Minister of Islamic Affairs Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed has dismissed rumours of President Abdulla Yameen not performing the Hajj pilgrimage despite traveling to Saudi Arabia in September.
Asked to address the speculation during minister’s question time at yesterday’s sitting of parliament by opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ibrahim Shareef, Shaheem suggested the rumours were being spread by former President Mohamed Nasheed, who he said was unable to make the pilgrimage while in office.
“The president of the Maldives made the Hajj [pilgrimage]. As you know, he was supposed to go the UN assembly but went to Hajj after cancelling it,” he said.
He claimed that former President Nasheed declined an opportunity to perform the pilgrimage during his tenure and had sent the first lady instead.
Shaheem was state minister for Islamic affairs under the Nasheed administration.
Nasheed’s remarks concerning President Yameen’s Hajj pilgrimage “opens the door for others to talk further about the things they have done,” Shaheem said.
“So I think it would be better to stay quiet without going around talking about such personal matters,” he said.
The opposition leader referred to former President Mohamed Ameen informing the public about his health in a letter sent from Sri Lanka to the Maldivian parliament.
Nasheed claimed that according to close associates President Yameen was unable to perform rituals at Arafat due to poor health.
He implied that the source of the rumours was government-aligned Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) Leader Ahmed Siyam Mohamed, who accompanied the president to Saudi Arabia.
The public deserved to know the truth about the president’s health as speculation creates fear and doubt, he added.
Following numerous unofficial trips to Singapore by President Yameen this year, President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali denied rumours that the president underwent brain surgery in Singapore.
“Rumours being spread about the president’s health are false,” he tweeted on October 23.
Nasheed meanwhile contended that President Yameen was ruling “in absentia” or away from the public eye.
If the president is “incapacitated” and could not execute the duties of his office, Nasheed said the Constitution requires the vice president to assume the president’s powers.
In late October, an anonymous senior government told newspaper Haveeru that the MDP were using areca palm trees planted in Malé by the city council for black magic to curse President Yameen with ill health.
A close associate of President Yameen told the newspaper that the president did not seek treatment for a brain tumour.
Instead, the associate claimed, the president sought treatment for infections caught during his Hajj pilgrimage and had to be admitted at a Singapore hospital.
The anonymous government official said the president’s close associates believe that black magic or sorcery using the palm trees were responsible for the president’s ill health.
“[They] believe that [President Yameen’s] health worsens with every palm frond that falls off the areca palm trees. And that his health would worsen further with every tree that blossoms,” the anonymous official was quoted as saying.
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