National Movement accuses government of obstructing anniversary of GMR eviction

The National Movement has accused the government of obstructing its plans to celebrate the anniversary of the termination of the airport development contract with Indian company GMR.

The movement claims that, despite having obtained written permission from the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure to use the Artificial Beach area last weekend, authorisation was later revoked.

Previous National Movement rallies have been held at the same location.

Since taking power last month, the current administration has launched a charm offensive in an attempt to repair strained bilateral relations with its northern neighbour. President Abdulla Yameen is scheduled to visit New Delhi later this month,with Indian media reporting the likely reopening of a much needed standby credit facility.

The self-titled National Movement consists of the religious conservative Adhaalath Party and the Civil Coalition umbrella group which claims to represent several civil society organisations.

The movement was born out of the December 23 coalition – an alliance of several political parties including the now-ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), the Jumhooree Party and the Adhaalath Party, along with the Civil Coalition. The PPM later left the National Movement in December 2012, after members criticised current President – then PPM’s parliamentary group leader – Abdulla Yameen.

The group has reportedly shared a statement with local media in which it is said to have criticised the current government for inhibiting the movement’s efforts to mark the one year anniversary of “having successfully brought the Maldivians’ airport back into Maldivian hands”.

In the statement, the movement alleges that the government had given multiple warnings not to not celebrate the anniversary.

“We are deeply saddened that the current government has obstructed the joyous event of celebrating the first anniversary of freeing the Maldivian people’s airport, finally to the extent we are simply unable to hold any celebrations at all on the occasion.”

“We further believe that the actions of the government have created reason for us to believe that there is a hidden agenda behind it all,” the statement read, as quoted in local media.

The National Movement however stated that they would still be holding a celebratory event, giving Thursday as a tentative date – the group has not yet announced a venue.

Government response

Deputy Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Abdulla Muhthalib stated that the ministry had not received any requests from an entity called the ‘National Movement’.

“We did, however, get a letter from a political party seeking permission to use the Artificial Beach grounds for an event last weekend. The letter did not specify what the event will be. We did grant this permission,” he said.

“However, based on the fact that we have received complaints that people besides those we grant permission to have been using the allocated area, we decided to retract the permission and halt providing the location to anyone until after we compose guidelines on how such areas can be used. We have neither received nor rejected any requests by National Movement,” Muhthalib explained.

President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali told Minivan News today that “it is not in this government’s policies to obstruct any citizens from demonstrating within the boundaries of law. I have spoken to media several times about these allegations against us by National Movement and I believe we have been answerable enough by now. It is pointless to talk about the matter too much anyway.”

Muaz has previously told local media that there is “no use to talk about having taken back the airport from GMR an year ago” and that the government will not support a gathering to mark the same.

Despite the PPM formerly being a member of the National Movement, Muaz alleged that the organisation “is not even a registered group, as far as I know.”

He described the matter as “an issue that arose between a Maldivian government-owned company and an Indian company”, adding that the matter has since been resolved.

GMR has taken the premature termination of its contract to a Singaporean court of arbitration where it is claiming US$1.4billion in compensation.

“I see no reason why this matter needs to be brought up and discussed again. The two governments [Maldivian and Indian goverments] are conducting several discussions in the interests of the Maldivian people. The government sees no reason why the GMR matter needs to be taken up again at a time when we are making progress with India, and we don’t support such efforts. This is, however, not to say that we will obstruct freedom of expression,” Muaz is quoted as saying.

Members of the National Movement, Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla and National Unity Party Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza had their phones switched off at the time of press.


Translation: Leaked ‘coup agreement’

The following translation is of a document apparently signed and stamped by then opposition political parties on December 29, 2011, outlining a planned overthrow of the Nasheed government on February 24, 2012. Nasheed resigned amid a police-led mutiny on February 7, 2012.  Parties involved have rejected the document’s authenticity – read the full story here.

Download the original document in Dhivehi

1. Introduction

As the current President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed of G. Keneryge, has disrespected Islam as well as the country’s laws and regulations, declared blatantly anti-Islamic sentiments, obstructed the enforcement of Islamic hadd [punishments] in the Maldives, carried out laadheenee (irreligious or secular) actions, illegally arrested politicians, committed many acts that undermine the dignity of the country’s courts, and since the fraternal political groups have determined that he is unfit to remain as President of the Maldives, this agreement is made among the fraternal political groups to remove him completely from Maldivian politics and do what is required to completely erase the Christian-influenced Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) from the Maldivian political arena.

