More than MVR 100,000 raised for baby born with facial scar

Parents of a baby girl born with a large black birthmark across her face have received more than MVR 100,000 (US$6,485) in donations from the public following an appeal on social media to raise funds for plastic surgery.

The father of the girl told newspaper Haveeru today that the generous response from the public has exceeded the family’s expectations.

“Doctors advised me to go for a plastic surgery,” wrote Ahmed Shareef on Facebook last week, posting a picture of his newborn.

“But plastic surgery is not available here in Maldives. And it costs a huge amount. Please help me in anyway you can if it is possible. Even I will appreciate your good prayers too.”

Speaking to Minivan News on Sunday, Shareef said he had been in touch with doctors from abroad who had given a preliminary diagnosis of Congenital Nevomelanocytic Nevus (CNN).

A nevus – the medical term for a birthmark – larger than 20 centimetres in diameter only occurs once in every half a million newborns. This is the first such case reported in Maldives, which has a population of around 350,000 people.

The scar went undetected during ultra sound scans throughout the pregnancy, Shareef explained.

For more information on this story contact Ahmed Shareef on Facebook or make donations to bank account number 101 230672 7723 at the Bank of Maldives.


Election’s Commission figures back by-election victory for pro-government parties

Ahmed Shareef of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the Jumhoory Party’s (JP) Abdullah Jabir have won seats in the People’s Majlis based on official provisional by-election results provided by the Election’s Commission tonight.

Under these provisional results, Shareef will become the MP for Thimarafushi, while Jabir will answer to the constituents of Kaashidhoo. The Thimarafushi seat was previously held by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Musthafa who was disqualified by the Supreme court over a decreed debt.


In 2009’s parliamentary elections, Musthafa won the Thimarafushi constituency seat against Ghassan Maumoon, Former Preisdent Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s son.

Polling for parliamentary by-elections on the islands of Kaashidhoo and Thimarafushi closed today at 4:05pm, with counting getting under way soon after following a day of largely peaceful electioneering.

Official provisional results announced by the Elections Commission tonight show that PPM’s Shareef won Thimarafushi constituency with 1756 votes (56%). Musthafa came in second with 1327 votes – a 428 vote difference.

Shareef was the Atoll Chief of Thaa Atoll from 2006-2008, last three year’s of Gayoom’s administration.

“It will be a tough vote between Shareef and Musthafa, because both of them are from this island”, a 27 year old man from Thimarafushi observed when interviewed by Minivan News. “Last time Musthafa won, it was against Gayoom’s son.  Now if he wins against a person from same island, it will be significant,” he added.

A total of 3616 voters are registered for Thimarafushi constituency which include; Guraidhoo island (1408 voters), Gaadhifushi island (434 voters) and Thimarafushi (1774 voters).  Only 3086 people were found to have voted, while 35 votes were disqualified.

Musthafa was said to have taken the lead in almost all these islands, except for Guraidhoo – well known to be a PPM strong-hold.

As the day wore on, five people were arrested from Guraidhoo this morning for allegedly vandalizing the island council office and smashing up windows, according to Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef.

Meanwhile, Jabir triumphed in the Kaashidhoo by-election with 1107 votes (54%).  The MDP candidate followed him with 919 votes while PPM candidate Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim came fourth with nine votes, a single vote behind another candidate who had contested independently and came in third.

Jabir and Waheed

Eligible voters for Kashidhoo constituency stands at 2231 while the turn out was 2060. The constituency is made up of 1422 voters from Kashidhoo island and 809 voters from Gaafaru.

Though Waheed contested on a PPM ticket, the party had officially endorsed JP candidate Jabir and  requested Waheed to withdraw his candidacy, but he declined.

Polls Peaceful

The polls, which were contested for two separate seats in the Majlis, are the first parliamentary elections to be conducted since the controversial transfer of power that saw President Mohamed Waheed Hassan take office in February.

Polls opened peacefully at 8:00am this morning on Kaashidhoo and Thimarafushi and ran peacefully throughout the day, except for the incident on Guraidhoo.

Elections Commission President Fuad Thaufeeq  said in a press conference this afternoon that the commission had received  a single complaint regarding the voter’s registry, with the rest of the complaints relating to elderly people or people with special needs who need assistance in voting.

“Elections officials at the ballot box will decide whether to give permission for assisted voting. But some people were dissatisfied with officials decision and complained.” he explained.

Local media yesterday reported that 21 complaints relating to the manner in which campaigning for today’s elections was being conducted were brought to the EC.

However, an EC spokesperson told Minivan News this morning that it was happy with the way voting was being conducted and had not received any fresh complaints so far today.

