People’s Alliance (PA) MP and Parliament Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim has revealed he intends to join Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).
Nazim told local media that despite being PA’s parliamentary group leader, he had always worked closely with the PPM since the party’s inception in October 2011.
PA’s former president, Abdulla Yameen, was elected as PPM’s presidential candidate on Saturday (March 30) ahead of the 2013 presidential elections in September.
“PA was formed for a specific purpose wasn’t it? It was formed for the political future of Yameen as he wanted out of the DRP [Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party] at the time,” Nazim told local newspaper Haveeru.
“So when Yameen chose to further his political career through PPM the result is very clear isn’t it? However, my switch to DRP had to be put off as the political party bill was still in the parliament,” he explained.
PPM is the second largest party in the Maldives with a total of 22,765 members, according to February’s figures. The party is led by former autocratic ruler of the Maldives and half-brother of Yameen, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
In regards to the PA, Nazim stated that future progress of the Maldives lies with the functioning of larger parties, hence why he voted in favour of the Political Parties Act to dissolve parties with less than 10,000 members.
Out of the 16 parties that had existed prior to the bill’s ratification, only the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), PPM, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party, Jumhoree Party and Adhaalath Party remain registered in the Maldives.
“It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen to smaller parties. But if so there is a fear that it would lead to a tribal system in the Maldives,” Nazim told local media.
“If we start giving every party a seat in the cabinet and companies, the whole thing will function without a proper system. We can see that from the coalitions we’ve formed so far,” he added.
According to local media, PPM will have secured a total of 19 seats in parliament should Nazim sign to the party.
Although Nazim did not give an exact date for the switch, he told Haveeru that it would take place “very soon”.
Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.
Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Parliamentary Group Leader Abdulla Yameen has been elected as the party’s presidential candidate to compete in the upcoming national elections.
The preliminary results of the PPM’s presidential primary reveal that Yameen won with a total of 13,096 votes, beating rival candidate Umar Naseer’s 7,450 votes – a 63 percent majority, according figures quoted by local media.
A total of 31,298 PPM members were eligible to vote in the party’s presidential primary through one of the 167 ballot boxes placed in 140 islands, Sun Online reported.
Umar Naseer accepted defeat: “If it’s a free and fair election, I will always accept the final result. I believe so far the election has been fair. As I said we will know how to proceed once we assess the complaints,” he told Haveeru.
“The party won’t be divided. I believe this will further strengthen the party as this exercise shows the strength of democracy within this party.”
Former President of the Maldives and PPM President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom congratulated his half-brother, Yameen, via Twitter following the announcement of the results.
Congratulations Yameen for winning our primary today! The whole party will be united behind you in the forthcoming presidential campaign. -M
Gayoom had urged party members to take part in Saturday’s election, despite not casting a vote himself in order to remain “neutral”.
To keep absolutely neutral in this primary I have decided not to cast my vote. I request all eligible PPM voters to cast their vote.-M — Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (@maumoonagayoom) March 30, 2013
During the voting period on Saturday (March 30), Yameen told local media that certain party members had been seen inside voting centres in Male’ using foul language in an attempt to start fights and create disorder.
Private media outlet Raajje TV captured a brief scuffle on camera between supporters of the two presidential primary candidates Umar Naseer and Abdulla Yameen.
The footage shows police being brought in to control the crowd, who are dressed in the party’s pink colour scheme.
Yameen told local media shortly after casting his vote outside the Aminiya School in Male’, that despite the minor conflicts, the party would not split.
“Overall, the voting is alright. But people from within the party have entered voting centres and have tried to start fights.
“They have raised they voices, used foul language, this should not happen in an internal election. It is very sad,” Yameen was quoted as saying in Sun Online.
On Friday (March 29), Yameen’s half brother, former President of the Maldives and PPM president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, called for PPM members to show the world what a “responsible party” the PPM is during Saturday’s primary.
