Mauroof Zakir to contest Kendhoo constituency as an independent

General Secretary of Tourism Employees Association of the Maldives (TEAM) Mauroof Zakir has said he will contest the Baa Atoll Kendhoo constituency as an independent candidate.

“I have support from the constituency and I believe I can win this seat,” Zakir told local media.

Zakir lost the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) primary for the constituency to former Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) leader and incumbent MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali.

However, Zakir has said he does not accept the results of the primary claiming MDP members in Baa Atoll Kendhoo island were not given an opportunity to vote.

The MDP said Kendhoo members had refused to allow a re-vote to proceed after an initial vote was invalidated due to irregularities.

His decision follows that of recently stabbed MDP MP Alhan Fahmy, who announced his decision to run as an independent after losing what he alleged to have been an unfair poll in Feydhoo constituency.


October 19 election date “a huge victory”, Nasheed tells supporters

Former President Mohamed Nasheed rallied supporters last night during a large Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) gathering near the Tsunami Monument in Male’, relaunching its ‘ehburun’ (‘one round’) campaign after 11 nights of protests.

Thousands attended the rally, at which Nasheed hailed the announcement of an election date as a “huge victory” in the country’s “irreversible move towards democracy.”

Nasheed finished first in the annulled poll on September 7 with 45.45 percent of the popular vote, missing out on the ’50 percent plus one vote’ needed for a first round victory.

The Elections Commission has scheduled the new vote for October 19, noting that as a repeat of the first round, all candidates names would have to appear on the ballot as before.

The PPM was scheduled to enter a September 28 run-off against Nasheed before the Supreme Court opted to annul first round altogetherThe 4:3 verdict hinged on a confidential police report – unavailable even to the Election Commission’s defence lawyers – supposedly claiming that 5,600 votes were ineligible due to errors such as address mismatches. The dissenting judges dismissed this evidence as invalid, noting only the claims of 473 ineligible votes – 0.2 percent of the total ballots cast.

“Our rivals wanted to arrest me for a long time. Our rivals want to dissolve the party system. Our rivals want to annul the presidential election indefinitely. Our rivals want the security forces to take over the Maldives’ government,” Nasheed told his supporters.

“Our rivals don’t want a democratic system in the Maldives, they do not want Maldivians to have the right to vote. They want to establish an authoritarian government again.,” he said.

With the first polls declared to be free and fair by all national and international observers, the MDP raised concern over the credibility of the order invalidating the first round of elections “by a Supreme Court bench tainted with allegations of corruption, and scandal.”

“The MDP is further disturbed over the Supreme Court’s comments allowing for an incumbent to remain as President despite the end of the Presidential term. The MDP does not believe that the Constitution allows for anyone to be President after the five year term which currently ends on 11 November 2013. Elections must be held to restore legitimate government and democracy in the Maldives,” the MDP said in a statement.

“The Election Commission stated that the only reason they halted the constitutionally stipulated second round of the Presidential Elections was due to a lack of cooperation by the security services and the Government, resulting in an environment non-conducive for free and fair elections.

“Thus, the MDP believe that the Supreme Court will entertain further spurious and vexatious claims as long as there is no interim arrangement allowing MDP a say in the affairs of the government,” the party added, but said it was “prepared for any election announced by the Elections Commission.”

“The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) firmly believes that all matters relating to the carrying out of Presidential elections must be decided upon by the constitutionally mandated Elections Commission,” the party stated.

“The MDP hopes that the elections takes place as soon as possible under the careful scrutiny of domestic and international observers.”

The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has meanwhile announced that it is in discussions with both President Dr Mohamed Waheed and the Jumhooree Party (JP) regarding the fielding of a single candidate for the upcoming repeat of the presidential election.

“The PPM is a party that works with people. I know senior people are calling President Waheed and Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim. President Maumoon speaks to them,” the party’s running mate Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed told local media today.

“If you are for the nation and religion, the first thing you have to do is beat MDP [Maldivian Democratic Party],” said PPM presidential candidate Adbulla Yameen.