2. The fraternal political groups

  1. Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)
  2. Civil Alliance
  3. Adhaalath Party
  4. Jumhooree Party
  5. Dhivehi Qaumee Party
  6. Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DQP)
  7. People’s Alliance

3. Plan for the 24 February 2012 Symposium

3.1 Purpose of the symposium

The purpose of the symposium on 24 February 2012 is to make it a day of civil obedience across the Maldives with the aim of toppling the MDP government and establishing a national unity government formed among the fraternal political groups. And to overthrow the government within 24 hours of the beginning of the symposium.

As the fraternal political groups believe that it is important to carry this out in a way that would avoid foreign influence in Maldivian political affairs brought about because of the manner of changing the government, it has been agreed that this can be conducted most smoothly with the assistance of Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik. Therefore, the first order of business has to be worsening the relationship between MDP and the vice president, seeking the approval of senior figures of the vice president’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party and his close associates and bringing them into this.

The assurance needed from the vice president is that he will immediately assume the office of the presidency if Nasheed leaves the post under any circumstances, form a national unity government on the advice of the fraternal political groups, endure everything faced during this process, conduct the affairs of the nation until the presidential election in 2013, pave the way for the 2013 election, and not contest in the election in 2013.

The assurance that the fraternal political groups will give to the vice president will be to provide any and all assistance that he may require in this. And provide the assurance that he will remain in power until 11 November 2013.

3.2 How the government will be changed

At 4 o’clock in the afternoon of Friday, 24 February 2012, a mass protest in the form of symposium will begin in all inhabited islands of the country. The protest will begin in Male’ at the tsunami memorial area. After the protest begins, a demand from the participants will be proposed to the government. The only demand of this protest will be for President Mohamed Nasheed of G. Keneryge to resign without any conditions as he has insulted Islam and violated the laws of the country.

3.3.1 Going to Republic Square

The government will give a deaf ear to the demand for resignation. Therefore, after offering a five-hour period to comply with the demand, at 9 o’clock at night the participants of the protest will head towards the Republic Square divided into three groups. It has been agreed that protests will take place in all inhabited islands at this time.

The first group with Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla will go past Kalhuthuhkala Koshi [military barracks near southwest harbour] on Boduthakurufaanu Magu and stop near MMA west of the Republic Square.

[Text missing]

The third group with PPM interim deputy leader, Umar Naseer, will leave the tsunami memorial area in vehicles, go down Majeedhee Magu, turn near mercury to Orchid Magu and stop near Reefside at the intersection of Republic Square and Chandanee Magu.

Help will be received from former police and army officers to overcome obstacles posed by police and the army to the protesters reaching these areas. PPM interim deputy leader, Umar Naseer, will coordinate this.

3.3.2 Showing stringency

After all the participants of the protest gather at the areas surrounding the Republic Square, Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla will address the police from the group near the MMA [building]. The Sheikh’s speech will mostly focus on Mohamed Nasheed’s laadheenee [irreligious or secular] ideology and convincing police and the army that obeying the commands of such a person with a laadheenee ideology is completely haram [forbidden] in Islam. The Sheikh along with different scholars will speak on this subject for 45 minutes.

After that, Abdulla Mohamed, representing the civil groups, and other civil society persons will give speeches.  Their speeches will mostly focus on stability in the Maldives, establishing justice and the economy under Nasheed’s rule. They will speak on this topic for 45 minutes.

After the speeches by the civil society persons, the first person to talk from among the politicians in the group gathered in front of Reefside will be PPM interim deputy leader Umar Naseer. Umar Naseer will begin his speech by calling on those in the front ranks of the government to join the protesters as President Mohamed Nasheed has not resigned by the time the period offered to him had elapsed. An opportunity will be offered to those in the front ranks of the police and army to either resign or step aside from their posts. The speeches will be interrupted for 30 minutes to provide an opportunity for these officers to do so.

