Government delays revisions to budget for third time

The Ministry of Finance and Treasury has delayed submitting revisions to the 2014 state budget for the third time.

On October 30, Minister of Finance and Treasury Abdulla Jihad presented a MVR 16.4 billion budget for 2014 with a projected deficit of 2.5 percent of GDP to parliament.

However, with the inauguration of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on November 16, opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) called for the state budget to be revised to include the Progressive Party of the Maldives’ (PPM) campaign pledges.

Jihad – who was reappointed under President Yameen – asked the People’s Majlis budget committee to allow the government to present a revised budget on November 25. The budget committee has suspended work until a new budget is submitted.

The Finance Ministry then delayed submitting revisions until November 28. The government was unable to meet its own deadline and further delayed submissions to today.

Local media reports the government is facing difficulties in cutting costs and will present revisions on December 5.

Yameen has expressed concern over the economic vulnerability of the Maldives and pledged to reduce state expenditure by MVR 1 billion.

“State debt is sky high. The state budget’s expenses are extremely high. Hence, we have to prioritise reducing state expenditure. I will start work very soon to reduce budget expenses,” Yameen said during his inauguration speech.


President Yameen vows not to interfere with judicial processes before calling for cases to be expedited

President Abdulla Yameen has stated that his administration will not interfere in the judicial process,  while also calling on authorities to expedite both the investigation and prosecution of pending cases.

“We will not try to influence the judiciary to rule on any case in any certain way,” said the president, addressing supporters at a PPM coalition rally held on Sunday night under the title of ‘Thank you, nation’.

“My government is not one that will pressurize the judiciary to rule on any case in any particular way. We will not do such a thing. However, the cases pending at courts must be expedited. This is a personal right constitutionally guaranteed to every citizen,” Yameen stated,

“Even tonight, I call to expedite any cases against a child or person. What the state can do to facilitate this is to ensure we provide the facilities needed to do this,” Yameen said.


Yameen spoke about the no-confidence vote against Prosecutor General Ahmed Muiz – who subsequently resigned this afternoon – saying that members are appointed to independent institutions with trust placed in them, but that the current parliament removes them if they are dissatisfied regardless of whether any fault is found.

He commented on the work of the parliament, saying that although the state is working with loyalty and is aiming to protect the constitution, the parliament has the complete authority to send a particular person back home if they are displeased with him for any reason, regardless of whether or not they can pinpoint the reasons for it.

He then went on to say that when no-confidence motions are passed against senior leaders of independent institutions, their reason for dismissal and their faults must be laid out for all to see, adding that the current parliament did not seem to share his viewpoint.

“While the government is looking at providing services to the public, and at fulfilling the larger policies included in our manifesto, we require the institutions to be able to match us step for step and walk alongside us. If not, the complete development that I speak of cannot be brought to the Maldives,” he stated.

Nasheed Administration

Speaking at the rally, President Yameen announced that the various allegations made against members of the administration of former President Mohamed Nasheed will be investigated by “specific state institutions created for the purpose”, and that the current government will not be involved in the process.

Yameen spoke of the importance of leaving behind the mindset where the opposition are viewed as enemies, and highlighted the importance of working together with even those who differ in political views. He said that, despite differences in political opinions, one must forgive others.

“There is an Auditor General. There is an Anti-Corruption Commission. Thankfully, the judiciary is an institution we have trust in. Neither our party nor I believe these are matters that I need to interfere in,” he stated.

While noting that there are many needs of the citizens, the president said that the main thing the people desired was peace and stability. He commended the first days of his government, claiming they had demonstrated an exemplary conduct of working in unity and refraining from envy and enmity.

Local council and parliamentary elections

The upcoming elections for the local councils and parliament were also discussed, with Yameen stating that during contests, citizens would not judge the government by the fluency of their political rhetoric, but by the level of stability maintained in the country and the speed at which their needs are met.

“Regardless of how little time there is, with Allah’s will we have begun some work. Our work is to ensure that in the coming local council elections, our work is done in a manner that will be accepted by the citizens,” Yameen stated.

Vice President Jameel also stated that the PPM coalition will “employ the same formula used to win the presidential election to achieve a sweeping win with a large majority in the upcoming local council and parliamentary elections”.

Jameel stated that while the “formula” is based on three concepts, the main and most important one is unity amongst separate political parties.

