Commonwealth envoy criticises conduct in parliament, MPs raise bribe allegations

The Commonwealth has expressed disappointment at attempts to stifle parliament yesterday in a week that has seen the international organisation facing allegations it had been bribed by anti-government supporters.

Having witnessed the chaotic protests that occurred inside the Majlis yesterday as Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs heckled and unsuccessfully tried to prevent President Waheed from giving an address, Special Envoy Sir Donald McKinnon issued a statement criticising the developments.

As well as stressing disappointment at the “manner” in which the opening session of parliament was conducted yesterday, the special envoy also raised concerns over the “security situation” in the nation.

McKinnon therefore called for maximum restraint from all sides of the political spectrum after violent clashes between civilians and security forces gripped the capital.

The statement comes on the back of a controversial few days for the Commonwealth and its relationship with the Maldives, with the organisation accused of political bias and even taking bribes by the MDP.

Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed has claimed the opposition MDP have bribed the Commonwealth after the body’s Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) called for early elections on Friday.

CMAG—the Commonwealth’s democracy and human rights arm—said elections were necessary to legitimise the executive after former President Mohamed Nasheed alleged his deposition on February 7 was through a bloodless coup d’état.

Speaking on local television Dhi TV’s “From the News” programme on Saturday, Riyaz also accused the CMAG of intimidation, called the British Queen “physically challenged” and said the United Kingdom was “not a democracy.”

Riyaz was joined by Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Mahloof, who threatened the country could potentially leave the Commonwealth should the intergovernmental organization repeat its call for early general elections.

Riyaz’s DQP is among the alliance of seven parties that support President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.

Bribery and Intimidation

CMAG—authorized to assess infringement of the Commonwealth’s political values—has come under intense criticism following its call for early elections. The Maldives government called the CMAG’s statement “biased” and said it may reconsider its membership in the commonwealth.

Riyaz said the CMAG representatives in the Maldives “were slaves who have been bought by the MDP”, and only wanted to “reinstate the MDP to power”.

British citizens had supported and financed the MDP’s rise to power in return for permission to establish churches in the Maldives, he claimed. He also said the British hated the Maldives for having gained independence.

“What have the Commonwealth done for us? Why do we have to comply with them? That is the question. The English hate us. Why? Because Ibrahim Nasir saved us from slavery and brought us independence, since then what have the English done for us?” he said.

The CMAG’s elections calls were an act of intimidation, Riyaz said. “They come here and intimidate us, intimidate the president, intimidate the political parties, we will not be intimidated. This government will not be intimidated. The political parties will not be intimidated”.

“We know what the commonwealth is concerned about,” he said, “We know the current president [Waheed] will not drink alcohol from the same cup with them [as Nasheed did]”.

Riyaz repeated the government’s stance that early elections can only be held after constitutional amendments.

“Has the Commonwealth lost all sanity?”

Riyaz claimed the MDP was a terrorist organisation and condemned CMAG’s allegd lack of criticism at the time regarding MDP’s continued protests. “Has the Commonwealth lost all sanity? Are they sane? Are they sane? Is the Commonwealth sane? Who gave them visas to come here? They must not be allowed here,” he said.

The CMAG’s lack of action over the detention of senior then-opposition leaders during Nasheed’s administration were further evidence of their bias, he suggested.

He also appeared to threaten the CMAG saying, “I say very firmly and clearly, if they want to have security and leave safely, there are certain sovereign issues that they must not interfere with, if they were to, we are Maldivians, we will not be submissive.”

The Commonwealth Secretary General’s special envoy to the Maldives Sir Donald McKinnon arrived in the Maldives on Friday to resolve the current political crisis. He met with former President Nasheed on Saturday and met with President Waheed on Sunday.

The body suspended Fiji in 2009, after the country’s military seized power in 2006.

The Queen is “Physically Challenged”

Riyaz attempted to discredit the Commonwealth’s commitment to democracy by slandering the British Queen and claiming the UK was not a democracy.

“Look, the Queen has been in power for 50 years. Is that good? No, that’s inappropriate. If we wanted to point fingers, we can,” he said.

“Ater 50 years, the English Queen, she is physically challenged. But she is still Queen, and if she wants she can remove the Prime Minister. Where is democracy? Where is democracy? That is not a democracy,” he added.

