MDP to work with Adhaalath Party as Sheikh Imran calls for “national unity alliance” against government

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) national council has adopted a resolution today to work together with the Adhaalath Party (AP) after Sheikh Imran Abdulla called for the formation of a “national unity alliance” against the government.

The national council unanimously approved a resolution proposed by MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to accept the AP’s invitation and discuss commencing joint efforts to achieve common goals.

The resolution said the MDP believed President Abdulla Yameen’s administration had brought the Maldives to “a critical juncture” by violating the constitution and laws, and welcomed the AP’s decision “to do everything it could within legal bounds to change the current situation.”

The AP’s consultative council decided last night to work against the government to bring an end to “the brutality of President Yameen’s regime.”

At a press conference earlier today, AP President Sheikh Imran called on NGOs and political parties to unite to protest against the government.

The party’s council decided to bring an “end to all this brutality within the boundaries of Islamic Sharia, the constitution and laws of the Maldives,” a statement by AP read.

It accused the government of “leading the way for gangsters and people who commit serious crimes.”

The party also accused the government of corruption, misusing the police and military, undoing separation of powers, undermining independent institutions, and encouraging drug use.

Moreover, the AP said the government was exerting undue influence over the judiciary and questioned the fairness of court verdicts.

The religious conservative party officially withdrew its support for the government last week. The move followed stringent criticism from Imran on social media in the wake of the arrest and prosecution of former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim on possession of illegal weapons.

Imran has maintained that the retired colonel was framed by the government after police found a pistol and three bullets in his apartment during a midnight raid. He has also contended that the trial of former President Mohamed Nasheed on terrorism charges was not conducted fairly.

The opposition leader was found guilty of terrorism on Friday night (March 13) and sentenced to 13 years in prison over the military’s detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

Meanwhile, Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, an AP council member, criticised the party on Twitter following the decision to work against the government.

“Justice should be for everyone. Even people who call for justice should not utter a word except for justice,” Shaheem tweeted.

Another tweet by Shaheem read: “Government institutions need the help of Islamic scholars. The government will accept constructive advice.”

Last month, the MDP formed an alliance with the Jumhooree Party (JP) and launched nightly protests against the government’s alleged breaches of the constitution.

Addressing supporters earlier this month, President Yameen said former allies the JP and AP working with the MDP was “a riddle” as both parties had participated in anti-government demonstrations against former President Nasheed’s administration.

The AP had backed a mass demonstration in December 2011 accusing Nasheed of pursuing anti-Islamic policies and undermining sovereignty. The party later took part in the 22 days of serial protests that led to a police and military mutiny on February 7, 2012, forcing Nasheed to resign.

In an appearance on JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa TV earlier this month, Sheikh Imran said the time had come for the religious party to stand up for the Maldives.

“I believe now is the time for the people who value our nation’s freedom and peace to stand up for the country. Maldives is not on the right track. There is fear amongst the people. We should stand up for them,” he said.

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Adhaalath Party withdraws support for President Yameen

The religious conservative Adhaalath Party has withdrawn support for President Abdulla Yameen’s administration, citing a rise in violence and corruption.

“In the few days that have passed since President Yameen assumed office, corruption and violence has increased, and justice has been abandoned,” the party’s consultative council said in a statement.

“The government is misusing the public’s support and has narrowed basic rights guaranteed by the constitution. It has also undermined the independence of independent institutions and is now attempting to consolidate power by taking over the three branches of the state.”

The AP said it’s attempts to reform the system from within had been in vain.

“We don’t see how we could work with the government anymore,” the statement read.

The Jumhooree Coalition, of which AP was a member, backed President Yameen at the eleventh hour during the 2013 presidential polls. The party received the Islamic Affairs portfolio in return.

In an interview with newspaper Haveeru today, AP President Sheikh Imran Abdulla said that the party would not join the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Jumhooree Party (JP) coalition, and preferred to work “independently.”

Sheikh Imran has been critical of President Yameen since former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim’s arrest over charges of terrorism and treason. He has now been charged with importing and possessing illegal weapons.


Adhaalath Party president meets with police

Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla has met with police at the their headquarters in Malé today, says media reports.

Imran told press that he had not been accused of any crime, while police have said the meeting was not in relation to any ongoing investigations.

