National Complaints Bureau investigating 181 complaints concerning council elections

A total of 181 complaints were submitted to the independent National Complaints Bureau concerning yesterday’s local council elections.

Bureau Chief Ali Azim informed the press yesterday that none of the issues raised could have a material effect on the outcome of any local council contest.

“Of the 181 complaints submitted so far, we have not identified any that could impact the outcome. But we are looking into it,” he said.

The most common complaint concerned the Elections Commission’s (EC’s) decision to display national identity card photos in the voter lists placed outside polling stations, Azim said.

EC President Fuwad Thowfeek told reporters yesterday that photos were included in the voter lists as a safeguard to prevent fraud.

In addition to a number of phoned in complaints, two women submitted complaints in cases where ID card photos were taken before they wore face veils, said EC member Ali Mohamed Manik.

Following complaints from women who wear the hijab, Azim said the complaints bureau brought the matter to the attention of EC members and “informed [polling stations] to cover with a piece of paper the photos of people who insist on taking it down.”

The decision to display photos also drew criticism from some religious scholars, with NGO Salaf preacher Sheikh Adam Shameem calling to punish those responsible.

Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla contended that the practice was contrary to Islamic principles and infringed on the rights of veiled women.

Meanwhile, Azim revealed that complaints submitted through official complaint forms included 78 cases of voters registered for the wrong ballot box, one case of a voter’s name missing from the list, three cases of alleged illegal campaigning, six cases of ballot boxes transferred to a different location, three cases concerning assisted voting, two complaints concerning inmates, one case of a voter displaying a marked ballot paper, and seven complaints about the EC.

Phoned in complaints included 27 complaints concerning voter registration issues, two complaints from voters registered for the wrong ballot box, 11 complaints of deceased citizens in the voters list, one complaint of gender mismatch, three complaints of illegal campaigning, three requests to transfer ballot boxes, two complaints about the EC and 28 complaints about displaying identity card photos.

In addition, a complaint was made alleging that two pens with fading ink were used in a polling booth.

“Concerning that complaint, we have seized the two pens through the Maldives Police Service. We are considering verifying through forensic investigators in the country or abroad,” Azim said.

According to the police, three men aged 38, 42, and 48 were taken into custody in Addu City for allegedly displaying their marked ballot papers. All three have since been released.

Two men from Faafu Nilandhoo were also briefly taken into custody after attempting to prevent the closing of the ballot box.


High Court upholds Criminal Court decision to extend pre-trial detention of Azim

The High Court has upheld a Criminal Court decision to extend the detention period of Maldivian Democratic Party member Ali Azim, whose parliamentary seat is being contested by the Supreme Court and the Majlis.

Azim was arrested on charges that he attempted to assault a Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officer in control of the security of parliament. He has since been released to house arrest.

The High Court ruling on the appeal submitted by Azim stated that his arrest was lawful.

The High Court ruling stated that, on October 26, Azim went inside the parliament and attempted to assault an MNDF officer on duty, adding that it was the responsibility of the armed forces to stop anything that might be a threat to the security of  MPs.

The High Court ruling also said that Azim was arrested by police outside the parliament in the presence of his lawyer and that police have completed all the procedure stated in article 48 of the constitution.

Additionally, the High Court also noted that article 74 of the constitution states the Supreme Court has to determine if there is any dispute over the legitimacy of a parliamentarian and that, on October 24 at 6:30pm, the Supreme Court had ruled that Azim was disqualified from his seat and could no longer be considered a member of the Majlis.


Inter-Parliamentary Union requests urgent visit to Maldives

Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Anders B. Johnsson has written to the Speaker of the Majlis proposing an urgent delegation be sent to the Maldives.

“We are concerned that these recent developments and the continued polarisation of the political situation might imperil the Maldives’ fledgling democracy,” wrote Johnson to Speaker Abdulla Shahid.

“I propose that an IPU delegation returns urgently to the Maldives to discuss and agree with the relevant authorities and stakeholders effective steps to ensure that the parliament can fully discharge its legislative and oversight functions freely and independently and that its members can do their work unhindered, without fear of intimidation and harassment or attack on their physical integrity,” added the Secretary General.

The letter obtained by Minivan News, dated October 25, was prompted by the Supreme Court’s decision to strip two MPs of their seats last week.

Following the Majlis’s rejection of the court’s ruling, MDP MP Ali Azim’s was arrested after scuffles with the military as he attempted to enter the parliament on Saturday.

