Maldives debate intensifies in UK Parliament

Whilst the UK government professed its commitment to the India-brokered road map talks in the UK’s House of Lords this week, in less official forums MPs appeared to have reached a damning verdict on the current Maldives administration, discussing punitive measures and demanding apologies for perceived sleights.

Lord Howell of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) avoided any conclusive statements in the face of questions from the House regarding the legitimacy of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s government, promising only support for the work of the Commonwealth and the Commission of National Inquiry.

This followed a meeting the day before of members of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Maldives who used offices provided by the UK Parliament to hold a meeting entitled “Democracy Derailed: Political turmoil in the Maldives”. A source present during the meeting has given Minivan News their full account of the discussion.

The source, who wished to remain anonymous, said that those who spoke about the current situation in the country were the MP for Salisbury, John Glenn; Queen’s Counsel, Sir Ivan Lawrence; former Foreign Minister for the Maldives government and current UN Special Rapporteur on Iran, Dr Ahmed Shaheed, and former Deputy Health Minister Mariya Ali.

Also said to have contributed to the panel were Helen Grant MP, Mike Gapes MP, and former Maldives High Commissioner to the UK Dr Farahanaz Faizal.

Dr Faizal has actively opposed the current administration since resigning from her position, shortly after the departure of former President Mohamed Nasheed. She has since remained in the UK, working on behalf of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in raising awareness of perceived human rights abuses and democratic failings in the Maldives.

The former Deputy High Commissioner and brother to President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, Naushad Waheed, was also present as were Maldivian students and families from the UK. Representatives of civil society organisations including the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and Third World Solidarity were also in attendance.

Chairman David Amess reportedly opened the meeting by expressing his disappointment that the Maldives government had declined to send a representative from the UK High Commission, despite being offered the opportunity to do so.

This has been disputed by Acting High Commissioner to the UK, Ahmed Shiaan, who claimed that the UK High Commission had received no official invitation.

The MP from Salisbury, John Glenn, expressed “no doubt” that there had been a coup d’etat in the Maldives, our source reports.

“[The] democratic will of the people of Maldives has been tossed aside,” Glenn is alleged to have told the group before mentioning his distress at the comments recently aimed at both the UK and the Commonwealth by the Maldives’ new governing coalition.

Glenn’s Salisbury constituency served as the base for former President Mohamed Nasheed during his exile in the UK. The Friends of Maldives (FOM) organisation, responsible for a recent travel advisory which pleads with tourists to avoid any resorts associated with alleged coup conspirators, is based in Salisbury.

Strained relations

Perceived interference from the Commonwealth, whose Secretariat is based in London and whose figurehead remains Queen Elizabeth II, has attracted scathing criticism recently in the Maldives.

Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed accused the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) as having been “bought by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)” after it had urged the current government to establish its legitimacy with early elections.

CMAG released a strongly worded statement last week, arguing that the “the earliest possible expression of the will of the people was required to establish universal faith in the legitimacy of those who govern the country.”

That the group had seen a “lack of progress” in this respect caused it to express “disappointment and deep concern.”

Special Envoy Sir Donald McKinnon, who departed on Friday, attended the Opening Session of the People’s Majlis on 19 March, emphasised the need for parliament to “function effectively so that parliamentarians can return to debating issues of national interest.”

President’s spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza last week went as far as to suggest to Minivan News that the Maldives may consider its position in the Commonwealth, although the reporting of his statement was later dismissed by Abbas in other media as “politically motivated”.

Addressing the all party group, Sir Ivan Lawrence is said to have spoken of his lack of faith in the Maldives’ judicial system, based on his visits to the country during the Maumoon Gayoom era.

“It is now surely important for the same international community that helped to bring about the first democracy, to underline the importance to the new regime of holding speedy free and fair elections, so that power may be restored as quickly as possible to the people of the Maldives,” Sir Lawrence purportedly quoted from a letter he had recently sent to UK newspaper, The Times.

Mariya Ali is alleged to have discussed human rights violations in the Maldives as well as police brutality, before giving the floor to Dr Shaheed who is reported to have suggested that the Gayoom coterie lost their grip on power as a result of attempts to placate the international community.

Dr Shaheed apparently expressed his opinion that they were unlikely to repeat this mistake, citing Dunyha Maumoon’s comments regarding “civil war” as evidence of this resolve. Shaheed stated that the current government will not hold early elections, but rather will work to enfeeble the opposition MDP between now and the scheduled poll date.

Shaheed is also said to have expressed his concern that the independently minded Election Commissioner Fuad Thaufeeq would now be targeted by the current government due to his reputation for impartiality.

Insult and injury

The debate is also said to have included mention of the recent insults leveled at the Queen, the Commonwealth, and the UK government.