It is not expected that cooperation will be forthcoming within 30 minutes from those working in the senior ranks of the police. However, a brigadier general and a lieutenant colonel from the military has agreed to vacate their posts and refuse to carry out their responsibilities. This will be first announced via DhiTV. And a live interview with the resigned brigadier general will be brought on DhiTV. After this news, Umar Naseer’s speech will resume to raise the spirit of the protesters and divide the ranks of the police and the army. And he will call for the protesters to step forward and for the police and army to step back. The protesters will clash with police and attempt to enter the Republic Square by force.

3.3.3 Receiving the assistance of police

While the protesters face the police and army with severity, the special platoon of police on duty in front of MMA will abandon their command, enter the Republic Square and sit down in protest. At this time, some protesters will get an opportunity to enter the Republic Square. However, it is believed that an MNDF [Maldives National Defence Force] backup will cordon off the area.

Complete assurance has been received from friendly police that this police platoon will be arranged to be on duty in front of MMA. The PPM deputy leader has met the officers of this platoon individually and briefed them on what they have to do. Their demands have now been taken care of.

Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfan will announce on MNBC One that the striking or protesting police have disobeyed orders and that they will be arrested and taken inside Bandaara Koshi [main military headquarters in front of Republic Square]. A retired former colonel will communicate with the defence minister concerning this and provide assistance to him. PA parliamentary group leader, Ahmed Nazim, will monitor this.

3.3.4 Friendly police and friendly military playing their role

Following the arrest of the protesting police, a senior team of friendly police will begin working on their behalf. They will claim that the military cannot arrest police and request discussions between a senior police team and the defence ministry.  This team will comprise of 9 senior police officers and former police officers. When the defence ministry says that there is no room for negotiation regarding this, the team will command all police to abandon their command and gather at the Republic Square helipad.

[Text missing]

Police will be informed under the guidance of Umar Naseer. And all police will be informed via SMS. This will incite hatred of the police towards the military and the coordination established between police and the military will be lost. And at this time, protesters gathered near the Shaheed Hussain Adam building [police headquarters] will get the opportunity to break the barricade and enter the Republic Square. However, it is believed that the military will strongly look after the MMA and Reefside area.

3.3.5 Media and communication

The media will play the most important role at this juncture. DhiTV, DhiFM and VTV will claim that the police and the military are preparing for a major confrontation. And former senior police officers will call in the media for all police to go to the Republic Square in defence of their brothers.

Phones will be used as the primary mode of communication to carry this out. Friendly police will ensure by this time that communication-jamming facilities will be damaged beyond use. If phone calls and SMS are jammed due to any reason, messages that must be sent to police and the army will be delivered directly from DhiTV and DhiFM. Under such circumstances, these two media will become the primary communication and the communication coordination team will shift to the DhiTV studio.

3.3.6 Assistance from the military

As preparations would be underway for a major confrontation between police and the military, and because of the large number of police gathered at the Republic Square, the numbers of the military in Male’ at the time being small compared to the police, the police being in possession of non-lethal weapons, the most important power of the military being lethal weapons, and the fear of serious bloodshed in the country if the military uses lethal weapons against police, and after informing senior military officers of the superiority of police over the military, all of the military troops will be called on, with the assistance of the defence minister, to lay down their arms and join the protest.

It is believed that under the circumstances, with the situation brought to this [state], the military will have no other option and will accept the proposal. If they do not accept, the defence minister will do it forcefully.

3.3.7 Arresting Mohamed Nasheed

Following cooperation from the police and military, as it is the responsibility of the SPG [Special Protection Group] military officers to protect the president at such a time, Mohamed Nasheed will be taken out of Male’ by them under the pretence of protection. Mohamed Nasheed will be kept at Aarah [presidential retreat island] under military custody.

3.3.8 Supreme Court ruling that Mohamed Nasheed’s presidency is illegitimate

As the country’s order and stability would be lost with matters at this state, with the police and military clashing and the military not obeying Mohamed Nasheed’s command, a case will be filed at the Supreme Court requesting a ruling declaring that Nasheed has been found incapable of performing the duties of the President as there could be serious discord, unrest and bloodshed in the country if he remained in the post. Assurances have been received that the Supreme Court will issue such a ruling or court order to that effect when the case is filed.

The Supreme Court will sentence Nasheed to jail and bar him from politics for life because of the illegal activities committed while he was president, the allegations of efforts to wipe out Islam from the Maldives, and for the crime of illegally detaining politicians.