Dear PPM members let us have a free, fair, transparent n peaceful primary tomorrow. Let us show the world what a responsible party we are.-M
The recent internal disorder among rival supporters follows a month of increasingly heated rhetoric between the two presidential candidates.
Earlier this month, Yameen responded to several accusations made against him, claiming the “stories” to be untrue.
“I have been accused of holding large sums of money in different accounts. I’m not responding to these allegations. But the people who work with me need public confidence.
“I want to say to you, that there are several allegations targeted at me. But those allegations are baseless and unfounded. None of those stories are true. Don’t believe them,” Yameen was quoted as saying in local media.
A spokesperson for Abdulla Yameen’s ‘Yageen’ campaign team told local media on March 23 that Umar Naseer had made slanderous and “blatantly untruthful” statements about Yameen during a recent rally.
Speaking at the aforementioned rally, Naseer claimed that Yameen’s campaign team is forced to play “80 percent in defence” in order to denounce the public’s claims against him.
“We heard our brother MP [Ahmed] Nihan speaking at Yameen’s campaign rally. All he did was try to denounce what the public says about Yameen,” Naseer said at a rally held on March 15.
“Nihan said that although people allege Yameen has ties with gangs and gang violence it is not true. He said that although people say Yameen bathes with mineral water, that isn’t true either.”
Senior government officials were invited aboard a United States aircraft carrier on Wednesday (March 27) as it passed by the Maldives.
The visit was followed by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Maldives and the US government on Thursday to install a free border control system in the country.
Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb, Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz and Vice President Mohamed Waheed Deen, were flown to the USS John C Stennis aircraft carrier as part of an arrangement between the US embassy and Maldives Defence Ministry.
The visit was documented by the ministers, who posted photographs on social media site Twitter.
President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik has called upon Maldivians to “do everything possible” in order to improve the working conditions of Bangladeshi expatriate workers in the Maldives.
Speaking at a function to mark the Bangladesh Independence and National Day on Tuesday (March 26), Waheed stated that Bangladeshi expatriate workers make a huge contribution to the economic growth and development of the Maldives.
Acknowledging to the fact that Bangladesh accounts for the largest group of expatriate workers in the Maldives, President Waheed stated the importance of reflecting on the conditions of foreign workers in the country.
“Let me reiterate here the government’s unfailing commitment to ensure the rights of the expatriate workers in the Maldives are fully protected in accordance with the relevant laws of the Maldives.
“I take this opportunity to appeal to my compatriots in the Maldives to reflect on this current condition and do everything possible to improve the working conditions of our brothers and sisters and to ensure that their rights are always guaranteed,” said Waheed.
High Commissioner of Bangladesh Rear Admiral Abu Saeed Mohamed Abdul Awal said that the commission was working closely with the Maldives government to address the issue.
Awal stated that the commission is dedicated to ensuring the treatment of expatriate workers by Maldivian employers, adding that the working conditions and rights of the employees need to be protected.
Last month, the head of Maldives Association of Construction Industry Mohamed Ali Janah alleged that almost half of all foreign employees in the construction industry were thought not to be legally registered.
In regard to a potential decent to Tier 3 of the US State Department’s human-trafficking watch list this year, Waheed warned that the Maldives would face difficulties in seeking foreign assistance should it slip to the most severe category.
Speaking at the function on Tuesday night, President Waheed said that in order to become a modern democracy, Maldives must follow the “democratic experience” of Bangladesh and other developing countries in order to learn from their experience.
Parliament has scheduled a vote of no-confidence against Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim and Minister of Home Affairs Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed for April 8.
A vote to dismiss Jumhoree Party (JP) presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim from his position within the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has also been scheduled for April 9 during a parliament session held today (March 27).
Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim told Minivan News that all three motions had been submitted by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).
“On the day of the vote, parliament will give the floor to the MDP to present its case. The ministers will then be given the opportunity to respond before parliament then opens the debate and votes on a decision.
