Government submitting bills to Majlis at “remarkable speed”, says PPM group leader

The government has submitted 12 bills to the People’s Majlis today (June 8), local media has reported.

“The government is submitting bills to the parliament at a remarkable speed. We’ll do our best to table these bills in the parliament,” Progressive Party of Maldives Parliamentary Group Leader Ahmed Nihan told Haveeru today.

Having already submitted special economic zones legislation to the Majlis last week, the government was reported to have today introduced bills addressing the issue of referendums as well as amendments to current laws on GST, child protection, MPs’ income, and immigration.

The scope of the government’s legislative agenda was revealed last March when Attorney General Mohamed Anil unveiled a 207-bill plan comprising 98 new bills and 109 amendments to existing laws.

Of the 207 bills, Anil said the government hoped to submit 65 pieces of legislation to the legislature this year once the 18th parliament was sworn in after the elections on March 22.

The government’s ability to secure new legislation was reduced late last month, however, after the split with it electoral ally the Jumhooree Party (JP).

The loss of the JP’s 15 MPs brings the ruling Progressive Coalition’s majority in the house to just one seat, after last week’s signing of independent MP  Abdulla Khaleel. This excludes the support of unofficial partner the Adhaalath Party’s sole MP.


Rock Paper Scissors are ‘Mindfunck’d’

Rising stars Rock Paper Scissors have shown that through a combination of talent and hard work just about anything is possible, as they officially launched their first album ‘Mindfunck’d’ last night (Wednesday).

The album launch ceremony at Breakwater café in Male’ was attended by the band’s fans, friends and family as well as special guest dignitaries including former President Mohamed Nasheed, and Villimalé MP Ahmed Nihan – who bought a CD and gifted it to Nasheed before buying CDs for everyone else attending the album launch.

The band consists of some of the Maldives’ brightest new talent, fighting to make a name for themselves on an incipient local music scene –  Akif Rafeeq, Ismail Adil, Munavvaru Ibrahim, and Yasbiq Ismail.

Rock Paper Scissors first received recognition when they were declared winners of the 2009 Maldives Breakout Festival which led to several gigs not just on home turf but also internationally – including a showcase at the O2 Arena in London, England, and as the headline act at the Malaysia Breakout Festival 2010, spurring on the band to follow their dream of creating an album.

Many musicians struggle to get this far in a country with no recording contracts or multi-million dollar advance cheques. And it certainly hasn’t all been plain sailing for the band, which has been playing together since 2008.

They persevered to release their first album and through a combination of hard work, dedication, and the support of sponsors including Hussein Hilmy, Mohamed Waheed Deen, Ahmed Shamah Rasheed and Ali Waseem, the band has finally launched ‘Mind Funck’d’, produced by famous Maldivian guitarist Ahmed Faseeh ‘Fasy’. It follows hot on the heels of the release of their electrifying new five-minute video for the song ‘Lose Control’.

“I’d describe our sound as progressive rock” says band member Akif Rafeeq. “We all listen to different types of music and what we create is a combination of all of it coming together. ‘Lose Control’ is the one that everyone recognises us by and ‘You’ve Got It’ is the one we all love playing a lot of.

“This experience of getting the album done was a hell of a journey; the songs didn’t take too long to write but the whole process of making the album has taken us two years. We owe some special thanks to our sponsors and also to our family for supporting us,” he added.

Since the exciting video for ‘Lose Control’ was released last month it’s already been played several times on national television and has had thousands of hits on YouTube. It features cutting-edge black and white videography and psychedelic UV effects.

Band Manager, Mazin Rafeeq, said: “We really appreciate former President Mohamed Nasheed turning up to the official album launch and showing his support for the band as well as all the other dignitaries and the media. We’d like to give special thanks to Breakwater, Popjoy and our sales partner, Le Cute.”

Rock Paper Scissors is planning to perform at a concert soon after Ramazan; details are yet to be announced. Mind Funck’d is available from Le Cute.


Voting ongoing in PPM primaries

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has begun primaries for 25 parliamentary constituencies today.

Voting is proceeding smoothly in Malé at Dharubaaruge, Thajuddeen School, Malé City Hall and the PPM’s ally Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) party offices, PPM Secretary General Mohamed Zuhair said.

Over 2,700 members had registered to vote in Malé, Zuhair said, adding that the only complaints the party had received so far related to registration.