Filing the case at the Supreme Court and discussions concerning this matter will be carried out under the supervision of Qaumee Party President Dr Hassan Saeed. Dr Hassan Saeed and Ahmed Nazim from the People’s Alliance will carry out lobbying efforts to secure the support of a majority from the Supreme Court bench. Assurances have been given by PPM that Azima Shukoor will work to secure the assistance of the Chief Justice.

3.3.9 Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik taking the oath of office

Following the judgment of the Supreme Court passed upon Mohamed Nasheed, Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik will take the oath of office and become the president. After the swearing-in, Dr Mohamed Waheed will immediately dissolve the cabinet.

After the president dissolves the cabinet, the fraternal political groups together with the president will carry out forming a new cabinet and appointing ministers. The newly formed cabinet will comprise of 10 ministries. As the defence ministry and home ministry are important for national security, ministers will first be appointed for these two ministries. The two ministers that shall be appointed are,

  1. Defence Ministry. Appointing current Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfan to the post.
  2. Home Ministry. Appointing PPM interim deputy leader, Umar Naseer, on behalf of the party, as the Home Minister.

In addition, ministers will be appointed to the rest of the ministries on an equal basis among the fraternal political groups. And a vice president will be appointed as agreed upon by the fraternal political groups.

The following persons shall be appointed as the senior officers of the police and military,

  1. Retired Colonel Mohamed Nazim will be appointed to the post of Chief of Defence Force.
  2. Retired Assistant Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz will be appointed to the post of Commissioner of Police.

4. Dissolving MDP’s political activities

As the fraternal political groups have agreed that exerting influence upon the current leadership of the MDP and taking over control of the MDP is of utmost importance, it has been agreed to do the following to dissolve the current MDP leadership,

4.1 MDP President Dr Ibrahim Didi

As Dr Ibrahim Didi is politically weak and not a political person despite being someone paving the way to advance politically, it has been noted that controlling MDP through Dr Didi will be easy. To this end, it has been decided to secure MDP’s presidential ticket for Dr Didi.

With the likelihood of MDP splitting being high as a result of the difficulties Dr Didi will face under his leadership from Mohamed Nasheed’s friends, Jumhooree Party Leader Gasim Ibrahim will provide assistance to Dr Didi at such a time.

[Text missing]

As Alhan Fahmy has been noted as someone with the capability of rallying and uniting MDP supporters in the absence of Mohamed Nasheed, it has been agreed that removing Alhan Fahmy from the MDP leadership is essential. It has also been noted that Alhan Fahmy does not have the opportunity of contesting in the 2013 election or becoming a vice presidential candidate.

It has been agreed that efforts to remove Alhan Fahmy from the MDP leadership will be carried out under the supervision of PA parliamentary group leader, Ahmed Nazim.

4.3 MDP interim chairperson Reeko Moosa Manik

It has been agreed that keeping MDP interim chairperson Reeko Moosa Manik in his post would be fine. It has been noted that there is room to forcefully do things through him by using the corruption cases involving his Heavy Load company and intimidating him through his business dealings.

As Moosa Manik is seen as someone who would contest for the MDP’s 2013 presidential ticket, he has been noted as a leader who has the approval of MDP’s common members. Therefore, it has been noted that Moosa Manik could be used in the efforts to divide MDP and create antagonism towards Dr Didi within the MDP. It has also been agreed that a group could be formed under Moosa Manik to protest against the new government and create unrest. It has been discussed that the end of MDP could be brought about through these protests.

4.4 MDP National Council

As Mohamed Nasheed directly controls the MDP’s National Council, it has been agreed that controlling the council and bribing members would be important. And it has been agreed to hold a meeting in the coming month of January to formulate a long-term plan to that end.

5. Securing finance

It has been calculated and agreed that a total of 43 (forty-three) million rufiyaa will have to be spent to complete the matters stated in this agreement and to fulfil the demands of the persons who will provide assistance. The funding will be secured through the political parties involved in this agreement and supportive businessmen. PA parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nazim will be tasked with collecting the funds and spending it in accordance with the agreement. And 20% (8.4 million rufiyaa) has been handed over to Nazim by the Jumhooree Party on 26 December 2011.