“The MDP currently holds 29 seats in parliament, but it will require another ten for the ministers and Gasim to be removed from their positions. This has been undertaken before, a precedent has been previously set,” Nazim said.
The deputy speaker said that parliament had spoken to each of the party leaders in order to ask for all of their MPs to be present during the vote.
MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor stated that the party was confident both Nazim and Jameel would be removed from their posts.
In regard to the possibility of conducting no confidence votes through a secret ballot, Hamid said that he did not believe the votes would be submitted anonymously following the supreme court ruling the practice unconstitutional.
However, earlier in March, the Supreme Court ruled 6-1 to strike down the amendment to parliament’s standing orders as unconstitutional.
Local media reported on Wednesday that the MDP had asked for a vote to dismiss Gasim from the JSC under the reasoning that an individual campaigning for the presidential elections, should not be permitted to sit in the commission.
A statement issued by the MDP accused Jameel of failing to control civil peace and order in the country, which it said had led to the loss of eight lives.
The MDP further referred to an incident in which a man on a motorcycle was killed after a police officer struck a second motorcyclist with his baton, causing him to collide with the first.
The MDP alleged that Home Minister Jameel had tried to cover up police involvement in the death.
Speaking to Minivan News in December last year, Dr Jameel claimed he expected to successfully defend himself from the motion, as would other senior government representatives.
“[The no-confidence motion] is part of a democratic process that the government of the day must always be prepared to face. I feel it’s equally vital for those of us sitting in the government to inform the public and People’s Majlis of our performance and decisions.”
“I am sure once our side of the story is heard by the Majlis, the concerns and charges raised in the motion will become clearer and will be seen as baseless. It’s important in such a motion, in my opinion, to appear in the Majlis and fully cooperate with this democratic exercise,” he added.
The motion followed the government’s decision to void the agreement between itself and Indian infrastructure giant GMR over developing Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA).
Defence Minister Nazim, who temporarily took over the transport ministry following the sacking of former Transport Minister Dr Ahmed Shamheed, played a pivotal role in the eviction of GMR.
In a brief interview given to local media in December following the MDP’s decision to push a no-confidence motion against him, Nazim stated that move was a “desperate” attempt to weaken the government of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.
The tourism industry suffered another potential blow last week, when the online petition website Avaaz.org received over one million signatures in protest of the sentencing of a 15 year-old rape victim to 100 lashes for the offence of fornication.
In response to the negative press, Deputy Tourism Minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamaal told local media on Tuesday (March 26), that the ministry is currently preparing a number of activities to promote the country to the Chinese market.
According to the Maleeh, the ministry is preparing two commercial segments to be aired on Chinese national broadcaster, CCTV.
“The programs will show Maldives tourism, culture, traditional talents such as boat construction, and other themes that display the beauty of Maldivian culture and so on, Maldives resorts and their natural beauty, underwater footage, it’ll be excellent for the channel,” Maleeh was quoted as saying in SunOnline.
In addition to the commercials, the deputy tourism minister revealed that plans are currently underway to stage street performances in four different cities in China.
Maleeh claimed that the programs will work to the country’s advantage and will significantly promote Maldives tourism in China.
“Street performances are to be played in four different cities, and we will be meeting with at least 2000 agents, and even if we can attract about 20 news reporters from each city, it is large number, it will have a large effect on tourism,” Maleeh was quoted as saying.
According to Maleeh, the ministry has initiated a number of new efforts in order counter the widespread negative publicity circulating against tourism in the Maldives.
Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb and Deputy Tourism Minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamaal were not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.
Campaigns will damage both tourism and economy: Maleeh
On Sunday (March 24), Maleeh told local media that recent campaigns calling for tourists to boycott the Maldives would damage both tourism and the country as a whole.
Maleeh claimed the petition launched by Avaaz calling for the Maldives government to end the practice of flogging was really an attempt by the opposition to damage the country’s economy for political gain.
The petition, which has been signed by more than 1.2 million people, was launched after the Juvenile Court sentenced a 15 year-old rape victim to 100 lashes for a separate crime of fornication.