Ironically, he also said he planned to submit a bill to parliament to give former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom the same status and respect as the Queen since Gayoom had ruled the country for 30 years and was responsible for all development the country had seen.

Commonwealth Membership

Gayoom’s PPM MP Mahloof said he also “shared Riyaz’s frustrations.” However, he appeared to be more diplomatic highlighting the Commonwealth’s assistance during the drafting of the new constitution.

He echoed Riyaz in saying early elections would destroy the constitution.

“Their help and support is very important,” he said. “But if they tell us to destroy the constitution, we can only say sorry! For example, if the Commonwealth’s final decision is that we need to hold elections before 2013, then we will leave the Commonwealth before they suspend us! Why not?”

Mahloof said he believed the MDP’s only hope now was the Commonwealth with the party stepping up its protests over the past week to influence the CMAG’s decision.

“If the Commonwealth’s decision is to suspend Maldives, then I believe the Maldives should not join the Commonwealth ever again. We saw why the Commonwealth suspended countries such as Pakistan. [Military] went out with guns and shot [people], that was the level at which government was changed. It did not reach that level here,” he said.


MDP looks to work within Majlis to secure early elections

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has said it will now begin working through the Majlis to achieve early presidential elections, after President Mohamed Waheed Hassan succeeded in inaugrating the parliament today.

MDP MPs heckled Waheed, preventing him from delivering the constitutionally-mandated presidential address on two occasions, claiming he had come to power through a coup d’état.

Waheed succeeded in addressing parliament only on his third attempt, amid MDP MPs continued shouts of “Traitor” and obstruction of Waheed’s face with a banner condemning him as a “Coup Boss.”

Now that Majlis has opened for the year, the MDP will work within and outside the Majlis to obtain a date for elections, MDP Spokesperson and Malé MP Imthiyaz Fahmy said.

“But I don’t think it will be possible through the Majlis,” Fahmy said. “A lot of MPs in the parliament supported the coup.”

The MDP said that it did not take pride in attempts by its MPs to obstruct the Majlis opening, but Fahmy said he felt they had been left little choice due to the party’s concerns over Waheed’s legitimacy.

“We do not take pride in such actions. But as a coup-sponsored leader, we believe his presence violates the integrity of the parliament,” Fahmy said.

Fahmy said the parliamentary group had given the Speaker the opportunity to inaugurate the Majlis, but “started protesting only when Baagee [ translated as traitor] Waheed entered Majlis.”

Fahmy also said that the MDP does not sanction violence.

Clashes nonetheless broke out between police and MDP protestors demonstrating a few streets away from the Majlis building. Over 60 were arrested. Police used tear gas and, according to some eye witness accounts, rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. Police are presently unable to confirm to Minivan News whether rubber bullets had indeed been used.

“Supporters of the current government or even police themselves may have started violence in order to attack the protestors,” Fahmy claimed.

The MDP had been organizing peaceful protests at Raalhugandu (Surf Point) for over a month. “But we haven’t been violent. We are calling for elections. Not for a violence or a coup,” Fahmy said.

The MDP alleges the controversial February 7 resignation of former president Mohamed Nasheed was a coup d’état, and has called for early general election. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) has supported the call.

Monday’s parliamentary sitting saw Speaker Abdulla Shahid deploy the Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) in an attempt to restore order to the chamber. Scuffles broke out between MDP MPs and MNDF personnel, and two sustained injuries, as the MNDF tried to remove protesting MPs.

In the chaotic atmosphere of today’s Majlis session, President Waheed said he would honour early elections calls backed by the MDP, as well as bodies including the EU and Commonwealth, if such as move was “required”.

Waheed pledged via a statement after giving his speech to bring together all political leaders to discuss constitutional amendments required for fresh elections.

“This is the time for all of us to work together in one spirit, the time to bring political differences to the discussion table in order to formulate solutions,” claimed the president. “I fully assure you that I will not order anyone to act against the Constitution or laws of this country”.


PG criticises Home Minister, calls for action on police brutality allegations

Prosecutor General (PG) Ahmed Muizz has criticised Home Minister Ahmed Jameel for “misinforming” the public over the PG office’s performance in a press release unveiled Thursday (March 16).

