Former Interim Deputy Leader of the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), Umar Naseer, has declared a “war within the party” against the “dark forces” he claimed had taken root within the party and vowed to bring in a “white revolution” to cleanse it from what he alleged included drug lords, gangsters and corruption rings.
Naseer made the remarks during a rally held on Tuesday evening, following his humiliating defeat in the PPM’s presidential primary.
The former military sergeant was at the losing end of the party’s primary held to determine its official presidential candidate, gaining just 7,450 votes – 5,646 votes less than his rival, the Parliamentary Group Leader of PPM MP Yameen Abdul Gayoom, who won with 13,096 votes – 63 percent of the vote.
Naseer – who is one of the founding members of the PPM – told supporters he had to battle the “entire machine” of the party during the primary, claiming that his opponent had every advantage in the race.
“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.
“We came out knowing that the referee, the linesman and even the match commissioner along with his 11 players were playing on his side. Our team had the poor and the middle class players,” Naseer claimed.
Even though Naseer admitted defeat, he claimed the party’s election had huge discrepancies including influencing of voters, vote buying and intimidation of his supporters. He also alleged that many of his supporters were denied the right to vote, claiming that their names had not been on the lists.
“We even witnessed that those who are heavily involved in drug trafficking were present at the polling station wearing Yameen’s campaign caps,” he said. “Not only did they exert undue influence, they travelled to islands with stashes of black money and attempted to turn the votes. In fact they even did turn some votes.”
Naseer further alleged that the hands of the elections officials involved in administrating the elections were tainted and had played a significant part in his defeat.
“On Kelaa in Haa Alif Atoll, they added the remaining ballot papers as votes for Yameen. On Fodhdhoo in Noonu Atoll, they took ballot papers that had my name ticked and invalidated it by ticking next to Yameen’s name. No ballot box was placed on Thulhaadhoo in Baa Atoll, but astonishingly results came from that island too,” he claimed.
Despite the discrepancies, Naseer contended that he would not take a “single step back” and would remain firm in cleansing it of “dark forces”.
Naseer claimed his team would bring about a “white revolution” within the party, and declared war against corruption and gangs within PPM.
“This battle will be fought within PPM’s grounds and this battle will also be won within the lines of PPM,” he claimed, as supporters roared in support.
Naseer stated that although he had congratulated Yameen regardless of how he had won the primary, Naseer warned that he would not back him should he associate himself with people Naseer believed were corrupt.
Referring to recent remarks made by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim – who claimed that he would join PPM very soon – Umar Naseer expressed his concern over “people who are renowned for corruption” joining the party.
“Remember, I told you about a corruption network. In just less than 24 hours after our colleague Yameen won the PPM primary, the most notorious figure within this corruption network, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Nazim, announces that he is joining the PPM. This is not a sheer coincidence,” Naseer claimed.
“I want to tell my colleague Yameen that he will never get my support if he keeps corrupt people like Nazim behind him. Some people may say that certain things should be done in the party interest, but there are times where this country should be bigger than the party to us,” he said.
“Money money cash cash okay?”
Meanwhile, in an audio clip of a phone conversation leaked to social media, a profession Yameen supporter attempts to buy the votes of Naseer supporters through a person identified in the clip as Ahmed ‘Mujey’ Mujthaba.
Mujthaba – who seemed to have been involved in Yameen’s primary election campaign on Gemanafushi in Gaaf Alif Atol – was given instructions to trade cash for votes on the island.
According to the audio recording, MVR 300,000 (US$ 19,455.25) was wired to Mujthaba, of which he was to distribute MVR 200,000 (US$ 12,970.17) among potential voters while he was to keep the remaining MVR 100,000 (US$ 6,485.08) for himself as “a small reward”.
“Hey Mujey, don’t tell this to anyone,” speaks a voice, who identifies himself as ‘Ismael’ and claims to be one of Yameen’s campaign managers.