His detention has subsequently been extended for 15 days.

Johnsson’s letter also included the full text of the IPU Governing Council’s recent resolution which expressed concern at “reports of alleged arbitrary arrests, attacks and harassment of MDP members of parliament”.

The resolution, adopted earlier this month, listed 21 cases of Maldivian MPs already being monitored by the IPU with the addition of three new cases.

The IPU General Council “is alarmed at the climate of confrontation spawned by the first round in the presidential election.. [and] is deeply concerned that parliament’s authority is apparently once again being challenged in the current political crisis,” read the resolution.

“[It] is alarmed in this regard that members of parliament may be facing legal action because of opinions they expressed and positions they adopted in parliament; would like to receive the authorities’ views on this matter.”

All MPs listed by the IPU – barring murdered Progressive Party of Maldives MP Dr Afrasheem Ali – are members of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) which has described the prosecution of its MPs as a “purge”.

On-site mission suggested

“The urgency and seriousness of the current situation warrants an urgent on-site mission by the Committee, so that it can gather first-hand information on the allegations and ascertain the prospects for their examination and clarification in the current political situation in the Maldives,” read the IPU resolution.

The MDP last week linked the “intimidation and harassment” of its MPs to crucial votes in the Majlis concerning the imminent transition of presidential power as well as no-confidence motions against senior members of the cabinet.

The MDP’s recent alliance with the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party – one of whose MPs was unseated by the court’s recent ruling – has given it the support of a majority of the chamber.

A motion to allow the Speaker of the Majlis Abdulla Shahid to assume the presidency following the expiration of the current term on November 11 was passed yesterday, in spite of the abstention of all government aligned MPs.

Today’s scheduled no-confidence motion against Attorney General Azima Shukoor was delayed after the AG informed the speaker that she was unwell.

The three new cases noted by the IPU General Council concerned Ali Azim, Alhan Fahmy, and the Speaker Shahid. The list also included fresh allegations concerning MPs Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, Ali Waheed, and Eva Abdulla – the Maldives’ first member of the IPU.

Eva was arrested briefly during protests against the Supreme Court’s involvement in the annulling of the presidential elections earlier this month, whilst the IPU also resolution expressed shock at reported death threats against both Speaker Shahid and MP Ali Waheed.

More recently, Ghafoor has sought protection from arrest in the parliamentary premises following a police summons to attend hearings into drugs and alcohol charges.

US ambassador Michelle J. Sison yesterday met with Shahid and Hamid, whilst US diplomat Christopher Teal called for an end to politically motivated arrests.


MP Azim’s arrest extended for 15 days

The Criminal Court has extended Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ali Azim’s detention by 15 days.

The Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) stormed the People’s Majlis yesterday and forcibly removed Azim, handing him over to Maldives Police Services on charges of assaulting an MNDF officer.

Azim’s lawyer Mohamed Fareed said the MP is currently in Dhoonidhoo Island Remand Center and is in good health.

The MNDF obstructed Azim from entering Majlis after the Supreme Court had stripped him and DRP MP Mohamed Nashiz of their parliamentary seats over decreed debt on October 22.

Dissenting judges said the two MPs cannot be disqualified as the two were guarantors on a loan in which mortgaged assets had been taken over by the creditor. The parliamentary privileges committee has said it does not accept the “politically motivated” ruling as it was issued against the Supreme Court’s procedures.

Speaker Abdulla Shahid has sent a letter to the Chief of Defense Forces Ahmed Shiyam condemning the army’s actions in obstructing and removing Azim from the Majlis.

Shahid called on Shiyam to act within the confines of the law in overseeing Majlis security.

Noting that the constitution and Parliamentary Privileges and Powers Act affords the Majlis speaker control over Majlis premises and that the MNDF is required to act on the Speaker’s orders within the parliament, the letter said, “We note, with great sadness, that the [MNDF] acted against the aforementioned procedures in obstructing and arresting Medhu Henveiru MP Ali Azim.”

“At the request of the Chief of Defense Forces, the Majlis had sent a letter outlining how the [MNDF] were to act on the matter. However, without any instructions from the Majlis Speaker, a large number of uniformed MNDF officers entered the People’s Majlis and forcibly removed Ali Azim,” the statement read.

The letter further stated that the MNDF had infringed upon the powers of the Majlis Speaker as detailed in the Constitution and Act no 5/2013 on the Parliament’s Privileges and powers.