Parties in the ruling coalition allocated 49 of the 85 People’s Majlis seats to the PPM, 28 seats to the Jumhooree Party (JP) and nine seats to the MDA.

The party ticket was initially awarded to 13 candidates due to a lack of contestants. The 13 included eight incumbent MPs.

Over 150 candidates applied to contest the remaining 36 constituencies. But only 92 candidates were chosen for the primaries.

Applicants were graded on a six point criteria that included the extent to which candidates uphold party ideology, the length and type of service to the party, experience in parliament and participation in the presidential campaign.

Only candidates who received over 75 points were allowed to contest.

Five candidates – including four incumbent MPs – were awarded the party ticket on Friday after their competitors failed to meet the 75 percent threshold.

The PPM said it will hold primaries for the remaining six constituencies tomorrow.

Vilimaafannu MP Ahmed Nihan who won the party ticket by default said some members had complained of the party leadership favoring one candidate over the other.

“Holding primaries is not easy. For any party. But I do not expect any major issues,” he said.

Meanwhile, local media have reported conflict has emerged between the PPM and MDA over the Gahdhoo constituency. The seat was initially allocated to the MDA, but the party decided not to field a candidate and to instead back incumbent MP Zahir Adam.

Zahir was recently suspended from opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) after he violated a three-line whip and voted for President Abdulla Yameen’s cabinet in December.

Following MDA’s decision not to contest the Gahdhoo constituency, PPM called for applicants for primaries. According to local media, the MDA has ordered the PPM to retract the announcement.

Polls will close at 10:00pm tonight.

Applications must be submitted to the Elections Commission by February 11. Parliamentary elections are set for March 22.


Q&A: MP Ahmed Nihan – Villi Maafannu Constituency

In a series of interviews to lead into the the 2014 parliamentary elections – scheduled for March 22nd – Minivan News will be conducting interviews with incumbent MPs.

All 77 sitting members have been contacted, from across the political spectrum, to be asked a standardised set of questions with additional topicals. The interviews will be published as and when they are received.

As part of the series, Minivan News interviewed MP Ahmed Nihan.

MP Ahmed Nihan represents the Villi Maafannu constituency and is from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

Mariyath Mohamed: What made you enter the political arena and how?

Ahmed Nihan: To be honest, I didn’t enter this field to achieve any major political goals. However, there are certain things that circumstances brought about. Namely, the political chaos of 2003.

We were used to a very normal, peaceful way of life. The society we grew up in was not one where political dialogue in public places were common. It is not even important. If there was a cause for disheartenment, most people kept it to themselves. However, even then there were some people who would talk about such issues both in public places and through media. It was not even done after considering what sort of penalties may be levied against them for doing so. We were, however, aware that those who were being jailed for participating in political activity were being placed in that situation due to the involvement of other factors besides political expression.

For example, the bombing of 1990. Those allegedly involved in the bombing later became major political figures. While they may have their reasons for committing such an act, it is never acceptable for violence, arson or terrorism to be used as a solution for anything. In 2003, I closely saw the situation deteriorate in Malé. As a bystander, I saw three or four places being set ablaze.

I thought then that the peaceful atmosphere of Male’ was coming to an end. While I don’t mean that everything was happening right then, I felt that anti-social elements would then seep in and damage the general social norms of the Malé society. Whatever good or bad reasons behind it, I was aware that anti-social elements would come in.

A cause for widespread political discussions in the country was the announcement made by then President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on 9 June 2004, where he said the people were free to discuss political matters publicly. I will not judge whether the intentions behind the announcement were good or bad, but that is the reason for increased politicisation within the society.

Friends and I then started having long discussions about this matter over coffee meet-ups, where intellectuals from across the political divide frequently joined. It so happened that one other friend and I took the side of the then incumbent government. It was purely from my own views, as I had no other connection to the government. Neither me nor any of my relatives were serving in Gayoom’s administration, none of us had any businesses we needed to protect, there was no child we need to send abroad to study, at the very least we did not even possess a vehicle in our names. Despite all of this, I was among the few who accepted Gayoom’s policies as being right.

In March 2005, following the parliament’s approval of multi party democracy, we faced a lot of political challenges. Everyone was identified as a political person. Even then, I had no intention of joining any particular party. However, from my childhood, I have always been a fan of Gayoom’s. I especially liked his policies on nationalism.

