Opposition MP Abdulla Yamin joins PPM

Velidhoo constituency MP Abdulla Yamin has left the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to sign for the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

Speaking at a signing ceremony on Thursday evening (January 29) in the capital Malé, Yamin criticised the MDP leadership, questioning the party’s youth policy.

“I see promise in this government, our youth sees promise in this government. I see youth after youth rising with the help of the government,” Yamin is reported to have told PPM supporters.

The switch comes less than a month after Yamin issued a public apology for breaching the MDP’s three-line whip for the controversial Majlis vote to remove two Supreme Court judges.

“I will not repeat the mistake in the future,” read Yamin’s apology letter, mandated by the party’s internal disciplinary committee. He gave no explanation for his absence from the Majlis for the vote.

Yamin was not responding to calls at the time of publication.

Four other MDP members issued similar apologies for breaking the whip, while former Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik was expelled from the party after the appeals committee found him to have broken the whip on five occasions.

Despite contesting the party’s decision, Moosa has stated he will neither take the party to court, nor join any opposition groups.

MDP Spokesman Hamid Abdul Ghafoor has criticised Yamin’s switch – the fourth such defection since the Majlis polls last year, though he expressed confidence there would be no more departures.

“The principal of a proper representative is based in people deciding on a candidate from a party. If he wants to change party he must resign from his seat and contest again. That’s how people cross the floor in developed democracies,” he told Minivan News.

Last year, the now-opposition Jumhooree Party (JP) pledged to sue three of its former MPs who switched to the PPM shortly after the March elections.

The PPM was offering “unattainably high incentives” to MPs to defect, suggested the JP, accusing the members in question of breaking vows made to the public.

Yamin is also an advisor at Raajje TV, a station traditionally aligned with the MDP since its launch in 2010. Ghafoor said he felt the station’s content would be unaffected.

Yamin’s transfer increased the PPM’s seats in the Majlis to 44, while its ally the Maldivian Development Alliance has five MPs in the 85-seat house.

The opposition MDP and JP – holding 21 and 13 seats, respectively – this week officially announced an agreement to protect the Constitution against what they argue are persistent breaches by the government.

The religious Adhaalath Party, which has one MP in the Majlis, is reported to be joining future talks, though no official word has come from the party.

Two thirds of MPs present and voting – equalling 57 members of the full house – were required to remove the Supreme Court judges, though the move was subsequently condemned by local and international groups.

The support of three quarters of the full house is needed to amend the Constitution, with the ruling party having proposed changes to the age limits of presidential candidates, which would eliminate JP leader Gasim Ibrahim from the 2018 presidential race.

MDP leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed told Raajje TV on Thursday that his aim was to install Gasim as president before holding early elections.

He also explained to Sri Lankan media that the new parliamentary alliance was intended to hold the government accountable.

Related to this story

Thulhaadhoo MP Nazim Rashad becomes third MDP MP to join PPM

Reeko Moosa appeals to MDP disciplinary committee after dismissal

MDP and JP reach agreement on defence of Constitution


PPM presidential primary results challenged in court

A member of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Rahma Moosa, has today lodged a case at the Civil Court challenging the results of the party’s presidential primary.

The Civil Court has confirmed that the case was filed today, adding it was uncertain when a first hearing would be scheduled.

According to local media, Moosa filed a case claiming that 8,915 people who were not officially registered as members of PPM had been allowed to vote in the primary.

She contended that the move contravened the Political Party Act and compromised the rights of all general members of the party.

The primary, held late last month, saw MP Abdulla Yameen selected at the PPM’s candidate to stand in the presidential election scheduled for September 7 this year.

Yameen defeated rival Umar Naseer with a 63 percent of the vote.

According to Moosa, while the Elections Commission (EC) website stated that the PPM had a total of 22,383 members as of March 10, the voter registry published by the party had 31,298 persons listed.

She claimed that members of parties other than PPM had also been included in the voter list, according to local media.

The PPM has previously said that although the additional persons had not been registered at the Elections Commission by March 10, they were allowed to vote as they had submitted membership forms to the party.

However, according to the Elections Commission website, in addition to the PPM’s 22,383 registered members, the party had submitted only an additional 1671 membership forms to the commission.  These forms are currently awaiting verification. This leaves the membership still 7244 shy of the number of voters registered in the party’s primaries.

