Home Minister Umar Naseer has retracted a July 2013 statement accusing President Abdulla Yameen of connections with the illegal drug trade and gangs.
The retraction came in response to a question by opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Fayyaz Ismail in the People’s Majlis on Wednesday.
Naseer also accused Yameen of vote rigging, claiming he had been backed by members of gangs and drug cartels and that criminals convicted of trafficking and dealing drugs were seen wearing Yameen’s campaign caps during PPM primaries.
“Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s children were with Yameen, the largest gangsters in the country were with Yameen, all the drug cartels in the country were with Yameen, the most corrupted people were with Yameen, the whole elections committee was with Yameen and a large chunk of PPM’s parliament members gathered around Yameen,” Naseer said.
He also said a suspect arrested and questioned by the police in the murder of Dr Afrasheem Ali was at the PPM office to meet Yameen.
Subsequently Naseer was dismissed from the party and went on to back Jumhooree Party (JP) candidate Gasim Ibrahim. In the second round of polls, the JP endorsed Yameen on the condition of forming a coalition government.
In an exclusive interview to Minivan News in January, Naseer described his allegations against Yameen as merely “political rhetoric”.
“That was political rhetoric. We were repeating MDP’s lines. What happens in presidential primaries is that you are competing for the top position of the nation, so you use every tool you have. I am now the Home Minister, but I do not see any indication of [Yameen] being involved in such acts. If at any point I do see such an indication, I will not hesitate to investigate it.” Umar said at the time.
Yameen has also denied the allegations of corruption and afilliation with criminal organizations
A 2012 study of the Maldives’ gang culture revealed that “political and business elites” exploit gangs to carry out a range of illegal activities including the suppression of opponents and carrying out tasks to help maintain popularity or divert media attention from political issues.