On May 29, 2005, I learned while I was at a coffee with friends that Gayoom was going to form a party. I decided to go for two reasons. One is that it is a common rumour here that Gayoom operated via nepotism and cronyism and would not allow a commoner into their inner circle. I wanted to see if this is true. I did not enter politics on anyone’s intention, at 34 years of age I just knocked at the door of the meeting place uninvited.

At the meeting, I saw that it was filled with elite persons and children of high level officials, and I couldn’t accept that although the meeting was for a youth audience, there was enough representation of general youth there.

I was outspoken and questioned Gayoom, asking if he believed there is enough youth representation there. I asked if he was aware of the criticism against him in the public. I then volunteered in preparation of the first two party meetings but there was absolutely no chance of going to the frontline at that point.

At the third public meeting held on June 13 – Gayoom’s party still had elites in it, while MDP was at its peak already – at this point, then government spokesperson Dr Ahmed Shaheed called me and asked me to speak in that night’s meeting. This was not due to any connections, but probably because I had been so outspoken at this first meeting.

He was the first person to plant the idea of comparing MDP’s Mohamed Nasheed to Adolf Hitler, by asking me to make the comparison in my first political speech. He asked me to point out that nothing good may come to a party through a politician leading groups on to the street and to point out the likeness between how Nasheed operated and how the Nazi party had operated in the past.

No one in the higher tiers had thus far dared to criticise the MDP. This speech of mine was very well-received and people accepted me. I then became a member of DRP’s council. I was the only ordinary member on it. This is how I entered the field.

MM: Based on your attendance and work in this ending term, how would you judge your performance as an MP?

AN: For me, especially being an MP who lives out of Malé, I will say I performed well over average. I’m the only member who starts his day on a ferry. Despite the political situation I walk through the public and travel on a ferry with them every day, that is my way of life.

Except for a few days where I had to be involved with other issues, I have not missed any Majlis sessions. Later on, I have met with some VilliMale’ constituents during Majlis hours to listen to their concerns, but even then I do come to Majlis in time for voting on bills. Even this was possible after the starting quorum was changed to an open quorum and things became more convenient.

I have also missed some of the latter committee meetings as I had to involved in the [presidential election] campaigns.

MM: What are the main committees you were acting on? What particular bills did you focus on?

AN: I was in many fundamental committees. This is because due to the political situation, there was a lot of space for waste arguments. For example, matters around the judiciary.

One of the committees I was on for the longest and contributed most to is the Social Affairs committee. This is the committee that compiled some of the most important bills. For example, the Act on Special Measures Against Perpetrators of Child Sexual Abuse.

I was also on the Economic Affairs Committee, with the intention of learning something new. I figured the best way to learn about the matter once budgetary issues arose would be through the Economic Affairs committee.

The Public Accounts Committee is what parliamentarians often saw as the most privileged committee, due to the many opportunities for trips abroad that rose out of it. However, I did not push to be on it. The other committee most in demand by parliamentarians is the 241 Committee on national security.

I gave the most importance to the Petition Committee, Economic Affairs Committee and the Social Affairs Committee. After February 7, on request of the government, I joined the Executive Oversight Committee to defend the government through my concrete arguments.

The bills I played the most major role in completing include the Act on Special Measures Against Perpetrators of Child Sexual Abuse, the Drug Act, Banking Acts and the Right to Information Act.

One of the saddest things I came across is that the Water Bill that was submitted by the government was thrown out of parliament without even allowing it to go to committee stage. I individually spoke to several MPs about the importance of having litigation on water standards here, but no one listened, and MDP members voted it out just by yelling “baaghee” [traitor] at government-affiliated members.

However, the most major bill that I must carry responsibility for is the Act on Privileges for Former Presidents. This is something that had to be done, Article 128 of the Constitution mandates that such a law be formed. Yes, it was designed for Gayoom, but it later applied to former Presidents Nasheed and Waheed, so it can no longer be said that I made it for Gayoom alone.

MM: What would you say are the biggest achievements within your term; in terms of what you have accomplished for your constituency and the country as a whole?

AN: I was in a challenging position as an opposition member in a Malé area seat. I was steadfast in not changing my position, despite large offers being placed in front of me in exchange for switching. The 17th parliament was corrupted not by parliamentarians alone, but with the involvement of political leaders. It was done deliberately. For example, Ali Waheed and I worked six or seven months working closely together and I know his financial level. It is not acceptable for me that he and Alhan Fahmy all of a sudden reached a level of financial comfortability where they were able to purchase land from capital city, Malé. That is against the oath we took assuming public office. The reason behind why I remain homeless to date is the loyalty I have towards the Maldivian people. MDP sent numerous multi-million offers asking me to defect, but I do not believe it is the right thing to do.