“Right now, there are no other complaints that we have received and we do not believe there are any significant problems for voters,” the commission spokesperson added. “we are quite happy that things are going smoothly and people are being encouraged to vote,” He observed.

When asked regarding the potential impact that yesterday’s complaints may have had on voters, the Elections Commission said it was monitoring polling stations and police conduct very closely.

police officers near barricades

Meanwhile, the MDP this afternoon praised what it has called a “peaceful and calm” voting environment during today’s by-elections, whilst appealing for its supporters to remain calm and show “maximum restraint” as the day progressed.

In a statement, MDP spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said that the party remained fully confident in the Elections Commission’s ability to ensure free and fair elections amidst calls for a new nationwide presidential poll after former President Mohamed Nasheed alleged he had been forced to resign in a “coup d’etat” in February.

“The MDP has consistently called for early presidential elections in the Maldives to resolve the political deadlock that exists since the unlawful transfer of power on February 7 following police and military backed coup in the Maldives,” Ghafoor claimed.

“Elections today are held at a time when [former President Maumoon Abdul] Gayyoom has publicly stated early Presidential elections would not be held in the Maldives citing conditions for elections are not right and also that Elections Commission does not have the capacity to hold early elections in the Maldives.”

Dr. Waheed’s role

During a busy election weekend, President Waheed was himself in Thimarafushi on Friday afternoon, where he endorsed PPM candidate Ahmed Shareef just a few hours before campaigning ended.

Speaking to the inhabitants, Dr.Waheed claimed that the government held a great majority in the parliament and added that electing Shareef would help expedite the government’s performance.

He also promised that the Thimarafushi airport development will begin soon. Meanwhile, several islanders claiming to oppose the

Shareef standing behind Dr.Waheed in Guraidhoo visit

present government walked out of the island in retaliation to Waheed’s visit.

“Around 200-300 people including men women and elderly went to nearby uninhabited island called Hiriyanfushi. They did not want to be here when coup president arrive,” a Thimarafushi councillor told Minivan News.

MDP supporters alleged that Waheed visited Thaa atoll during the elections to promote the PPM’s candidate and influence voting. “The School wall was even painted in pink when Waheed visited there yesterday,” MDP supporters claimed.

While polling was ongoing today, heated arguments and mild clashes reportedly erupted between supporters of Dr.Waheed and his opponents on Vilufushi island of Thaa atoll, where he was visiting.

No arrests were made but the police tightened the security around the school in the area where the President met Vilufushi islanders.


Criminal Court convicts two persons listed as “dangerous criminals” by police

The Criminal Court yesterday sentenced two persons named by the police as “dangerous criminals”, after the court found both guilty of stabbing Ismail Firdhause of Feydhoo in Addu City on 24 February 2011 when he got off the Hulhumale’ ferry.

The Criminal Court said that Ahmed Shareef of Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll Rathafandhoo and Maadhih Mohamed, 20, of Gan in Laamu Atoll and another person attacked Firdhause on that day at around 9:09pm inside Hulhumale’ ferry terminal.

Delivering the verdict, the judge said that they both Shareef and Maadhih were sentenced under Act 18/2010 of the Gang Violence Act, and because it was the first time both have been found guilty of a crime that violated the Act, Maadhih was sentenced to eight years and Shareef to 12 years in prison.

Last month the Criminal Court judge handling the case had claimed that police had “not cooperated” with the court and raised the possibility of releasing both suspects.

Both had denied the charges against them, however the court granted the police authority to hold them in custody until their trial was concluded.

Maadhih and Shareef both admitted that they were in the area when the incident occurred but denied that they were involved in it or that they knew anybody in the gang that attacked Firdhause.

In previous hearings, Maadhih said that the incident occurred while he was inside the ferry terminal and was trying to get to Hulhumale’ where he worked, while Shareef said the incident occurred as he walked out from a nearby coffee shop and happened to pass by.

Shareef and Maadhih denied hitting Firdhause or that they were in possession of any weapons when the incident occurred.

Currently there are 14 persons identified by police as “dangerous criminals” held in police pre-trial custody. Maadhih and Shareef are the first two to be convicted.

One among the 17 identified as ‘’dangerous criminal’’ is currently held in detention India after he overstayed his visa after travelling there for treatment for a major head injury he received after a gang attacked him with a machete.


MNDF warns seafarers to be cautious of bad weather

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) has warned that the seas of the Maldives will be rough with heavy showers and strong winds predicted, and has warned seafarers to be aware of the bad weather and not to overload any boats.

In a press release issued the MNDF said that the Maldives will experience rough weather for the next 24 hours, including strong winds of up to 40-50 miles per hour throughout the country.

