecuted by him. Also among the democracy supporters are those aligned with the religious Adhaalath Party who voted either for Qasim Ibrahim or Yameen. One of their leading figures, Sheikh Imran Abdullah, so zealously effective against Nasheed in the 2013 presidential campaign, is also now campaigning against this government. All in all, Yameen–and the autocratic values that he represents–has the support of less than 25% of the electorate, if that. A conservative estimate would, therefore, put the percentage of the Maldivian electorate against the government at around 65%. A higher figure is likely to be more accurate.

A large share of these people will be out on the streets of the capital Male’ today for what is likely to be the biggest demonstration in the history of the country.

People have come on boatloads from across the 1200 island archipelago. ‘We have travelled on different ships, but we are now all on the same boat’, observed one such protester on social media. They will all be congregating in Male’ at 3:45 in the afternoon, under the hot tropical sun. They want to rise up against the government that has refused to listen to any of their multitude of woes and worries: murders that have not been solved; abductions that have not been investigated; corruption that has been encouraged; islands that have been sold to shady businesses; lagoons that have been signed away for centuries; atolls handed to foreign governments for unknown purposes; medical care that has been negligent; basic services that have been inadequate; streets that have become too dangerous to walk; children who have not been protected; living that has become too expensive to afford; freedoms that have been severely curtailed; promises that have been unfulfilled; and lives that have become too joyless and filled with fear to enjoy. They want a government that would listen; a government of the people, for the people. And they are ready, in their tens of thousands, to come out on the street and demand all this, all theirs by right.

Against democracy

‘I do not want to rule with force,’ President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has said. But short of using his own fists, he has done nothing but. All three powers of the State are entirely in his hand, though he continues to insist they are not. Some of the claims are laughable, such as his insistence that the judiciary is independent from his influence. The entire world has seen and said otherwise after the courts prosecuted and jailed opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed in the manner it did. With Yameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) holding an absolute majority, the parliament is his toy, too. As is the Prosecutor Generals’ Office, almost all independent commissions, and also the country’s armed forces.

With clear evidence of the partiality of these institutions laid bare on a daily basis, Yameen’s claims of not exercising undue influence makes him frequently look like Iraq’s Comical Ali: Maldives’ own Comical Abdulla.

The government has been preparing for the protest by banning civil servants from attending the rally, by firing pro-democracy staff in government-run institutions, and by producing and repeating the narrative that to protest is to destroy the country’s peace–as if there can be peace when a majority of the people are refusing to be ruled against their will. None of it is working. Desperate, it has wheeled out religious clerics to say it is against Islam to rise up against an elected leader. Sadly for the government, a majority of Maldivian clerics–having helped instigate the February 2012 coup which brought down the country’s first democratically elected–government, has little credibility left in this department.

In the meantime, Yameen’s right hand man, the financially rich but morally bankrupt Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb, has tried to heat things up further, challenging the protesters to ‘bring it on!’ He has said the government is ready to take on anyone that disagrees with it. There is fear, as well as compelling room for conviction, among democracy supporters that Adeeb–’bro’ to hundreds of gangsters–would not hesitate to bring the ‘boys’ out on the streets today. The plan would be, as has been executed many times before, to get his thugs to pretend they are part of the protest, and commit acts of violence in response to which the SO can unleash their own violence against the peaceful thousands marching for their rights.

The security forces

Police

The Maldives Police Service has become one of the country’s least respected institutions. With a Police Commissioner of little education and even less knowledge of policing at the helm–appointed solely for his loyalty to Yameen–the force has become even more disliked than it was after the 7 February which a group of them facilitated. Since Hussein Waheed became Commissioner, the police have been deployed to do a lot of Yameen’s dirty work–framing political opponents, freeing criminal allies, and brutalising democracy activists. Members of theSpecial Operations police (SO)–supposedly an ‘elite’ group–have become such lackeys of the president that they are even attending to the president’s superstitions, carrying out ‘top secret’ midnight operations to cut down trees that were supposedly cursed against the government.