So, what I did for my consituency is a huge question. In reality, there is nothing I am mandated to do for the constituency. I am not elected to represent a constituency so that I can take material things there. I have not been able to do that, and will not do so in future either. On the other hand, I am the conveyer of the constituency’s concerns. There is no other MP who has done as much as I have on this front. There never goes much time between my appearance in some media or other.

An MP’s mandate is not to build mosques, or construct roads or football grounds. That is not our mandate. I have conducted about 90 percent or more of what is in my mandate. I have not sold a vote or misvoted by mistake or done any other such actions.

MM: What would you say is the biggest mistake or worst step you have taken in your career? Why?

AN: Not something I did out of my own capacity, but I’d say it was the compiling of the judge’s bench by the parliament’s bench during our initial days. It is definitely something that we as members didn’t look into enough that we were not used as much as we should have been when our leaders made the decisions regarding the judiciary and it’s compilation.

Not to defend myself, but I am a person who doesn’t personally know these judges. And today, being 42 years of age I have never had to stand in front of a judge. And the most controversial judge Abdulla Ghazi (Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed). I even saw him for the first time way after he was released from detention, at a National Day event held during the Waheed administration. So it was difficult for me as I couldn’t identify them.

But I do regret some of the problems that have risen as a result of those decisions.

The second thing is the Priviliges Act. I regret that I was unable to succeed despite always having stood up against the parlimentary privileges bill. I do not believe this is required in a place like the Maldives. Even today, it saddens me that there are still members who advocate for additional privileges.

These are not my personal decisions, but as a member, collectively I too have some responsibility in these.

MM: Are you taking the optional committee allowance of an additional MVR 20,000? Why or why not?

AN: I have never considered either taking or not taking that allowance. I did want to initially check if it proved to be an incentive for members to better attend committees. But it doesn’t work that way. There are no members that better attend committees just because this allowance is paid. So it is 100 percent evident that this need not be paid now.

And there is nothing I have gained from getting the committee allowance. There are many months where I have not received it, due to my not signing the attendance sheets. It is of my own mistake. I never considered it so important to sign the attendance sheets.

It is only paid in relation to the number of committees we attended. I think I only received it six months. Even if I receive it, it is never there by the end of the month. I would have given it away for some thing.

MM: What is your view about parliamentarians and other public servants declaring their financial assets publicly for the electorate to be able to refer to?

AN: I support that, because there is nothing I need to hide. But there are some MPs whose shares in certain businesses that citizens need to know about. About how their financial assets suddenly increase. Like I said before, when a member who enters parliament without a penny in their name suddenly rises to the point where they can purchase a 10 storey skyscraper, the people have right to know whether this was indeed purchased by money earned from selling arecanuts, teaching Quran lessons or money sent by a father who works as a sailor. The reasons are very correct and people have much right to demand to know these details. Not only parliamentarians, but everyone in senior posts. This can be included in an amendment in the Right to Information Act that has recently been passed. It must have a radius though, where the other person’s privary is not breached.

MM: Are you recontesting in the next elections?

AN: My consituency no longer exists, but I will recontest for the same district. That is to say, using a football metaphor, I must play another half, another term, representing VilliMale’. To ensure that everything that can be done for them through their government is achieved.

MM: What do you hope to accomplish should you be elected for a new term?

AN: One thing is to ensure that someone from the district itself gets elected in the local council elections. The government has also assured me that through their development policies, unmatched developmental changes will be brought to VilliMale’ in these five years. Through my work I have also ensured that the PPM policies include providing housing for those who have the most housing difficulty in this country, including housing for those on the Malé municipality register.

MM: What improvements do you feel the 18th parliament will need to make to improve as an institution?

AN: A lot of major changes must be brought.

One thing is to make members aware that every bill that comes there way is not something that they must view through a political lens and reject or approve just based on political reasons.

The general public must also be aware that despite the excitement around politics, important issues must be focused on beyond politic rhetoric. The political atmosphere must come down to room temperature, where people with different political ideologies must be able to sit down and discuss matters in a civil manner. I believe, this will take approximately 25 years for us to achieve this.

MM: What are your thoughts on party switching – do you think it undermines the party system?