‘’We appeal to seafarers to be cautious of the bad weather condition and to check the weather forecast before setting off sail,’’ the MNDF said in the press release. ‘’Also, make sure life jackets are readily reachable for the passengers and that all vessels contain water pumps.’’

MNDF also requested boat captains to keep to the sea safety regulations while travelling by sea.

Director General of National Meteorology Centre Ahmed Shareef told Minivan News that no incidents were so far reported to the centre.

‘’No one has officially reported us any incidents that occurred due to bad weather, but I have seen media reports of an incident occurred in Thulusdhoo in Kaafu Atoll,’’ Shareef said. ‘’I read in that the island has flooded due to swells.’’

Shareef said the Maldives was currently experiencing bad weather due to North West Monsoon.

‘’Weather forecast show that seas will be rough and strong winds will be experienced with lots of rain until Thursday,’’ he said adding that the worst weather will be focused in the central area of the Maldives.

He also noted that swells and rough sea with strong winds were not uncommon for this time of year.


Over 100 copies of Quran found at dump site

Over 100 copies of the Holy Quran were collected during the past three months from the garbage dump site by a citizen of Male’, reports MNBC One.

Most of the Quran copies found by Ahmed Shareef were unused and brand new, he said.

Shareef said that he donated one-third of the books to the Islamic Ministry while the rest were in his possession for safekeeping.

A media official from the Islamic Ministry told MNBC One that a public announcement had been made twice before urging people to drop used copies at the ministry for proper and respectful disposal.

He added that the ministry was assisted by the Maldives National Defence Force in the disposal process.

MNBC One meanwhile warns that “a wave of fire” struck Turkey in 1998 after a similar incident of disrespecting the Quran occurred in the country.


Road to 2013 uncertain for opposition despite election gains, says PA

The path towards 2013’s general election is unclear for the Maldives’ political opposition according to the People’s Alliance (PA) party, despite last weekend’s local council elections serving as an “encouraging” guideline for how they could fare during national polling.

PA Secretary General Ahmed Shareef told Minivan News that in light of the performance of opposition parties, particularly the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) in securing the majority of island councils around the country, the manner in which they would come together to try and hold the government accountable was far from certain.

Shareef said a formal coalition between four or more of the country’s opposition parties was one possible option, but added that this remained far from a certainty in the current political climate.

The claims come amidst reports of further political infighting within the DRP, the country’s main opposition party, as factions supporting current leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and dismissed former Deputy Leader Umar Naseer vie for control of the party.

The disputes led yesterday to protests outside the DRP headquarters by a crowd calling for Thasmeen’s resignation, followed by his announcement of the signing of a second coalition agreement with the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP). The PA and DRP already maintain a coalition and together own a parliamentary majority.

Although not wishing to comment on the reported disputes between factions in the DRP itself due to allegations of the involvement of the PA in instigating them, Shareef added that party did not currently believe that the DQP’s coalition with the DRP would affect its own coalition agreement leading up to 2013’s race for the presidency.

“I don’t think the coalition with the DQP will affect our position with the DRP yet,” he said. “If the DRP, DQP, PA and JP came into a formal coalition than that would be provide strength for the opposition.”

However, following a local council elections campaign that saw the DRP obtaining the majority of the island and atoll council seats at the expense of conceding municipal gains in Male’ and Addu Atoll to the rival Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), the potential for a formal arrangement between various parties was uncertain, at least according to Shareef.

“Personally, looking at the political status of the Maldives, especially the opposition parties, I don’t see a clear picture of what will happen in 2013 [the date of the country’s next general elections], he said.

Although Shareef said that the PA’s key focus at the elections centred primarily on reducing the number of ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) seats obtained across the country, he claimed that the party was in support of local councils and encouraged them to work for constituents and not their own partisan ambitions.

However, the PA Secretary General reiterated comments made by other political parties like the DRP concerning the lack of details on the exact role and responsibilities that the newly appointed local councils will have on the nation’s politics.

“We really don’t know how system will work or how affiliated it may be with government,” he said.

In this uncertain post council election environment, Shareef said that he believed there were already reports that numerous opposition parties were working to stifle possible developments or strategies planned by elected councils.

“We hear from many councils that they will do this or that to especially make things difficult for the opposition,” he said. “If DRP candidates are there, they will make things difficult for the MDP people in the island, if MDP is in the councils the opposite will occur. That will not be the real objective why we have elected a council.”

The PA secretary general claimed that he believed one problem from the local council elections was the lack of any published rules written within the legal acts outlining decentralised government and objectives for the local councils – legislation he said that should have been in place before voting started.

Shareed claimed that a lack of voter education, particularly on what was expected of them and the significance of their vote, might be problematic in cases where councils provided “favours” such as land rights to their respective parties.

