Week in review: January 4 – 10

The law and order aims of the new administration took centre stage this week as the Home Minister Umar Naseer announced his desire to introduce mandatory government service for young people in order to produce a well-disciplined generation.

The Home Ministry also revealed that fifty prison inmates were to begin work on road construction on the industrial island of Thilafushi as part of efforts to improve reintegration.

With the same end in mind, the police announced its decision to expunge the criminal records of over 1000 young offenders, as the juvenile court revealed that only 6 young people had completed reintegration programmes the previous year.

In an interview with Minivan News, Umar Naseer described the desire to fight illegal drugs that had originally brought him into politics – and now into the cabinet. Naseer expressed his intention to relieve the pressure the drugs problem places on the criminal justice system.

This pressure on the system seemed set to rise this week as the Criminal Court said it would halt all existing cases following the Majlis’s failure to confirm a new prosecutor general. The Supreme Court, however, quickly stepped in to order the resumption of activity.

The government’s plans in the education sector also continued to take shape with the formation of the Council of Higher Education. The scholarship policy of the previous administration took a blow, however, as the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) ordered a review of the vetting processes for tertiary scholarships.

Additionally, the ACC revealed that laptops were given to immigration department staff as bribes to encourage cooperation with the later-terminated border control project.

Returning from his state visit to India, President Abdulla Yameen described bilateral ties as being as strong as they had been under the thirty-year leadership of his half-brother Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. The vice president lauded the visit as a panacea to all of the countries’ previous problems.

After Yameen had discussed the amicable settlement of the GMR dispute with the Indian Prime Minister, the Maldives Attorney General this week claimed that the Mohamed Nasheed administration had broken finance laws when guaranteeing loans to the infrastructure giant in 2011.

Nasheed himself rounded on the Yameen cabinet during campaigning for the approaching local council elections, criticising the president’s decision to split ministerial portfolios between different parties.

Earlier in the week, Yameen’s Progressive Coalition had launched its own local election campaign, calling upon voters to enable the government to fulfil its pledges by supporting its local candidates.

Meanwhile, in the first of a series of interviews with MPs ahead of March’s parliamentary poll, Maldivian Democratic Party MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Minivan News that the Nasheed government’s decentralisation policy had been his proudest achievement.

The Elections Commission this week announced that all ten parties with less than 3,000 members would be dissolved.

Elsewhere, a leading member of the Fiqh academy – advisory council – this week publicly criticised the recently passed Sexual Offences Bill for partially criminalising marital rape.

The government’s passing of anti-trafficking legislation was commended by visiting officials from the US State Department, though a government source questioned the decision to move responsibility for implementation to the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Finally, the bankrupt State Trading Organisation has announced plans to cut operational costs by MVR50 million in 2014 (US$ 3,242,542).