“Then decide on who comes to power. We will, God willing, win this election if everyone thinks about this and remains steadfast.”

The Supreme Court case was initially filed by the third placed JP after its candidate and leader Gasim missed out on the second round by 2,677 votes.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, JP vice presidential candidate Dr Hassan Saeed also posited the idea of pooling support.

“We are trying to achieve results in a first round together with as many people as possible. There is talk among us to propose one candidate,” he told local media.

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has already announced that his party – the country’s third largest in terms of membership figures – will support Nasheed in subsequent polling.

Thasmeen had entered the first round as President Waheed’s running mate, however the incumbent leader received only 5.13 percent of the vote.


Thasmeen to stick with Nasheed in re-scheduled poll

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has today announced his intention to maintain his new alliance with the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) going into the re-scheduled presidential elections.

After running as the vice-presidential candidate on the ticket of incumbent President Dr Mohamed Waheed, Thasmeen and his DRP announced their decision to support Mohamed Nasheed in the scheduled run-off just days after Waheed received just 5% of the popular vote.

“I believe that it would be an irresponsible and cowardly act to back away from doing what must be done to ensure that democracy is upheld in this country due to some words I might have said in the past. And therefore, tonight I assure all of you that DRP will do everything we possibly can to help Nasheed win these elections,” Thasmeen told an MDP rally one week after the first poll.

Despite the Supreme Court’s decision to annul the first round of voting, Thasmeen told local media today of his intention to continue his MDP alliance.

Waheed has yet to announce if he will run as a candidate in the upcoming election – with the first round to be held by October 20.


DRP votes to support MDP in presidential run-off

The Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has become the first party to officially back a candidate in the second round of the presidential election, throwing its support behind the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Mohamed Nasheed.

The decision made at a party council meeting earlier today saw 12 votes cast for the MDP and three for their run-off rivals the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), with seven party members undecided.

MDP spokesman Imthiyaz Fahmy today explained that there had been no official communication between his party and the DRP, emphasising that the move had been the DRP’s “own decision”.

Fahmy suggested that the move would bring 10,000 votes to his party – intimating that President Dr Mohamed Waheed himself had not attracted any votes for his coalition with the DRP in the first round.

The MDP have argued that they need only few thousand votes – in addition to the 95,224 received on Saturday (45.45 percent of the total) – to claim a second round win.

DRP MP’s Abdulla Mausoom and Rozaina Adam took to Twitter soon after the council’s decision with the MDP’s ‘kuriah, kuriah’ (‘forward, forward’) election slogan appearing on both members’ feeds.

Economic Minister Ahmed Mohamed voted in favour of backing PPM and is reported to have stormed out of the council meeting telling the press he intended to support the PPM regardless.

While leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has previously said he would not remain in the DRP if the party’s council decided to enter a coalition with the MDP, the MP for Kendhoo said at a press conference after the council meeting today that it would be “irresponsible” for a senior politician to withhold support based on previous statements.

“Therefore, I intend to participate in President Nasheed’s campaign as DRP leader and fully participate in efforts to seek support for President Nasheed in the upcoming presidential election,” he said.

Thasmeen reportedly said that he considered the current political reality and decided on the path that would minimise the “spirit of political vengeance.”

Minivan News was unable to obtain further comment from the DRP prior to publication.

Going into the elections, the DRP aligned with President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Ittihad Party (GIP), with leader Thasmeen as Waheed’s running mate. Both candidates officially ran as independents, however, due to a prior registration issue linked with the size of the GIP.

Speaking with Minivan News the day before the election, Waheed explained that he felt the strength of the DRP could compensate for his party’s relatively small support base. The DRP is currently the country’s third largest party, with 21,411 members according to the Election Commissions most recent figures. It also has 10 members in the Majlis.

However, as it became clear that Waheed had gained the fewest votes on polling day – just 5.13 percent – the DRP’s Mausoom hinted that the party would be looking for new affiliations heading into the second round.

