Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) MP Mohamed Ismail has withdrawn an amendment to the constitution that would have barred Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim from contesting the presidency in 2018.
The move comes after Gasim met ‘Champa’ Mohamed Moosa ‘Uchchu’ and Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb at Moosa’s residence around 11pm last night.
The amendment proposed adding an age limit of 65 among the eligibility criteria for presidential candidates. Gasim would be 66 years of age in 2018.
“I withdrew the amendment today respecting the leaders of the ruling party’s request to remove the bill. I also thought that it would be in the best interest of the country at this time that I withdraw it,” Mohamed Ismail told Minivan News.
However, as a three quarters majority of the total membership of the People’s Majlis is required to amend the constitution, the votes of opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs or JPs would be needed to reach the required 63 votes.
Adeeb – also deputy leader of the PPM – has confirmed on social media that the meeting took place.
“My meeting with honorable Gasim and honorable Uchu is confidential, so no comments to what we agreed or discussed,” he tweeted.
After news of the meeting was reported by local media, a small group of protesters greeted Gasim when he emerged from the meeting. “President [Mohamed] Nasheed is in jail,” they screamed.
Gasim told reporters after the meeting that the discussion was “about the political environment.”
The JP issued a press release this morning stating that Gasim’s meeting with Champa Moosa was a meeting “between friends”.
“As the two are businessmen, discussions concerning business also took place,” the press release stated.
The JP claimed that Adeeb arrived at Champa’s residence while the meeting with Gasim was ongoing.
Gasim told Adeeb to ask President Abdulla Yameen to withdraw “politically motivated” charges against former President Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, the JP said.
Qasim, Adheeb adhi uh’chu ge meeting nimigen dhiya’ee v ekuveri maahauleh gai. pic.twitter.com/t5dcxeDOTS
— mohamed ikraam (@mohamed_ikraam) March 2, 2015
Both Chairperson & PG Leader of MDP were notified today of the arranged meeting of JP Leader & Uhchu, happening now. http://t.co/aKPpfFCkKJ
— Abdulla Riyaz MP (@riyazabdulla) March 2, 2015
Gasim’s JP formed an alliance with MDP in February and launched nightly protests against the government’s alleged breaches of the constitution. Since former President Nasheed’s arrest, Gasim has called on Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin to withdraw charges against the opposition leader and ex-defence minister in the interests of peace and stability.
The government has since seized several properties leased to Gasim’s Villa Group for alleged agreement violations. Last week, the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) gave a 30-day notice to Villa Group to pay US$100 million allegedly owed as unpaid rent and fines.
Moreover, at the first hearing of Nazim’s trial last week, State Prosecutor Adam Arif said documents on a pen drive confiscated from the then-defence minister’s apartment showed he was planning individual and joint operations, financed by the Villa Group, to cause bodily harm to “senior honourable state officials.”
Despite the JP’s claims to the contrary, local media reported last night – citing confidential sources – that Gasim asked Adeeb to withdraw the constitutional amendment and the pair discussed MIRA’s 30-day notice to Villa Group.
Gasim was also criticised by opposition supporters when he failed to return to the Maldives as promised ahead the MDP-JP mass rally on February 27. Gasim went to Colombo to brief diplomatic missions in Sri Lanka and claimed he could not return for the rally due to an appointment the following day with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.
“As in the agreement between JP and MDP, Gasim will work to free former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim,” the JP insisted in its press release.
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