President Mohamed Nasheed has appointed State Minister Ahmed Naseem as Foreign Minister and Solicitor General Abdulla Muizz as Attorney General hours after parliament approved four out of five ministerial appointees.
Housing Minister Mohamed Aslam had been acting Foreign Minister after parliament rejected the reappointment of former Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed in November.
The new Ministers were sworn in by High Court Judge Yousuf Hussein. After presenting letters of appointment, Nasheed expressed confidence that the newest additions to the cabinet would receive parliamentary consent.
Earlier in the day, parliament approved four out of five ministerial appointees, rejecting the reappointment of Attorney General Dr Ahmed Ali Sawad for a second time.
Dr Sawad received 36 votes in favour and 37 against from the 73 MPs in attendance.
Home Minister Hassan Afeef and Transport Minister Adhil Saleem were narrowly approved in spite of the fractured main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) declaring that it would impose a three-line whip to reject the two nominees.
Afeef and Saleem were approved after a few independent MPs along with Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed and Republican Party MP Gasim Ibrahim sided with the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – Saleem was approved with 39 votes in favour while Afeef received 37 votes from the 73 MPs present and voting.
Briefing press after yesterday’s DRP parliamentary group meeting, Majority Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali noted that Sawad had already been rejected once while Afeef “acted outside the law” during the transfer of powers to the newly elected local councils.
Thasmeen however announced that the party would give consent to Education Minister Shifa Mohamed and Tourism Minister Dr Mariyam Zulfa.
Shifa was approved with 66 votes in favour and six against while Dr Zulfa received 71 votes in favour and none against.
Addressing accusations from the opposing DRP faction that Thasmeen secretly met President Nasheed over the weekend at Raa Atoll, the DRP Leader asserted that he was ready to meet the President at any time.
“Even if [the President] calls and asks for a meeting at [Raa Atoll] Alimatha tonight, I will go because he is the President of the Maldives,” Thasmeen told reporters outside parliament yesterday, attributing the allegations of collusion with the ruling party to an internal campaign to discredit his leadership.
“In truth, they are talking about this because they don’t have any other way to responsibly carry out political activities,” he claimed.
However, asked if the alleged meeting took place, Thasmeen replied “thank you very much” and walked away.
President Nasheed appointed then-Political Advisor Hassan Afeef as Home Minister in December, replacing Mohamed Shihab, who was appointed Advisor on Political Affairs.
Shifa Mohamed was meanwhile promoted from Deputy Minister of Education to Minister in place of Dr Musthafa Luthfy, recently appointed Chancellor of the Maldives National University.
Both Afeef and Shifa were appointed on December 11 while AG Sawad was reappointed two days later.
Transport Minister Adil Saleem and Tourism Minister Dr Mariyam Zulfa took their oaths of office on November 7, 2010.