“Not even a single person okay Mujey? This is between me and Mujey. This is between us. What you should do is, distribute the 200,000 rufiyaa. The remaining 100,000 rufiyaa you keep it to yourself. Okay? You should do this very secretly, no one should know about this.”
Ismael is also heard asking Mujthaba to “destroy PPM MP Ilham Ahmed’s family” during the process. MP Ilham – who is the MP for Gemanafushi Island constituency – had supported Umar Naseer in the primaries.
Mujthaba claims that MP Ilham’s brothers in Male’ had called PPM members on the island and had said “they would give them a two-way ticket to India in return for vote”, to which Ismael responded that Ilham did not have the funds to pay such a large sum of money.
“They can’t give that to them now. They won’t have money even close to the amount of money we have. Not even close to ours. They’ll just keep bragging about that. So what you should do is go to their houses. Just go to their houses and wire in the cash and get all the votes. What you can do today is all that you can do, okay? There will be nothing else we can do after today,”
“Hey, you will also get a reward. If we can do this, you will get 100,000 rufiyaa, we have decided that. We have decided to give you 100,000 rufiyaa if you win this vote for us Mujey. Isn’t it a good reward?” he added. “Yes, if you can get the majority from that Island, you will get 100,000 rufiyaa,”
“Money money cash cash okay?” Ismael was repeatedly heard to say.
Minivan News sought to verify the authenticity of the recording, however Yameen and his campaign team were not responding to calls at time of press.
Speaking to Minivan News, Youth Wing Leader of PPM Ahmed Nazim – who is also involved in Umar Naseer’s campaign team – said that he did not wish to comment on the matter.
Translation of the audio clip
ISMAEL: Hey I am saying, everything is going alright now is it?
AHMED MUJTHABA: Yes. It will be alright
ISMAEL: So, how are things with opponents? [Repeatedly asks]
AHMED MUJTHABA: They are also there. They will also work in their capacity right?
ISMAEL: Not too many [people] right?
AHMED MUJTHABA: We are all good here. Not too many [people] working with them.
ISMAEL: I’ve called to arrange some cash.
AHMED MUJTHABA: I don’t think it is going to be very bad.
ISMAEL: Why? We have been getting information that Umar’s people are really weak.
AHMED MUJTHABA: Yeah. Last night, some of his supporters roamed around the island with cash. They even showed us the cash too. I don’t have any guarantee on their success; some people did not even accept the money.
ISMAEL: But for us…
AHMED MUJTHABA: They went to the house with the money.
ISMAEL: Aah…If they accept the money they would obviously vote in that manner. That is a big problem isn’t it? So, we also have to do that from our side, give a little bit more.
AHMED MUJTHABA: So then?
ISMAEL: Mujey we can arrange 200,000 rufiyaa immediately if you want.
AHMED MUJTHABA: We won’t be able to get it by today right?
ISMAEL: No. You can get it through Sheesha Ahmed. Isn’t Ahmed’s family [living] there, his wife’s family?
AHMED MUJTHABA: Hmm yeah.
ISMAEL: So when you say you want, handing over the money to Ahmed gets the job done.
AHMED MUJTHABA: Yeah.
ISMAEL: So what should I do?
AHMED MUJTHABA: Well, then let me talk to others and call back?
ISMAEL: No wait, I have a condition too. You will have to destroy MP Ahmed Ilham’s family in the process. Can you do that?
AHMED MUJTHABA: Wait, he was the one who got me a job. He was very upset with me. My family members have called me bull shit.
ISMAEL: Is it?
AHMED MUJTHABA: So destroy these people.
ISMAEL: That is why I have come out with courage.
AHMED MUJTHABA: Yes, this time this family should be destroyed. You have to be able to do this.
ISMAEL: He will be gone this time. This time very sure…yeah?
AHMED MUJTHABA: This is something you should be able to do. On the other hand, islanders, people from your area are quite stupid. You should be able to control these people.