Elections Commission Vice President Ahmed Fayaz said that the commission has temporarily halted processing political party membership forms.

“We are very hectically working on drafting and finalizing the regulations which must be made following the ratification of the Political Parties Act, as it does not even have any clauses to give us an interim period. Hence, we have temporarily stopped processing the verification of membership forms submitted by any political party, unless in special circumstances. By this, I mean a case like, say, in the instance where some persons need to be registered due to party primaries,” Fayaz said.

Moosa has meanwhile told local media that the case was submitted on the request of a large number of party members, who she said believed that the primary was not conducted in a free and fair manner.

In the first public appearance after Abdulla Yameen winning the primaries, PPM Leader and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom referred to the recently concluded vote as “the most responsible, free and fair, transparent primaries ever held by a political party in the country to date.”

Umar Naseer however accused Yameen of “rigging” the election, alleging undue influence on voters, vote buying, intimidation of his supporters and denying a number of his supporters the right to vote by omitting their names from the voter list.

PPM has since given Umar Naseer a period of seven days in which he is expected to ‘reform and realign with the party’s charter or regulations’ or face expulsion from the party.

Rahma Moosa is reported in local media as being a PPM member who had supported Umar Naseer in the party’s primaries.

PPM Spokesperson Ahmed Mahloof’s phone was switched off, while the party’s presidential candidate Abdulla Yamin was not responding to calls at the time of press.

Umar Naseer’s secretary stated that, as a rule, he will not conduct interviews with Minivan News.

She said that no particular reasons were stated, and that those were the orders she had been given.


Government using constitution on selective basis: Yameen

The government is selectively announcing that the Constitution is in jeopardy, Mulaku MP Abdulla Yameen claimed yesterday during a press conference held by opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

Yameen, the half brother of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, accused the government of using the Constitution according to its own needs and condemned President Mohamed Nasheed’s remark that the “constitution is at a standstill” as a “serious issue” and must be investigated.

Yameen added that the President does not have the constitutional authority to be involved in or enforce the judicial system.

However speaking yesterday at a rally held by ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), President Mohamed Nasheed said establishing justice and fairness through a modern and competent judiciary was “one of the main reasons MDP came out to change the government.”

Referring to the constitutional stipulation to evaluate sitting judges for reappointment during the two-year interim period, President Nasheed said the judges who were sworn in were not held to the criteria now specified as Parliament had not yet passed a Judges Act at the time.
In spite of this lag, the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) reappointed the judges and conducted the swearing-in ceremony in the face of vocal opposition from former President’s Member of the JSC Aishath Velezinee.
In May 2010, Nasheed said he informed the JSC that its approved criteria was not in alignment with constitutional standards or public expectations. The concerns were ignored, Nasheed said, and the JSC proceeded to reappoint judges from the former government.
When the constitutional interim period elapsed in August, then Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed “declared on his own that he was permanent” and that the interim bench had tenured itself.
Saying he did “what has to be done at the time” as elected head of state, Nasheed said he then ordered the Defence Minister to lock the interim Supreme Court because “the opportunity to institute a judiciary envisioned by the constitution was narrowing.”
Eventually, Nasheed explained, he agreed to a cross-party compromise on enacting the Judges Act and confirming the Supreme Court bench because “in my view, it was essential to institute a Supreme Court.”
After ignoring complaints against the judiciary, the JSC attempted to investigate Judge Abdulla late last year, however the body was blocked by a Civil Court ruling.
“If the general principles of the Maldivian constitution is to be upheld, in my view it is not a judge who would overrule [the civil court decision] but the head of state,” Nasheed observed.
The judge was arrested on Monday, January 14 after attempting to block his own police summons at the High Court.
According to Yameen, the judge was “kidnapped” by Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), inciting claims that the Maldives had become a military dictatorship.

The Judge is being held at an MNDF training facility in Girifushi, the same island used to base the famous underwater cabinet meeting in 2009.

PPM has asked the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) to provide round the clock surveillance of the judge’s well being while in custody, Haveeru reports.

Meanwhile, President Nasheed explained that the decision to take Judge Abdulla into military custody was not made “with the intention of causing misery or a loss to anyone” or “for the satisfaction of arresting a person.”