Registered in 2005, the DRP was formed as a vehicle for former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom to compete in the country’s first multi-party presidential elections in 2008. After the 30-year leader lost power to the MDP’s Mohamed Nasheed, the DRP remained the major opposition in parliament.

Thasmeen was anointed party head following Gayoom’s short-lived retirement from politics. However, the former’s willingness to negotiate with the MDP led to a 12-page letter of complaints from the former leader and an acrimonious split in 2011, followed by the departure of Gayoom loyalists to the newly-formed PPM.

Speaker of the Majlis Abdulla Shahid has been the highest profile defection from the DRP in recent months – joining the MDP to rapturous celebrations in April – though the party has seen a steady drain of support as PPM’s numbers have risen.


Brother of Vice Presidential candidate Ahmed Thasmeen Ali arrested while under the influence

The brother of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik’s running mate Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, Mohamed Adil, was arrested yesterday while under the influence, reports local media.

Adil, also a director at One & Only Reethi Rah Resort, was arrested at Ibrahim Nasir National Airport upon his arrival from overseas, according to CNM. He was arrested “after his behavior gave away that he was high”.

Police told local media they “arrested a 37-year-old Maldivian from the airport VIP lounge who was intoxicated” at approximately 4:30pm Tuesday (July 23).


President Waheed files candidacy forms with Elections Commission

President Dr Mohamed Waheed has officially filed his candidacy with the Maldives Election Commission (EC) to stand in the upcoming presidential election.

President Waheed was joined by his running mate, Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, as he submitted his candidacy forms to EC President Fuad Thaufeeq ahead of voting scheduled for September 7, his campaign team confirmed.

EC Vice President Ahmed Fayaz confirmed to Minivan News that the commission was now verifying the 2,000 signatures submitted by President Waheed backing his candidacy, before making a final decision on any approval.

“We would have announced his acceptance today, but he submitted 2,000 names that we will need to check,” he said.

Fayaz said it was possible the EC would make an official announcement concerning President’s Waheed candidacy tomorrow (July 22), once the signatures were verified.

Amidst the possibility of his Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP) facing dissolution for not having the 10,000 members required to officially register a political entity in the Maldives, President Waheed on Tuesday (July 16) announced his intention to stand for election as an independent candidate.

On Friday, President Waheed’s ‘Forward with the nation’ coalition announced he had obtained the 1,500 signatures required to register himself as an independent candidate.

Despite the recent defections of the government-aligned religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) and later the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) from his coalition, the DRP said Friday that the incumbent’s campaign was “going to plan”.

According to Sun Online, the EC will decide on all candidacies within 48 hours of their paperwork being submitted.

Meanwhile, former President Nasheed filed his own candidacy papers with the EC on Thursday (July 18). His candidacy was approved later the same day, according to the EC.

Nasheed and the MDP maintain he was compelled to resign during a police and military mutiny on February 7, 2012. His successor and former vice-president, Dr Mohamed Waheed, maintain the succession was legitimate.

Fraudulent party enlistment allegations

Investigations are meanwhile underway into 46 cases of fraudulent political party enlistment filed by the EC, as well as another case individually lodged.

The fraudulent political party forms are said to include 15 signed to President Waheed’s GIP, five from his DRP running mate Thasmeen, and 27 from prominent businessman and MP Ahmed Siyam’s Maldives Democratic Alliance (MDA).

Some of the people signed up to the parties were alleged to already be deceased at the time of their registration.


DRP Leader Thasmeen settles MVR 1.9 million debt owed to Deputy Speaker

Running mate of incumbent President Mohamed Waheed Hassan and Leader of the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has settled a debt of MVR 1.9 million (US$ 124,513) owed to the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim, the Civil Court has announced.

Deputy Speaker Nazim filed a court case at the Civil Court in March 2011 against the DRP Leader to recover the money – which is the remnant of a loan worth MVR 2.55 million (US$200,000) given by him to Thasmeen.

In April 2011, the Civil Court ordered the then-opposition leader to pay back the sum to the court in installments within a period of six months until the repayment was complete.

