Indian Chief of Army Staff to visit Maldives

India’s Chief of Army Staff General Bikram Singh will arrive in Maldives tomorrow on a two-day official visit. During the visit he will hold official bilateral talks with Maldives’ Chief of Defence force Major General Ahmed Shiyam.

He is also expected to pay courtesy visits to President Abdulla Yameen and Minister of Defence and National Security Mohamed Nazim.

General Singh’s  predecessor Chief of Army Staff General Deepak Kapoor also visited the Maldives in February 2010.


Government commence student health screening

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) has commenced their student health screening project as part of the governments pledges. Local media reported that the MNDF have so far screened up to 600 students.

This initiative is being carried out as part of a joint agreement between Education Ministry, Health Ministry and the MNDF.

Education Minister Dr Aishath Shiyam said that neglect of small health issues in children has led to obstructions in their studies and development, an issue that the government is trying to overcome.

“With the combined work of the health ministry and the education ministry, health screening shall be administered to all the first grade students in all the schools of Maldives. The health screening we have done so far proves how important a service this is for school students,” she said.


Translation: MNDF officers’ ‘letter of concern’

The following is a translation of a leaked “letter of concern” circulating on social media, submitted by senior officers of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) to Chief of Defence Force Major-General Ali Shiyam on September 28. Following the release of the letter the MNDF amended its regulations to punish officers who promoted “upheaval and chaos”. Brigadier General Abdulla Shamaal was subsequently removed from his position as the Commandant of Training and Doctrine,while First Lieutenant Abdulla Shareef (Marine Corp), Sergeant First Class Ali Waheed and Lance Corporal Sharhaab Rashid were dismissed from service. First Lieutenant Mohamed Haleem resigned, stating “For the last 23 years [of my military service]; I have served this country under a solemn oath taken in the name of Allah, I do not see any way that I can carry out my duties as prescribed in the constitution and the military act, while in this position, therefore I request you to relieve me from my duties.”

To Chief of Defence Force Major General Ali Shiyam:

Whereas Article 236 in Chapter 9 of the Republic of Maldives’ Constitution states the Maldivian security services, consisting of the Military Service and the Police Service, is established to enable all persons in the Maldives to live in peace, security and freedom,

Whereas Article 237 states the security services shall protect the nation’s sovereignty, maintain its territorial integrity defend the constitution and democratic institutions, maintain and enforce law and order, and render assistance in emergencies,

And whereas Article 238 states that the actions of the security services must be exercised in accordance with the Constitution and the law, and operate on the basis of accountability,

And whereas Article 111 states that if no candidate wins by over fifty percent of the votes in a presidential election, a run-off election must be held within twenty one days of the first election,

And whereas Article 142 states judges must comply with the constitution and the law,

On 7 September 2013, a presidential election was held as per Article 110 of the Constitution. The Elections Commission announced a second round of election on 28 September 2013 as per Article 111 of the constitution.

According to Article 111 of the constitution, a second round of election must be held within 21 days after the first election, and that date is 28 September 2013. We believe, given Article 8 of the Constitution states that the powers of the state shall be exercised in accordance with the constitution, and as 28 September 2013 is the last date on which the second round of the presidential elections can be held, the Supreme Court order to delay the election is one that creates dangers for the nation and its citizens and creates challenges from a national security point of view, and may impede the military from carrying out is constitutionally mandated duties.

As per Article 237 the security forces are mandated with defending democratic institutions, and maintaining and enforcing law and order.

Given the shifting national security atmosphere in the country, and as the Maldivian state’s independent institutions and the international community are repeatedly calling for all parties to respect the constitution, we believe any military act that violates constitutional rules and democratic norms, will destroy the sovereign state established in the Maldives, destroy law and order in the country, and allow for a military state to be established in the Maldives.

This is due to influential actors who may abuse the turmoil and constitutional void following the delay in presidential elections. We are concerned that the chain of command established in the military as per the laws will be lost, and will allow for the military to be used as a tool to hand over administration of the state to a certain group of people.

Article 245 states that no one is allowed to issue an illegal order to a member of the security services and that members of the security services should not obey such an order. Hence, due to orders issued in the above mentioned situation, this institution [military] may fall into a deep pit, and we fear that subordinate commanders and lower ranks may be legally locked into a dark cell and may be criminally charged at a later date.

Hence, we express grave concern, and appeal for this institution not to be propelled into a deep pit, and state that we will steadfastly remain with good military behavior and good order against any illegal order.