Muizz, responding to comments made by Jameel,  called on the home minister to himself act upon and investigate allegations of police brutality and other unlawful acts carried out during the controversial transfer of power on February 7.

The statement counters allegations made at a press conference held March 11 in which Jameel called the criminal prosecution system “lazy,” claiming that the PG office was delaying the prosecution of cases relating to arson and vandalism in Addu City on February 8.

Supporters of former president Nasheed are alleged to have destroyed police, court buildings, vehicles and a police training centre on February 8 in Addu in the aftermath of a perceived brutal police crackdown on protesters in Male’.

Muizz said although the police had claimed by February 16 to have filed cases related to widespread violence that occurred on February 8, the PG had only received incomplete documents as of February 21. He pledged he would expedite the February 8 cases, but only after verifying evidence related to them.

“This office is not mandated to prosecute all cases submitted by the Maldives Police Services,” the statement read. “This office will only lay charges once we have independently verified all evidence and if we believe the accused can be convicted.”

In Defence

Responding directly to Home Minister Jameel’s criticisms of the amount of work being carried out by the PG’s office, Muizz claimed that he could only conduct cases within the wider parameters of the criminal justice system.

“Some note an ‘extraordinary delay’ with cases submitted to this office.  But the PG’s office believes the performance of any institution within the criminal justice system must be measured based on the nature of the institution’s work, and in comparison with other offices with which the institution coordinates its mandate with,” Muizz stated.

Jameel had previously said that the delay in prosecution did not lie with the police, but rather with the PG’s office.

However, Muizz noted that of 305 cases the police had filed for prosecution in January and February of 2012, only 97 cases had been investigated and filed within three months of the crime being committed

Of these, only 22 were cases related to offences committed in 2012. In 42 of the 305 cases, the police had taken over a year or more to complete investigations, the statement also noted.

The PG office had also submitted 442 drug-related offenses to the criminal court, and had completed 87 percent of cases filed with the office in 2011.

“Hence, we do not believe our performance is far behind that of other institutions within the criminal justice system,” the statement read. However, many aspects of the criminal justice, including that of the PG office, needed to be strengthened in order to better serve the public, the statement added.

Allegations against Police

“I believe the Home Minister, as one mandated with upholding the constitution and the fundamental rights of the citizens of the Maldives, must act upon allegations of unlawful behaviour said to have been committed by the police between February 6 and 8 through an internal process that the public can trust, but one that does not cause loss of faith in the police,” Muizz said.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed announced his resignation after the military joined a police mutiny on February 7.

The next day, Nasheed alleged the transfer of power had been a coup d’état and led a peaceful march in Malé on February 8.  Police were widely reported to have used tear-gas and excessive force against Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters.

Amnesty International (AI) has issued several statements condemning and documenting police violence in Malé and Addu City on  February 8 and in the weeks following the transfer of power.


Yameen and Shiyam air grievances against Gayoom, DRP in leaked audio clip

MPs Abdulla Yameen and Ahmed (Sun Travel) Shiyam have aired grievances against former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in a leaked audio conversation, giving a rare behind-the-scenes insight into the workings of Maldivian politics.

Gayoom’s half-brother Yameen and resort owner Shiyam spoke of their diminishing trust in and dwindling support among the elite support for Gayoom. Yameen believed Gayoom’s opponents “will hurt [Gayoom] a lot more” if he decides to stand for presidential elections again.

Yameen and Shiyam paint Gayoom as a leader who built his power on extensive patronage, including issuing diplomatic passports, granting land and islands for tourism, and providing loans to build homes.

Minivan News believes the conversation, now viral on social media, predates the September 2011 establishment of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM). According to the audio clip, Gayoom broke away from the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party, which he established in 2005, amid leadership disputes with current DRP leader and Gayoom’s 2008 running mate Ahmed Thasmeen Ali.

Yameen also narrates Gayoom’s attempts to sideline him during the period of political liberalisation between 2003-2008. Yameen said Gayoom attempted to send him out of the country as ambassador to the UK.

“Where are Maumoon’s ministers?”