During DQP MP Riyaz’s diatribe on DhiTV, he argued that the British public had funded the MDP in return for the establishment of churches in the Maldives and also that they hated the Maldives for gaining independence from Britain.

“The English hate us. Why? Because Ibrahim Nasir saved us from slavery and brought us independence, since then what have the English done for us?” he said.

Riyaz then turned his attention to the Queen herself, “After 50 years, the English Queen, she is physically challenged. But she is still Queen, and if she wants she can remove the Prime Minister. Where is democracy? Where is democracy? That is not a democracy.”

In agreement with the opinion of a member of the public in attendance, David Amess is reported to have said that the government of Maldives should issue a full apology for Riyaz’s outburst and, in concurrence with the other members of the APPG, he argued that the issue should be brought before Parliament.

Additionally, Amess is reputed to have stated his feeling that the attendance of President Waheed at the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations this year would be inappropriate.

Minivan News has obtained video footage of this section of the discussion and can confirm an unidentified voice from off-camera suggesting an early-day motion regarding this topic.

Early day motions are a tool used by MPs in the House of Commons to introduce a subject for discussion. They are often used to publicise certain events or subjects and to gauge the level of parliamentary support for such motions.

Finally, the meeting is said to have moved on to punitive measures. The alleged consensus was that European travel bans had greater potential to damage those alleged to be behind a coup. The option of resort boycotts was dismissed as too damaging to the Maldives’ economic lifeblood.

The video footage received also includes Mr Amess’s concluding statements and so the following quote can be confirmed:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we started off our meeting asking has democracy been derailed, is there political turmoil in the Maldives? Well, listening to the contributors before us this afternoon, the answer to the first part is ‘yes’. Political turmoil in the Maldives? Again we’ve heard the answer, ‘yes’.”

Official comments

The validity of this meeting has been questioned by the Acting High Commissioner, Ahmed Shiaan.

“This was not a UK parliamentary initiated event. If this was an official APPG event, we should have been invited. It is very disappointing,” said Shiaan, “[If it were] they would have to get our perspective, even the Foreign and Commonwealth Office [FCO] wasn’t invited.”

Shiaan pointed out that the discussion initiated in the House of Lords on March 22, at which the FCO was represented, should receive more prominence as it better represents the official line of the government.

When Lord Howell of the FCO was in the Lords about the potential suspension of the Maldives from the Commonwealth, his response was that this decision was up to the whole of the Commonwealth to decide upon, not just one member.

“We must move to encourage democratic elections, and that is what is proposed in the India-brokered plan, which we welcome and support,” said Lord Howell.

One member of the House asked if Lord Howell felt the government was doing enough to ensure an independent international enquiry after what was regarded by some as a coup.

“We do not recognise this as a coup, although obviously there has been a change,” replied Lord Howell, “We still need to establish the full circumstances of what occurred and we hope that the commission of inquiry will do that.”

Lord Howell was also anxious to make clear the view of the FCO that the Maldives remained a safe tourist destination. “At the moment we do not judge that there is any danger in the tourist areas.”

Next, Lord Howell was asked what steps CMAG might take if they were not successful in pushing for early elections, to which he responded:

“If they are not, of course we would have a new and more difficult situation that would require further resolution and effort. For the moment, we concentrate on following the plan which the Indians have so helpfully brokered.”

Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed, part of the new governing coalition, accuses the Commonwealth of seeking to build a church in the Maldives, Special Envoy Sir Donald McKinnon of taking bribes from the MDP, and the Queen of being “physically challenged”:


37 thoughts on “Maldives debate intensifies in UK Parliament”

  1. common wealth is useless body and we do not need them to interfere with our internal politics.

    But Riyaz has said not correct and we should maintain diplomacy with all countries whether its UK or america or Saudi.

    in real terms UK does not help Maldives much compared with Japan and other countries and Japan and China have provided the most of assistance in developing our nation and not the UK.

    UK current ruling party does not represent the entire Uk and Anni has a special relationship with the current british government and also have an understanding of having religious freedom in Maldives. This is why UK is so much worried about Maldives and nothing more.

    British also should know that Maldivians are not only member of MDP but there are large number of Maldivians who does not like Anni for his autocratic policies and ruthless behavior .

  2. We have seen by our own eyes how the MDP Government was forced to step down, its nothing other than a COUP. Police and Military mutinying and stop the support to MDP Government against the Police and Military Constitution.

  3. well early day motions rarely lead to a debate and the last time it had any effect was in the late 70s. nd yes the commonwealth is biased and the monarchy is a stain on british democracy.

  4. Oh my god!

    The stupid MP Riyaz again!!!!!

    I blame the representing atoll people for nominating / electing this stupid idiot.

