Foreign Ministry criticises opposition media “manipulation”

The Maldives Foreign Ministry has accused some opposition parties of acting irresponsibly by “misleading” international media over details of protests held this week in Male’, which it alleges have begun to impact interest in the country’s lucrative tourism industry.

Facing members of the local media today, Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem rejected Minivan News’ use of the term “unrest” to describe demonstrations that have taken place over five nights this week in Male’ concerning the cost of living in the country, claiming that the government was “open to negotiation” on the issue and welcomed alternative political solutions from opposition.

Naseem’s claims were rejected by Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, head of the country’s largest political opposition party, who claimed to have not been consulted by the government on resolving the issues of living costs, as well as adding that it would be difficult to control the output of international news media.

The protesters, who are expected to take part in a sixth consecutive demonstration tonight, have demanded the government lower the cost of living and called on President Mohamed Nasheed to resign, claiming people were increasingly unable to afford basic commodities following the government’s effective devaluation of the rufiya.

Parliamentarians including some members of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and the Zaeem-DRP (Z-DRP), an off-shoot of the main opposition party and its coalition partner the People’s Alliance (PA) party activists have been involved in the protests, yet have insisted that the street portests were instigated as part of a non-partisan “youth movement”.

As the protests have been covered by international news media, leading to concerns about the potential impact on the country’s tourism industry, Naseem said he did not believe terms such as “unrest” were appropriate to describe events he believed had been orchestrated by opposition politicians in the DRP and Z-DRP to offset their own internal struggles.

“With regards to what is happening in Male’ I think these are orchestrated events. I have a strong feeling the DRP is trying to find out who their leader is and that is the reason for the actions seen in Male’. We do these things [appointing leaders] through elections and by-elections. They [the DRP] do it through street walks and demonstrations and whatever else you can call it. You said unrest? I don’t think there is unrest,” he said.

The foreign minister added that he believed that there was a small number of people organising the protests looking to create deep unrest in the country and that they should be held responsible for their actions.

“People who organise such events [the protests] should take full responsibility for the images and disruption and damage to property caused,” he said. “I think everyone whose property has been damaged should file cases against the people who are organising these events.”

Reacting to the comments, DRP leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali said he was “utterly surprised” that a member of the current government, which has vocally supported freedom of speech and democratic reforms, would find protests “unreasonable” on the basis of protecting tourism.

“We have seen them try to stifle protest through using excessive police force,” he claimed. “We are peaceful protestors and are not impacting tourism in Male’.”

Thasmeen added that he believed the government had not made attempts to initiate a dialogue on the issue of living costs, although the opposition said they were willing to negotiate on the matter even though they did not agree to the current devaluation strategy being pursued.

“Obviously there are a lot of protesters here, but the government does not want to listen,” he said. “Lots of people are suffering.”

Thasmeen said that accusations that the country’s political opposition had been “misleading” international media was an “oversimplification” of the issues behind the protests.

“The international media are professionals, many of who will already know the facts of the protests, I don’t see it will be possible to manipulate them,” he said.

Thasmeen claimed that reports of excessive force against protesters had been accurate, adding that MDP supporters led by their parliamentary leadership had been “violently charging” protest crowds while police were attempting to disperse peaceful protesters.

In light of the factional divides occurring within the DRP between Thasmeen and the Z-DRP faction linked to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the current party head said that apparent collaboration between the two groups was not related to the internal situation of the party.

“It is the duty of responsible politicians to try and find solutions to this problem [living costs],” he said. “There are a number of opposition I believe who have become involved with these protests.”

Thasmeen added that it was inevitable that although the protests has been initiated by a “youth movement” they had become politicised with involvement of figures such as former DRP Deputy Leader Umar Naseer and MP Ahmed Mahlouf.


22 thoughts on “Foreign Ministry criticises opposition media “manipulation””

  1. Do we want to give the Government back to those from whom we wanted it changed? Halo. Does anyone have a better suggestion before trying to overthrow this Government? And if any one does, please announce it? If not go home and stop disrupting our lives. These demonstrations have nothing to do with increased cost of living? It is once again those who thirst for power? Give me the sweet or I will hit you

  2. The Foreign Minister says that the government was “open to negotiation” on the issue and welcomed alternative political solutions from opposition. the Leader of the opposition says "it is the duty of responsible politicians to try and find solutions to this problem [living costs],”

    For God's sake why dont they both talk to each other and try and resolve the issues instead of yelling and shouting and keeping half of Male' awake all night?

    Responsible politicians? My foot!

  3. Oh, how short do memories be, that our esteemed govt should forget how they were out and about tarnishing the image of our fair weather nation abroad and asking tourists to boycott the Maldives, seems like just yesterday.

  4. A peaceful protest manipulated by police and MDP, they want people to think that DRP is behind the protests and DRP is trying to ruin tourism..Nothing can be further from the truth..MDP was the only party ever to call a boycott of maldivian resorts.