6. Maintaining secrecy

This agreement, the content of the agreement and any affairs conducted in connection with this agreement shall not be shared or revealed to anyone other than those who sign the agreement. As this is an agreement that is of utmost importance made in defence of Islam and the Maldives, it should be considered that safeguarding this agreement and the information contained therein is done in defence of Islam and the Maldives, and we agree to not share any of this with any other person.

7. Resolution

On this day, 29 December 2011, I agree with a sound mind and following extensive discussion to completely carry out the aforementioned matters, as they are necessary for the defence of Islam and the nation, with the involvement of everyone party to this agreement.

Download the original document in Dhivehi


Police arrest GIP council member Ahmed Faiz in Supreme Court Justice sex tape scandal

A council member of President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party (GIP) and Project Advisor at the Housing Ministry, Ahmed Faiz, has been arrested and placed under remand detention for 15 days, police have confirmed.

According to local media reports, the former Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Managing Director and Deputy CEO of the Maldives Ports Limited (MPL) was arrested on Tuesday while trying to sell a sex tape of a Supreme Court Justice.

The Criminal Court on Wednesday afternoon (June 26) granted an extension of 15 days for Faiz’s detention.

A police media official told Minivan News that police could not divulge further details apart from confirming that Faiz was “arrested in connection with a case currently under investigation.”

While local media reports did not identify the judge involved in the case, photos of Supreme Justice Ali Hameed in a hotel room with a woman began circulating on social media in March this year.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad told Minivan News today that Faiz has been sacked from his project advisor post at the Housing Ministry, to which he was appointed at the deputy minister-level in March 2012.

Masood Imad also confirmed that Faiz is a member of GIP’s executive council.

Faiz was also the GIP representative at press conferences of the unofficial “December 23 coalition” of eight political parties that organised a mass gathering in 2011 against the allegedly anti-Islamic policies of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Faiz was present at a press event of the December 23 alliance on January 8, 2012 where the group announced plans for a “mass symposium” for February 24, 2012. He was also present when opposition leaders met then-Vice President Dr Waheed in his official residence at 1:00am on January 31 – seven days before the controversial transfer of presidential power – and pledged their allegiance to the vice-president.

Faiz participated in the press conference later that night when opposition party leaders called on the police and army to pledge allegiance to Dr Waheed and “not carry out any orders given by President Nasheed.”

In August 2012, an audio clip of Faiz in conversation with a group of unidentified men was aired on opposition-aligned private broadcaster Raajje TV after it was leaked on social media.

Faiz told Minivan News at the time that the clip was authentic and recorded in March 2012 but claimed that it was cut and edited together.

In the 15-minute audio, Faiz boasts of his influence within the government as a “close confidante” of President Waheed and attempts to hire the men to disrupt activities of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Faiz claimed in the leaked audio that he was in a position to embezzle large amounts of money from MBC and the State Trading Organisation (STO).

He also spoke of President Waheed’s reluctance to remain allied with former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and of plans to “take Maumoon out of the political picture.”

The truth is that there is quite a lot of support for Maumoon too, and we have to accept that. If a political gathering is to be held in this country, at this moment it’s only PPM or MDP that can gather a good amount of people. No one else can do it, ok? This is the political reality of now,” Faiz is heard saying.

GIP Faiz“We are not at all aiming to keep them close to us. The real objective is to destroy this… thing… that Maumoon has. This cannot be done by even Anni, or by anyone else in this country, unless we stay within them, and let them into the government. There is simply no other way. Now I’ve gone and said something I was not meaning to share! I have just shared with you a huge secret.”

Faiz also claimed in the leaked conversation that he was “the biggest key” for the transfer of presidential power on February 7, 2012.

All that was done, all the deals that were made, all that was done, all the people that we met with, within defense, even within police; nothing would have taken place without my knowledge, without my participation,” he is heard saying in a second clip.

“If this is a coup government and there is a death sentence given out, I will be among the first to be sentenced to death. So what even I want is money, do you understand? I’m telling you the truth, it is to gain money that I have come into this.”

First audio clip

Second audio clip


Bill submitted to ban import of pork and alcohol

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Nazim Rashad has submitted a bill to the Majlis calling for the prohibition of pork and alcohol imports to the country.

When presenting the bill, Nazim argued that the import of these products violates article 10(b) of the constitution which states that “no law contrary to any tenet of Islam shall be enacted in the Maldives.”