The government would “never support or encourage inhumane treatment or anything unlawful,” he said.
“Our only purpose is to establish a court house envisioned by the constitution and hoped for by the people,” he added.

Nasheed also suggested that the democratic transition in South Korea had precedent of military intervention to assist the transition.

PPM announced that peaceful protests against the “abduction” will continue, but urged protestors not to engage in violent or destructive acts, local media reports.

According to local media, PPM yesterday consulted lawyers to file the issue in court.


Civil court orders police to pay MP Yameen Rf 244,000

The civil court has ordered police to pay Rf 244,000 (US$$15,823) in compensation to the former President’s half-brother and People’s Alliance (PA) leader Abdulla Yameen for unlawful detention on the Presidential Retreat of Aarah.

Yameen was arrested in June last year on charges of bribery and treason, alongside Jumhooree Party (JP) leader and ‘Burma’ Gasim Ibrahim.

However the Criminal Court at first refused to extend their detention beyond three days’ house arrest, claiming that there were no reasonable grounds to hold the MPs.

Yameen was subsequently taken into protective custody by the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) and held on the Presidential Retreat for 13 days.

The MNDF at the time claimed that Yameen had sought their protection after violent clashes between MDP supporters, police and another group outside his house on the evening of July 14. However Yameen claimed he refused the offer of protection and requested that security forces control the crowd outside his residence.

In August last year the Civil Court ruled that the government’s detention of Yameen was unconstitutional and declared that the MNDF had violated articles 41, 19, 21, 26, 30, 37, 45 and 46 of the constitution.

Explaining the decision to award Yameen compensation, Judge Aisha Shujoon said that the Supreme Court had at the time of Yameen’s detention determined that the arrest was unlawful.

Police had claimed that the case could not be filed against the police because the High Court had subsequently extended Yameen’s detention.

However, Judge Shujoon said that despite this ruling the Supreme Court had ruled that there were no judicial grounds to believe that Yameen was arrested in accordance with the law, and that therefore it was to be believed that the arrest was unlawful from the time he was arrested.

The Civil Court judge then ruled that Yameen’s detention from 29 June to 11 July was unlawful, and that Yameen had the right to be compensated for the 13 days and 20 minutes he was unlawfully held in detention.

Judge Shujoon said that considering respect for human dignity, detaining someone unlawfully could not be considered a minor offence.

She awarded Yameen Rf 1500 (US$972) for aggravated damage, Rf 41,600 (US$2697) for exemplary damages, and Rf 20,915.70 (US$1356) to reimburse Yameen for upgrading the security of his house.

The court also ordered police to pay the money within 30 days.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Musthafa recently submitted a resolution to parliament calling for an investigation into allegations that Yameen as former head of the State Trading Organisation (STO) had been complicit in trading subsidised oil to the Burmese military junta on the black market.


AG Suood ‘finds’ letter from speaker of parliament requesting former AG to dissolve a case of MP Nazim

Attorney General (AG) Husnu Suood has claimed to have discovered a letter signed by the Speaker of the Parliament and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Abdulla Shahid requesting a former attorney general dissolve a case against Deputy Speaker and Deputy Leader of the People’s Alliance (PA) MP Ahmed Nazim, who has recently been charged for corruption and bribery.

Suood revealed he had the letter at a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) event at Dharubaaruge last night.

Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair explained that Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid was the executive secretary for the former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom when he sent the letter.

“The letter was sent to the former attorney general, and Suood managed to find it in his office,” said Zuhair. “It was a case related to 500 [electricity] house meters and one other case, both related to the State Electric Company (STELCO).”

Zuhair further said that People’s Alliance party (PA) leader and MP Abdulla Yamin was the Chairman of STELCO at the time.

“The government will investigate all cases of corruption and will send the matter to the Prosecutor General’s office and present those people before the judges,” he said. “If the lower courts find them innocent, we will take it to the higher courts, to the Supreme Court and if necessary, to the international courts.”

Shahid denied the claims and said he had never sent such a letter to a former attorney general.

“I was not even in a position to send a letter to the former attorney general requesting someone’s case be dissolved,” he said. “When people make allegations like this, they should define it so the accused knows how to respond.”

Nazim did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.