Ameen-Aslam report published in English

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have released an English version of their report detailing the behind-the-scenes actions of the police and security services during the controversial transfer of power of February 7.

The report, produced by former Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam and former National Security Advisor Ameen Faisal, was labelled an “act of terrorism” by the government due to its extensive use of intelligence sources and serving police and MNDF officials.

Chief Superintendent Mohamed Hameed was subsequently arrested, while other police officers who had cooperated with the report were rounded up and detained, and their houses searched.

Police initially denied the allegations of a “witch hunt” and issued a statement accusing the media of “circulating baseless and false reports”. However court warrants for the arrest of Hameed and Staff Sergeant Ahmed Naseer were subsequently leaked.

The report outlines what the MDP government knew of the then-opposition’s plan to topple the government by soliciting “about 500 police officers” to protest in the Republic Square, that led to former President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation “under duress” on February 7.

The report alleged that in September 2011 council members of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) met with a retired Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) warrant officer (grade one), a retired brigadier general and a retired deputy police commissioner at the apartment of PPM council member Ahmed ‘Mars’ Saleem to discuss ways to topple the government.

At the meeting, the report stated, the retired warrant officer proposed that “the only way to change President Nasheed’s government” was for “about 500 police officers to come out and protest at the Republic Square”.

“During these discussions, when the retired deputy police commissioner gave assurances that it could be done, PPM interim deputy leader Umar Naseer raised doubts [about the possibility],” the report claimed.

However, following extensive discussions, “it was decided that work would begin on creating an atmosphere for [a police-led protest at Republic square].”

The report further claimed that the “December 23 coalition” of eight political parties and affiliated NGOs – which staged a mega-protest to “Defend Islam” from the alleged “securalisation agenda” of President Nasheed – was formed as a result of “a lengthy discussion” at the Adhaalath Party office between a prominent religious scholar and the aforementioned warrant officer.

The ‘mega-protest’ was meanwhile primarily funded by Jumhoree Party (JP) Leader and tycoon MP Gasim Ibrahim, the report claimed.

The party also released an English version of former MDP Chairperson Mariya Ahmed Didi’s list of criminal charges against President Mohamed Waheed.

Download the Ameen-Aslam Report (English)


India’s response to coup “cold”, Ibra tells Times of India

India should come down hard on the present regime in the Maldives and ask President Mohammed Waheed Hassan to call for general election this year, senior Maldivian senior statesman Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail, has told the Times of India.

Ibra said India’s response to the coup in Maldives was cold and that the largest democracy in the world had shut its eyes on the human rights violations that were going on in his country.

“The protests against the military rule are on the rise. In the last 40 days, more than 650 people have been arrested compared to the 10-15 detained for hooliganism in the last three years of democratic rule,” he said.

Ibra, who led the first pro-democracy mass protest in 2004, which led to the formation of the first democratically-elected government in Maldives, admitted they didn’t see the coup coming until it was too late. “We should have been careful as the elements of dictatorship don’t go away too easily.”

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Bureaucrats drag at Durban as Maldives lobbies for survival

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

UN Chief Climate Change official Christiana Figueres quoted former South African president Nelson Mandela in her opening speech to the 17th UN Climate Conference, which began Monday in Durban, South Africa. Figueres urged all parties to be flexible.

At the top of the agenda is renewing the Kyoto Protocol, an international and legally binding agreement to cut greenhouse emissions which is due to expire at the end of 2012.

Within hours of the opening discussions, however, Canada said it would not commit to a second term of the Kyoto Protocol and even moved to withdraw early, while China, a leading emitter, and the G77 group said their participation in a global deal depended on all developed nations signing a second Kyoto term.

The United States said China’s participation was a basic requirement for its own involvement, but provided no guarantee.

The European Union voted in favor of a second term, but stipulated that the largest emitters, US and China, should agree to legally-binding emission cuts by 2015.

The UN conference is attended by approximately 15,000 delegates from 194 nations.

Departing for Durban today, Environmental Minister Mohamed Aslam said the Maldives would not relent to any country during the talks. During the 12-day conference, Aslam said the Maldives would lobby for a new international agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions and prevent a rise in sea levels.

“We can’t go on without finding a conclusion to this. The Maldives will lobby for and say whatever we have to say to any country it is that we will not be able to move forward without endorsing this agreement. Our survival will be our top priority,” he told Haveeru.

The last climate talks were held in Copenhagen in 2010 amidst great international excitement and pressure. However, the vague outcome–an accord with no binding articles – disappointed the public to the point of protests in Copenhagen.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Naseem tried to correct public skepticism at the Climate Vulnerable Forum in Dhaka earlier this month.

“Today, conventional wisdom suggests that Copenhagen was a failure,” Naseem said. “I beg to differ. In my opinion, the Copenhagen Accord was not an admission of defeat, but the first step on the road towards a solution – a solution based on the vision laid down in the Male’ Declaration. That vision was simple: that global warming will only be halted when States realize the futility of arguing over whom should cut emissions, and begin competing to become the leaders of the new industrial revolution – a revolution based not on the finite power of coal and oil, but on the infinite power of the sun, sea and wind.”