“We often hear rumours that people have alcohol at home in their fridge, available any time. We’ve heard that kids take alcohol to school to drink during their break. The issue is more serious than we think, it should not be ignored,” Nazim told the house.

Consumption of intoxicants or pork products are prohibited under Islamic law, although these products are available to foreign tourists in the country’s resorts.

When in charge, the MDP government announced it was considering banning pork and alcohol product in response to the December 23 coalition‘s campaign to protect Islam.

After being asked in January for a consultative opinion over whether the Maldives could import pork and alcohol without violating the nation’s Shariah-based constitution, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the case on the grounds that the matter did not need to be addressed at the Supreme Court level.


Transport minister to be summoned to committee over Israeli jet

Parliament’s National Security Committee has decided to summon Transport Minister Dr Ahmed Shamheed and senior officials of the Addu International Airport Company (AIAC) over the landing of a private Israeli jet in Gan, Addu City in May this year.

Newspaper Haveeru reported the committee’s chair MP “Reeko” Moosa Manik, chairperson of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), as saying today that the officials were summoned in light of a resolution passed by parliament forbidding Israeli flights to land in the Maldives until the National Security Committee reached a decision on the issue.

Moosa added that the committee has not yet set a date to question the officials. The formerly ruling MDP presently has a voting majority in the National Security Committee.

Former Transport Minister Adil Saleem was questioned by the National Security Committee after the Deputy Leader of the Adhaalath Party, Dr Mauroof Hussain, alleged that the MDP government had decided to authorise Israeli national airline to fly to the Maldives and allow an Israeli military post to be established in the country.

Adil Saleem had denied the allegations when he was summoned to the committee.

Banning Israeli flights to the Maldives was among five demands made at a ‘mega-protest’ on December 23, organised by a coalition of eight parties and religious NGOs to ‘Defend Islam’ against the allegedly liberal policies of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Following the change of government on February 7, the ruling coalition-dominated parliament passed a resolution on April 25 preventing Israeli national airline El Al from operating scheduled flights to the Maldives.


Islamic Ministry to formulate guidelines for alternative medicine centres, spas and beauty salons

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs is formulating rules and guidelines for registering and operating alternative medicine centres, spas and beauty salons to prevent the use of such establishments as a front for prostitution.

Shutting down spas and massage parlors doubling as brothels was a key demand of a ‘mega protest’ on December 23 organised by eight political parties and religious NGOs to ‘Defend Islam’ against the allegedly liberal policies of the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) government.

Briefing press yesterday on the first 100 days of the new government, Islamic Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed claimed the ministry possessed a list of suspected brothels in inhabited islands, “most of which have already been shut down.”

“There are still suspected places on the list [in operation],” he added.

Seven beauty salons have been closed down by police since the controversial transfer of power on February 7.

The new regulations currently being drafted would expand the role of the Islamic Ministry in monitoring the businesses, Shaheem said.

Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla had claimed during the December 23 demonstration that there were over 60 brothels in the Male’ alone, double the number of mosques in the capital.

Speaking at yesterday’s press conference, State Minister for Islamic Affairs, Mohamed Ibrahim Didi, explained that the ministry was working together with police as well as the tourism and health ministries to set up a monitoring mechanism.

Efforts were underway by a technical committee comprising of representatives from police and the relevant ministries to draw up a regulatory framework for registration and monitoring of the businesses, Didi added.

Under current regulations, said Didi, there was no institution or state authority responsible for monitoring alternative medicine centers and beauty salons.

“[Prostitution] is taking place in beauty salons as well,” Didi claimed. “For example, say barber shops. At the moment there is no guardianship for those places. Anyone has the opportunity to do it. Registration is not necessary either. So we’re looking for a way to get those places registered.”


Government denies Israeli jet landed in Addu

The government has denied reports in the media that a private Israeli jet carrying tourists to Shangri-la Villigilli Resort landed in Addu City this week.

President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza dismissed the claim today as “completely false.”

“The government’s stand is that [the claim] is a lie,” he asserted, suggesting that the rumours originated from staff at the airport.

Two officials at the Addu International Airport Company Ltd (AIACL) told Minivan News that the private jet departed yesterday after spending four days at Gan International Airport.