Sitting Judge Hathif Hilmy also ordered Thasmeen to pay Nazim MVR 1,800 (US$140) incurred as lawyer’s fees, based on a rate of MVR 300 (US$19.45) per hearing. Nazim had however claimed MVR 100,000 (US$6,485.08) in compensation for lawyer’s fees.

Following the verdict, Thasmeen appealed the case at the High Court. The High Court upheld the Civil Court ruling but invalidated the order concerning the payment of lawyer fees.  The case was presided by now-suspended-High Court Chief Judge Ahmed Shareef, Judge Abdulla Hameed and Judge Ali Sameer.

Despite the High Court ruling, Thasmeen had not paid the debt which forced Nazim to file another lawsuit in Civil Court requesting the court to enforce its previous verdict that was upheld by the High Court.

Civil Court subsequently issued a court order freezing the bank accounts of Thasmeen and withholding his passport – preventing him from leaving the country. During the hearings, Thasmeen’s lawyers told the court that they were preparing to appeal the High Court ruling at the Supreme Court.

However, the Civil Court judge responded that the civil case would proceed until such a time when the Supreme Court decides to hear the appeal.

In an announcement made on Wednesday (July 3), the Civil Court said that since Thasmeen has paid the court the sum of money, the court order freezing his bank accounts and withholding his passport will cease to have its effect.

Meanwhile former MP for Thimarafushi Constituency Mohamed Musthafa has filed a case at the Supreme Court requesting the apex court to declare the seat of Thasmeen in parliament vacant, over the unpaid debts.

As per the Maldivian constitution, “a person shall be disqualified from election as, a member of the People’s Majlis, or a member of the [parliament] immediately becomes disqualified, if he has a decreed debt which is not being paid as provided in the judgment.”

The former opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP – who lost his own seat through a Supreme Court ruling over unpaid debts – said Thasmeen’s seat is already deemed vacant as he had failed to pay in accordance with the court order.

Musthafa contested that even if Thasmeen repays the money, he would still lose his seat.

The former MP filed the case on the same precedent that unseated him from his seat, where the Supreme Court in 2012 concluded that Musthafa was constitutionally ineligible to remain in the seat over his failure to pay the debts.

Should the Supreme Court rule in favour of Musthafa, apart from losing his seat Thasmeen would face serious complications in becoming the running mate of a presidential candidate since the same constitutional prerequisite – to not have a decreed debt that is not being paid as ordered by a court – applies to those contesting for the position of president and vice president.


Thasmeen labels Yameen as “inhuman” for not endorsing two ministers

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s running mate Ahmed Thasmeen Ali – who also heads the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) – has strongly criticised the presidential candidate of fellow coalition party the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) over the parliament’s decision to reject several cabinet appointments.

On Monday, President Waheed’s government faced a major setback in parliament after two out of its three recent cabinet appointments failed to receive the required parliamentary approval.

The new Human Rights Minister Aishath Azima Shukoor and Attorney General Aishath Bisham were reject in close votes, while Transport Minister Ameen Ibrahim narrowly succeeded in getting the required consent.

Shukoor, also Waheed’s former Attorney General, was rejected 33 votes against to 31 in favour with no abstentions, while her replacement as Attorney General, Aishath Bisham, was rejected 32-32, with Speaker Abdulla Shahid casting the deciding vote not to approve her appointment.

Transport Minister Ameen Ibrahim was approved by 33 votes in favour to 32 against, with one MP abstaining.

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs followed their party line to reject all three ministers while PPM MPs were largely absent from the floor.

The PPM MPs who remained – including Ahmed Mahloof, rumoured to be considering a switch to the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – voted against the party whip line.

President Waheed subsequently re-appointed Shukoor – who had been serving as Gender Minister – to her earlier post of Attorney General, requiring another future vote of consent.

In a short media briefing held after the vote, a frustrated Thasmeen blasted Yameen, claiming that he had purposefully left the parliament floor with his party members to make sure the ministers did not get parliamentary approval.