Yameen compared Gayoom to then-president Mohamed Nasheed, stating that Gayoom was inaccessible and did not believe in the importance of his parliamentary group.

DRP’s four vice-presidents had to wait in queue to attend Gayoom’s functions or write letters to see Gayoom, “but look at how close Reeko Moosa and Mariya are to Anni [Nasheed],” Yamin said. Reeko Moosa Manik and Mariya Didi are senior opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) parliamentary group members.

Yameen said Gayoom’s close associates no longer attend to Gayoom, reflecting dwindling support for him. “Maumoon knows all the people he did favors for are not with him. Look at how many ministers he had. Who goes when he asks?” Yameen said.

Shiyam then replies, “[Even after he] built up their houses to 10- 12 stories. And even that was through president’s office loans.”

Yameen highlighted the absence of senior Gayoom-era officials in July 2009 when police summoned Gayoom from his residence, Alivaage, to question him over corruption allegations. Although Fathuhulla Jameel and Abdulla Jameel, both long time ministers under Gayoom, lived around the corner, they “did not dare to come,” Yameen said. Only a handful of people, former Speaker Ahmed Zahir (Seena), former minister of gender and family Aneesa Ahmed and former deputy minister of youth and sports Aishath Shiham, are now loyal to Gayoom.

They will hurt him a lot more”

Shiyam and Yameen’s statements also imply they do not want Gayoom to stand for re-election.

Yameen said although Gayoom was not hurt during a 2008 stab attempt, if Gayoom were to stand for re-election “this time they will hurt him a lot more”. Yameen also said that if another murder attempt was carried out on Gayoom, he did not have the confidence that Nasheed would investigate or prosecute the case.

An unknown participant also criticises Gayoom on his old age, while Shiyam said he wanted a “stronger” and “more ruthless” man in the presidency.

“Only two favors I ever asked of Maumoon”

Shiyam expressed disappointment with Gayoom’s refusal to issue him a diplomatic passport and give him land for a boat yard in industrial Thilafushi Island. “These are the only two favors I ever asked of Maumoon,” Shiyam said.

“Once [Gayoom] took me to Singapore on some trip. All the vice presidents [of DRP] went. All of them had red passports [diplomatic passports]. We went and I was given a very average room. Even when I travel on my personal business, I don’t stay in anything but a suite. So I went and said it is a very small room, I cannot stay there. They told me that was how it had been booked. So I told them to give me the presidential suite. I stayed in a suite bigger than Maumoon’s. Dr Shaheed [foreign minister under both Gayoom and Nasheed] and others ridiculed me quite a bit,” Shiyam said.

After Shiyam returned, he met with Gayoom and told him, “I am this party’s vice-president. You have given red passports to many businessmen, and ordinary people as well. I would like one as well. And he told me he could not do so under the law. That is what he said. Then I told him I own a lot of boats. Therefore I would like a plot of land at Thilafushi [industrial island]. Gasim had received a plot of one million square feet. [not clear] according to the law, could you please arrange for a plot of 50,000 or 25,000 or even 10,000 square feet. He said he will work on it. I sent him 12 letters on the matter [hits table repeatedly]. Yameen, Maumoon never replied,” Shiyam continued.

Yameen then replied that arranging for a diplomatic passport was a small matter and that “it’s no issue at all.”

Shiyam also questioned Gayoom’s gratitude, saying that he said he had spent US$1.8 million on the DRP.

“DRP has to be buried”

Gayoom’s decision to break away from DRP came after DRP leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali refused to hold a primary within the party to choose a presidential candidate, according to the conversation.

The DRP constitution, written under Gayoom, institutes the party’s leader as the party’s presidential candidate. During the DRP 2010 congress, a constitutional amendment requiring primaries was voted out.

“Maumoon says go for a primary. But Thasmeen very stubbornly says there is only one way. Thasmeen says [Maumoon] should apologise on the media and endorse him as the presidential candidate. But that cannot be,” an unknown participant said.

The participants of the conversation discuss buying out members of the DRP council, specifically DRP spokesperson Ibrahim Shareef (Mavota). According to the participants, the DRP council at the time was aligned with Thasmeen.

Yameen then said there was no solution but to form a separate party, a cult of personality based on Gayoom.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t want to have anything to do with DRP. We made DRP what it is today with our hard work, but DRP gave us pain and hardship. DRP has to be buried. DRP has to be buried,” Yameen said.

“He treated all who were loyal to him very badly”

Yameen believed a faction led by former attorney general Dr Hassan Saeed, former planning minister and Gayoom’s nephew Hamdhoon Hameed and former tourism minister Dr Mahmood Shaugee suggested Gayoom sideline Yameen from politics by offering him an ambassadorship in the UK.

Yameen was appointed as the minister of trade in 1997. Following the political crisis of 2003, which saw mass demonstrations for democracy and against police brutality, Gayoom sacked older members of his cabinet and brought in a group of reformist ministers including Hassan Saeed, Shaugee and Hamdhoon.

“Every time, Maumoon thinks all the problems are because of his ministers,” Yameen said.

Yameen refused the ambassadorship because as Gayoom’s half-brother no one in the UK “will believe a thing I say.” Further, he said he had not wanted to give up his Majlis seat and wanted to look after his source of income.

“I just built my house, I took out loans to build it. I have to stay in Male’ to find tenants, that is my source of income,” he said.

After Gayoom’s repeated attempts to remove him from the trade portfolio, Yameen consented to take up the higher education portfolio. Yameen attempted to regain an economic portfolio later, but was told there was no space in any of the economic portfolios.

“He’d given tourism to Dr Shaugee, fisheries to Abdulla Kamaldeen, other economic posts, such as agriculture, some other person, he [Gayoom] had space for all of these people, Gasim [prominent businessman] was given finance, when Maumoon said there was no space for me in the economic field then you should believe that he did not want me in the government,” Yameen said.

Download the full transcript (English & Dhivehi)

Listen to the full audio (Dhivehi)


“Senior activists and coup leaders” among President’s 18 new deputy ministers: MDP

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan  appointed 18 new deputy ministers to 11 ministries on Tuesday.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) criticised the appointments as rewards for participation in the alleged coup d’état of February 7, that saw Mohamed Nasheed resign “under duress”.

“All of these people were senior activists in leading the coup d’état. Many of them were present at the Republican Square on February 7. They are unqualified and inexperienced,” MDP spokesperson and Maafannu Uthuru MP Imthiyaz Fahmy contended.

However, President Waheed’s spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza said the positions were awarded based on political party affiliation and qualifications, not based on “political activity or their presence at a certain place.”

He also said the appointments reflected President Waheed’s desire to “formulate a national unity government”.

“The law gives him the choice to choose his cabinet. He wanted his cabinet to represent all political parties, and he invited all parties to join the government. And these are the people who joined him,” Riza said.

According to Riza, the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), the former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), the Dhivei Qaumee Party (DQP), and the Jumhooree Party (JP) were given three deputy ministerial positions each, while the religious Adhaalath Party was given four seats. President Waheed’s Gaumee Ithihad (GI) received two seats, and the Maldives Reform Movement (MRM) received one seat. The MDP declined to participate.

Waheed also appointed his brother Ali Waheed Hassan Manik as the CEO of National Center for Arts. Managing Director Adam Shareef of the now defunct Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC)’s alleged Ali Waheed had led the take over of MNBC on behalf of Dr Waheed before Nasheed resigned.

Dr Waheed’s new appointments include former prominent opposition activists, DRP media coordinator Ali Solih, Abdulla Rifau and Naaif Shawkath who led a series of opposition-sponsored youth protests in May 2011, Gayoom’s former presidential appointee now DRP registrar Mohamed Saleem (Hoarafushi), Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa TV reporter Shiham Mohamed Waheed, and Adhaalath Party’s Asadhulla Shafee, who was seen in a leaked video clip at the police headquarters with opposition leaders before Nasheed announced his resignation.

MDP MP Fahmy said the public had voted for an MDP administration, but that Waheed’s appointments represented the interests of former president Gayoom – who had been voted out.

“Waheed has been forced to grant jobs to these activists. He is a mere puppet. He is controlled by Gayoom, his brother Yameen and the businessmen who led the coup,” he said. Fahmy said he believed Gayoom was backing  Waheed in a bid to avoid early elections, which the MDP is confident of winning.