An airport official told Minivan News on condition of anonymity that the Gulfstream Aerospace G200 flight (4X-CLL) arrived on Sunday with tourists from the Jewish state, and had been parked at the Gan Airport for four days prior to its departure in the morning yesterday.

Banning Israeli flights to the Maldives was among five demands made at a ‘mega-protest’ on December 23, organised by a coalition of eight parties and religious NGOs to ‘Defend Islam’ against the allegedly liberal policies of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration.

Following the change of government on February 7, the ruling coalition-dominated parliament passed a resolution on April 25 preventing Israeli national airline El Al from operating scheduled flights to the Maldives.

El Al had applied to the Ministry of Civil Aviation in May 2011 requesting permission to fly to the country starting in December 2011, prompting the religious conservative Adhaalath Party to warn of a potential terrorist attack “due to the commencement of Zionist Israel’s flight operations to Maldives.”

Adhaalath severed its coalition agreement with the then-ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in September, soon after the Transport Ministry granted a licence to El Al to begin operations to Maldives.

Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla and Islamic Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed were not responding at time of press.

“First Israeli flight”

Speaking to Minivan News, an operations officer at Gan International Airport explained that a large number of private jets routinely fly to Addu City with “rich tourists.” The official stressed that authorisation for the flight to land in the Maldives would have been granted by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Officials from the department were unavailable for comment at the time of press.

Community news site Addu Online meanwhile reported that according to an AIACL official, the private jet arrived on Sunday from Israel after transiting in another country.

The community website claimed that jet was operating under a license granted to the Israeli Amateur Radio Club. According to Addu Online, the private jet was the first flight from Israel to land at the Gan airport.

Speaking to Minivan News in April last year, former Transport Minister Adhil Saleem defended the MDP government’s decision to authorise Israeli flights, arguing that it would create opportunities for both Israeli tourists to visit the country as well as facilitate pilgrimages for Maldivians to the al-Aqsa mosques in Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam.

“Some Maldivians see Israel as controversial over the issue of Palestine. Yet Palestine accepts Israel as a state, benchmarking the point that I don’t see why we should not allow these flights.”

Saleem said that the Maldives already played host to a number of Israeli tourists at its resorts and that authorising Israeli airlines would allow for a greater influx of guests to the country’s tourism industry.


Opposition coalition to hold “national symposium” on February 24

The 23 December Coalition of religious NGOs and opposition political parties has decided to hold another mass gathering on February 24, calling the government to yield to the demands of the December 23 protest to “defend Islam”.

In press conference held today, coalition spokesperson Abdullah Mohamed clarified that the coalition is not organising a protest, while referring to the gathering as a “national symposium” to raise the voice of the people.

“We welcome people from all the islands to come and join the symposium on February 24,” Mohamed said.

The coalition representatives declined to give information to the press on the how the symposium would proceed, though Mohamed pointed out that the symposium will be organized according to the “pulse of the people”.

Hinting that “it will not be held under a roof”, Mohamed said only that “the symposium will be held in a location similar to where we held the previous rally”.

Five demands were previously addressed to the government: prohibit Israeli flights from operating in the Maldives, close all massage parlors “and such places where prostitution is practiced”, reverse the decision allowing the sale of alcohol in areas of inhabited islands declared ‘uninhabited’ – such as in Addu City and Fuvahmulah where the government plans to build city hotels – condemn UN Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay and apologise for her comments against flogging, and remove allegedly “idolatrous” SAARC monuments in Addu City.

The government subsequently addressed each point, most notably ordering that spa operations be shut down across the country and announcing that it would consider a ban on pork and alcohol in the interest of “respecting Islamic principles.”

The 2012 State Budget leans heavily on expected revenue from tourism.

Speaking at the press conference opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Deputy Leader ‘Mavota’ Ibrahim Shareef said that the symposium is among a “series of actions” to be organised by the coalition.

“This time we are calling to defend Islam and the nation”, he observed.

Shareef said a delegation from the coalition will visit Sri Lanka to explain the December 23 protest and demands to officials of embassies unspecified, as it claims the Maldivian government has spread “many lies” to defame the coalition.

The coalition also intends to meet with international press to give accurate information.

Furthermore, the coalition intends to mark a “special day to inform the demands to President Mohamed Nasheed”, Shareef said, adding that the President is deliberately “twisting the meanings to aggravate us”.