28 September 2013


Brigadier General Shamal
Colonel Abdul Raheem
Brigadier General Ahmed Jihad
Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam
Colonel Hamid Shareef
Lt. Colonel Nasrulla Majdhee
Captain Abdul Muizz
Lt. Colonel Ibrahim Hilmee
Sergeant Major Hassan Fawaz
Sergeant Major Naushad Ali
First Lieutenant Abdulla Shareef
First Lieutenant Mutholib [unclear]
Sergeant Major [first name unclear] Vaseem
[name unclear]
[name unclear]
Captain Hassan Amir


Inclusive elections could restore democracy in the Maldives: IDSA

The nascent multi-party democracy in Maldives had suffered a setback on 7 February 2012 when the democratically elected president Mohamed Nasheed had to step down under tumultuous circumstances, writes Anand Kumar for India’s Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.

Though he was succeeded by the then vice president Mohamed Waheed Hassan, the legitimacy of his government was questioned by many. Nasheed and his party the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had termed the change of government as a coup d’état. The continuous political turmoil in the country forced president Waheed to opt for an early election, which is scheduled for September 7. Even then it was felt that political vendetta will not allow all political players to take part in elections. However, finally, now it seems that Maldives is headed for an inclusive election that could restore democracy in the country.

The election process has started with the filing of nomination papers from 15-24 July. Mohamed Nasheed has filed his nomination as the candidate of the largest political party, the MDP. He has chosen veteran administrator and politician Mustafa Lutfi as his running mate. Lutfi was part of the cabinet of both former presidents Gayaoom and Nasheed. He has also been associated with the Maldivian National University and is widely considered as the brain behind a master plan for the development of higher education in Maldives.

Nasheed is likely to face stiff challenge from the Progressive Party of Maldives’ (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yamin who is half brother of former dictator Abdul Gayoom. He has chosen Maldivian Home Minister Mohamed Jameel as his running mate. Gayoom formed PPM when his earlier confidant Ahmed Tasmeen Ali refused to return charge of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) to him. Gayoom had given charge of DRP to Tasmeen Ali, when he left for Malaysia after getting defeated in the first multi-party elections.

The third political front called ‘Forward with the Nation’ coalition is headed by incumbent president Mohamed Waheed who belongs to Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP). He has chosen Tasmeen Ali of DRP as his running mate. This was initially a rainbow coalition and also included religious fundamentalist Adhaalath Party. Adhaalath wants imposition of strict Sharia law in Maldives and also wants ban on men and women dancing in public and ban on alcohol at resorts which are the mainstay of Maldivian economy.

The Adhaalath Party (AP) has, however, quit President Mohamed Waheed’s coalition after Waheed stated in an interview to the AFP that the party had “extremist” individuals. Denouncing the statement Adhaalath said, “The Adhaalath Party does not by any means hold extremist views. The party is working to introduce Islamic principles to the country, to protect the Islamic faith of the country and the country’s sovereign.” Another important desertion has been of Dr Hassan Saeed’s of Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) who was the presidential advisor. He has now joined Jumhoory Party (JP). Waheed has however tried to present a brave face and expressed confidence of ultimately winning the election.

The business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim is the presidential candidate from Jumhoory Party (JP). He had finished fourth in the last presidential election and has picked Dr Hassan Saeed as the running mate. This combination is not supposed to present any serious challenge but has the potential to eat into the votes polled. It is possible that Gasim Ibrahim might tie-up with Abdulla Yamin if the first round fails to throw up a clear winner. In that case the combination would present a formidable challenge and might actually emerge winner.

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No US base under discussion, only joint training exercises: Defence Minister

Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim has said there is no proposal to establish a US base in the Maldives, and that a ‘Status of Forces Agreement’ (SOFA) currently under discussion only concerns joint military training exercises between the two nations.

“It is an agreement signed to carry out military training exercises with other countries. There is no proposal to establish a US military base in the Maldives. The government won’t give that opportunity to any country,” Nazim told local media.

“The US has proposed joint military training exercises with our forces. The proposal is being discussed with the relevant authorities of the Maldives. The agreement will be signed on the advice of the Attorney General,” he added

The US Embassy in Colombo has also refuted reports of a planned US military presence in the Maldives.

“There are no plans for a permanent US military presence in Maldives. SOFAs are normal practice wherever the Unites States cooperates closely with a country’s national security forces. SOFAs generally establish the framework under which US personnel operate in a country when supporting security-related activities and the United States is currently party to more than 100 agreements that may be considered a SOFA,” an Embassy spokesperson told Minivan News on Wednesday.

An apparent draft of the SOFA agreement was published by Maldivian current affairs blog DhivehiSitee on Wednesday.