Naseem called on conference attendees to push towards a climate-friendly resolution based on positive action.

Yet so far, Copenhagen’s results appear to haunt Durban.

“The main problem we face is that some countries don’t want to discuss a binding international pact,” Aslam said, echoing a key obstacle at the conference two years ago.

Aslam and other officials at the Environmental Ministry were not responding to phone calls for further commentary at time of press.

Presenting its annual report on climate trend at the conference yesterday, World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said 2011 caps a decade that ties the record as the hottest ever measured. In the past 15 years, 13 have broken records for high temperatures.

South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and the conference chair Maite Nkoana-Mashabane echoed the Maldives’ plea when she said that the world’s poorest countries – many of them in Africa – were dependent on swift action to stave off the catastrophic effects of global warming which affect them most.

South Africa stands to suffer high disease and mortality rates, longer droughts, intense flooding and decreasing biodiversity as temperatures rise. Agriculture would also suffer in a country where nearly half of the population lives below the poverty level.

BluePeace founder Ali Rilwan told Minivan News doubted politics would carry the day at Durban, but hoped that the public would begin to carry the issue at hand.

“I don’t think anything striking will come out of [the conference]. It’s been a ritual thing for what, 20 years? And Durban is not like Copenhagen, the excitement isn’t there, and the level of participation is also low,” he said.

Calling climate conferences “talk shows,” he said the Maldives “should pay more attention to what we can do at home. For a micro-state like the Maldives, by acting locally we could have a global impact.” But not much has been done to resolve issues threatening the country’s reefs, aquatic vegetation and mangroves, he observed.

When asked if the Maldives was focusing too much on international support, Rilwan said, “we need expertise and funding. And some international parties have given that. But we don’t see anything happening.”

Rilwan’s hopes lie with the people. “The people are getting stronger. We saw it at Copenhagen and we will see it at Durban as well. They are slowly losing faith in their leaders and instead are starting to network world-wide. I think they can push their leaders to be more active on climate change,” he said.

Indeed, “Occupy Durban” has gathered momentum. US-based The Huffington Post reports that the movement stems from frustration with world leaders, and that activists doubt the people are being accurately represented.

“We had faith 16 times before but no more…most of us are saying it’s a conference of polluters,” said Patrick Bond, a professor in the in the University of Kwazulu-Natal, who is part of the occupy movement. “If anything good starts to happen then Washington will sabotage it does it again and again.”

Activists have formed a People’s General Assembly in contrast with the UN’s General Assembly. One member pointed to the decision to hold the conference in an area known for South Africa’s petrochemical industry as a sign that public and political views were at odds.

While the official conference appears to side-step stated goals, the people’s conference is still articulating its purpose. “What we’re trying to do is reengage with politics on a people based level,” one activist told Huffington Post. “What we’d like to see is a much more non-hierarchical localized politics.”

The Occupy movement currently claims a few hundred participants, but those interviewed said they were hoping for thousands to turn out a rally scheduled for December 3.


Maldives a carbon technology lab for the world: Sunday Times

The Maldives, aiming to be a zero-carbon nation by 2020 ahead of any other country, is like a ‘lab’ of technology for the world where future ways of reducing carbon into the atmosphere is developed here before being implementing across the world, writes Feizal Samath for Sri Lanka’s Sunday Times.

A two-day technology road-show in Male, the capital on May 9-10 which brought industry, technocrats and government officials from 22 countries including the five largest economies in the world – US, China, Japan, India and Germany, showcasing technological advances and knowledge.

President Mohamed Nasheed and Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam attended the event with Miss Universe 2005, Natalie Glebova.

According to Tourism Minister, Mariyam Zulfa, the Ministry recently signed a MoU with Swiss-based myclimate to prepare a strategy for voluntary carbon offsetting measures. “We will be looking at things like developing a model eco island as a resort of the future. We are working on the carbon footprint. While the airlines will look after themselves, the resorts are also looking at renewable energy for most of their needs,” she said adding however that the biggest challenge is the diesel that goes into generators which are used by all resorts.

If in 2010 it was worry about islands sinking, then this year the climate change-savvy country says there are much more serious issues.

“Sea level is rising but that’s not our main challenge,” noted Aslam, adding that shifting of islands when the sea level rises is a more complex issue.

“The islands are a dynamic feature and when sea level rises there would be changes. If you look at the morphology (structure of organism) these islands sit within a reef system. As the water level rises the hydrodynamics within the reef system will also change.

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MDP announces preliminary election results

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has announced the preliminary results of its elections held to appoint the President, Deputy President and other special posts of the party, after vote counting was formally completed.

Former Fisheries Minister Dr Ibrahim Didi successfully challenged acting President of the party Ibrahim Hussein Zaki and won the top post of the party, with 10600 votes against Zaki’s 9519 votes.

