Week in review: February 9 – 15

The Supreme Court’s running battle with the Elections Commission resurfaced this week, with a trial for contempt of court – including the dissolving of political parties – being sprung on commission members.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) slammed the case as an attempt at intimidation prior to the Majlis elections, with Mohamed Nasheed suggesting that an election boycott would do less harm to democracy than participating in a fraudulent poll.

As campaigning for the March elections began in earnest, the MDP criticised the current government’s development plans, while the ruling coalition questioned the opposition’s commitment to separated branches of government.

Estranged coalition member the Adhaalath Party, meanwhile, continued its plan to field candidates in direct competition with its supposed allies, much to the chagrin of Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim.

As the government approached 100 days in charge, ambitious plans to double the current pension pot through “innovative” investments were announced, while plans to enhance the role of Islam in society took further shape.

Plans to increase Islamic education are likely to hindered slightly, however, after the Teacher Association revealed its plan for strike action should the government not heed requests for reform. Elsewhere, court employees refusing unpaid overtime were suspended.

The development of Kulhudhuffushi airport appeared a step closer this week, with environmental regulations altered in order to allow dredging of the island’s mangrove.

Local NGO Ecocare continues to view the project as unconstitutional and economically unviable.

The cabinet’s promised discussion on the implementation of the death penalty took place this week, with ministers urging President Abdulla Yameen to establish regulation for execution procedures.

The confession of the country’s most recent recipient of the sentence, Hussein Humam was used as key evidence in the continuing Criminal Court case against his alleged accomplice in the murder of Dr Afrasheem Ali.

The recent recipient of an 18 year sentence for drug trafficking, Ibrahim Shafaz ‘Shafa’ Abdul Razzaq, this week appealed his sentence from Sri Lanka after being allowed to leave the country on medical grounds last week.

Questions regarding the Criminal Court’s own actions were also asked this week as it continued to refuse new cases sent by the the Prosecutor General’s Office, despite requests from the Supreme Court. The new PG will now start the job with a backlog of over 500 cases.

Members of the Majlis national security committee were informed by the Asia Pacific Group of the country’s obligation to enact anti-laundering legislation, while the parliamentary privileges group summoned police to give information on the investigation into the Alhan Fahmy stabbing.

Former Police Integrity Commission Chair Shahindha Ismail this week accused both the Majlis and the police watchdog of “intentional negligence” in investigating the chaos that followed the controversial transfer of presidential power two years ago.

Rising numbers of tourists in Malé led the council to issue a suggestion to all local hoteliers that visitors be made aware of appropriate dress codes in inhabited areas.

The latest figures from the Maldives Monetary Authority revealed that tourist arrivals has risen by 17 percent in 2013, though this was not sufficient to prevent Air Asia X suspending its Maldives services.

Finally, the Maldives slipped further down RSF’s Press Freedom Index, dropping to 107th in the list. Elsewhere in the media, DhiTV and it’s sister station DhiFM Plus were asked to stop broadcasting upside down pictures of Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek.