MDP suspends MPs Zahir and Abdul Raheem

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has suspended MPs Zahir Adam and Abdulla Abdul Raheem’s from the party until the end of the parliamentary elections, scheduled for March.

The party’s disciplinary committee decided to suspend the two MPs for contravening a three-whip line on December 30 and voting for President Abdulla Yameen’s cabinet.

Zahir and Abdul Raheem have been ordered to apologise to the party membership before January 30, and will not be allowed to contest any internal party elections – including primaries – for the next three years.

The two MPs did not stand in the MDP’s ongoing parliamentary primaries.

Chair of the disciplinary committee and MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said Zahir and Abdul Raheem’s membership had been suspended to ensure the two MPs do not contest March’s parliamentary elections as independents while retaining MDP membership.

Speaking to Sun Online, Zahir said he did not accept the MDP’s disciplinary actions.

“I won this seat as an independent. I do not think there is any action that can be taken against me for any decision I make while in this seat,” he said.

In addition to Zahir and Abdul Raheem, MPs Mohamed Rasheed (Matrix Mode), Ahmed Rasheed, Abdulla Jabir, Ali Riza, and Ahmed Easa voted against the party’s whip line on December 30.

Mohamed Rasheed and Ahmed Rasheed have left the party and joined the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and Jumhooree Party (JP) respectively. If the two MPs intend to join MDP again, they must apologise to the party’s membership and 50 members each.

Jabir, Riza, and Easa stood uncontested for reselection, and had already been placed on the party ticket when they voted against the whip.

The MDP has stripped Jabir of his position as deputy leader of the parliamentary group, ordered him to issue an apology by January 30, and decided to hold a referendum in his Kaashidhoo constituency to determine whether the MDP membership approve of granting Jabir the party ticket.

Speaking to local media, Jabir has said he will stand for the referendum and said he had informed the party of his decision to vote for Yameen’s cabinet.

“The MDP had officially accepted the government. [We have to] keep the national interest in mind. I will not leave MDP. I will stay with the party,” he told Haveeru.

Riza has been reprimanded and asked to issue an apology by January 30.

Meanwhile, the party has decided not to take any action against Easa, stating that his actions on December 30 only constituted a first offense.


Majlis committee rejects 8 cabinet nominees

The parliament’s Executive Oversight Committee has rejected eight of 15 ministers in President Abdulla Yameen’s cabinet.

However, President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali has told Minivan News he was confident all ministers will be endorsed on the parliament floor regardless of the committee’s views.

The Executive Oversight Committee rejected Minister of Defence and National Security Mohamed Nazim,, Minister of Tourism Ahmed Adheeb, Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer, Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, Minister of Health and Gender Mariyam Shakeela, Minister of Transport and Communication Ameen Ibrahim, Minister of Finance and Treasury Abdulla Jihad, and Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Mohamed Muizzu.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs holds six of ten seats in the committee.

Ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Nihan proposed casting a single vote for the full cabinet. However, the proposal failed with MDP MPs voting to vet each cabinet minister separately.

Pro-government members claimed it is crucial that the People’s Majlis fully endorse President Yameen’s cabinet in order to facilitate the government to function at its full capacity.

Pointing out that the Majlis had voted for former President Mohamed Nasheed’s cabinet as a group rather than separately, MP ‘Redwave’ Ahmed Saleem said it was “unacceptable” for the opposition to act differently now.

In reply, the MDP said the eight rejected nominees were “ministers of the coup government,” as they had served under former President Dr Mohamed Waheed after the controversial transfer of power on February 8, 2012. Nasheed had resigned amidst a police and military mutiny and his deputy Waheed assumed the presidency. MDP maintains the transfer of power is a coup d’etat

In addition to Waheed’s ministers, MDP members also refused to endorse Home Minister Umar Naseer.

Despite this being his first appointment to any cabinet position, MDP members claimed that based on various speeches he has previously given on political podiums, it is “evident that he will not be loyal to Yameen”.

All ten committee members in attendance voted to endorse the remaining seven cabinet members. These consisted of Minister of Foreign Affairs Dunya Maumoon, Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Dr Mohamed Shainee, Minister of Economic Development Mohamed Saeed, Minister of Environment and Energy Thoriq Ibrahim, Minister of Education Aishath Shiham, Minister of Youth and Sports Mohamed Maleeh Jamal, and Attorney General Mohamed Anil.

Although Foreign Minister Dunya – Yameen’s niece and former President and PPM leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s daughter – has not held a cabinet post in Waheed’s government, she had served as State Minister of Foreign Affairs during his term.

While the committee will present its views to the parliament floor, it is the votes of the full parliament which will decide cabinet endorsement. Voting on the matter is currently scheduled for Monday, December 30.

MDP must facilitate an elected government

President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali has stated that the MDP’s justification for refusing to endorse eight of the government’s cabinet ministers is “unacceptable”.

Muaz said that the MDP is the party that had advocated most for the establishment of an elected leader, and as such has the responsibility of facilitating elected President Yameen’s government to fulfill the needs of the citizens.

“MDP claims they cannot endorse these ministers as they belonged to what they say was a coup government. The fact of the matter is, even though they were previously in Waheed’s government, it is now a leader elected by the people who are re-submitting their names,” Muaz stated.

“MDP has always claimed, straight from the beginning, that they will extend cooperation to run a democratic government. Endorsing the cabinet is the best form of cooperation they can show. In any case, there is a culture of endorsing any president’s first cabinet in this country,” he continued.

“Despite the committee rejecting eight cabinet ministers, the government is confident they will receive endorsement from the parliament’s full floor. The government has a very good understanding with the leadership of MDP. And there are also discussions being held between the government and MDP on a number of matters,” Muaz said.

According to Muaz, the government and opposition are holding discussions on numerous matters including cabinet endorsement and budget approval.

Muaz said the government is continuously emphasizing the importance of cabinet endorsement and budget approval in order for the PPM to fulfill citizens’ needs, Muaz said. He also said the MDP is putting forward a number of suggestions, but declined to reveal details.

Speaking at Thursday’s Unity Day event, President Yameen has also appealed to the parliament to endorse his cabinet, urging to set aside differences in political opinion for the betterment of the nation.


Cabinet approval scheduled for December 29

Parliamentary approval for President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s 15 ministers will be scheduled for December 29, People’s Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid has said.

Shahid appealed to the Majlis’ Government Oversight committee to conclude its report on the proposed cabinet by December 23 in order for the December 29 vote to proceed.

Chair of the Government Oversight Committee MP Ali Waheed said the committee has started the vetting process for ministers and will commence debate on the proposed cabinet on December 15.

Yameen’s 15 member cabinet includes seven incumbents. They are Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad, Minister of Health and Gender Dr Mariyam Shakeela, Minister of Defense and National Security Colonel (Rtd) Mohamed Nazim, Minister of Transport and Communication Ameen Ibrahim, Minister of Tourism Ahmed Adheeb, Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Dr Mohamed Muizzu, and Minister of Islamic Affairs Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party had tabled a no confidence motion against Defense Minister Nazim in the last days of Dr Mohamed Waheed’s presidency.

The new appointments are Umar Naseer as Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aishath Shiham as Minister of Education, Dunya Maumoon as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Mohamed Shainee as Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Mohamed Saeed as Minister of Economic Development, Mohamed Maleeh Jamal as Minister of Youth and Sports and Thoriq Ibrahim as Minister of Environment and Energy.