Current Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam, former Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Alhan Fahmy and Hussein Adam ran for the Vice President’s post.

Alhan won the post by 12225 votes while Environment Minister Aslam won 7230 votes and Adam 158 votes. Both Zaki and Aslam have conceded victory to Didi and Alhan.

Shiyama Adam was elected as the leader of Women’s Wing and Khadheeja Abubakur ‘Aniyath’ was elected as the deputy leader of the Woman’s Wing.

Five members for the MDP Religious Council were also appointed in the election: Mohamed Farooq, Ibrahim Shafeeu, Ahmed Zanin Adam, Ahmed Zaki and Hussein Ibrahim. The former leader of the Religious Council resigned after claiming that he was unhappy with the party’s religious policies.

Nine members for the Appeals Committee were also appointed:  Mohamed Mahir Easa, Hassan Ahmed, Ibrahim Rasheed, Ahmed Siraj, Abdul Hameed Abdul Kareem, Mohamed Falah, Imtiyaz Fahmy, Ahmed Rasheed and Nazil Afeef.

Former Minivan News journalist Aiminath Shauna, now working in the President’s Office, was elected as the head of Youth Wing and Hamza Hassan was elected as the deputy head. Shauna won the post challenging Lufshan Shakeeb ‘Looppe’, a well-known local actor.


Alhan wins MDP Vice Presidency while Dr Ibrahim Didi in line for top post

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has announced the preliminary results of the party’s elections for its President and Vice President.

The results currently show that former Fisheries Minister Dr Ibrahim Didi has won the presidency of the party with 6909 votes, in close competition with the President’s Special Envoy Ibrahim Zak (6554 votes).

Meanwhile former Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party MP Alhan Fahmy has beaten Hussein Adam and Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam for the MDP Vice-Presidency with 7709 votes. Aslam received 5421 votes while Adam received 71 votes.

Fahmy changed sides to the ruling party in early 2010 after he was brought before the DRP’s disciplinary committee for voting against its party line on a motion to dismiss then-Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed for opening relations with Israel.

Housing Minister Aslam has congratulated Alhan for his victory, following the release of the preliminary results. 121 ballot boxes of 218 have been counted so far, with official results to be announced in three days.

Aslam has also congratulated MDP Chairperson Mariya Ahmed Didi on running a successful election.

Alhan did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.


MDP VP candidate Alhan Fahmy pulls out of tonight’s debate

Tonight’s debate between candidates for the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) vice-presidency has been cancelled after MP Alhan Fahmy decided to boycott the event alleging undue influence.

According to the MDP website, the debate was canceled after Alhan sent a letter to Chairwoman Mariya Didi raising “issues” with the advertised debate.

MDP Secretary General Ahmed Shah said that although there were three candidates including Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam and Hussein Adam [Adambe], the latter has “showed no interest” in either the debate or campaigning for the post.

However the debate between contenders for the party’s top post – Special Envoy Ibrahim Hussein Zaki and former Fisheries Minister Dr Ibrahim Didi – is set to go ahead as planned.

Meanwhile in his letter of protest, Alhan wrote that he did not wish to publicly reveal his objections to the debate as disunity or discord within the party was not his intention, adding that he did not want members to lose confidence in a cabinet minister.

Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam did not respond to Minivan News at time of press while Alhan was in a meeting and unavailable for a comment.


European Commission hands Maldives €6.5 million for climate adaption

The European Commission has pledged €6.5 million (US$9.36 million) to help the Maldives adapt to the effects of climate change and mitigate the impact, and provide technical support.

The new Climate Change Trust Fund will be administered by the World Bank in a deal cemented between President Mohamed Nasheed and World Bank President Robert Zoellick at Copenhagen.

“The European Commission has given the money to the World Bank and asked them to manage it,” noted Minister for the Environment, Mohamed Aslam. “I believe the contract is already signed and the World Bank office in Sri Lanka informed me they were receiving it by courier today.”

The money was not part of the US$30 billion pledged at Copenhagen by developed nations to help developing countries adjust to climate change, Aslam emphasised, and was the fruition of an ongoing program “long before the [Copenhagen] accord.”

“We just happen to be the first country receiving this money,” he said.

While the money was not enough to begin tackling the problems facing the capital, he said, it would make a difference to coastal protection and “soft engineering” projects to help smaller islands suffering severe beach erosion.

“We will also invest it in developing sewerage and water systems on islands,” he said, adding the government had yet to decide which islands to help.

Food security was another priority for the money, Aslam said, and an issue that affected the entire country regardless of geographic location.

“It’s more about trying to find a climate-sound method of agriculture for the country,” he said.

A delegation from the World Bank will arrive in the Maldives in January to meet with the government and discuss how the money should be spent.

“Adapting to climate change will cost a lot more than €6.5 million,” Aslam noted, estimating the figure was more in the realm of US$4.6 billion.