  5. Minivannews propaganda! We all know Riyaz is crazy! he is just an uneducated guy with a few million dollars in his bank account and owing more than that to others. . . his views do not represent the official views of the government. including this video after the news just shows how bias you are.

  6. Wow! Mr Riyaz, quite apart from the nonsense you spout, you are so factually incorrect, it completely undermines your argument. Any valid points you may have are lost in all your made-up, non-researched facts. Firstly, you are not talking about the 'English' you are talking about the 'British', a union of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales AND England. Collectively this is called the United Kindgom. Secondly, I wish to reassure you that the Queen is in wonderful health and is actually about to celebrate her 60th year as monarch, not her 50th as you say. Yesterday she opened three hospitals and was guest starter of a charity race in Manchester. She looked perfectly capable of walking to me, though I'm sure she would be touched by your concern.

    Lastly, I would like to address your self-important attitude. The British do not hate you, the average Brit wouldn't even know where the Maldives is on a map, never mind be aware of the atrocities being carried out by your new 'government'. The Maldives is too small to show up on your average map, has a population less thatn 0.5% of the UK and is about 5000 miles away. Fortunately for you, some people who have lived in the Maldives, like myself, can contact their local UK MP and ask them to raise questions in parliament, as I did. Don't you just love democracy? My interest in the Maldives is that it is somewhere I hold dear to my heart, and I don't want to see all the good people there brutalised in order to line the pockets of a few unscrupulous people. The UK has no interest in building churches in the Maldives, we are a secular society, in which the largest religious group is Christian, however this is not the majority of the population. Our government does not pay for churches to be built in our country so why we would be giving them out free to other places? At the last census, Jedi became an official religion in the UK as enough people put it down on their forms, but don't worry, we won't land any spaceships in the Maldives either.

  7. Ruling coup MP Riyas Rasheed is a disgrace! The guy doesn't understand what a constitutional monarchy is. Who does he think he is? He has million of debt to state trading organization and all his drama is to avoid paying this debt.

  8. The new / old regime is backwards and bigoted.

    Any international criticism from CMAG has been justified. Democracy is dead.

    Enough is enough, ELECTION NOW, LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE who they want to rule. The very people that lost the last election have taken charge by force = total madness!

  9. @ CH
    Well said! You know, every country has good and bad, but Maldivian bad take the gold medal in stupidity, greed, corruption and hypocrisy and I am a Maldivian emphasising this!

  10. All you proud Maldivian people,whatever political party you support,,just remember ,if God forbid,you ever get into serious trouble,it will be the British that will be first to help..

  11. Speechless, luckily Maldives is too insignificant for anyone substantial in the international community to take this joker MP's allegations seriously. However, at one point or another this CIRCUS has to come to an end.
    End of the day, I can only blame the constituents.

  12. The EU should impose sanctions on the maldives. Now!. This country has gone to the dogs,anyway.

  13. Riyaaz is free to talk any non sense, and he is using his this right due to common wealth and other international institution who had been advocating for this universal freedom. In the same token, Common Wealth and the international agencies are asking Maldives to return to democracy so that Riyaaz and like him can talk their non sense freely. Riyaaz should be thankful for international agencies like common wealth for their policies, weak and ignorant like Riyaaz can utter non sense and live freely without fear. And they will keep advocating freedom and democracy in the world and will use their influence to implement democracies and Riyaaz can keep talking out all his crazy mind. By the way what a big outcry, they are asking for election for the people to elect their government. Is it bad thing? IF MDP is for election, and others who support this, does not mean they are agents of MDP. We know why Riyaaz and like him are so unhappy about implementing democracy, it is because they know that democracy does not do any good for ignorant.

  14. The UK Foreign Office should issue advice to all British Citizens not to travel to the Maldives until elections are held.

  15. "Ignorance is bliss...and fools rush in ..where sensible people fear to walk. It is lack of commonsense and education that makes a few talk so mean and think so foolish on the world order and democratic values.Sensible people should feel pity towards such backward ideas and utterances.

  16. Whatever the British parliamentarians says this is not a coup. This is a self-coup which was brought by Anni himself and he had to be blamed for the self-coup.

  17. Riyaz is a barbarian. Riyaz should go to Google (if he knows how to handle a computer)and refer to Commonwealth and see who is the real head of Commonwealth. The world is ruled by WASP (White, Anglo Saxon, Protestant).

  18. An immediate Europe wide travel ban on those behind the coup and the current regime leaders will be the most effective way to get them to listen to the international community at this stage.

    Beyond that, the Commonwealth should keep up the pressure on the regime. The effect of that pressure is already very significant and is the reason why the likes of Riyaz are showing up on national TV.

