A leaked phone call between MP Mohamed Musthafa and Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim discussing a bill proposed by the former to cease state benefits to ex-President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has emerged in local media, suggesting a secret relationship between the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP and embattled Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali.
In the leaked audio clip, Musthafa explains that while he did not believe that former President Gayoom deserved financial benefits after returning to active politics, he had considered withdrawing the bill but was dissuaded by Thasmeen.
Moreover, the MP for Thimarafushi claims that Thasmeen had offered financial assistance to his campaign in 2009 against Gassan Maumoon, son of the former President.
Musthafa told Minivan News today that he would not comment on the leaked audio clip.
”It was Gayoom who leaked the phone conversation, he has a phone tracing machine, which was once in [presidential palace] Theemuge during his administration. He took it with him when he left,” alleged Musthafa. ”He has violated our privacy.”
“Because of him, Thasmeen and I had to go into a verbal quarrel. Thasmeen was very concerned,” he continued. ”We can’t even sleep with our wives now because of Gayoom.”
Neither Thasmeen nor minority opposition People’s Alliance MP Nazim has responded to Minivan News at time of press.
In July 2009, Musthafa told Minivan News that one of the “five richest MPs in DRP” had secretly helped his campaign.
Meanwhile, in his letter condemning Thasmeen’s leadership last week, Gayoom accused Thasmeen of not participating in any DRP trips to Thaa atoll for Gassan’s campaign.
In July 2010 both Musthafa and Nazim were arrested on charges of bribing a Civil Court judge with US$6000 and a two-way plane ticket to exert influence on a court case; however Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed ruled there was not reasonable grounds to extend the detention of the two MPs.
Translated transcript of the leaked phone conversation:
Nazim: You know that bill on Maumoon you submitted, the one about terminating benefits? That’s coming up, either tomorrow or the day after, it’s going to come…so how did that come about? I’m asking because you submitted it.
Musthafa: Yes, that. Well, a lot of people know why it has been submitted, right? Even whom it was that asked [me] to submit it. In truth, I proposed it during those days when I was saying I am going to sue Gayoom. And he came back to politics and it looked as if things were going to go back to the way they were, it was round then that I did it. It’s not something I approve of in any case – resigning, announcing to the whole country that he was stepping aside from politics, and then coming out again and taking to stages, that’s really not good. So that’s why I submitted it – on the notion that he did not deserve those benefits.
But in fact it wasn’t just me who backed it. I did it because some people asked me to do it. But afterward, when [others were telling me] to amend it or withdraw it, they told me ‘Musthafa, we’ve heard about this, why would you want to take it back, don’t withdraw it.’ And the person who said this is someone who has always given me great assistance and support.
But, when two others requested that I withdraw it, I asked him again, what should I do, I’m facing pressure from your party. They’re telling me to pull it out.
Nazim: MDP is asking you to withdraw it?
Musthafa: Er, now, it’s not just MDP alone. You know these so-called Maumoon factions?
Musthafa: It’s some of them. It was mainly Mahlouf who talked to me about it, asking me to take it back. After he met me about two or three times, I changed my mind and thought about withdrawing it, thinking that I did not really want to pressurize someone so advanced in age. I was going to take it back and asked that side.
Nazim: What is this ‘side’ you’re talking about? How would I know when you say ‘that side’?
Musthafa: You know very well that it’s Thasmeen. Anybody would know. He is someone who has helped me a lot with this even in the past. For example, during Gassan’s campaign – it’s even noted in that letter Maumoon sent. Whether it is Maumoon or anyone else who says it, it is a fact. [Thasmeen] never once went to Thimarafushi. He was in Fonnadoo near Thimarafushi once but he wasn’t going to go to Thimarafushi to campaign against me and challenge me, right? That is how it is.
Nizam: By help do you mean he gave money to your campaign? But then, he’s not going to give Musthafabey money when there’s someone from DRP [contesting].
Musthafa: [Laughs] That’s a big misunderstanding among them, isn’t it? If you think about it, even a child would know that neither Thasmeen nor his family would want Gassan to come into this. That is how it is. Everyone in the country knows that.
To put it briefly, I cannot withdraw it without a word from that side. That’s it. I’ve even got different offers, asking me to take back that bill I proposed to cut off Maumoon’s benefits. Even within my own party, some have asked me. [they’ve said], ‘what is this for’.
But it’s not going forward because of this problem. The way it is now it is very difficult for me to go against Thasmeen and them and take it back. Even if something happens to me tomorrow, they are the ones who are going to help. So I can’t do it. If not, I would have done what I could.