The only people looking forward to the protests as much as, or even more, than the protesters themselves today are the police. From everything they have said and done since today’s protests were announced, they have been preparing for this day. In the last week there have been almost daily press briefings all of which have included threats, intimidation and announcements of new measures to curb the right to freedom of assembly. They have all but imposed visa requirements on people travelling to Male’ from other islands for the protests, demanding they have accommodation, food and other arrangements pre-booked before travelling. They have instigated stop and search operations targeted at boats en route to Male’; paraded troops with imitation guns, banned batons, and gas canisters to perform ‘training exercises’; and they have used ‘intelligence reports’ to arbitrarily arrest leading opposition activists. They have arbitrarily banned the media from certain areas; and banned protests ‘between two prayer times’ — as if there is any time that’s not between one of the five daily prayers. They have warned that caution must be exercised near mosques and schools – as if there is any area on the two square kilometres of Male’ that is not near a mosque or a school. They have said no sound systems can be used after 11:00p.m and that it must all end at sharp midnight. They have declared the protest, yet to begin, ‘not peaceful’. They have announced a strategy of zero tolerance. Any infringement of the growing list of illegally actions, at anytime during the protest, by anyone, and ‘we will crackdown’, they have said.

Strength in unity

Not everyone who supports democracy, wants to protest the unjust incarceration of Nasheed, and rise up against the current government, can join the march today. There are many valid reasons to hold people back–mothers who cannot leave their children; the unwell; people who believe they simply cannot risk their livelihoods; people who cannot be in Male’ for various reasons; and more. But, no matter how hard the government and the police would like to believe otherwise, fear is the last reason holding any democracy supporter back from the streets of Male’ today. Together, the people are stronger than any government, no matter how brutal.

This article was originally published on Dhivehisitee.com

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to editorial@minivannewsarchive.com

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Ruling party MP Nazim jailed for 25 years

The Supreme Court today sentenced ruling party MP Ahmed Nazim, a former close associate of the president, to 25 years in jail on corruption charges, stripping him of his parliamentary seat.

Nazim, an ex-deputy speaker of parliament, was found guilty of defrauding the state of MVR 1.4 million (US $91,400) by submitting bids on behalf of non-existent companies to supply 15,000 national flags to the now-defunct atolls ministry.

The conviction completes Nazim’s fall from grace at a time when the opposition has accused the government of targeting political rivals. Nazim, who helped President Abdulla Yameen found a party in 2008, appears to have fallen out of favour with the government.

The High Court in February 2013 acquitted Nazim on the basis that the witnesses, who had been his employees, were not credible, based on a Supreme Court precedent that testimony by accomplices to a crime is inadmissible .

However, the Supreme Court today unanimously ruled the employees were simply following Nazim’s orders in the scam, which took place in 2004.

Nazim’s downfall will trigger a parliamentary by-election in Meemu atoll Dhiggaru.

There are three more outstanding corruption charges against Nazim, which also involve the use of “paper companies” to win bids for the procurement of 220 harbor lights, sound systems for mosques and an additional 15,000 flags.

The police have previously said Nazim gained US$400,000 in total from the scams.

Police in October withheld the MP’s passport on unrelated charges of blackmail.

Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb at that time blamed Nazim for a damning report implicating him in a separate US$6million corruption scandal, and also accused Nazim of defamation following his refusal to support Nazim’s bid to become Speaker of parliament.

Scams

The scams, first flagged in an audit report in 2009, also involved ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives MP ‘Red Wave’ Ahmed Saleem and President Yameen’s half-brother Abdulla Hameed. Their cases are still pending at the High Court.

Saleem was the director of finance at the atolls ministry and Hameed was the minister at the time, while Nazim ran a company called Namira Engineering. Saleem and Hameed are charged with abuse of power and violation of state finance regulations.

During the original trial held at the Criminal Court, the then-employees of Nazim’s Namira Engineering testified under oath that they were instructed by Nazim to bid for the projects – however, the presiding judge concluded from their testimonies that they were responsible for the procurement fraud and therefore dismissed the testimonies against Nazim on all counts.

According to the audit report, documents of the company which won the bid, Malegam Tailors, showed that it shared the same phone number as Namira. Fast Tailors, another company that applied, also shared a different number registered under Namira.

Another company, Needlework Tailors, which submitted the bid, had an employee of Namira sign the documents under the title of general manager, while a fourth company named ‘Seaview Maldives Private Maldives’ did not exist.

Auditors noted that the Seaview bid documents had an exact date error also found in Fast Tailors documents, and said the error was sufficient to prove the same party had prepared both bids.

The prosecution began in late 2009 after police uncovered evidence that implicated Hameed, Saleem and Nazim in a number of fraudulent transactions.

At a press conference in August 2009, police exhibited numerous quotations, agreements, tender documents, receipts, bank statements and forged cheques showing that Nazim received over US$400,000 in the scam.