No contact with speaker, say MNDF

Article 4 of parliamentary regulations read: “Unless otherwise explicitly stated in the Constitution or laws, the Majlis building, chambers, the pathways and corridors leading to the chambers within the Majlis premises and the Majlis courtyard is under the control and orders of the Majlis Speaker.”

However, the MNDF in a statement disputed receipt of a letter by the speaker, claiming that he had failed to respond to the MNDF’s request for instructions on how to proceed on the Azim and Nashiz case.

“The Maldives National Defense Forces will not prevent the two from entering the People’s Majlis if the Speaker orders the MNDF in writing to let them enter the Majlis,” the MNDF said.

The President’s Office has said the government accepts the disqualification of the two members, stating that the removal of Azim from the Majlis premises was the MNDF’s duty.

“The government believes that the two disqualified members no longer hold seats in the parliament. MNDF, as part of their duty, has prevented one of the disqualified members from entering the parliament building today. When this particular member assaulted the MNDF security officers, MNDF has now handed over custody of the member to Maldives Police Service,” a statement by the President’s Office said.

“Every Maldivian citizen must at all times obey the Constitution. In this regard, every citizen must respect the courts’ rulings. The government will not tolerate any individual who challenges the courts’ decisions,” the statement added.

The MDP has condemned the government and Supreme Court’s “purging” of its MPs, and has suggested that Azim and Nashiz’s removal was to obstruct a no confidence motion scheduled against Attorney General Azima Shakoor. The party has also submitted no-confidence motions against Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim and Prosecutor General (PG) Ahmed Muizz.

Three MDP MPs are currently on trial, while police have asked the PG to prosecute four additional MDP MPs.

MP Ali Waheed is on trial for disobedience to order for crossing a police barricade, while Hamid Abdul Gafoor and Abdulla Jabir are on trial for alleged alcohol and drug abuse. Police are charging MPs Alhan Fahmy, Imthiyaz Fahmy and Mohamed Rasheed with contempt of court for criticizing the Supreme Court, and MP Ibrahim Rasheed with assaulting a police officer.

The MDP notes corruption charges against several government aligned MPs have been dropped since the controversial transfer of power in February 2012.


MDP MP Ilyas Labeeb appeals to police to refuse “unconstitutional” orders, as protests continue

MDP member of parliament and parliamentary whip Ilyas Labeeb appealed to police to protect the constitution, refuse to follow unconstitutional orders, and to learn from the action of the senior MNDF officers who recently sent a “letter of concern” to Chief of Defence Force about the matter.

Ilyas Labeeb delivered his speech from the campaign truck kept on Fareedhee Magu in the middle of the crowd, facing the police standing behind barricades.

Just as Labeeb began addressing the crowd, police lit up floodlights to spotlight the MP.

“Shining that light in our faces, or implying we are marked for arrest, does not intimidate me. Violently taking MP Ali Azim into your custody does not intimidate me. Even if you come and take me away now, that still won’t scare me. I will come back here and speak out as soon as I am freed again. We are asking for elections, for our constitutional right,” Labeeb said.

“Aren’t you ashamed to be bowing down to unconstitutional orders? Nineteen MNDF officers have sent a letter against the following of constitutional orders, against the politicisation of the security forces. The MNDF is more senior than the police force. Listen to them, learn from them. Give it up now. Your stand on February 7 was that you were demonstrating against unconstitutional orders. What are you doing today?”

“We are standing up for the constitutional rights we are entitled to, for our sake, for the sake of our families, yes, but equally for the future of you and your families. Start protecting the constitution, police, that is in the best interests of the nation.”

Ilyas Labeeb ended his speech by leading the crowd in chanting “Where’s my vote? You stole my vote”, “Election now” and “Forward, forward, swiftly forward”.

By this time, just over a dozen regular police officers formed a line of obstruction behind the barricades, facing the protesters.

Labeeb moved to the frontline of the protest and appealed to the police again, this time speaking directly to them without the aid of a microphone or making it a public speech.

“You boys must think deeply. Why are you following unconstitutional orders? Neither the Police Act nor the Constitution mandates you to do so, in fact it is clearly stated that you must not follow an unconstitutional order,” he said.

“Don’t you realise what they are doing? They send you out here against hundreds and thousands of citizens, you come with your name tags and in simple regular uniform, and you face scorn from the people. Yet it isn’t you, but the Special Operations who hide behind their masks and helmets who run into crowds and brutalise citizens. They are using you young boys as a shield to hide behind. You don’t have to be slaves to the SO officers or the Commissioner of Police,” Labeeb continued.