“This is a success that was gained for the protection of this country. A success gotten for the sake of protecting the religion of Islam. If we are to offer thanks for this success in the coming days, we must listen to that prayer of the people. The thanks can be given by not forgetting to deliver the major things we must provide for the citizens,” Jameel told the gathered supporters.

He added that the biggest fear in Maldivian hearts is that Islam might be eradicated from the country, pledging to appoint Quran teachers for every Maldivian school in the next 14 days in an attempt to prevent this from happening.

The vice president added that the Yameen administration had also begun work to establish an Islamic University in the country.


Leaked recording of Yameen admitting poor election chances a fake: PPM

The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and its presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen have dismissed as fake a leaked audio clip circulating on social media, in which Yameen admits to a “poor chance” of winning the upcoming 2013 presidential election.

The audio clip appears to be part of a telephone conversation uploaded on video sharing website YouTube, and was picked up by local media today. In the audio, a voice supposedly belonging to Yameen refers to an unnamed political party and concedes that his party does not stand a chance in an election against it.

“2013 [Presidential Election] is something which they already have in their bag. They already have won it. Therefore I don’t think we have a chance of  any success in the 2013 presidential elections. I think we should now focus on 2018 [presidential elections],” the voice states, in the 19 second recording.

Speaking to local media outlet Sun Online, Yameen dismissed the audio clip describing as “completely fake”.

Meanwhile, Spokesperson for PPM’s Presidential Campaign Ibrahim Muaz told Minivan News he believed the clip was most likely to be a “compilation made by mixing several voice clips of Yameen taken from speeches given by him in various press conferences and interviews”.

“The audio clip which has been reported in local media as an audio clip of Yameen is not real,” Muaz said.

Rise of party’s presidential candidate

Yameen – who is the half brother of Maldives former autocratic ruler for 30 years, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – was made the party’s official presidential candidate after he won the party’s presidential primaries by a landslide victory, defeating his rival Umar Naseer.

Umar Naseer during the primary accused Yameen of involvement in drug trafficking, commissioning gangs to destroy political opponents, and corruption.  Following the defeat Naseer alleged that the PPM’s presidential primary was rigged and that his rival Yameen had intimidated his supporters.

Naseer was subsequently dismissed from the party after he refused to apologise to Yameen for the allegations.

He later joined the ‘Jumhoree Coalition’ led by resort tycoon and Leader of Jumhoree Party (JP) Gasim Ibrahim – himself a presidential candidate for the forthcoming elections. During Naseer’s maiden speech at the JP podium, he claimed that Yameen was the “root of all the problems” faced in the Maldives.

“The 40,000 illegal immigrants who have entered the country are people brought in under [Yameen’s] nose. People say that there is a connection between Yameen and the illicit drugs that are sold on the streets of Maldives,” Naseer alleged at the time. “If Yameen comes to power, nothing but an empty pit will remain where the country’s safe deposit ought to be.”

Economy and youth

Meanwhile Yameen launched his presidential bid primarily on the “economy” and the “youth”. He claimed that a future government led by him would focus on securing foreign investment and the creation of job opportunities for young people.

“Given the current economic situation, local businessmen alone cannot create enough job opportunities. We must welcome foreign investors for the benefit of our nation,” he said at the time.

Yameen also announced that should he be sworn in as president, he would initiate an expedition to find oil within the Maldives.

“It is very possible oil might be found,” he declared.

Money laundering racket

In 2011, Singaporean police reportedly investigated Yameen for alleged involvement in an international money laundering racket thought to be worth up to US$800 million.

The oil trade first came into the limelight following an explosive article in India’s The Week magazine by Sumon K Chakrabarti, Chief National Correspondent of CNN-IBN, which accused Yameen –who was the head of State Trading Organisation (STO) at the time –  of being “the kingpin” of a scheme to buy subsidised oil through the State Trading Organisation’s branch in Singapore and sell it on through an entity called ‘Mocom Trading’ to the Burmese military junta, at a black market premium.

“The Maldives receives subsidised oil from OPEC nations, thanks to its 100 percent Sunni Muslim population. The Gayooms bought oil, saying it was for the Maldives, and sold it to Myanmar on the international black market. As Myanmar is facing international sanctions, the junta secretly sold the Burmese and ‘Maldivian’ oil to certain Asian countries, including a wannabe superpower,” Chakrabarti wrote.

The article drew heavily on the investigation report by Grant Thorton, commissioned by the Maldives government in March 2010, which obtained three hard drives containing financial information detailing transactions from 2002 to 2008. No digital data was available before 2002, and the paper trail “was hazy”.

