Mohamed Shihab, a member of ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), has been appointed as Minister of Finance and Treasury by President Mohamed Nasheed.
Shihab previously held the post of Political Advisor at the President’s Office. He has also served as Minister of Home Affairs under the current administration.
Presenting Shihab with his ‘Letter of Appointment’, President Nasheed emphasised his confidence in Shihab’s capability in executing the financial and economic reform policies of the country.
Mohamed Shihab assured the President that he would put forth his utmost effort as Finance Minister.
Parliament is expected to vote on the appointment when it returns from recess in March.
Previously a member of the MDP’s former coalition partner Jumhoree party, Shihab replaced Jumhoree Party Leader Gasim Ibrahim as Home Minister 21 days into the Nasheed administration.
In late 2010 the cabinet resigned en masse to protest the “scorched earth politics” of the opposition-majority parliament, which it accused of obstruction and attempting to wrest executive control.
Shihab was among seven ministers whose reappointment was rejected by parliament in November 2010. He has since been serving as Political Advisor to Nasheed.
Opposition Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) spokesperson Ahmed Mahlouf told Minivan News today the party would discuss the nomination in its parliamentary group before signalling its position.
“It is important to fill the post,” Mahlouf said, adding that “we don’t expect to have any difficulty discussing Shihab’s nomination.”
“I don’t think Shihab is coming from a background in finance, he has instead been Home Minister and an advisor,” Mahlouf explained. “But he is experienced in politics, he served in Parliament for 17 years, and he has been a speaker. I think we see him as someone we can communicate with easily.”
Mahlouf said Shihab’s communication skills were superior to those of former Finance Minister Ahmed Inaz, who he claimed did not have a good relationship with Parliament.
Calls to opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) were not answered at time of press.
Shihab’s appointment as Finance Minister follows the resignation of Ahmed Inaz, whose credibility was compromised when MDP activists found him in covert conference with Mulaku MP Abdulla Yameen of opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) in a non-residential poorly-lit area of Male’ at 12am.
Inaz was subsequently taken to MDP headquarters, where activists demanded his resignation. He resigned two days later along with the State Minister of Finance Ahmed Naseer.
Directly following the encounter MDP activists suggested that Yameen was attempting to bribe Inaz, while others believed it was a set-up.
In June 2010, Yameen was arrested on charges of bribery and attempting to topple the government. The Supreme Court however ordered his release.
Prior to the presentation of the Letter of Appointment, Mohamed Shihab took the oath of office of the members of the Cabinet before the Supreme Court Judge Abdulla Areef.