“Look at [Commissioner of Police] Abdulla Riyaz. He’s hiding in his rooms after sending you all here. He has secured an apartment abroad, planning to run away as soon as the government changes. All the leading people who were part of the coup have. They won’t think of you then. What will happen to you boys if you continue following unconstitutional orders?”

“Remember all that talk about housing flats for the police? Do you know who took the first flat? Abdulla Riyaz. It was meant for regular officers like you, but he took one for himself first. Is this how you want things to be? Are you still going to stay back quietly and let things proceed like this?”

“I know that as you are all listening to this speech of mine now, your seniors will take you in for a chat later tonight. But they are not the ones you should be believing, nor should you believe me. Instead, read for yourselves what is in the Police Act and the constitution. If you need assistance, we can arrange lawyers for you; not lawyers affiliated with MDP but other experienced lawyers.”

“Regardless of how long it takes to get back our right to vote, we will continue demanding it. And when the elections are on, we will beat them with votes. We will win the elections.”

MP went back into the crowds after concluding his monologue to the line of officers.

Monday – the fourth consecutive day of protests – saw protesters grow from a few hundred to just over a thousand by around 10:00pm.

Crowds later thinned out once the SO officers came to the area after protesters moved, and later hid the police barricades at the protest site.

Minivan News observed teams of SO officers run into the crowds twice and make two arrests – one of whom was a man who had previously crossed the police line set out by the regular police officers, referred to as ‘Blues’.

The SO later drove six times to and fro through the protest area in one of their trucks after crowds had thinned out, locating a barricade hidden in a construction site on Fareedhee Magu and sending regular officers to retrieve it.

“Targeting MDP MPs as an intimidation tactic”: MP Alhan Fahmy

Meanwhile, police have been arresting and summoning MDP parliamentary group members in relation to various cases in the past few days after the party started direct action asking for immediate elections.

MP Alhan Fahmy, who was summoned to police headquarters for questioning at 2:00pm on Tuesday described the events as “intimidation tactics being used by the police. They [the government] are using multiple state institutions in their actions of undermining the constitution and its powers”.

Fahmy said that the police had accused him of threatening Supreme Court judges and their families at a protest held on September 26.

“I told them I have done no such thing, that I never called for attacks or threatened any of these judges they speak of or their families. That all I said at the rally was my perspective on the current judges sitting on the SC bench. I told them that I had spoken of a video clip showing indecent behaviour that police has said Ali Hameed has been seen in, and that if so I believe Ali Hameed should no longer be sitting on the bench,” Fahmy told Minivan News today.

MDP International Spokesperson and MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor was also taken into police custody on Monday afternoon, allegedly for not accepting court summons. He has been transferred to house arrest today after the first hearing of the case.

Ghafoor’s lawyer, Fareesha Abdulla O’Shea, however claims that due process was not followed when delivering the court summons.

She said that the case is being presided over by Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

“The case is about Hamid’s refusal to give a urine sample and he is being charged under section 123 of the Drug Act. I advised not to enter a plea as we haven’t received any of the related documents or information from the court yet,” O’Shea said.

“Today, after the hearing, Hamid was issued another summons relating to charges levied for possession of alcohol,” she stated.

MP Ali Azim was arrested from the protests on Sunday night, with SO officers pulling him off the campaign truck, throwing him onto the ground and dragging him away into custody. He was brought to a court hearing on Monday, where the courts added a seven day extension to his detention on account of him being “a threat to national security”.

Azim attended a meeting of the Parliament’s Privileges Committee after his hearing yesterday, where he alleged that he had been ill-treated even after arrest.

“The SO officer on my right side tried very hard to break my finger, I have photos to prove this. Upon being pushed into the van, one of the officers grabbed hold of my groin area very hard,” Azim told the committee.

“They also asked me to provide a urine sample, but I didn’t because my lawyer advised me against it as the charges levied against me did not allow police to make such a request. I was also handcuffed on the trip from Dhoonidhoo to the court in Male’, and on the way to this parliamentary meeting,” he added.

DRP MP ‘Colonel’ Mohamed Nasheed was also arrested at protests and later released, while MP Ibrahim Rasheed is being investigated for allegedly assaulting police.

MP Eva Abdulla has also been arrested at protests on Tuesday.


MP Ali Azim arrested on third consecutive night of MDP protests

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters protested for the third consecutive day on Sunday (September 29), resulting in confrontations between the police and protesters with multiple arrests – including that of party parliament members.