AN: There is an issue where even parliamentarians do not really understand the system. And there is a lack of information or of negligence among those who impart knowledge of these matters to the general public. It must be considered whether a member is defecting to gain some personal benefits, for the party’s benefit or for the nation’s benefit. If one has already done so for their own benefit, then it is wrong. It is wrong as it causes people to lose hope in the system itself.

If they don’t have a thorn in their tongues, they might say whatever they want, but I see no dignity in such a person coming out to recontest and saying they are doing so for the good of the nation.

If it is an independent MP, I have no comments about them being among the movers and shakers. It is not a problem for them to go around changing parties. But someone who was elected for having run via a party must not defect mid-term.

It is not for national benefit or love for the people that members like them defect or sell votes. It is because their pockets are being filled. On the day of cabinet endorsement, we too fished out many votes in this way. They will now say that it is out of love for the people, but no, it was in interest of filling their own deep pockets.

MM: As a politician who has been outspoken about matters regarding the judiciary, alternatively positively and negatively, what is your view about the current judiciary and if you believe there are steps that can be taken to improve it?

AN: Numerous major changes need to come it. These are not things that can be sorted just through litigation or changing laws. It needs to majorly improved as an institution.

I need to know judges better, their histories and capacities and all. We must all know them better. We need to better the review the problems arising about judges today and review the existing litigation. We must find out what amendments we can bring to the existing litigation, and whether more effective new laws can be drafted for the issue. Everyone from all parties need to agree on how we must act on this matter.

In June 2010, we suddenly appointed judges. So for the lack of effectiveness in the judiciary, we cannot blame the judges alone. Instead, all us politicians must shoulder responsibility for it.

Now the thing is due to one or two judges within the judiciary, the whole sector has lost trust. This is something I have often said. Don’ t blame the whole institution for the acts of a few individuals.

For example, Judge Ali Hameed who is allegedly involved in a sex scandal. I have never met him. We should not defend him for his negligence. I would have preferred it if he had resigned from his post before it comes to the level where even the parliament will need to get involved. If he had, half the country would not have lost trust in the institution.

I believe that both MDP and PPM should work to further train and make the judiciary more responsible, however this does not mean that we should continue yelling out that the judiciary is bad. We must do constructive work.


Presidential candidate Gasim has no plans to boycott TVM

Presidential candidate Ibrahim Gasim has no plans to boycott national broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM), despite media reports last week suggesting his Jumhoree Party (JP) was considering such a move.

“Gasim would never do anything like that. We have no plans to boycott TVM,” said JP Policy Secretary Mohamed Ajmal.

Ajmal also confirmed that the JP’s leader would be participating in the upcoming presidential debate, due to air on TVM on September 1. Competing parties had claimed that talk of a boycott was a pre-planned attempt to “dodge” the debate.

JP deputy leader Ilham Ahmed last week told local media that the JP would be considering a boycott of the station after TVM presenter Liza Laurella asked Gasim a series of personal questions in what he interpreted as an attempt to damage his reputation.

“This was done with the intention of demeaning a person under a systematic plan. We don’t believe that this could have been done under press freedom,” Ilham explained to reporters from Haveeru. “We have seen TVM going after Gasim.”

The Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) defended its station, telling local media that Gasim’s TVM interview was conducted within its editorial policy.

The interview with Gasim was the first of a series of programs titled ‘Siyaasath’ (‘policy’) featuring all four presidential hopefuls in discussion of their respective parties’ policies.

The program concluded last night with the interview of former president and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Mohamed Nasheed.

Reflecting on all four interviews, Ajmal alleged that all candidates had not received equal treatment from the host.

“We are not happy with the way Liza handled it. Maybe [that approach] is okay in Europe, but not in the Maldives,” he said.

Ajmal noted in particular Liza’s tendency to point her finger at Gasim during the interview: “It was very disrespectful.”

The ‘siyaasath’ episode featuring current President Dr Mohamed Waheed was singled out as an example of unequal treatment, with Ajmal describing his interview as “very mild” in comparison.

“All interviews should have been equally harsh,” he added.

The JP’s criticism of the show were dismissed as “baseless” by the Progressive Party of Maldives’ (PPM) MP Ahmed Nihan, whose candidate Abdulla Yameen appeared on ‘siyaasath’ last Thursday.

“The PPM believe Liza did quite well… we understand there will be those types of questions in a hard talk program like this,” said Nihan.