According to The Week, Grant Thorton’s report identifies Myanmar businessman and head of the Kanbawza Bank and Kanbawza Football Club, Aung Ko Win, as the middleman acting between the Maldivian connection and Vice-Senior General Maung Aye, then the second highest-ranking member of the Burmese junta.

Yameen has previously dismissed the allegations as baseless and unfounded.

Besides Yameen and Gasim, incumbent President Mohamed Waheed and former President Mohamed Nasheed are also contesting the election on September 7.


Prepared to go “to any depth” to win 2013 presidential elections: PPM presidential candidate

Winner of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)’s presidential primary and now the party’s official Presidential Candidate MP Yameen Abdul Gayoom has said that he is willing “to go any depths” necessary in order to secure a PPM victory in the 2013 Presidential Elections, scheduled for September 7.

The remark was made in a statement released by Yameen following his victory in PPM’s presidential primary.

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s half brother was selected as the party’s presidential candidate on Saturday (March 30) in a landslide victory in the party’s presidential primary, securing 63 percent of the vote.  The preliminary results revealed Yameen had won the election with a total of 13,096 votes, while his sole competitor Umar Naseer received just 7,450 votes – a margin of 5,646 votes.

Yameen – who is also the PPM’s parliamentary group leader – in his victory statement said that he would remain “firm and determined” in protecting the “faith and trust” placed in him by the party members.

“The decision that you beloved people have made is a very important decision that concerns the future of both PPM and the Maldivian soil,” read Yameen’s statement. “All of you party members have placed a huge trust and faith in me. By the will of Allah, I am ever more determined to protect that trust and faith you have placed in me. I have rolled up my sleeves and am prepared to serve PPM and this beloved nation.”

The PPM parliamentary group leader also promised to work towards broadening the party in terms of membership through membership drives and campaigns.

He also appealed to  Umar Naseer whom he referred to as “fellow brother”, asking him to “not let down your courage in despair” and to join him side by side to work on establishing a PPM government by winning the presidential elections.

“As you would all know, this is the time in which the PPM should unite as one and start working in spirit to win the upcoming presidential elections. I am with all you party members, prepared to make any sacrifices required to ensure that PPM wins the presidential elections 2013,” the statement added.

Umar Naseer’s team pledge to back Yameen

Following the election results, Yameen’s presidential rival Umar Naseer accepted defeat and congratulated Yameen on his election victory.

“If it’s a free and fair election, I will always accept the final result. I believe so far the election has been fair. As I said we will know how to proceed once we assess the complaints,” Naseer told local newspaper Haveeru.

“The party won’t be divided. I believe this will further strengthen the party as this exercise shows the strength of democracy within this party,” he added.

Speaking to local media outlet CNM, Umar Naseer’s Campaign Manager Ahmed ‘Maaz’ Saleem said that Umar’s team would back Yameen and was prepared to work together with him.

“This is something like a practice match played by two groups of one football team. During the practice match, players will tackle and they will even score goals. However, when you face a tournament, the team comes out as one to compete with other teams. This is something like that,” he said.

Saleem stated that the team had received some complaints during the voting period, and that these complaints were forwarded to those in charge of holding the elections. However, Saleem added that it was no longer an issue and that “the primary is over now”.

Saleem – who is a close aide of Umar Naseer – also earlier claimed that he personally doubted the fairness of the election claiming that Yameen had attempted to create disruptions at the polling stations by sending “groups of thugs”.

During the time of voting, local TV station Raajje TV captured a brief scuffle on camera between supporters of the two presidential primary candidates.

The footage shows police being brought in to control the crowd, who are dressed in the party’s pink colour scheme.

Yameen told local media shortly after casting his vote outside the Aminiya School in Male’ that despite the minor conflicts, the party would not split.

“Overall, the voting is alright. But people from within the party have entered voting centres and have tried to start fights,” he was quoted as saying in Sun Online.

“They have raised they voices, used foul language, this should not happen in an internal election. It is very sad.”

PPM’s elections committee has said that the party will announce the official results of the election within a week’s time.  Chair of PPM’s Election Committee, Mohamed Tholal said that the election took place in a very peaceful environment and the voting proceeded very swiftly.

Meanwhil,e former President of the Maldives and PPM president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, called for PPM members to show the world what a “responsible party” the PPM was during Saturday’s primary.

Gayoom also said following the elections that he would work with PPM members to see its candidate win the presidential election.