“When they started the campaign, they were clearly aware of the president’s stand, as well the attorney general’s stand on the matter,” Maleeh said, according to SunOnline.
“Looking back, a 14 year-old was given the same sentence during former President Nasheed’s presidency and nobody seemed to have talked about that. This whole deed is an attempt to defame the country’s tourism industry and [damage the] economy,” he said.
Cup noodle discrimination
Earlier this month, dismissed Chinese employees of the Beach House Iruveli resort – formerly Waldorf Astoria – posted allegations on the Chinese forum Tianya that guests from the country were receiving inferior treatment to Europeans, despite paying the same prices.
The staff alleged that this discrimination extended to removing kettles from the rooms of Chinese guests, to prevent them from making instant noodles in their rooms and thereby forcing them into the resort’s restaurants.
The resort has since denied the claims, stating that it had “removed damaged kettles from rooms as part of routine maintenance due to the fact that these kettles were damaged by guests by cooking food.”
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has warned that a new drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis (TB) that has appeared in the Maldives poses “quite a serious threat” to people’s health.
The agency’s comments follow a report released by the Ministry of Health on Sunday (March 24), revealing that it faces new challenges in order to control the disease in the Maldives.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), TB is an infectious bacterial disease that can be transmitted via droplets in the throat and lungs of the infected.
WHO states that drug-resistant strains of TB have become a major public health problem that has resulted from patients not fully completing the recommended six-month course of treatment.
HPA Public Health Program Officer Shina Ahmed told Minivan News today (March 25) that although the new strain of TB is “quite serious”, the particular strain found in the Maldives is not resistant to every drug available to patients.
“We have had a few cases come in now with the new strain. The most important thing we have to do is to continue and complete the course of treatment.
“Most of these drug-resistant strains are caused by patients stopping the treatment. We have enough drug supplies to give to them, but because the course goes on for six months, patients tend to go off taking the treatment towards the end,” Shina said.
Local media reported that the Health Ministry had revealed that 10,563 people had been registered to receive treatment for TB since 1963, out of which 5,256 people were said to have infected lungs.
Shina claimed that the majority of cases within the Maldives have been reported on the islands as opposed to Male’, and that in order to prevent the spread of the disease the HPA will be undertaking awareness programs.
An official from Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) in Male’ stated that there was no need for the public to be concerned in regard to the spread of the disease, adding that there may have been only “one or two” cases found to have contracted the new strain.
“When we find a patient who is not responding to the prescribed course of treatment, there is always a second course they can take instead,” the official told Minivan News.
According to WHO, healthy individuals infected with TB are not often affected by any symptoms as the person’s immune system acts to “wall off” the bacteria.
The organisation states that symptoms of active TB are coughing, sometimes with blood, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats.
The WHO Representative to the Maldives, Dr Akjemal Magtymova, Health Minister Dr Ahmed Jamsheed Mohamed and the Health Ministry were not responding to calls at time of press.
Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) presidential primary candidate Abdulla Yameen has claimed that recent defamatory allegations made against him are baseless and untrue.
Speaking at a rally in Addu City on Thursday (March 21), Yameen revealed that he had been accused of several issues, including holding large sums of money in foreign banks, local media reported.
Responding to the accusations, Yameen stated that “none of those stories are true”, asking people not to believe them.
“I have been accused of holding large sums of money in different accounts. I’m not responding to these allegations. But the people who work with me need public confidence.
“I want to say to you, that there are several allegations targeted at me. But those allegations are baseless and unfounded. None of those stories are true. Don’t believe them,” SunOnline quoted Yameen as saying.
Yameen had stated he did not want to comment further on the matter, and that he did not wish to respond to the claims against him.
Yameen, who is the half brother of former autocratic ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, claimed that if the PPM wins the presidential election this year, the Maldives would experience “prosperity similar to, or even better than, the past 30 years.”