His sole criticism of the program concerned a lack of focus, with what he felt was an excessive time spent discussing the past at the expense of debating policies for the future.

Nihan did however acknowledge that this problem had been consistent in all four interviews.


Adhaalath Party “curses” Nasheed, accuses MDP of increasing support through black magic

Religious conservative Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla has accused Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed of using black magic to garner support for the party.

“As a result of bringing in people from India, Sri Lanka, and various parts of the Maldives to perform black magic for [Nasheed], and then casting spells on food and feeding them to the masses, Nasheed has caused large numbers of people to become blind towards all his wrongdoings, and to imagine characteristics of being democratic and pro-development in him, and to be deluded into thinking they are in absolute support of him while in reality they are in a crazed state of enchantment and therefore run behind him,” Imran said, addressing the Jumhoree Coalition’s first major rally in the capital.

“Nasheed’s followers are anti-Islamic people like him and huge criminals. The rest are people under the influence of his black magic. Most people are bewitched and under black magic spells. This is the state of this country,” he said.

“Nasheed is doubtless an agent – one who has been rather well trained – sent in by enemies of Islam and our nationalism,” Imran continued. “A vote cast for Nasheed is an act which will facilitate the eradication of Islam from this country and will hurl us into a state of slavery.”

He furthermore alleged that during Nasheed’s time as President, he had “forced alcohol down the throats of Maldivians”, erased Islam, sold national assets and gave the profits to his “cronies”, and had himself “hidden away in his pockets US$16 million by giving away the airport to GMR”.

Moving away from his religion-based rhetoric, Sheikh Imran then spoke of Chinese superstitions as his justification of why people should not vote for Nasheed.

“In matters involving luck, the Chinese would never opt for number four,” he stated.

“If Nasheed approaches the 1 billion people of China as Candidate Number Four and asks for their vote, he will not be able to get a single vote,” he said.

Imran also spoke of how Nasheed is “spending billions on his campaign while he does not own any major assets or businesses in the country”. Imran then accused Nasheed of accepting funding for his campaigns from “foreign churches aiming to spread anti-Islam propaganda”.

Towards the end of his speech, Imran admitted that he “tends to levy a lot of criticism against Nasheed”, and said that this was not due to any personal grudges against the candidate.

“I have to speak against Nasheed because of the things he has done in these past several years; because of his anti-Islamic policies and anti-Islamic activities. Because I do not wish for a man like to him to become the head of state,” he continued to explain.

“Unlike other candidates, I must speak of Nasheed more openly as even the Quran instructs us to enlighten those who are ignorant and do not know any better.”

The religious conservative party’s leader also criticised the other two candidates contesting against Jumhooree Coalition candidate and businessman Gasim Ibrahim in the upcoming September 7 elections.

Referring to Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen, Imran said that Yameen had failed in engaging with the public or garnering any support for himself. He alleged that as a result, Yameen had ended up having to bring out his half-brother and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom to campaign for him and PPM instead.

Imran then spoke of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan, alleging he had been unable to maintain the initial “wide coalition” that he had formed as a result of “having chosen the wrong running mate at the wrong time”.

“Although Waheed was leading the race with the largest support base when talk of presidential elections first began, he no longer has the guarantee that he can even manage to get a simple five percent of the votes this election,” Imran said.

In the same week, Adhaalath Party member and current Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Shaheem Ali Saeed said that he had repeatedly performed prayers from the time Nasheed was elected President wishing for an end to his time in government, asking “Allah to curse Nasheed by setting dogs on him”.

“Every time I kneeled down in prayer, I repeatedly prayed a ‘dua’ performed by Prophet Mohamed (pbuh) against a man who had spit in his face,” Shaheem said, at a Jumhooree Coalition rally held on Mahibadhoo, stating that this was the first time he had prayed for the toppling of a government.

“The Prophet made this prayer against a man who spat on his face. What happened as a result is, the man was away somewhere on a trip. Then while he was asleep, a man-eating dog came and sniffed at people. Once the dog found this particular man, it attacked him and completely ripped him apart,” Shaheem stated.

Adhaalath Party had previously entered a coalition with Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihaadh Party (GIP), which has appointed Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) leader Thasmeen Ali as Waheed’s running mate.

They later left the coalition and defected to Jumhooree Gulhun, backing resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim and his running mate, Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) leader Dr. Hassan Saeed.