Police further alleged that MP Saleem actively assisted from the atoll ministry, while Nazim’s wife Zeenath Abdullah abused her position as a manager of the Bank of Maldives’ Villingili branch to deposit proceeds of the fraudulent conspiracy.

Police said Hameed as minister played a key role in the fraud by handing out bids without public announcements, making advance payments using cheques against the state asset and finance regulations, approving bid documents for unregistered companies and carrying out discriminatory treatment of bid applicants.

A hard disk seized during a raid of Nazim’s office in May 2009 allegedly contained copies of forged documents and bogus letterheads. Police alleged that money was channelled through the scam to Nazim, who then laundered cash through Namira Engineering and unregistered companies.

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Government considering racing track in Hulhumalé, says Tourism Minister

Tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb has said the government is considering building a racing track in Hulhumalé, saying that motor racing deters youth from crime.

Adeeb’s comments came at the conclusion of the ‘Motor Racing President’s Challenge 2015′ last night (January 24), with the minister acknowledging that the island’s master plan for artificial island made no provision for such a facility.

“Creating a master plan takes years and it is not essential for Hulhumalé to always have a racing track,” Haveeru reported Adeeb as saying. “We are, however, trying to build a track that would last at least six years and one that can host international events.”

The two day event, organised by the Maldives Motor Racing Association (MMRA), concluded last night with awards handed out by President Abdulla Yameen for the winners.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the competition this weekend, Adeeb said it was necessary to develop racing as a sport in the Maldives as it deters the youth population from crimes and drug abuse.

“These kind of sports prevent the youth from straying into criminal activities and drugs. Racing especially can only be done with good discipline, this is not a sport you can participate in unless you are sober,” said Adeeb.

The competition – which saw women participating in a racing event for the first time – was split into various categories as superbike racing, car racing, and various tiers of motorbike racing.

While President Yameen handed out the winning awards to all first prize winners, Adeeb handed out awards for the runners-up, and recently appointed Minister of Defense Colonel (retired) Moosa Ali Jaleel gave awards for those finishing third.

First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim was also awarded a shield of recognition by MMRA for the work she does towards developing the sport.

Adeeb said that despite motor racing being a widespread sport in the Maldives, it faces a considerable amount of restriction such as the lack of racing track and difficulty acquiring racing equipment. However, he noted that local racers had fared well despite these difficulties.

The second phase of the Hulhumalé development has begun, with Belgian company Dredging International reclaiming 240 hectares, doubling the size of what the current government government has designated a youth city.

At the official reclamation of the second development phase last week, President Yameen called on young people from around the country to relocate to the Malé suburb.

He has previously pledged to establish a ‘technopolis park’, entertainment, and sports facilities, and facilities for tourism and fisheries industries, while Hulhumalé Development Corporation officials have also said phase two of the project will feature a monorail to Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.

Source: Haveeru, Avas, Vaguthu



Related to this story

Motor racing event first to offer prize money

Motor racing comes to the Maldives: Piston Motor Racing Challenge 2013

President Yameen calls on youth to relocate to Hulhumalé

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President Yameen calls on youth to relocate to Hulhumalé

President Abdulla Yameen has called on the residents of islands with small populations to migrate to the new youth city to be established in Hulhumalé, stating the government is unable to meet the socio-economic needs of small islands.

Speaking at a ceremony to inaugurate the second reclamation phase of Hulhumalé on Thursday (January 15), Yameen assured youth the government would provide better living conditions and job ‎opportunities in Hulhumalé.

“The government is finding it difficult to cater to the economic and social needs of small islands. We have to meet human needs such as constructing harbours, establishing schools and hospitals, reclaiming land, transport systems, and so much more. It is not easy for the government to do this,” he said.

Although the government would facilitate relocation, migration would not be compulsory, he said.

“It may be a very beautiful island, but there is not much we can do for an island with 200 people, 300 people, or 400 people.”

In November the Majlis’ budget committee passed a proposal requiring the government to formulate a master plan for population consolidation, while the Maldives Monetary Authority recommended such a policy in order to “reduce state expenditure and provide services to the public in a sustainable way”.

With the completion of the second phase of Hulhumalé development, the government hoped to increase the population on the artificial island from 40,000 to 220,000, and increase the population of the Malé region to 400,000, the president said.

According to the 2014 census, the population of the Maldives stands at 341,256. Of this, 133,019 people live in Malé.

The second phase involved reclamation of 240 hectares of land and is expected to be completed within two months. The US$50 million project was awarded to Belgium’s Dredging International NV.

Yameen said on Thursday evening that the government would begin work on a bridge connecting Malé and Hulhumale this year, and will also improve ferry services.

