Week in review: March 30 – April 5

This week saw continued reverberations from the Majlis elections, with further switches to the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) swelling the Progressive Coalition’s number of seats to 57.

With the defection of Thimarafushi MP-elect Mohamed Musthafa, the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) numbers dropped to 25, whilst three of the five successful independent candidates have now moved to the PPM.

The MDP this week accused the coalition parties of bribery and corruption during the Majlis polls, urging further investigations by relevant stakeholders.

The changes promised by the opposition party in the wake of their disappointing performance began with the resignation of party Chair ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik.

At the conclusion of the party’s national council meeting – during which former President Mohamed Nasheed became acting party president – Reeko urged fellow party leaders to follow his lead.

After seeing the official confirmation of its electoral success, the government announced the details of its fisherman’s allowance – beginning last Tuesday (April 1) – with up to MVR10,000 pledged for lean months.

President Yameen’s largesse was also felt by 169 convicted prisoners granted clemency, as well as prospective foreign investors who were promised they would be made to feel at home.

“We are going to open up the Maldives in a huge way to foreign investors. Our thirst cannot be quenched. The opportunity to foreign investors is going to be enormous,” he told those present at the launch of a new housing project in the proposed “youth village” of Hulhumalé.

The government’s inherited plans for the mandatory enrollment of foreigners on the pension scheme were delayed this week, however, after an amendment was introduced in the Majlis to make involvement voluntary.

A shortage of government funds was cited this week as reason for the closure of the Maldives’ High Commission in Bangladesh, while plans to reduce state expenditure also resulted in proposals to disband local Women’s Development Committees.

The State Trading Organisation’s plans to tap into the tourism market in order to secure a steady stream of dollars look set to come to fruition early next year with the completion of their Hulhumalé hotel.

The outgoing members of parliament appeared intent on finishing the session productively, passing legislation on anti-money laundering as well as extending the General Regulations Act.

After having rejected a near-identical penal code draft in December, a more amenable quorum this week passed a replacement for the current 1960s version – more than four years after it was first introduced to the legislature.

In the committee room, approval was given for the new governor of the monetary authority and member of the police watchdog, though consent for the long-awaited new prosecutor general was withheld.

The PG’s Office meanwhile revealed that the Criminal Court – with whom it has quarreled over the Majlis failure to approve the new nominee – had used numerous excuses to turn away 30 percent of cases forwarded to it in the past three months.

The offices workload looks set to be added to by the Anti Corruption Commission’s recommendation that charges be filed against former Malé City councilors in relation to the contract for last year’s night market.

The Civil Court this week received a case from local businessmen seeking money owed by the State Bank of India, while the Juvenile Court received reluctant members of the Human Rights Commission as their dispute over an allegedly misleading report continued.

Eighteen months after the murder of PPM MP Dr Afrasheem Ali, the Criminal Court heard revealing testimony in the trial of Ali Shan – accused alongside the already-sentenced Hussain Humam.

The activities of police – under-resourced, according to the commissioner – in the confiscation of a record 24kg of heroin were revealed this week, while President Yameen took advantage of the force’s 81st anniversary to warn officers to use the current calm to prepare for future challenges.

Finally, Minivan News this week heard from local environmental NGOs about the plight of local turtle species as well as the difficulty in raising awareness of climate-change among the country’s young people.