President Abdulla Yameen has reduced the powers of Home Minister, local news agency Haveeru has claimed.
Citing an unnamed senior government official, Haveeru said Yameen’s decision comes in response to Home Minister Umar Naseer’s order on low ranking police officers to investigate Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb for alleged unlawful activity.
In a separate report, Haveeru has also claimed Naseer in a January 26 confidential letter requested the Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) to provide an armed military bodyguard or a pistol to defend himself.
Naseer declined to comment on both allegations today. Meanwhile, President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali also refused to comment on the issue and said all cabinet ministers are authorized with the necessary powers to carry out their responsibilities.
Speaking to Haveeru earlier, Muaz denied the reduction of the Home Minister’s powers and said there have been no changes in the Home Minister’s mandate or powers.
According to Haveeru, Yameen limited the Home Minister’s powers because Naseer had given direct orders to low ranking police officers without consulting the president. The investigation order came in the second week of July after the commissioner of police delayed investigations into the alleged wrongdoing, Haveeru reported.
Adeeb co-chairs the cabinet’s economic council along with Yameen and is the deputy leader of Yameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).
Article 16 of the Police Act allows the home minister to command individual police officers of any rank, and gives him powers equal to that of top level police officials. However, the same article also states the president may limit these powers.
Referring to a police mutiny which unseated former President Mohamed Nasheed in February 2012, Haveeru’s source claimed Yameen may have reduced the home minister’s powers to prevent another ‘February 7’. Police officers had demanded Nasheed’s resignation claiming the former president had issued unlawful orders.
Naseer had also allegedly ordered a probe into the controversial arrest and expulsion of Russian national Roman Valerevich Seleznyov earlier this month, Haveeru said.
Speaking on state broadcaster Television Maldives last week, Naseer had said the Maldivian government would have “acted differently” if the Home Ministry had been aware that an alleged hacker expelled on July 5 was the son of a Russian lawmaker.
Haveeru also claims to have received a copy of a confidential letter Naseer had sent to Minister of Defence Mohamed Nazim on January 26. In the letter, Naseer allegedly wrote, “Maldives Police Service intelligence has received information of a plot to attack me. In this regard, if I was attacked with a sword, my securities can not control that.”
But the MNDF have refused to comply with the minister’s request and security for Naseer continues to be provided by an unarmed police officer and a personal bodyguard, Haveeru reported.
Tension with Yameen
Naseer has previously accused Yameen of illicit connections with local gangs and drug cartels. Naseer’s comments came after Yameen beat him in the PPM’s presidential primaries in 2013. Naseer has also suggested Yameen’s involvement in the murder of PPM MP and Islamic scholar Dr Afrasheem Ali.
Naseer was then expelled from PPM and went on to back Jumhooree Party (JP) candidate Gasim Ibrahim. The JP placed third and endorsed Yameen in the second round of polls on the condition that the two parties form a coalition government.
After appointed as home minister, Naseer has said his allegations against Yameen were untrue and were mere ‘political rhetoric.’
The coalition was dissolved in May on a dispute over the parliamentary speakership. Two of the four JP ministers have signed on to PPM, and the third was dismissed. Naseer is the only remaining minister on a JP slot.
He is being prosecuted for ‘disobedience to orders’ regarding a January 2012 incident in which he called on anti-government protesters to storm the military headquarters with 50 ladders.
The Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office is charging Naseer with violating Article 8 (a) of the General Laws Act of 1968, which prohibits speech or writing contravening Islamic tenets.