The president has previously pledged to establish a ‘technopolis park’, entertainment, and sports facilities, and facilities for tourism and fisheries industries. Hulhumalé Development Corporation officials have also said phase two of the project will feature a monorail to Ibrahim Nasir International Airport.

Yameen said he had received a petition signed by 85 percent of residents in Vaavu Atoll Fulidhoo Island requesting relocation.

To facilitate economic activity and ease population pressure, the government will allow buildings to be built as high as 25 stories in Malé and Hulhumalé, the president added. Studies have shown the land in Malé to be strong enough, he said.

At present, buildings in Malé can be constructed to a maximum of 15 stories.

Yameen also pledged to ban traffic in narrow lanes in Malé in order to ease congestion and to allow space for children to play.

Speaking at the ceremony, tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb said Yameen is the only political leader in the country with the courage to provide opportunities for youth.

The government will develop the northern and southern regions through the Special Economic Zone Act, pledged Adeeb.

The road development project in Laamu Atoll, the airport in Kulhudhuffishi and the I-Havan port in Haa Alif will create more opportunities for the youth, he said.



Related to this story

President reveals vision for foreign investment at Hulhumalé project launch

Tourism minister defends under-fire economic zones bill

China to “favorably consider” financing Malé-Hulhulé bridge if project proves feasible

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Custom built MWSC panels to arrive in the Maldives

A Sri Lankan Air Force flight is currently on its way to the Maldives from Singapore with custom built panels to replace the damaged panel boards connecting electricity generators and desalination plants at the Malé Water and Sewerage Company (MWSC).

The capital Malé was  plunged into crisis on Thursday (December 4) as a fire at MWSC gutted the desalination plant, leaving 130,000 people without running water, leading to the dwindling of bottled drinking water supplies.

Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim said the two boards will arrive in Malé tonight. Of the nine panel boards, five were functional on Monday and MWSC had started releasing water to households in two three-hour periods in the morning and at night.

However, residents living above the second floor of buildings have said they only receive water for a very short period of time. The MWSC has asked individuals to report issues with water leakages and booster pumps to send an SMS to 1050 with the client’s name and water meter number.

Previously, the government rejected an offer by the Indian government to provide technical assistance in fixing the panels, saying it is seeking assistance from countries that are more technologically advanced.

The government has today announced it has received US$ 5.5 (MVR 84 million) for the ‘Malé water crisis management fund.’

The crisis management fund – which has seen donations from several local corporations and foreigners – was set up by the government with an aim of collecting US$ 20 million (MVR 308 million) to repair the damages at the desalination plant and to fund relief efforts.

Notable local businesses such as Champa Group and Universal enterprises donated US$ 100,000 to the fund, while an unnamed Saudi Arabian donor provided US$ 1 million.

Telecomms company Ooredoo donated US$ 75,000 to the fund. Trans Maldivian Airways (TMA) and State Trading Organization (STO) have also donated funds.

Anti-corruption NGO Transparency Maldives called on the government to display more transparency in order to avoid “economic and political repercussions stemming from the water crisis”.

In a press statement, the NGO urged the government to provide a breakdown of the estimated US$ 20 million needed to overcome the crisis and how the government intends to spend it.

“Furthermore, the decision to seek donations from the public raises questions given that MWSC ins a private profit-making corporation with 80 percent government shares,” said Transparency Maldives.

An Indian flight is also due to arrive today with 50 tons of water while the INS Deepak supplied 400 tons of water straight to MWSC tanks on top of the 1250 supplied two days ago.

Indian High Commission said today that the water relief operations resumed on the request of the Maldivian government.

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) also criticized the fund stating that the government should only demand US$ 20 million after they have decided how it is going to be spent.

“Where is the money going to go to? Why have we not seen a breakdown on how the money is going to be spent? Will this be a new ring in the chain of corruption by the government?” questioned party Vice Chairperson Ali Niyaz.

Former President and opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed has also called for an inquiry into the fire, suggesting that the Danish government previously recommended keeping 21 days of water reserves in the capital.

Transparency  Maldives noted that the crisis had demonstrated “the interminable relationship between good governance and citizens’ right to essential human needs,”  and called for greater regulation of state-owned enterprises.

With 130,000 citizens of the capital left without water, the government has said it could take up to two weeks to fully repair the damage. President Abdulla Yameen has said that there could have been no back up plan for a “disaster of this magnitude”.