Imran took to twitter following the dismissal of defence minister Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim yesterday, warning that the country was “drifting towards a storm”,

“If the direction is not changed wisely the country will be shattered,” read one post, while another posted the day before said: “The people who try and blame innocent people after commit heinous crimes will face a bitter end”.

Source: Sun Online, Vnews, Haveeru


Youth leaders express support for Akon concert, while religious groups maintain oppostion

Tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb has expressed his joy over the show of support by a team of youth leaders – including MP Yamin Rasheed – in promoting Thursday night’s Akon concert in Male’.

In a tweet hashtagged #ShowWillGoOn and #TeamZuvaanun, Adeeb said he was “happy to see Youth Leaders from all the Political Parties United for a cause, Respect!”.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Yamin Rasheed told Minivan News that he will be involved in promotional activities for the show, acting in his personal capacity.

Meanwhile, the Adhaalath Party has reportedly said this week that it will continue to work to stop the concert going ahead.

MDP Youth Wing President Mohamed Azmeel expressed support for the show, noting that when the MDP government organised such shows aimed at the youth, the current minister for Islamic affairs along with the Adhaalath Party also protested.

Stressing that the MDP supports entertainment avenues for the youth, Azmeel pointed out that the party has had no official contact or involvement with the government regarding the Akon show, despite the suggestion in Adeeb’s tweet.

In a press conference held yesterday (January 5), Azmeel did express some concern over the government’s decision to host another international star without the conclusion of the investigation into threats made against Sean Paul, who had been scheduled to perform at the Tourist Arrival Countdown show.

Sean Paul backed out of the show at the eleventh hour, with Adeeb telling Minivan News on December 30 that the decision had been prompted by pressure in the artist’s home country, Jamaica. Adeeb was not responding to calls at the time of publication today.

Adeeb told media this week that he hoped the appearance of international artists in Malé would rid the capital of the reputation it had gained as “a lair that harbours members of the Islamic State or extremist militants”.

The President’s Office has denounced the online threat as a hoax intended to create an atmosphere of fear in the capital.

During the ‘Tourist Arrival Countdown Show’ on December 31, which eventually featured a host of Indian artists, it was announced that the American R&B star Akon would be performing in Malé on January 8.

In 2010, a show featuring Akon was organised – and tickets sold – before organisers cancelled citing a lack of technical support and security. As with the Sean Paul concert, both the Islamic ministry and local religious NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf had spoken out against the show.

Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla has stated on Vnews this week that the party will not differentiate between governments with regards to “anti-islamic activities”, saying that the party is working non-stop to block the Akon show.

“Akon performing in Maldives is something we condemn in the harshest terms. We do not support the show,” Imran stated.

The party was reported last weekend to have expressed concern at what it sees as “horrifying acts that defy Islamic teachings and social convention” taking place in the country.

Local media have reported that Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra is also scheduled to perform on Thursday, although the event’s organisers have not officially confirmed her appearance.

Meanwhile Jamiyyathul Salaf have said that social media announcements about a religious sermon scheduled for the same evening at the Artificial beach are a hoax designed to deter the masses from the activities of religious scholars and sheikhs, reported Haveeru.

Minivan News was unable to obtain comment from Jamiyyathul Salaf President Sheikh Abdulla bin Mohamed Ibrahim.

Related to this story

Adhaalath Party concerned that concerts are defying Islamic teachings

Tourism promotion concerts will show the world the true Malé: Adeeb

President Yameen warns of adverse impacts on tourism from threats against guests


President makes creative arts optional after pressure from religious conservatives

President Abdulla Yameen will make creative arts – including music and dance – optional subjects in the next year’s school curriculum after pressure from religious conservative organisations and political parties.

Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali tweeted his gratitude towards the president, though he was unavailable to comment on the news at the time of publication. President’s office spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz also tweeted about the decision.

Local media reported that religious NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf had met with the president to voice concerns as well as sending a letter identifying ‘anti-Islamic’ aspects in the new curriculum.

Speaking to after the meeting, Jamiyyathul Salaf President Abdulla Mohamed said government ministers at the meeting denied the fact that creative arts was compulsory saying that it seemed unlikely that there would be any amendments to the curriculum.

The NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf put out a press statement last month describing the decision to make music and dance compulsory as an “insult to Islam”, contending that music is prohibited in Islam.

The meeting in question was also attended by the Islamic minister, education minister Dr Aishath Shiham, and the Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdullah.

The education minister had previously stated at a press conference of the Cabinet’s Social Council last week (October 23) that the whole curriculum was based on Islamic values and codes of behavior.

The religious conservative Adhaalath Party declared last week that it had been working ceaselessly to ensure that music and dance are not included as compulsory subjects in the new curriculum.

Meanwhile, Shaheem noted that Quran was included as a compulsory subject in the new curriculum and declared his support for efforts to “broaden Islamic education and Arabic language”.

Earlier this year, Islamic ministry unveiled its policies and plans for the year, placing great emphasis on strengthening Islamic education by focusing on schools and the youth population. The ministry has also revealed plans for an Islamic University in the Maldives.

Plans included sermons at school assemblies, special Islamic workshops, and a monthly Islamic magazine which is to be distributed to all schools and public libraries.

Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed said the government will mainstream Arabic education in the Maldives, focusing particularly on Islamic education and the study of Quran.


Adhaalath Party objects to compulsory creative arts subject in new curriculum

The Adhaalath Party is working ceaselessly to ensure that music and dance are not taught as compulsory subjects with the introduction of the new education curriculum next year, Sheikh Imran Abdulla has declared.

“Adhaalath will take all necessary measures against this,” the religious conservative party’s president said on his Facebook page on Thursday (October 23).

Music and dance have reportedly been included in the new curriculum as part of a compulsory creative arts subject from pre-school to grade three.

Islamic Minister Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed – a senior member of the Adhaalath Party – has also officially requested the education ministry to make the creative arts subject optional.

Asked about the issue at a press conference of the cabinet’s Social Council on Thursday (October 23), Education Minister Dr Aishath Shiham said the whole curriculum was based on Islamic values and codes of behaviour.

“There will not be anything that conflicts or differs with Islam anywhere in the curriculum,” she insisted.

Islamic Minister Dr Shaheem meanwhile criticised the media for reporting the issue in a way that prompts concern from the public.

Shaheem noted that Quran was included as a compulsory subject in the new curriculum and declared his support for efforts to “broaden Islamic education and Arabic language”.

“We value [the education ministry’s] efforts. Along with that, I believe that we can discuss together in a friendly manner to solve the [dispute over compulsory creative arts],” he said.

Shaheem added that he did not wish to comment further on the issue at present.

However, Shaheem told newspaper Haveeru last week that “hundreds of citizens” were concerned about plans to teach music and dance as compulsory subjects.

Shaheem also denied claims by State Minister for Education Adam Shareef’s that the cabinet has approved the new curriculum, which is currently being implemented in a few schools.

While the social council has discussed the curriculum, Shaheem said the issue has not been deliberated by the full cabinet.

He noted that former President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s administration had decided to make music and dance optional subjects.

Several religious NGOs have also objected to the creative arts subject, claiming that music is haram (prohibited) in Islam.

NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf put out a press statement last month describing the decision to make music and dance compulsory as an “insult to Islam”, contending that music is prohibited in Islam.

Shaheem meanwhile warned that forcing children of parents who consider music haram to study the subject could worsen extremism in society.

The education ministry should accept the Islamic ministry’s advice on the issue, he said, expressing confidence that President Abdulla Yameen would amicably resolve the dispute.


Gaza fund donations handed over to Qatar Red Crescent

A donation of MVR 29.4 million (US$1.9 million) to help Gaza has been handed over to the Qatar Red Crescent at an event held on Wednesday (August 27) at the Maldives Broadcasting Commission.

The unprecedented donation drive by Maldivians following the conflict in Gaza culminated in a 33 hour telethon aired across multiple participating broadcasters.

The cheque was received by Qatar Red Crescent President Dr Mohamed Bin Ghanim Al Madida.

Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon, Help Gaza association’s Steering Commitee Chairman and MBC Chairman Ibrahim Umar Manik, and Gaza Fund Maldives representative Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla handed the check over on behalf of the Maldivian people.

The donation is intended to be used to supply food and water and to help Gaza recover from damage sustained after the Israeli Defense Force launched an offensive in retaliation to rocket fire from within the territory.