In response, Riza said the 2008 vote had been for a coalition government that included the Jumhooree Party, Dhivehi Qaumee Party and Adhaalath Party. “Calling it an MDP administration simply has no political weight,” he said.

President Waheed appointed Ahmed Shafeeu as Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture on Monday, filling up the last post in his cabinet. He also appointed eight state ministers on Tuesday, among them retired Deputy Commissioner of Police Mohamed Fayaz (Home Affairs), and December 23 protest organiser and spokesperson Abdulla Mohamed (Home Affairs).

Waheed had also appointed Gayoom’s children, Dhunya Maumoon and Ghassan Maumoon to state minister for foreign affairs and state minister for human resources respectively.

Waheed now has 14 ministers, 16 state ministers and 18 deputy ministers. Riza subsequently told local media Haveeru that there would be no further ministerial appointments.

Download a ‘Who’s Who’ spreadsheet of the Dr Waheed’s ministerial appointees (English)


Leaked footage from police HQ suggests opposition was prepared to use “military force” on Feb 7

Local television station Raaje TV aired a video clip on Sunday showing senior then-opposition figures inside police headquarters on February 7, prior to the resignation of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

In the video, Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim makes a comment thanking Allah that former president Mohamed Nasheed resigned before the use of military force. Minivan News is currently seeking to obtain the unedited footage.

In the Raajje TV clip, Gasim first says, “that we are saved from this cruel regime…” Rajje TV then repeats the frame of Gasim saying, “that this ended without using the military, Allah [rest is unclear]”.

Raajje TV alleges the clip suggests Gasim was ready to resort to military force had Nasheed refused to resign. Minivan News was unable to reach Gasim at the time of press.

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, shown standing directly in front of Gasim at the time, told Minivan News that he does not recollect Gasim’s statement. “It was very loud,” Thasmeen said.

The video clip depicts former opposition leaders at the time celebrating inside the police head quarters, exchanging hugs, and shouting “Allah Akbar” and “Thank Allah” shortly before Nasheed’s public television resignation of February 7.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) spokesperson Hamid Abdul Gafoor said he believed the video is proof of “Gasim’s blatant complicity in the coup d’état.” He also raised questions over the presence of opposition leaders inside the police HQ on February 7, while Nasheed remained held-up inside the military barracks.

Raajje TV introduces the video showing former opposition leaders in the crowd gathered at the Republic Square. Ahmed Nihan, Progressive Party of the Maldives’ (PPM) parliament member, then calls upon all political party leaders present to come to the Police HQ entrance.

According to Raaje Tv’s timeline of the video, inside the Police HQ, current Police Commissioner, Abdulla Riyaz tells the gathered group — which includes Thasmeen, Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) leader and current presidential advisor Dr Hassan Saeed, current Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel, the Islamic Ministry’s State Minister Mohamed Didi, new Deputy Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed, current Foreign Minister Dr Abdul Samad, current Minister of State for Tourism, Arts and Culture Ahmed Shameem, Fonadhoo MP Ali Saleem, and the Adhaalath Party’s Asadullah Shafee — that he has now shared the mutinying police’s demands with the opposition leaders and asks them to give the police a response.

Raajje TV reporter notes that the deputy police commissioner Hussein Waheed had previously said he was not present at the Republican Square at the time of the mutiny. Abdulla Riyaz had said Waheed had been awarded the position after an interview process.

The reporter says that Gasim then praised the police for mutinying. However, this was not clear to Minivan News from the video.

The video then cuts to the former opposition leaders celebrating on receiving the news that Nasheed would resign. The group starts shouting “Allah Akbar.” Hassan Saeed then asks, “Are you sure? Confirmed?” to which an unknown voice replies, “Yeah.”

A second leaked video clip presents a clearer picture of Nasheed’s frenzied efforts to mobilise the military to stop the police mutiny. Nasheed, his foreign minister Ahmed Naseem, and his defense minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu order the soldiers to leave the barracks and put down the police mutiny.

“The entire nation is being destroyed, and you are doing nothing, citing command and what not…” Nasheed angrily tells the soldiers.