Protests began at around 2:00pm near the FDI Station on Fareedhee Magu – the closest protesters can go to the Supreme Court building, as the area remains cordoned off by police and military forces.

Crowds grew and thinned alternatively throughout a period of 12 hours, with the main confrontations occurring after 10:00pm.

Minivan News observed that earlier in the night the MNDF was in charge of security operations in the area. About 400 protesters, while playing campaign songs and chanting slogans – “Forward, forward, swiftly forward”, “Give us our right to vote”, “We don’t want to selectively follow parts of the constitution” – were peaceful.

Police, including Special Operations (SO) officers, took over security operations later in the night, around which time the atmosphere became more heated.

Leading the protest were MDP Vice Presidential Candidate Dr Mustafa Lutfi, MP Ali Azim, former foreign minister Ahmed Naseem, and former Attorney General Dhiyana Saeed.

MDP MP Ali Azim was addressing the protesters from a campaign truck close to the police barricades when SO officers took him under arrest. A video on social media shows SO officers run up to the parliament member, pull him off the truck and onto the ground before dragging him away through the crowd and past the line of barricades.

Eye witnesses say that police kicked him and hit him with batons prior to dragging him to their vehicle.

The MDP has today released a press statement saying that the party “harshly condemns the brutal arrest of Ali Azim”.

“This is an act to intimidate the people and a violation of freedoms provided in the constitution.”

Protesters threw stones and empty plastic bottles over the barricades into the police lines, while police used batons, pepper spray and a substance with a strong chemical smell which caused wheezing and difficulty in breathing.

“I don’t know what this is, but having felt the pain of being pepper-sprayed and teargassed, I can tell you this is a different substance. An irritant of some sort. It smarts so very bad and feels like I have sand in my eyes. My skin feels like it is peeling away and burned,” said a 34 year-old male protester affected by the substance during last night’s protests.

“Do I deserve this in return for asking for justice? For demanding an elected government?” he asked, while pouring Coca Cola over his face in an attempt to regain sight and take away some of the pain.

According to police media a total of eight arrests were made last night. Police denied that any substance or chemical besides pepper spray was used to control the protests.

“Nothing except pepper spray. No new chemicals were used,” the spokesperson stated.

Minivan News observed at least 13 male protesters being taken into police custody after snatch teams of SO officers went into crowds and chased them.

Many of the protesters were frisked in the presence of media behind police lines prior to being taken into the police vehicles – a practice which has not previously been observed at the protests following the February 7 controversial transfer of power.

After consecutive and frequent SO officer charges into the crowd, protesters thinned out around 1.45am, leaving a few dozen people standing by in small crowds, defiantly chanting “justice now”. Police left the area at approximately 2:00am when protests died down for the night.

The MDP has said that it will continue the protests and has called on the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) and the prosecutor general to investigate the arrests of the DRP MP and other protesters.

MP Ali Azim was brought to court at 2.30pm this afternoon and his detention has been extended for seven days.

Meanwhile, police have said they are investigating four MDP MPs for contempt of court and threatening police, judges and their families. These are Feydhoo MP Alhan Fahmy, Malé MPs Imthiyaz Fahmy, Mohamed Rasheed (Bonda) and Reeko Moosa Manik.

Furthermore police arrested Malé MP Hamid Abdul Gafoor today to ensure his presence at a Criminal Court trial tomorrow on alleged possession of alcohol.

MDP MP Ali Waheed’s car was vandalised in the evening, and a motorcycle and car were torched at 3:00 am. The police also said wife of a policeman was hit by a motorcycle at noon. She is eight months pregnant.

MP Ali Azim arrested during Sunday night’s protests


JP Legal Committee member files Supreme Court case to cancel seats of DRP MPs Nashiz and Azim

The Jumhoree Party’s Police and Legal Committee member Mohamed Haleem Ali has filed a case at the Supreme Court asking it to rule Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MPs Ali Azim and Mohamed Nashiz unfit to stay in their elected seats following the Bank of Maldives’ foreclosure on their loans.

“The civil court’s ruling number 935 of 2009 asks them to pay back the debts to BML. They didn’t. So I have submitted this case in accordance with subclause one of Article 73(c) and 74 of the constitution,” Haleem stated.

Subclause 1 of Article 73 of the Constitution of the Maldives states that a candidate for membership or a sitting member of the parliament would be disqualified if he has a decreed debt which is not being paid as per court rulings.