“So far these rules and regulations are not developed,” he said. “There are many important procedures and rules to be developed by the Local Government Authority (LGA).”

With the appointment of members onto the LGA expected to take place soon, he hoped these rules and other mandates would soon be developed and formally published.

“Maybe at the end of the month, with all the election results announced, we would expect for the LGA to be formed,” he said. “It is formed, but it currently only has one member – the Home Minister, who is the President’s representative on the LGA.”

The Home Minister was not responding to calls at time of press.

From the perspective of the PA, emotions were mixed on the reaction to the local council elections.

Due to its ongoing coalition agreement with the DRP, where it opted not to compete directly against candidates perceived to have strong chances of being elected, Shareef said that the PA had itself acquired one atoll council seat out of eight candidates running on a ticket from the party.

While accepting that the elections were free, Shareef said he did not believe they were fair; particularly in terms of the resources available to the ruling MDP, which he alleged had used state funds to aid its election campaigning as well as providing itself disproportionate access to state media at the opposition’s expense.


PA dismisses “impossible” pact with MDP

A coalition agreement between the government and the opposition People’s Alliance party is “impossible”, Secretary General of Peoples Alliances Adam Ahmed Shareef has said.

”Our stand is very clear,” Shareef said. ”We work in the opposition and we do not support the current government’s policy and the way they are treating people. In the current situation it’s impossible to join with them.”

He added that the current administration was unable to “cope with” the other parties in the Maldivian Democratic Party-led (MDP) coalition.

Shareef dismissed rumours that the party was in talks with the government.

”I do not think Yameen [PA leader] would shift to a position where the president can dismiss him anytime,” he said. “People are spreading rumors just to gain political support and to harm PA.”

Saareef also denied rumours of a rift between PA and its coalition partner, the main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).

”What PA MP Ahmed Nazim said was that PA MPs should not have to follow the DRP whip line in parliament without prior consultation,” he said. “In such cases, hereafter PA MPs would vote according to their own views in a manner they think would be beneficial for the people,”

MDP Spokesman Ahmed Haleem told Minivan News earlier this week that the party had begun talks with PA to seek support in the confirmation process for a new economic minister.

“DRP are always against us and they have control of a lot of the media,” Haleem said. “But [PA leader] Abdulla Yameen has some commitment to the people – he was trade minister in 1998, he is an economist and he is well educated. I think he is OK.”

The Maldivian economy was sorely troubled “and a lot of people are suffering very badly and are very poor,” Haleem said. “[MDP and PA] have the same goal, we want to stabilise the economy and we are looking for support. Yameen’s seven members could support the parliamentary approval of a new minister.”


PA claims senior government officials “are not very religious”

People’s Alliance (PA) Leader and MP Abdulla Yameen has claimed that the senior officials of the government are “not very religious”, during a rally to celebrate the day the Maldives embraced Islam.

Secretary General of the PA, Ahmed Shareef, also claimed the government was not interested in religion and had done “many things to weaken Islam in the country.”

”Last year during Ramadan the government allowed non-muslims to eat in day time,” Shareef said,”and they disbanded women’s mosques.”

He said the government had also dismissed many Imams from their position, “and gave away the land belonging to the Kulliyathu Dhiraasathul Islamiyya school,” he added, when it was brought under the Maldives College of Higher Education.

”They also discussed the building of temples in the country and selling alcohol on inhabited islands,” he said.

Press Secretary for the President’s Office Mohamed Zuhair said the claims were untrue.

”The government has done many things to strengthen and protect Islam in the country,” Zuhair said.

He said the government’s policy was to leave all the religious issues to Islamic scholars.

”As we are not religious scholars we always leave religious issues to the religious scholars,” he said, pointing to new freedoms given to scholars.

“Yameen is not a religious scholar,” he added.

Spokesperson for Maldivian Democratic Party MDP Ahmed Haleem said the government had always tried to protect Islam in the Maldives.

”It’s a fact that the government has never arrested a religious scholar, unlike the former government,” Haleem said.

Haleem claimed the former government arrested more than 20 religious scholars after their sermons.

”I never knew that Abdulla Yameen was so religious,” Haleem said. “Maybe in the future we will see him at the mosque with a long beard and short trousers.”

Sheikh Abdulla Jameel said in his view Islam in the Maldives “has become very strong”, particularly among young people “who are now very interested in Islam.”

”I have noted that the number of people going to the mosques has also raised,” he said.

He said he believed this had happening because the government’s efforts to promote the role of religion in people’s hearts.

”The new government allows scholars to give sermons as they wish,” he said.

President of Islamic NGO Jamiyyath-al-Salaf, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohamed Ibrahim, said the group did not wish to comment on issue.