Majlis standing committees’ composition approved as parties reach compromise

A five-member select committee tasked with constituting parliament’s standing committees has finalised the composition of the 13 committees after political parties reached a compromise today.

Following weeks of disagreement, a proposal by opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ibrahim Shareef – seconded by MP Ahmed Amir from the government-aligned Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) – was passed with three votes in favour at the 12th meeting of the select committee.

In addition to Shareef and Amir, the select committee included MP Riyaz Rasheed as the chair from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), MP Gasim Ibrahim from the Jumhooree Party (JP), and MP Anara Naeem from the Adhaalath Party (AP).

JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim did not participate in the vote after objecting to a change in the number of seats in some committees.

The committee decided to increase the number of seats in the public accounts oversight committee to 13 and reduce the number of seats in the petition committee and ethics committee to 10.

A proposal by MDA MP Amir to constitute the ‘241’ security services committee with 14 seats was also approved with six seats for the PPM, three seats for the MDP, two seats for the JP, one seat each for the MDA and AP, and one seat for Independent MP Muaz Mohamed Rasheed.

Article 241 of the constitution states, “A committee of the People’s Majlis shall be established to exercise continuing oversight of the operations of the security services. The committee shall include representation from all the different political parties within the People’s Majlis.”

Aside from the 241 committee, Muaz – the sole remaining independent – was assigned to the ethics committee.

Reflecting the ruling coalition’s majority with its 46 MPs in the 85-member parliament, the PPM-MDA secured a voting majority on all standing committees with the exception of the privileges committee.

Parliamentary rules dictate proportional representation on the standing committees based on the number of MPs in each party.

Concluding the select committee meeting today, Chair Riyaz Rasheed said the committee’s report will be submitted to the Majlis floor, where it would be put to a vote.

The PPM MP for Thaa Vilifushi expressed gratitude to political parties for agreeing to compromise.

The protracted dispute over the allocation of seats on standing committees has left parliament deadlocked since the first regular sitting on June 2.

Two consecutive sittings had been called off amid disorder in the chamber after MDP MPs insisted that preliminary debate on bills could not begin in the absence of standing committees to review legislation.

Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed adjourned yesterday’s sitting to hold discussions with political party leaders.

At last week’s sitting, pro-government MPs had accused the opposition of obstructing the Majlis to thwart the government’s legislative agenda, while MDP MPs accused the ruling coalition of attempting to create “a one-party state” without parliamentary oversight.

Today’s sitting was meanwhile adjourned to allow the select committee to conclude its work. Speaker Maseeh has since announced that the next sitting will take place at 10:30am on Monday (June 30).

The first piece of legislation up for debate is the bill on establishing special economic zones, the centrepiece of the government’s legislative agenda.

Majlis composition:-

PPM – 41 MPs (48.2%)

MDP –  24 MPs (28.2%)

JP – 13 MPs (15.3%)

MDA – 5 MPs (5.9%)

AP – 1 MP (1.2%)

Independents – 1 MP (1.2%)

Standing committees:-

Public Accounts Committee – six seats for PPM, four seats for MDP, two seats for JP, and one seat for MDA.

Government Oversight Committee – five seats for PPM, three seats for MDP, two seats for JP, and one seat for MDA.

Independent Institutions Committee – five seats for PPM, three seats for MDP, two seats for JP, and one seat for MDA.

‘241’ Security Services Committee – six seats for PPM, three seats for MDP, two seats for JP,  one seat for MDA, one seat for AP, and one seat for the Independent MP.

National Security Committee – five seats for PPM, three seats for MDP, two seats for JP, and one seat for MDA.

Social Affairs Committee – five seats for PPM, three seats for MDP, two seats for JP, and one seat for AP.

Economic Affairs Committee – five seats for PPM, three seats for MDP, two seats for JP, and one seat for MDA.

National Development Committee – five seats for PPM, three seats for MDP, one seat for JP, one seat for MDA, and one seat for AP.

Rules Committee – six seats for PPM, three seats for MDP, one seat for JP, and one seat for MDA.

Ethics Committee – five seats for PPM, three seats for MDP, one seat for JP, and one seat for the Independent MP.