  5. Do we want to give the Government back to those from whom we wanted it changed? Halo. Does anyone have a better suggestion before trying to overthrow this Government? And if any one does, please announce it? If not go home and stop disrupting our lives. These demonstrations have nothing to do with increased cost of living? It is once again those who thirst for power? Give me the sweet or I will hit you.

  6. Ahmed Naseem please talk sense. The current president doesn't even acknowledge that the country is in a crisis. Acknowledge it and address the people.. not from a MDP podium.. address through MNBC or the National radio station. That's the first st

  7. @Zayd and Nars: When MDP called to international markets to boycott resorts in Maldives, it wasn't the right thing to do even then and DRP condemned it then. And DRP doing the same thing now through these demonstrations doesn't make it any right or any more acceptable!

    So I guess all these politicians no matter which party they belong to just think along the same low and disgusting and selfish levels and are ready to do anything to further their own gains. But it's a huge insult to the intelligence of the ordinary citizens when they use slogans like "Thaketheege agu boduvanee....raiyithun hanaavanee"....This demonstration clearly isn't about costs going up, its about DRP's hunger and thirst to gain back the power they once had and obviously can't do without now! So DRP lets lose the current slogan and just say " We want to be back in power"! But please do bring back the millions and maybe even billions of dollars that you looted from us to finance your lavish life styles in Spore, UK and other countries! Otherwise we're back in square one eh!

  8. The president says he doesn't know about any demonstations or protests. The foreign minister says he condemns these demonstrations/protests, which according to his chief is not something known to the govt. And on top of all this now there isn't anyone who is in charge of the protests itself? Maybe we're all having mass hallucinations.

  9. Oh, and Mr. Minister, here's a few suggestions to alleviate the economic crisis that the nation may or may not be in depending on who you're listening to.

    1. Announce an immediate cessation to bed rent from resorts and start charging them a 15 to 25 % tax on resorts' net income. In order to make sure that this works, create a task force drawn from qualified and experienced staff from MIRA, Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Finance. Make sure every single one of those resorts is properly audited by a professional accounting company such as PWC or Ernst&Young, with MIRA overseeing the audit. The costs of doing this would be well rewarded by the income the govt will generate from said taxes.
    2. Increase customs duties on vehicles such as motorbikes, cars, pickups, lorries and the like in order to increase revenue while at the same time better managing the number of useless vehicles in th streets of Male'. Also, the less vehicles, the less consumption of fuel, and therefore the less foreign exchange of cash in order to buy fuel.
    3. Use the above said task force and identify the multimillion dollar business in Maldives outside of the tourism industry such as STO, Dhiraagu, Wataniya, DAMAS, MegaChip, VILLA, PCH, VA, etc. and start taxing them first. It'll be easier to start this with a small pool of big businesses.
    4. Implement your govt's plan to decrease customs duties on fuel and make sure those savings cross over to the consumer/public in utilities savings.
    5. Implement a decrease in customs duties on consumer goods. That way the traders won't be able to charge exhorbidant fees by saying it's cos of the customs duties.

    Seriously, start off with these. You'll be amazed by the results. Cheers.

    The above views are mine and mine alone, and reflect my ideas. If you want more details, please don't hesitate to contact me on 7762966. Cheers.

    PS. Wierdos need not contact. Cheers.

  10. Mr Foreign Minister, which word do you want MN to use then? Do you want MN to use that protesters are having a party in the street rather than 'unrest'. Get real minister. You guys did the same to bring democracy, but you guys have all failed and proved to be a bunch of idiots worse than Qayyoom. Atleast the people had an affordablelife when Qayyoom was there. Now with all the power in your hands, we are more poorer than before. You all have failed and let us down by voting for you all in the first place. Now get out of the government and resign. Stop giving lame excuses of DRP and Qayyoom. You have had two years and proved to have done more disasters than Qayyoom did in 30 years.So shut your dirty smelly mouth and just leave all of you,including your drooling boss Anni.

  11. @mariyam

    Agreed that neither what MDP did, nor what DRP is doing in terms of hurting our (tourism) export markets is right. But here the difference is that DRP is not actively working to boycott resorts or import/export markets of Maldives, whereas MDP did exactly that by demonstrating in Europe as well as going to trade fairs and giving interviews to news media to boycott (certain) resorts. Notice here that DRP is not doing that, and also that should any tourist wish to do so, they would be able to ascertain that protests are only happening in Male' and would most probably not have any bearing or affect on resorts. The same information I believe has been relayed by both ye Tourism and Foreign Affairs Ministries.

    As for whether DRP wants to be back in power or not, is currently irrelevant. Mainly because anyone with half a brain knows that the basic role of any opposition (political) party/group is to come to power. And they are utilizing a popular disgruntlement within the society regarding the price hikes and the failure of govt to deliver on "aiy foraa fashah". Case in point, President Nasheed pledged to bring in approximately 100m USD in 2008 after the elections to get the economy going, but as is usual with these things that never came to fruitation.