The Jumhooree Coalition now consists of the Jumhooree Party, the Dhivehi Qaumee Party, Adhaalath Party and PPM’s former interim Deputy Leader Umar Naseer and his supporters.

Politicians use ‘religion’ as a tool to play with hearts: Nasheed

“As Islam is deeply embedded in the hearts of Maldivians, some politicians are bringing out religion as a political tool to try and tamper with our hearts,” Nasheed said, speaking at the MDP’s rally held in Sri Lanka on Saturday.

Nasheed stated that at different times during the political changes of the past years, various politicians, as well as people who present themselves as religious scholars, have used religion for the purpose of furthering political gain.

Nasheed stated that some political figures who present themselves as “religious scholars” are people who do no more than “slaughter camels or bind leather books”.

“The people of Maldives are now aware of all this. We have seen how the coup regime and the long 30 year regime before that is and has been maintained. The people have rolled up their sleeves and begun work to take the Maldives to a far better place,” Nasheed said.

Adhaalath has displayed nothing but hypocrisy for the past years: PPM MP Nihan

“Imran is obviously wrong about our presidential candidate and his campaign strategies,” PPM MP Ahmed Nihan, said in response to Imran’s criticisms of the party’s presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen.

“There are two political ideologies in Maldives: that of former President Nasheed, and of former President Maumoon. They are the champions of Maldivian democracy and reform,” Nihan said.

“Our party is open about the differences in opinion between PPM and MDP about the levels of contribution these two presidents have made to the democracy movement, but that doesn’t undermine the commendable work done by either of them. Who is Imran to talk about this? The Adhaalath party made no contribution whatsoever to either the reform movement or the efforts to establish democratic governance here,” Nihan retorted.

“In the past seven years, the Adhaalath Party has displayed nothing but record levels of hypocrisy. They are responsible for destroying the healthy competitive political spirit in the country by behaving like a commodity on sale, selling themselves to whichever party offers them a higher price. The PPM has never entered an alliance with them,” he continued.

“Leave aside Imran’s criticisms of Yameen – who is he to call Nasheed an anti-Islamic person? His party’s coalition, Jumhuri Gulhun, has set up a campaign station in my constituency Villimale’ on a plot of government land which has long since been walled away for the purpose of building a mosque. They have set up speakers and are playing campaign songs on a holy plot of land reserved to make a mosque, and still have the nerve to call others ‘laadheenee’ (irreligious)?” Nihan stated.

GIP Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza stated that Imran was making up excuses while he very well knew the truth of the matter.

“Sheikh Imran knows better than anyone else that the Adhaalath Party did not leave the GIP coalition due to any issues with Dr Waheed’s choice of running mate. They left because we were unable to give them as much money as they asked for their campaign activities,” Riza said.


Former President Gayoom urges public to join PPM to protect democracy, Islam

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has urged Maldivians to join his Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) if they wish to safeguard democracy and the role of Islam in the country.

Speaking at a rally in the island of Fuvahmulah yesterday (April 12) to mark the official launching of PPM’s presidential campaign, Gayoom reportedly called on all Maldivians wishing for democracy to prevail in the nation to join with his party.

“Some people keep talking about parties forming coalitions, that they are forming alliances with others,” he was reported by Sun Online as saying.

“What I want to say is, if any of you want a perfect democracy, if any of you want Islam be sustained in the Maldives, if any of you want Maldivian sovereignty to be protected, I would like to ask that person to quickly join PPM.”

Gayoom autocratically ruled the Maldives for 30 years until being defeated by a coalition of parties backing former President Mohamed Nasheed in the country’s first democratic mutli-party elections in 2008.

Speaking to Minivan News today, PPM MP Ahmed Nihan said that Gayoom has long been established as being committed to upholding the country’s religious values and sovereignty.

Nihan said that since the PPM’s formation in 2011, the party had sought to prioritise defending the nation’s sovereignty and Islamic faith as outlined in the constitution.

He added that even before the PPM was formed by a breakaway faction within the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) – which Gayoom established back in 2005 – preserving Islam as the country’s only religion and protecting local culture has been a key focus for Gayoom’s supporters.

Addressing these supporters during last night’s rally, PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen pledged to reform the taxation system and attract large foreign direct investment to the Maldives.

Yameen argued that levying a tax on “the person who imports the noodles packet” was better than taxing the consumer who buys it.

PPM would “revolutionise” how the state raises revenue, local media reported Yameen as saying.