Privileges Committee – six seats for PPM, three seats for MDP, and two seats for JP

Petition Committee – six seats for PPM, three seats for MDP, and one seat for JP

General Affairs Committeefive seats for PPM, three seats for MDP, two seats for JP, and one seat for MDA.


Majlis sitting called off amid opposition protest over committee composition

Today’s sitting of parliament has been called off by Speaker Abdulla Maseeh after opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs raised consecutive points of order objecting to the composition of the Majlis’ 13 standing committees.

Adjourning the sitting amid disorder in the chamber, Speaker Maseeh announced that he would “discuss the issue of the standing committees with political party leaders.”

Government-aligned MPs accused the opposition of obstructing proceedings to thwart its legislative agenda.

The standing committees were constituted yesterday by a select committee with the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and coalition partner (MDA) securing a majority on government oversight committees.

The five-member select committee – comprised of a representative from the five political parties in parliament – approved the composition of committees after MDP MP Ibrahim Shareef walked out of yesterday’s committee meeting in protest, contending that the seat allocation was unfair.

The committee’s decision will be put to a vote on the Majlis floor on Monday (June 23).

At the beginning of today’s sitting, Speaker Maseeh gave the floor to MP Rozaina Adam to present legislation on medical negligence ahead of a preliminary debate.

The MDP MP for Addu Meedhoo however declared that she was withdrawing the proposed legislation as there were “no committees in the Majlis to review this bill.”

“And we don’t know when [the standing committees] are going to be formed. So our People’s Majlis is in a state today where we cannot even envisage when the committee is going to be formed and when it would be able to consult relevant authorities and work on the bill,” she said.

Rozaina said she wished to make changes to the bill after consulting the Medical Association of Maldives, after which it be resubmitted as soon as standing committees are constituted.

Speaker Maseeh, however, insisted repeatedly that parliamentary rules allow for the formation of ad hoc or select committees to review legislation.

The report forwarded by the select committee formed to constitute standing committees will be tabled in the agenda for Monday’s sitting, he added.

Standing committees

MP Ibrahim Shareef – who represented the opposition party in the select committee that approved the standing committee composition – contended that the legislative process could not begin in the absence of standing committees.

While the MDP had been willing to compromise on the committee composition, Shareef said the PPM did not want the opposition party to have a voice in parliament or be able to exercise oversight.

The ruling party had begun efforts to “create an autocratic one-party state like we had 30 years ago,” he said.

In the wake of the select committee decision yesterday, Shareef told reporters that the opposition party would be forced to resort to direct action if its MPs were not afforded the opportunity to hold the government accountable through parliament.

Jumhooree Party (JP) MP Ilham Ahmed accused the speaker of stalling as the government had not finished “hunting” for new MPs.

Two JP MPs signed for the PPM yesterday, joining a number of political appointees who have switched to the ruling party in the wake of the termination of the agreement between the former coalition partners.

MPs who leave their party should be “ashamed” of themselves, the JP deputy leader said.

“We will not allow a brutal and autocratic rule. You should believe, we saw two or three MDP working alone courageously,” he said, referring to the MDP MPs’ efforts in the Special Majlis or constitutional assembly convened to revise the constitution.

“We will see that here again. So I don’t believe the Majlis can carry on before committees are formed,” he said.


Pro-government MPs meanwhile accused opposition MPs of attempting to stall parliamentary proceedings and obstruct the government.

PPM MP Saud Hussain accused opposition MPs of scheming to disrupt parliament with points of order and prevent debate on government-sponsored legislation.

PPM MP Riyaz Rasheed – chair of the select committee that determined composition of standing committees – urged the Majlisopposition party to resolve disputes peacefully through dialogue.

“There’s nothing you can make us do by yelling. We should do things peacefully,” he said.

PPM MP Ali Arif argued that the opposition party had no grounds to complain as the party had been granted 39 seats on the standing committees, which reflected the party’s numbers in parliament.

Moreover, he added, the absence of standing committees was not a problem at the moment as preliminary debate had not been completed for any piece of legislation so far.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed meanwhile stated on social media that standing committees should be formed in accordance with “the spirit of the constitution” to allow parliament to hold the executive answerable.

“MDP is the party that represents the whole Maldives. Thanks to MDP MPs,” the opposition leader tweeted.