“PPM MPs under the leadership of its presidential candidate decided not to be present on the floor when the vote took place. Due to that, two ministers were not able to get enough votes to get parliamentary consent,” Thasmeen declared.

PPM was among the many former opposition parties that pledged support to President Waheed following his sudden ascension to power in February 2012, after his predecessor former President Mohamed Nasheed stepped down during a mutiny within the police and military.

PPM has since then maintained that it had supported the government only for the sake of national interest and for the well being of the people.

However, Thasmeen on Monday disputed the claim stating that the real picture of Yameen and his “ruthlessness” had now been revealed to the public.

“It is a great blessing and a very good thing to see this side of Yameen prior to the election. People will see the real face of Yameen,” Thasmeen claimed.

Thasmeen – who was also the running mate of Maldives former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in 2008 elections – reiterated that people must judge a candidate whom they would vote in the election by the yard stick of “humanity and humane values”.

“I remember exactly what happened when former President Nasheed unlawfully arrested Yameen [in 2010]. At that time it was Azima Shukoor who worked tirelessly day and night for his release from custody,” he added. “But Yameen forgot about that today.”

Despite the defeat, Thasmeen appeared confident claiming that the current government had a sufficient number of MPs supporting it and such defeats would not be a common occurrence.

Presidential election is more important, says PPM

Justifying the decision to leave the floor during the critical vote, Deputy Leader of PPM Abdul Raheem Abdulla told the media that its presidential candidate had not been present because he had to go on a campaign trip that was scheduled on the same day. He said PPM was currently more focused on the upcoming presidential elections.

Raheem also alleged that President Waheed had become “very personal” against the PPM, and said many individuals who held political positions in the government had been dismissed from their posts after they joined the PPM.

Previously, Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed – a former member of Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) that has decided to back Waheed’s re-election bid – was dismissed from his position upon the request of DQP’s Leader Dr Hassan Saeed after Jameel joined the PPM to become the running mate of Yameen.

Other members of the DQP, including Deputy Tourism Minister Maleeh Jamaal and State Minister for Economic Ministry Abdulla Ameen, were dismissed from their positions after their refusal to back President Waheed.

Meanwhile, speaking to local newspaper Haveeru from Addu City, Yameen said Azima was best suited for the position of Attorney General and PPM did not want to see her in another cabinet position. Yameen claimed President Waheed had not discussed the matter with the party before appointing her as Gender Minister.

“I was the one who first told President Waheed to appoint Shukoor as the Attorney General. I worked for that. Back then she was a council member of PPM,” Yameen said.

Regarding the new Attorney General Bisham, Yameen said PPM did not support her because the party believed Shukoor was the one who should be in the position.

“The most important thing is who is the most competent person for Attorney General. We were expecting Shukoor to be the attorney general knowing her competence and back then the government listened to what we say,” Yameen explained.


Yousuf Naseem second MP to leave DRP within 48 hours

MP Yousuf Naseem has today announced his decision to leave the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyitunge Party (DRP), according to local media.

Yousuf told Sun Online that despite leaving the DRP, he had yet to decide which party he would now look to join. The MP said he would give his reasons for leaving the party at a later date.

“I did not leave the party because anything big happened. I have left the party, but have not decided on an ideology to accept next,” he was quoted as saying in local media.

Yousuf is the second MP to leave the DRP within the last 48 hours, following the announcement yesterday (June 10) by MP Ali Azim that he was defecting to the MDP.

“It is time for me to move forward,” he wrote via Twitter at the time.

Azim’s decision to leave the DRP was announced the same day the party’s leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali was unveiled as President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s running mate for September’s election.

This week’s departures from the DRP have left the party with nine MPs within parliament, local media has reported.

In April this year, Parliamentary Speaker Abdulla Shahid announced he was joining the MDP – days after resigning from the DRP.

Just a month earlier, Nolhivarum constituency MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed announced he had opted to join the DRP from the MDP.