The draft outlines conditions under which US personnel and civilian staff would operate in the Maldives, granting them freedom of movement and the diplomatic immunities of the Vienna Convention, authority to carry arms, use naval and aerial base facilities, and the radio spectrum. US personnel in the Maldives would be subject to US laws and exempt from paying taxes and any undergoing any form of customs inspections.

Under the proposed 10 year agreement outlined in the draft, the Maldives would moreover “furnish, without charge” to the United States unspecified “Agreed Facilities and Areas”, and “such other facilities and areas in the territory and territorial seas of the Republic of Maldives as may be provided by the Republic of Maldives in the future.”

“The Republic of the Maldives authorises United States forces to exercise all rights and authorities with Agreed Facilities and Areas that are necessary for their use, operation, defense or control, including the right to undertake new construction works and make alterations and improvements,” the document states.

The US Embassy in Colombo was unable to verify the authenticity of the leaked draft, “as the agreement has not been finalised.”


Military consolidation expected to dominate Defence Minister Nazim’s India visit

Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim is expected to commence talks today with his Indian counterpart on strengthening military ties between the two nations.  The talks will be the most senior meeting of ministers between the two countries since reports of bilateral tensions earlier this year, according to the Times of India.

As part of his visit to India, Nazim is expected to meet with Indian Defence Minister Shri A K Anthony to discuss establishing further defence collaboration, as well as the possibility of extending Indian coastal radar systems across the Maldives.

Nazim’s visit comes after Defence Minister Anthony travelled to the Maldives last year to open the ‘SenaHiya’ Military Hospital in Male’, where he spoke of expanding cooperation on naval security and preventing drug trafficking.

The ceremony in September 2012, was held at a time when international media was playing up a perceived strengthening of relations between the Maldives and China, drawing attention to the potential geopolitical implications for neighbouring India.

According to the Times of India, Nazim is the first senior government minister to visit the India since the country was accused of becoming embroiled in the Maldives’ domestic politics earlier this year.

Both Nazim and President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad were not responding to calls from Minivan News as time of press.

Reported tensions

Back in February, Maldives political figures from several government-aligned parties criticised the Indian High Commission after former President Nasheed was allowed to seek refuge on its premises from police seeking to present him to the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.

Nasheed remained in the high commission’s chancery building on Sosun Magu in Male’ for 11 consecutive days, maintaining that charges against him for detaining a chief Criminal Court Judge were a politically motivated attempt to prevent him from contesting in presidential elections scheduled for this year.

Indian officials at the time rejected accusations of taking sides in the country’s domestic affairs, maintaining that India only favoured “inclusive elections”.

After Nasheed was allowed into the building, Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel implied through social media that India was meddling in the Maldives’ internal affairs, stating at the time: “What’s happening now gives us an indication of the extent and level of interest some countries prepared to take in our internal matters”.

“I would strongly urge everyone to let our institutions deal with the challenges, allow Maldives to uphold rule of law,” he tweeted.

Just a month before Nasheed went into the high commission building, Maldivian authorities denied that the country’s foreign minister had been snubbed by the Indian government after it rejected an official request to meet.

The reported snub came as Maldivian local media were issued a list of 11 grievances from the Indian High Commission concerning the treatment of Indian nationals in the country.

“Unshakable” relationship

However, the new Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives Rajeev Shahare last week emphasised the “unshakable” long-standing relationship between between both countries during a meeting with local media (April 10).

Shahare at the time stressed there had been no change in the relationship between the Maldives and India, despite media reports of increased tension between both nations.

“In any relationship there are highs and lows, but the relationship carries on its course normally,” he said.  “Engagement between the Maldives and India has been constant. We are pretty much on course.”


Defence Minister launches defamation case against Nasheed over “traitor” allegations

The first hearing of a defamation case filed by Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim against former President Mohamed Nasheed took place at the Civil Court today, with MVR 3.75 million (US$243,506) being sought in compensation.

The hearing was attended by legal representatives for both Mohamed Nazim and former President Nasheed, who was today detained by police for a separate criminal trial over the detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

Nazim’s lawyer told the court that the defence minister’s good name and reputation had been affected by claims made by Nasheed, who had called his client a traitor during a public address at a rally following February’s controversial transfer of power.

Newspaper ‘Haveeru’ reported at the time that following Nasheed’s speech, a group of protesters came outside Nazim’s house and that it had “left Nazim’s family in fear”.

Former Youth Minister Dr Hassan Latheef attended today’s hearing to represent Nasheed, telling the presiding judge that the former president denied the charges against him.

Latheef told the court that evidence would be provided to support Nasheed’s allegations, adding that the former president would want to produce such evidence to the court.

