President Dr Mohamed Waheed has expressed hope that more housing will be made exclusively available for police and military officers, while speaking at a ceremony to hand over 50 flats on Hulhumale’ to law enforcement officials yesterday (August 2).
Speaking at last night’s ceremony in Male’, the president said the whole nation should recognise the role that the police and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) played towards maintaining law, order and national security. He also called on officers to “uphold the constitution” and help ensure a peaceful election next month.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) meanwhile has raised concerns whether the 50 flats – which it contends forms part of the “Veshi Fahi” Male’ (decongestion) project launched under the previous government in 2011 – were being given to the “needy” and most deserving.
Since President Waheed’s government came to power during the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012, which followed a mutiny by sections of the police and military, more than 1000 officers have been promoted, while 110 new police officers were hired.
A housing scheme was also introduced for police officers, with 300 flats to be constructed in Hulhumale’, arrangements were made for cheap accommodation in Sri Lanka for police officers and their families and a loan scheme was set up for police officers.
According to the President’s Office website, while handing over 50 flats to specially selected officers yesterday, Dr Waheed also praised the majority of police officers who had served the nations for a long period of time under “difficult living conditions”.
He also praised Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz, who took office following a mutiny by certain officers that led to former President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation in February 2012, for the “developmental achievements” to the institution made during his tenure.
Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News today that the 50 officers presented with housing were required to undergo an “internal” selection procedure, based on specific criteria outlined by the institution itself.
Haneef explained that all officers who applied for the housing were then judged on a points system using the aforementioned internal criteria, with the “top 50” officers being selected.
“Big concern”, MDP claims
MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said it was “very concerning” that police should be given flats exclusively, to the detriment of teachers, doctors and other civilians. He also questioned how officers themselves had been selected for the process.
“The intention for these flats was for the needy and people who deserved them. This is why these flats were built,” he added.
Ghafoor claimed that while some of the officers may have deserved the housing, which he said had been set aside from the “Veshi Fahi” Male’ program established under the former government, there was concern that some officers involved in last year’s mutiny had been rewarded with flats.
President Waheed awarded the housing days after Commissioner Riyaz declared that police will continue to refuse any orders the deemed “unconstitutional”. The comments were made as Riyaz expressed concern over leaked proposals for reforming the country’s security forces allegedly devised by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) should it win the upcoming presidential election.
“I don’t want to say anything specifically about something that has been prepared politically or for a political purpose, but we do have a constitution and the MPS is an institution formed by the constitution,” he said, speaking just over a month ahead of the 2013 presidential election.
Proposals in the paper – leaked on social media earlier this month – include transferring the police to the authority of city councils, similar to the system in the US, while providing salaries and allowances of officers through the Local Government Authority (LGA).
The commissioner also rejected the professional capacity of individuals behind the reforms, which he claimed sought to “dismantle” and undermine the large role security services play in the country.
“I’d like to tell the MDP that they should clarify whether it is their policy or not. If it is their policy, it is of great concern. This [police] institution will be very concerned,” he said.
“Politicians should not try to play with this institution. Help this institution develop. Work to make this institution more responsible. To make it operationally accountable. Don’t use political influence to carry out political objectives through this institution.”
Riyaz alleged that certain senior government figures over the last three years had attempted to limit or weaken police in the country through the use of political influence that led to officers “straying from their path”.
He insinuated that police would not allow a similar event to happen again.
The opposition MDP have continued to question the legitimacy of the leaked reform proposals, claiming the party had no knowledge of such a document, despite backing the idea of a ”transitional arrangement” to reform the country’s security forces after last year’s power transfer.
The opposition party continues to maintain that former President Mohamed Nasheed was deposed in a “coup d’etat” after being forced to resign from office following a mutiny by sections of the police and military.
The allegations were later rejected by a Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) that ruled that there had been “no coup, no duress and no mutiny”, while also calling for action taken against unlawful acts committed by the country’s security forces following the transfer.