In reference to a number of young individuals who reportedly praised Yameen during the rally, the PPM presidential primary candidate said while he cannot accept constant praise, continuous criticism could also become an issue.
“At rallies like this I often hear about my services. I feel disinclined to sit and listen when people talk about my services. But this is a practice introduced by young people.
“But before they take it too far, I want to say, I may not be able to accept continuous praise; but at the same time, continuous criticism could also lead to displeasure,” Yameen was quoted as saying.
Both Abdulla Yameen and Umar Naseer are currently campaigning to win the PPM’s presidential candidate slot for the upcoming presidential elections, to be held in September this year.
Yameen forced to play 80 percent in defence: Umar Naseer
Last week, a spokesperson for Abdulla Yameen’s ‘Yageen’ campaign team told local media on Saturday that Umar Naseer had made slanderous and “blatantly untruthful” statements about Yameen during a recent rally.
Parliament has sent a notice to Majlis-appointed member to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Gasim Ibrahim, regarding a case to remove him from his post.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim told local media on Friday (March 22) that a notice had been sent to Gasim, who is also the presidential candidate for Jumhoree Party (JP), as per parliament procedures.
Nazim stated that the case submitted by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to remove Gasim from the JSC would be put on parliament’s agenda only after speaking with leaders from various political parties.
The notice follows a meeting held last week by Parliament’s Independent Commissions Oversight Committee, in which the entire JSC board was summoned to attend.
Throughout March, the oversight committee has been speaking with members of JSC in regard to the manner in which judges were appointed to the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court bench. The court is currently hearing the trial of former president Mohamed Nasheed, who is Gasim’s presidential rival in the upcoming elections in September.
Oversight Committee member and MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Minivan News that during the meeting held on Wednesday (March 20), Gasim had lacked integrity when faced with questions from the committee.
“The focus of my questions was on the integrity of the JSC members and of the independence of judges.
“When I asked Mr Gasim whether he had announced his [presidential] candidacy before or after he was nominated to his post within the JSC, he said ‘I am not sure’,” Hamid claimed.
Gasim’s presidential rival and leader of the MDP, former President Mohamed Nasheed, is currently facing charges at Hulhumale’ court over the controversial detention of Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.
The MDP has maintained that the charges against Nasheed are a politically motivated attempt to bar him from the election in September.
Despite the JSC Chair and Supreme Court Judge Adam Mohamed declaring that the commission refused to discuss matters regarding the Hulhumale’ Court, individual members of the JSC still attended the oversight meetings.
“It is like a domino effect – the chair of the JSC has lost his authority. We believe this is the first step of the JSC being shaken to its core,” Hamid said. “Even on Wednesday the chair was still resistant to being questioned.”
Statements from individual JSC members given to the oversight committee revealed there had been concern as to how the Hulhumale’ Court bench had been appointed.
“I have heard from numerous sources that the current composition of the JSC is inadequate and politicised.
Because of this politicisation, the commission has been subjected to all sorts of external influence and consequently has been unable to function properly,” Knaul stated last month.
JSC composition does not allow independence of judiciary to be maintained: Shakoor
On Wednesday (March 20), Attorney General and JSC member Aishath Azima Shakoor told local media that the current composition of the commission did not allow it to maintain independence of the judiciary.
“I believe that, even though JSC has been composed according to constitution, it does not allow [it] to maintain the independence of the judiciary.
“I do not believe that JSC’s configuration is based on the most effective model. But JSC is how the Constitution says it should be, so we have to function like that,” Azima was quoted as saying in local media.
In regard to Gasim, who voted in favour of establishing the Hulhumale’ Court bench, Azima told local media that if she had been in Gasim’s position when the vote for the court bench had been undertaken, she would not have participated in the vote.
“I believe that the Parliament Committee on Independent Institutions’ review or investigation of the manner in which Hulhumale’ Court bench of judges was established will affect the trail that is currently proceeding in that court,” Azima was quoted as saying in Sun Online.