    As we all know, undemocratic despotic regimes all over the world resort to ill-fated defensive positions (as exemplified by Riyaz), when the international community takes measures against them. It's quite clear that Waheed is playing for time, trying to stall the international community as much as he can. This is why he is so keen to be seen to agree to the demands of international diplomats whilst doing absolutely nothing at home!

  19. Dr Shaheed is absolutely spot on when he mentioned that the current regime will try to stall the international community. Such observations have already appeared in comments on this websites.

    The regime's aim is to root themselves into the political system as Gayyoom did during his 30 year rule. They will use every possible means to destroy any party that aims to restore full democracy here. It's back to "business as usual", i.e. back to pre-2008 as far as the regime is concerned. You only have to look at facts on the ground to see this.

  20. With such intellects like Nazim, Riyaz and Umar Naseer, I don't think we need to worry too much about how long this coup government is going to be in power. Pretty soon once again one of these fools will be opening their big mouths to gloat about something else they so cleverly did to carry out the coup! Poor Waheed, he doesn't even realize that he's in the middle of a circus with clowns all around him!

  21. Everyone knows it is a coup, international community is behind us. Very soon these fools will be opening their big mouths and we will for sure know the coup sponsors. Dr. Waheed is no man without the help of Vila, Waheedudheen, Universal, Champa and Crown.

  22. Surely he has Dr.Waheed's blessing.This mad so called President should be issued with a travel ban immediately to the UK and EU.

  23. If elections are held today, its very likely that MDP will loose. but even then its equally unlikely that MDP will graciously accept defeat. They will somehow dispute the election and call for a re-run.

  24. @ihsan on Sat, 24th Mar 2012 10:30 PM

    Why do you think MDP will not accept an election result?

    Is it because MDP lost in 2008 and instigated a coup and is now refusing to hold early elections?

    Or is it because of the history of disputed elections for e.g. Thimarafushi constituency where MDP lost to Ghassan Maumoon and demanded a re election, lost again, gone to the courts to remove the elected MP and now holding a by election in April? You're right it is the MDP will not accept the result in April either.

    With heads buried in the sand and listening to voices in our heads we can believe anything we want.

  25. Britain is not truly a modern democracy. Riyaz Rasheed is right. When an unelected lady is the head of State, you cannot sat UK is a modern democracy. The King or Queen or President must be elected in a true democracy. House of Lords who have so much power are not elected.Only very recently have they established a Supreme court! UK does not have a modern constitution either.They claim they have an unwritten one.

  26. With reference to the topic, perhaps it is more appropriate for us to conduct a public referendum of the Maldivians to asses our attitude to the British,English elite rather than being concerned with their attitude towards us. The fact is that, the British empire to which the sun never sets, has long passed. Secondly,in today's modernized and civilized world,it is hard to believe that others will keep hands tied to see the resurgence of new type of Colonialism. In reality so called 'democracy' is a deceptive device sinisterly designed by the globalists to keep the general public in the dark while the elite secretly usurp the wealth of the whole world to the maximum that they could possibly do.

    A benevolent dictatorship is 1000 times better than the outspoken' democracy' which is ostensibly exhibited for the betterment of the public by the greedy elites of the Western hemisphere and their Zee masters.

  27. Having watched this video twice, I can't help thinking these are people of low intelligence and low educational attainment. They represent the new government, of course. So we must take them seriously. They are undoubtedly dangerous. We must redouble our efforts to defeat them in the realm of ideas, as well as government.

  28. Are you suggesting to ban ''Dr Waheed'' the maldivian passport holder from travelling to UK/EU? You may not realise that David can actually travel with his US passport to Europe if he wishes. Schitzophrenic is also a dual citizen.

  29. hahaaa Maldivians buying and paying common wealth??? my god this place is ruled by uncivilized, uneducated ignorant criminals and mobsters..


    What ishappening in this place already have happened in the golden ages of roman empire..

    Maumoon and his puppet supporters are middle aged and old people without education or any mutual understanding..tonighte the ppm meeting proved it.

  30. @Badblud, I second you. Ref the Roman Empire, too right: here's a couple of quotes from Shakespeare's classic political play - Julius Caesar, that may ring some bells:
    "O judgement, thou art fled to brutish beasts,
    And men have lost their reason!"

    One more gem:
    "But for supporting robbers, shall we now contaminate our fingers with base bribes,"
    (Life imitating art, now more than ever.)

  31. Riaz Rasheed,mad fello, who paid for his position and unable to pay for state trading orgaization,, which is public money,not a surpris as he not an educational,, uncivilised barbarians do this kind of things,

  32. Can majesty the Queen please take this mad man out of this country and put him in a room in Buckingham Palace please. or perhaps Falklands, like the way she did to the rebel leader Mr Afeef Didi of Suvadivian whatever.........


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