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PPM condemns MDP’s “unlawful” resolution for handover of presidency to JP Leader Gasim

The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has strongly condemned a resolution adopted by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) national council yesterday calling for Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim to assume the presidency as an interim leader.

The ruling party slammed the move as “irresponsible and cowardly” in a press statement released last night.

“At a time when the government is carrying out swift efforts to resolve the water shortage in Malé, this party believes that the [MDP resolution] is an activity planned by the MDP leadership to cause loss of the country’s peace and security as well as the unity among Maldivians at this juncture,” read the statement.

The PPM also characterised the national council decision as an “undemocratic and uncivilised” attempt to topple a legitimately elected government.

The press statement praised the efforts of President Yameen’s administration and the ministerial task force to normalise the water supply crisis in the capital and declared the party’s “full confidence” in the president.

At an emergency session yesterday, the MDP national council voted 36-2 in favour – with four abstentions – of a resolution proposed by former President Mohamed Nasheed to back Gasim as interim president.

Nasheed contended that President Yameen has failed to perform his duties, was “ruling in absentia” and criticised his response to the ongoing water supply crisis.

The government has also failed to curb gang violence, he continued, noting that a 28-year-old man being stabbed to death the previous night.

Asked about the MDP’s resolution at a press conference yesterday, President Yameen said it was up to the people to change the government.

“Handing over the government to the Jumhooree Party leader or MDP’s leader has to be done when there is a vacancy for some reason,” he said.

“I don’t pay much attention to such talk by President Nasheed.”

Yameen claimed that the MDP government sold shares from the Malé Water and Sewerage Company (MWSC) to Japan’s Hitachi Plant Technology for US$16 million after buying it back for US$19 million.

Yameen said he had objected to the sale as an opposition MP at the time.

However, the Nasheed administration sold 20 percent of the company’s shares to Hitachi for US$16 million in January 2010 at US$ 305.90 per share.

In late 2008, the government bought back 24 percent of MWSC share’s from Denmark’s HOH Water Technology for US$19 million at the same share price.

Members of the MDP national council meanwhile noted that President Yameen was elected with the backing of Gasim and the JP.

After initially announcing that the party would remain neutral, the JP’s council decided to endorse Yameen three days before the second round of the presidential polls on November 16 last year. In the first round revote, Gasim had finished in third place with 23.37 percent of the vote.

However, the JP’s coalition agreement with the PPM was severed by the latter after Gasim stood for the post of parliament speaker.

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MDP calls on the government to hand power to JP leader Gasim

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has called on the government to hand over power to Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim in light of recent events.

At the party’s emergency national council meeting, the council agreed to support a decree brought forward by former president Mohamed Nasheed urging the government changeover.

“The country is under a very dark cloud at the moment,” said former President Nasheed. “The president is not fulfilling presidential duties and ruling in absentia. So it is better for him to handover governance to Gasim Ibrahim.”

While presenting the decree to the members of the national council, Nasheed said that the government had failed in ensuring basic necessities for the people of the country and that President Abdulla Yameen should handover the government to Gasim since he was able to secure almost the same amount of votes in the first round of the 2013 presidential elections.

Gasim polled third twice in last year’s presidential elections – successfully requesting the first vote be annulled before again finishing behind Yameen and Nasheed in a rescheduled poll. Gasim eventually threw his support behind Yameen, forming a coalition that saw the latter win the presidency before relations soured earlier this year.

Nasheed highlighted the lack of a presidential response during the ongoing Malé water crisis saying that the president was nowhere to be seen.

As the MDP council was meeting, President Yameen briefed the public for the first time on the water crisis.

When about the MDP council decision, Yameen responded by saying that the governance of the country is handed over by the people, saying: “I do not pay much attention to such talk by Nasheed.”

“I would like to respond by saying that the shares of this country was sold to foreigners. I raised my voice against this as a member of the parliament. The question of handing governance will come when the presidential seat is empty,” said Yameen.

The former president also noted the growing insecurity amongst citizens, with an increase in gang violence, while saying that the government has done very little to curb these crimes.

“There has been 7 murders so far this year. While there has been overall 20 stabbing incidents there has also been cases of 6 people taken as hostages,” detailed Nasheed.

The early hours of this morning saw the most recent death in gang-related violence with a 28-year-old man being stabbed to death by group of men.

Police have denied any arrests related to the death although local media report that 10 men have been arrested related to the violence.

While discussing the decree before voting, MDP Rozaina Adam said that it is unclear who is really in charge of the government at the moment and that the president should step down if he is unable to fulfill his presidential duties.



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