Raajje TV’s footage of inside police headquarters on February 7:

New footage of Nasheed’s last moments as President inside the MNDF base:


Life changing, world changing

“Why do you even need political parties for democracy?” I asked the sea of black, brown, white and every-shade-in-between students.

We were discussing the rise of far-right political parties in Europe.

“In the Maldives we have a democracy, but we do not have political parties,” I had said. Two years later, in 2006, I sued the government of Maldives for unfair dismissal, and won the country’s first civil rights case.

Attending Mahindra United World College of India (MUWCI) changed my life. Fresh out of Aminiya School at sixteen I longed for adventure and MUWCI, located in the hills of Pune, Maharashtra, turned out to be the biggest adventure of my life.

MUWCI is one of the thirteen United World Colleges (UWC) which makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. Students from over 120 countries are selected purely on merit through UWC national committees.

At MUWCI, I shared my room with girls from India, Russia, Canada and Swaziland. I volunteered at an HIV positive children’s home on Wednesdays, did yoga on Mondays and painted schools in the Mulshi valley. One Saturday, my friends and I built a raft from plastic bottles and sailed down the Mulshi River.

I spent ten days in Tamil Nadu clearing fields and cleaning fishermen’s nets after the Tsunami. In 2005, ten of us went to Kashmir in Pakistan for earth quake relief at a medical camp for a month.

And of course cramming for the two-year International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma; one of the most well regarded and widely known secondary school qualifications in the world.

Maurifa Hassan remembers studying for the IB from the castle-roof of UWC-USA located in the state of New Mexico: “If New Mexico and Maldives have anything in common, it’s the dramatic sunsets. We would attempt to study, but get distracted by the breathtaking scenery and our endless stories that start with the phrase ‘iin my culture’.”

UWC Scholarships are unprecedented and unparalleled in the Maldives. The Ali Fulhu Thuttu Foundation (AFTF) has provided scholarships to 26 Maldivian students to India, America, Canada, Italy, England, Norway and Bosnia. Founded in 2001, the AFTF provides 2-5 scholarships per year for students who have completed GCSE O’Levels.

Theema Mohamed, the first Maldivian student to attend UWC in Norway said, “Many of my community members were shocked that my parents were letting me go to a country that was very far away and of which they knew little about especially since I was a girl and quite young at the time.”

UWC “really felt like home,” Theema says. “I felt free to express my opinions and be who I wanted to be. I found my voice in UWC and I am thankful for the space that UWC provided for me to grow into the person that I am today.”

She currently works for the AFTF to provide grants to support various youth development projects in rural Maldives.

For Ali Shareef, his UWC experience taught him to deconstruct racial and cultural barriers and prejudices.

“People became much more interesting and relatable once I learnt to look beyond the label of Muslim, Christian, Hindu, black, white, female, male, rich or poor,” he says.

Twenty-three Maldivian UWC graduates have now gone onto to pursue higher education in respected universities in America, Canada and Australia and continue to contribute to the country at different levels of society.

Aminath Shauna graduated from Canada’s Lester B. Pearson UWC and went onto do her bachelor’s degree in politics, environment and economics. When she returned to Maldives in 2008, she worked as a journalist during the Maldives’ first multi-party elections and now works for President Mohamed Nasheed.

“UWC has given me a completely different worldview; to expand my horizons beyond that of the island and the atoll,” Shauna says. “I learnt the value of democracy and dialogue and I learnt that in order to change the world, you have to start with your own backyard.”

Fathimath Musthaq currently works in NGO Transparency Maldives and wants to establish a university in the country after her finishing her post-graduate studies.

“I believe liberal education is essential for a progressive and liberal society. Attending UWC in England taught me the values of tolerance and diversity and I want to inculcate those values in Maldivian society, especially given its homogenous nature.”

Zaheena Rasheed attended the Mahindra United World College of India on a Ali Fulhu Thuttu Foundation scholarship. Scholarships are now open in 2010 for students who have completed their IGCSE, GCSE and SSC exams in 2009. Successful applicants will have the opportunity to represent Maldives at one of the following United World Colleges (UWC): India, Norway, Italy, Canada and USA. Applications forms can be obtained at the AFTF office and at Deadline for application is 2:30 pm on 15 February 2010.