Additional reporting by Ahmed Nazeer
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has alleged that officials in the government were threatening senior party figures in a bid to obstruct the party’s presidential campaign, ahead of the upcoming presidential elections.
In a press statement released yesterday (August 25) on its website, the MDP alleged that recent police summons and prosecution of its senior figures – including parliamentary group members – were part of the government’s plan to obstruct campaigning.
The statement came shortly after former President Mohamed Nasheed’s former Special Envoy, Ibrahim Hussain Zaki, was summoned to police for questioning. Zaki’s passport has also been withheld by the authorities.
Last week, the prosecutor general filed charges against six people – including MDP MPs Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, Abdulla Jabir, and former Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair – regarding their apprehension at Hondaidhoo island last November, allegedly in possession of alcohol.
Meanwhile, members of MDP MP Ali Waheed’s family – including his mother, father and wife – were summoned to police as part of an investigation into a corruption case concerning the buying of a house in Male.
“The MDP condemns the politicized police summons and prosecutions against during former Special Envoy Ibrahim Hussain Zaki, parliamentary group members Hamid Abdul Ghafoor and Abdulla Jabir, as the MDP’s campaign gathers pace ahead of the presidential elections,” read the MDP’s statement.
The party also alleged that the arrests on Hondaidhoo were politically motivated and were the government’s attempt to influence the now-shelved no-confidence motions filed against then Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim.
Despite the MDP’s claims, Chair of Elections Commission Fuwad Thowfeek told local media that the commission had received few complaints regarding attempts to obstruct campaigning.
Thowfeek said that the commission’s complaints bureau was addressing the complaints filed, and would take action if required.
“Complaints concerning attempts made to influence and obstruct campaigns are very low compared to previous elections. The complaints are very few,” Thowfeek told local newspaper Haveeru. “We expect this year’s election to be smoother compared to last elections. We are only getting very few complaints, even when the election is very close.”
On November 16, 2012, police arrested ten people during a ‘special’ operation on the island of Hondaidhoo in Haa Dhaal Atoll for the alleged possession and consumption of drugs and alcohol. During the raid Ghafoor, Jabir, Zaki, Zuhair, and his wife Mariyam Faiz were all brought under police custody.
Others arrested included Jadhulla Jaleel, Hamdan Zaki, two Sri Lankan nationals named Raj Mohan and Anoor Bandaranayk, as well as a Bangladeshi named Suhail Rana.
Police at the time said that they found large amounts of “suspected” drugs and alcohol after obtaining a court warrant to search the island. The arrests were made “based on information received by police intelligence,” police claimed.
Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef was reported as saying that the suspects were arrested with alcohol and “hash oil”.
Haneef added that police officers at the time of arrest had requested all suspects taken into custody on Hondaidhoo to provide urine samples for a routine examination. However, only Hamdhaan Zaki and the three foreign suspects complied with the request.
Last June, the police sent cases of seven individuals – including the two opposition MPs –to the Prosecutor General’s Office for prosecution. Meanwhile, the case regarding Zaki has yet to be submitted for prosecution as he left the country shortly after being released, only returning two weeks ago.
On February 20, 2013, police declared they were investigating a corruption case involving Ali Waheed in which his mother purchased land in Male’ for MVR 7.938 million (US$514,000) in October 2011.
At the time, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) President Hassan Luthfee confirmed the institution was also investigating a case concerning the Thoddoo MP.
“We have earlier received complaints regarding the MP taking bribes following his defection from the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) to the MDP. There were also claims that he utilised the money he received as bribes to buy a house. We are investigating the matter,” Luthfee said.
Contacted by Minivan News today, Ali Waheed said he had already commented on the matter through Twitter.
My wife was summoned to police tonight while I am on campaign @ GA. Abdulla Riyaz is mistaken. She is much stronger and better than me!
— Ali Waheed (@ali20waheed) August 25, 2013