Meanwhile, in his speech at the Fuvahmulah rally, Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed called on all parties in the government coalition to back PPM in the presidential election.

Jameel joined Yameen’s campaign team during the recently concluded PPM presidential primary. The home minister currently faces a no-confidence motion in parliament.

Jameel’s Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) has recently announced its intention to form a coalition with President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihad Party (GIP) for the September election.

DQP Leader Dr Hassan Saeed previously said that the party would not consider forming a coalition with either PPM or the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

“Weakening faith”

Meanwhile, speaking on Thursday (April 11) during an ongoing tour of North Maalhosmadulu Atoll, President Dr Mohamed Waheed expressed concern that “weakening faith” among Maldivians was allowing unspecified “foreign powers” to increase influence over the country.

“Our national anthem, national flag, and national colours that symbolize the country should come first,” read an official President’s Office statement quoting Dr Waheed.

His comments were slammed by the opposition MDP, which accused him of being double-faced, while also using the language of a “dictator”.

MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor rejected suggestions that President Waheed stood as a unifying force for Islam in the Maldives, accusing him of politicising the nation’s faith for his own gain.

Hamid claimed that many Maldivians were aware that the president had sought to “play Islam” for political gain since he took office following the controversial transfer of power in February 2012.


PPM holds first political rally

The newly-formed Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) held its first major political rally last night with a large number of supporters at artificial beach in Male’, vowing to “enter the presidential palace” in the 2013 presidential election.

Following the completion of the registration process with the Elections Commission (EC) on Sunday and pending verification of over 10,000 membership forms, PPM becomes the third largest party in the Maldives with 13,000 members.

As of October 30, 2011, the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has 47,904 members, followed by opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) with 35,260 and religious conservative Adhaalath Party with 6,140 members.

Speaking at last night’s rally, PPM Registrar Dr Mohamed Saud said the party submitted 13,000 membership forms in 55 days, with the number expected to reach 30,000 by the end of the year.

Dr Saud claimed PPM’s membership would reach over 60,000 in the next six months before its inaugural national congress.

Vili-Maafanu MP Ahmed Nihan told supporters that the new party was “the English version of [first Maldivian President] Mohamed Ameen’s party.”

MP Abdulla Yameen, who has announced his intention to contest the party’s presidential primary, meanwhile said the executive was attempting to grab all powers of the state, accusing the current administration of being incapable of governing under a lawful and democratic system without street activism and “intimidation” of state institutions such as the judiciary.

“I would like to tell the Supreme Court, other courts and independent institutions on behalf of the beloved and honourable PPM members in attendance here, we will definitely be the watchers between you and MDP’s activism,” he said. “We will not allow any harm to come you.”

Yameen also claimed senior leaders of the MDP government were “drenched in the blood of the martyrs” of the November 3, 1988 coup attempt with mercenaries from Sri Lanka.


RaajjeTV condemns newly formed PPM for barring journalist from press conference

Private broadcasting television RaajjeTV has condemned the newly formed Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), led by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, after senior officials of the party denied entrance to  a journalist from RaajjeTV to a press conference held by the party yesterday.

In a statement, RaajjeTV said that the action of PPM senior officials was undemocratic and uncivilised, and claimed that the PPM has boycotted the TV channel.

‘’To date, Raajje TV was never invited to any event organised by PPM, and has constantly refused to provide any information to us,’’ the statement said. ‘’It is questionable whether a party formed for the benefit of the citizens would do something that would destroy democracy while it is still in its infant stage.’’

RaajjeTV said that it would try to bring “true news” to the citizens of the Maldives, despite the situation.

The TV channel also called on the former President and his family to share information to the media equally and to be consistent in its words and deeds.

MP Ahmed Nihan, who is the current Media Coordinator of PPM, today told Minivan News that he knew about the incident last night and said that it was regrettable.

‘’We do not have any issues with the TV channel, but there might be some individuals in the party that have issues with it,’’ Nihan said. ‘’We have not made any decision to boycott RaajjeTV.’’

Nihan said he personally had given two live interviews to RaajjeTV and has been sharing information equally.

‘’We give very high priority to the media because it is the fourth pillar of democracy,’’ he said adding that the reports broadcasted on RaajjeTV were “usually against former President Gayoom”.

‘’Although they air such reports, we do not have any issue with that as long as they keep to the laws,’’ Nihan said.

Spokesperson of PPM Ahmed Mahlouf did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.