Gasim “economically paralysed,” says JP Deputy Leader

The current government has “economically paralysed” Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim, its Deputy Leader Ameen Ibrahim has said.

“Even though Gasim has not been put behind prison bars, the government has economically paralysed him,” Ameen said at a press conference of the opposition’s newly formed “Maldivians against brutality” alliance today.

Gasim could not actively participate in opposition activities as the government has “cornered” the tycoon by targeting his businesses, Ameen said.

While the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) accepted the Adhaalath Party’s (AP) invitation to form a united front against the government, the JP’s national council is yet to decide whether the party will join the new alliance.

However, Ameen and several other senior JP members have been working with the alliance, claiming their participation was in an “individual capacity.”

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, AP President Sheikh Imran Abdulla accused the government of planning to seize all of Gasim’s assets and making sure he was “unable to move his hands or legs” in his defence.

Meanwhile, in an appearance on Gasim’s Villa TV, MDP Vice President Mohamed on Saturday said Maldivians should not wait and watch while the government destroyed Gasim’s Villa Group.

On March 1, the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) gave a 30-day notice to Villa Group to pay US$100 million allegedly owed as unpaid rent and fines.

Moreover, in February, the tourism ministry seized several islands and lagoons leased to Villa Group as part of an out-of-court settlement.

MDP-JP alliance

After officially leaving the ruling coalition in January, the JP formed an alliance with the MDP in January and launched nightly protests on February 10 against what they alleged were repeated violations of the constitution by President Abdulla Yameen’s administration.

Gasim himself and other JP leaders took part in the protests, which culminated in a mass rally on February 27.

Following former President Mohamed Nasheed’s arrest on February 22 ahead of a surprise terrorism trial, Gasim called on the Prosecutor General to withdraw the “politically motivated charges” and vowed to continue protests.

However, after failing to return from a trip to Sri Lanka to attend the February 27 protest march, Gasim has not appeared in opposition protests. He has also not made any public statements since a meeting with Home Minister Umar Naseer on March 5.

Villa Group is one of the largest companies in the Maldives with the holding company Villa Shipping and Trading Pvt Ltd conglomerate operating businesses in shipping, import and export, retail, tourism, fishing, media, communications, transport, and education.


President’s dancing shames nation: Adhaalath Party

The Maldivian people should “bow in shame” following President Mohamed Nasheed’s dancing at a Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) rally on Thursday, the religiously conservative Adhaalath Party has claimed.

In a video of the incident, President Nasheed is seen dancing with a group of senior party officials while MDP Parliamentary Group Leader ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik sings on stage at Thoddu in North Ari Atoll.

‘’This is not the behaviour we expect to see from the people who are supposed to set an example for Maldivians,’’ said the Adhaalath Party, in a statement. ‘’Their behaviour was uncivilised and irresponsible.’’

The party said it was a national shame that the President had participated in a rally where ‘’males and females danced together like in a disco with a DJ.’’

‘’Heads of nations are supposed set an example for their people. They are obliged to live a very honorable life,’’ said the party. ‘’We don’t see presidents of non-Muslim states dancing and performing circus acts in public.’’

“By all accounts [Reeko Moosa’s] singing was pretty awful,” acknowledged a senior government source.

“The Adhaalath Party has new leadership and this may be them trying to flex some muscle and show they are independent,” the source suggested, adding that Nasheed had emphasised the 800 year durability of Islam in the Maldives while handing out certificates to the winners of a Quran recitation competition this morning.

In its statement, the Adhaalath Party further alleged that the MDP had used government vessels to ferry “hundreds of MDP supporters” to Thoddu, which, it claimed, “shows how much this government is addicted to corruption.”

The political system of the Maldives was moving towards a dictatorship and what the people saw on Thursday night was “the real image of MDP,” the Adhaalath Party stated.

The MDP has had an increasingly conflicted relationship with the Adhaalath Party: its remaining coalition partner and the third largest party in the country. The party’s ranks make up much of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs.

In February 2010, the government capitulated to the Adhaalath Party’s demands that new regulations licensing the sale of alcohol to non-Maldivians in hotel of over 100 beds on inhabited islands be scrapped, after thousands of people protested in the capital.

Individual liquor licensing, which had been repealed in the lead up to the new regulation, was not reinstated, leading to a flourishing blackmarket around the illegal commodity.

Further clashes between the coalition partners took place in December 2010 over the visit of a group of Israeli eye surgeons from the NGO ‘Eyes from Zion’, resulting in protests in Republic Square, the burning of the Israeli flag, and statements that those Maldivians who accepted the free surgery were at risk of having their organs harvested.

More recently, the Adhaalath Party has threatened to split from the MDP if the government allows Israeli airline El Al to operate in the Maldives. The government has responded that flights will begin on December 13.