Article 74 states that any question concerning the qualifications or removal of a member of the People’s Majlis shall be determined by the Supreme Court.

MPs Nashiz and Azim have been in parliament since the 2009 election, the same year in which the civil court order them to pay the BML debts.

Asked why Haleem was submitting the case nearly three years into the debt case, after the Civil Court had Thursday ruled BML could sell the mortgaged property in lieu of payment by the guarantors, he replied: “Their seats would have been lost after the first month’s failure to pay as per the court order anyway. They are only able to sit in there because the Supreme Court has so far not ruled on the matter.”

The Supreme Court has confirmed that the case submission has been registered at the court. However, a court official said that the court has not yet made a decision on whether or not to accept the case.

JP concerned Haleem acted without consulting party

JP Spokesperson Moosa Rameez said the party had no role in filing the case against the DRP MPs.

“In fact, we are very concerned that Haleem submitted the case without any consultation whatsoever with the party. He’s not an ordinary member of the party, he sits on one of our committees. He ought to have discussed this within the party first. We only learned about it when it was covered in local media,” Rameez said.

Haleem responded saying that he had submitted the case in his personal capacity, and that he felt no need to consult with the party on personal decisions.

“As a party, JP would never wish loss or harm on anyone. I have no comment on the party’s position. However, I did this as an individual, for the betterment of the society. I am a lawyer by profession and felt it was time to take the initiative to bring this to the Supreme Court’s attention,” Haleem stated.

All parties are picking on us as we are the most popular party: DRP

DRP MP Abdulla Mausoom declined from commenting on the case in court, stating that everyone has the right to submit cases to courts, and to defend themselves in whatever way possible.

“I do know, however, that all parties are picking on DRP now. This is because DRP is currently the most promising party for the 2013 elections. Everyone from MDP [Maldivian Democratic Party], PPM [Progressive Party of Maldives] to all the presidential candidates are feeling threatened by DRP due to our popularity,” Mausoom added.

MP Azim has previously alleged that the case of BML debts being scheduled to coincide with the voting on secret balloting during no confidence motions is politically motivated. Azim further alleged that President Mohamed Waheed had tried to intimidate him, asking him to vote in a particular way, offering to cancel the court hearings in return.

Azim had been promptly summoned back to court after he subsequently voted in favour of secret balloting.

DRP Leader Thasmeen Ali declined from commenting on these allegations, stating that he had “not yet discussed the matter in detail” with Azim.

“Now it’s the Supreme Court that will come to a decision on the parliament seat. I believe the court will rule on this in the correct manner in which it should be done,” Thasmeen stated.

Minivan News tried contacting DRP MPs Mohamed Nashiz and Ali Azim. Nashiz was not responding to calls while Azim’s phone was switched off.


Gasim and PA conspired to send two DRP MPs abroad, alleges MP Ali Azim

Ali Azim, Mid-Henveiru MP for the main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), has alleged that business tycoon and Maamigili MP Gasim Ibrahim along with DRP’s coalition partner People’s Alliance (PA) conspired to send two DRP MPs abroad ahead of today’s vote on ministerial appointees.

Azim told newspaper Haveeru that the two additional votes would have sufficed to reject Home Minister Hassan Afeef and Transport Minister Adhil Saleem.

The two MPs in question are Ilham Ahmed of the DRP’s Gayoom faction and Velidhoo MP Ali Mohamed.

Azim claimed that DRP’s efforts to bring back the two MPs in time for the vote were unsuccessful.

“Ilham is definitely a member of Zaeem [Maumoon’s] faction,” he said. “It is regrettable that Ilham was not present for a vote on a person that has directly targeted the Zaeem on many occasions. We hope the Zaeem will condemn this.”

In 2009, Home Minister Hassan Afeef, former parliamentary group leader of the now-ruling Maldivian Democratic Party, was found guilty of defaming the former President by claiming that Gayoom had embezzled US$80 million from tsunami relief aid.

PA Deputy Leader Ahmed Nazim denied the DRP’s accusations, claiming that it was DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali that sent away the Velidhoo MP as agreed upon in an alleged secret meeting with President Mohamed Nasheed over the weekend.

DRP Deputy Leader Ilham meanwhile explained that he was in Sri Lanka accompanying his seriously ill six-year old who remains in critical condition at the ICU, adding that he was counselled by former President Gayoom as well as Gasim Ibahim to remain with his family.