    Let's face it, this govt really has no idea how to truly deal with the economic woes of the nation. Or maybe they just don't want to, since there are easy steps they can take, as I've illustrated above.

    We can go on and on about what MDP did or what DRP did. We can talk about the hypocrisy of the current top heavy govt and the hypocrisy of MDP and it's "action plan" to "protect" the govt and MDP's rule. But at the end of the day, all we need is for responsible adults to sit down and make rational decisions for the benefit of the nation and her populance. Do that, and whoever comes up with the better alternative will win. Sadly, the "responsible adults" aka the parliament and the cabinet and other policy makers, are all too occupied in their very public bickering. It's truly a sad day for Maldives.

  12. when Maumoon's was to be ousted, every one thought who else is worthy of leading this country. Nasheed wasn't elected because he was worthy, but there wasn't a choice for the people. The public wanted anyone but Maumoon as the new president.

    We remember Nasheed himself talking about his worthiness of being the president during the elections by boasting of having a certificate of being a mosque Imam, trying to convince the public to elect him. Mind the MDP, don't get confident, the public didn't elect an MDP president, they elected a change!

    If Nasheed resigns, there would be some other person to lead and yes, this country has better leaders than the current president

    Do you know what he said after the first night of protest at one of his Party gathering? He said he doesn't here the protests nor was he aware of concerns from the public. Totally unacceptable remarks as a mockery for the youth and the public sufferings!

    We don't want you Mr. President. We want you to resign, seriously, ASAP!

    Let Dr. Waheed, VP, handle the office for the time being.

    We want an election!!!!!

    Election! Election! Election!

  13. Oh, hello, so we know now we have a Foreign Minister. Has he been on a holiday on the Moon in the past few weeks? How come we've never heard from this guy up till now?

    The silence from the government is deafening. Where's the so-called Press Secretary? What exactly does he do? Just defend volleys coming from outside? Isn't it his job to actually take the INITIATIVE and actively communicate with the public?

    There are some pockets of brilliance in this government. But overall, the feeling is that it's full of mediocre people who actually don't know what they are doing. The President himself seems to be in a state of denial about what's going around him.

    There are no quick fixes to the current woes. However, the government has so far failed to show any initiative in communicating effectively about what they are doing. They are hurting badly simply because they don't and probably don't know how to explain to the public what they are trying to do.

    Advice to President Nasheed: hire some professionals who actually know how to communicate your government's policies to the public at large. Your current setup is simply not up to the job.

  14. This government has no idea how to manage the economy. From day one, government has been talking rubbish. First they promised US$300 million within 2 weeks in power. Having not achieved it, then came up another thought, $1 billion by the end of 2009. Dollar problem started from the begining of 2009, and after 2 years nothing was achived done to improve the situation. Today, I have no confidence in our economy. I feel its better to move another country to raise my family. Sadly, our future is bleak.

  15. Hussain i ahre your feelings as well....our future is bleak..our shared future is bleak as long as this government is in power...If we dont vote this government out they will make it impossible for us to live our lives in Maldives...The government want us to be their serfs ..a truly wealfare state where all of us will either have to work in some big business empire controled by an MDP cronie and we will have to beg them for health care....its already happening..STO is planingon importaing 27 diffrent types of goods.....The currency will be devaluated until simple maldivians cannto offer to go outside for health and education...They want to keep us in the dark so that they can rule for 500 years....These are communists.

  16. We all changed the previous government hoping for a better future. What have we achieved? Yes we needed to change the government. But not to a bunch of amateurs.

  17. @Ahmed Bin Addu Bin Suvadheeb

    I can see that you have finally come down from your high,confused stupor! Defending Anni and MDP till your last breadth, some people, pakaaas!! Im watchin you!!

  18. aw snap! its raining its pouring the old man is snoring ... ... ..

  19. @Ahmed

    "I can see that you have finally come down from your high,confused stupor!"

    I have never been in a stupor. Drugs aren't my thing.

    I don't support any of the political parties, nor am I fan of the government. My concern is for the future of the country. I've always said that this government does have some good people in it with some good ideas. However, there doesn't seem to be a coherent policy coming out.

    And the opposition? There's no political opposition to talk about. Everyone is a revolutionary at the moment!

  20. @Ahmed Bin Addu Bin Suvadheeb

    Now you are beginning to make more sense as an induvidual, fro what i gatheredfrom your past comments, I though you were like most commentators here who have been infected with the yellow fever and therefore are coherent cant see straight clearly and have caught a bout of denial. I respect you for your reply.

    I agree with you that MDP has a lot of talent, but the fact is , its sad actually that MDP actually had a once in a million chance of doin a lot of good for the country but yet, youve seeen it, its far from the case, MDP has been hijacked. Im sorry but the way i see it they have failed and we dont actually have a legitimate government. As for the opposition, i belive we will see an opposition that worth its weight soon, insallah.

  21. Hon Minister, its amazing how soon you forget what you have done during prevouse government and when you were on the streets. Did'nt you manipulate the foreign media.


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