ISMAEL: I have a big family in this island. Our family is not an ordinary family. All our family members are against him. No one will be there to support them. That’s why, when it became intolerable, they have come out with cash.
AHMED MUJTHABA: Ilham’s brothers in Male have called us and said that they would give two-way ticket to India in return for vote. That is the level they had gone to. So they are very very desperate.
ISMAEL: They can’t give that to them now. They won’t have money even close to the amount of money we have. Not even close to ours. They’ll just keep bragging about that. So what you should do is go to their houses. Just go to their houses and wire in the cash and get all the votes. What you can do today is all that you can do, okay? There will be nothing else we can do after today.
ISMAEL: Then, people in your area are really dumb, isn’t it? Usually islanders are very dumb isn’t it? They have been made dumb and stupid.
ISMAEL: Hey, you will also get a reward. If we can do this, you will get 100,000 rufiyaa, we have decided that. We have decided to give you 100,000 rufiyaa if you win this vote for us Mujey. Isn’t it a good reward?
AHMED MUJTHABA: We will win you the votes from here. I am guaranteeing you that you will get majority from this island.
ISMAEL: Yes, if you can get the majority from that Island, you will get 100,000 rufiyaa. What?
AHMED MUJTHABA: I don’t want money for doing that.
ISMAEL: Yeah yeah…
[Voice becomes unclear as two begins to talk at the same time]
ISMAEL: Hey listen to this. This money is something that is a secret between you and me. People giving money, this is not related to this. You should not tell this to even your friends.
AHMED MUJTHABA: Yes…
AHMED MUJTHABA: Hmm…
ISMAEL: This is not something I am giving to your group or people helping you. So this shall remain between us only. This is how the boss as has asked me to do, okay?
AHMED MUJTHABA: Hmm… You called last night as well right?
ISMAEL: Yeah. Yes. Hey bro, [repeatedly calls]. Money money cash cash alright? Understood?
AHMED MUJTHABA: [Laughs].
ISMAEL: Money money cash cash okay?
AHMED MUJTHABA: Don’t worry. I am saying you will get majority from this island by the will [of God].
AHMED MUJTHABA: You wait and see at 4:00pm today. I will call you today.
ISMAEL: Ahh…very good.
[Separate phone call]
ISMAEL: Is it Mujey ?
AHMED MUJTHABA: Yeah yeah true, it is Mujey.
ISMAEL: I called you, Ismael.
AHMED MUJTHABA: Yeah.
ISMAEL: Yeah, I said issue with money has been settled and finished. The money has been given to Ahmed. Who would be receiving the money from your end?
AHMED MUJTHABA: I don’t mind giving it to me. You can give this number.
ISMAEL: Ah okay. So I should give your number right?
AHMED MUJTHABA: Hmm.
ISMAEL: What should I say? You should tell your full name Mujey. Then only isn’t it we can settle it.
AHMED MUJTHABA: Yes. Ahmed Mujthaba. Note it down.
ISMAEL: Ahmed Mujthaba right?
AHMED MUJTHABA: Yes…Mujthaba. Should I give you my ID Card Number?
ISMAEL: Yes, tell me your ID Card Number [Mujthaba gives his ID Card Number]
ISMAEL: 2881…okay. Hey Mujey, don’t tell this to anyone. [Speaks in a hush voice] Not even a single person okay Mujey? This is between me and Mujey. This is between us. What you should do is, distribute the 200,000 rufiyaa. The remaining 100,000 rufiyaa you keep it to yourself. Okay? You should do this very secretly, no one should know about this.
AHMED MUJTHABA: Yeah OK.
ISMAEL: Remember okay?
AHMED MUJTHABA: OK.
ISMAEL: Alright then. We will inform the person that you will go to collect the money. Okay, take your ID Card with you.
AHMED MUJTHABA: OK.
ISMAEL: Thank you bro!