The next hearing for the case is now expected to take place will held a week on Thursday (October 18) . The presiding judge also said that during the next hearing Nasheed’s lawyer will get his chance to respond to the charges.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed was arrested this morning after Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court issued an arrest warrant. The warrant was issued after Nasheed ignored court summons to produce himself to the court for the hearing of a case filed against him for ‘’unlawful’’ arrest of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed.

Nasheed was at Fresmathoda Island in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll campaigning for the next presidential elections when he was arrested.

Another case of defamation has also been filed by Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz at the Civil Court against Nasheed. A hearing in to the case was recently scheduled but before the scheduled time it was cancelled.  Local media reports say that the hearing was postponed upon Riyaz’s request.

Back in April, the Maldives Police Service had forwarded a case concerning alcohol bottles allegedly confiscated from the home of Nasheed to the Prosecutor General’s (PG’s) Office.

A source with knowledge of the case has told Minivan News that the PG’s Office had decided that evidence provided by police at the time had not been obtained under the required procedures and regulations.

The source who wished to remain anonymous, said the PG had requested that police resubmit the case with evidence that was “legally obtained”, if the case was to proceed to a criminal hearing – a request that had not been forthcoming so far.

Prosecutor General Ahmed Muizz was not responding to calls from Minivan News at the time of press for an official response.


India defends its backyard in the Indian Ocean: Wall Street Journal

“The whole world is watching China’s confrontations in the South China Sea and the East China Sea—but India is watching with particular concern,” Harsh V. Pant, a defence studies professor for King’s College, London, writes for the Wall Street Journal.

“India has no territorial claims here per se, but one Indian official recently said that the South China Sea could be seen ‘as the antechamber of the Indian Ocean,’ given the flow of maritime traffic. New Delhi is nervous about Beijing’s threat to the freedom of navigation, and this is one reason it is strengthening ties with island nations in the Indian Ocean.

This month, Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony travelled to the Maldives to shore up relations with the young democracy. He was ostensibly there to inaugurate a military hospital built with Indian assistance, but New Delhi used the occasion to make a slew of defence-related announcements.

Chiefly, Delhi will begin training Maldives’ air force and position a naval team in the islands to train Maldivian naval personnel. Mr Antony also said India would station a defence attaché in its Maldivian embassy, extend the deployment of a helicopter squadron in the islands for two more years, and help the Maldives government in its surveillance of its Exclusive Economic Zone, which extends for 200 nautical miles (370 km) from its shores.

All these take defence cooperation up to the next level. More importantly, they underscore India’s continuing commitment to Maldives, despite a somewhat contentious transfer of power earlier this year when its first democratically elected president Mohamed Nasheed resigned under pressure when protests broke out against him. Some saw this as a coup, but India isn’t taking sides. Some of this is sheer agnosticism on Delhi’s part—it doesn’t want to interfere in another nation’s internal affairs—but a lot of it is realpolitik too.

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Surf legend Damien Hardman wins Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy

The 2012 Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy concluded on Sunday with the top prize going to two-time world champion Damien Hardman.

The 46 year-old Australian narrowly defeated three-time world champion, US contender Tom Curren, to win the grand prize of US$10,000 – on top of his US$6000 winnings for both the Single and Twin-Fin divisions.

“I can’t remember the last time I won sixteen grand,” Hardman said, following his win, the trophy for which was presented by Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim.

“The standard of surfing was great, we’re all in our mid to late 40s but it doesn’t matter how old you are if you put the work in to maintain your fitness and ability.”

Accepting the trophy for the runner-up, Curren used the opportunity to highlight the imminent privatisation of the Thanburudhoo surf breaks – including the competition break Sultans – by the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).

“The break at Sultans is under threat of privatisation. There should be a consensus about that – local surfers need to be respected and the discussion needs to continue,” Curren said.

Under the proposal, Singaporean investment firm Telos would receive a 50 year lease on the military training island to develop a “boutique surf resort”, in exchange for US$5 million to develop an MNDF training facility on nearby Girifishi. Local surfers would be permitted to surf the breaks twice a month.

Maldivian surfer Hassan ‘Ibu’ Areef, who won the Four Seasons local title and a prize of MVR 25,000 (US$1621), told Minivan News that Sultans was one of the most accessible and consistent waves for local surfers, and one of the few left in Male’ Atoll that had not been privatised by upmarket resorts.

“There are limited places for local surfers to go,” he said. “If the breaks are privatised, we will have nowhere to go and practice, and private surfing businesses and safaris will also be affected. It is really sad.”

“This is not all about money; it is about enjoyment as well. These people to not really understand surfing culture. They only see a business opportunity,” Ibu said.

The privatisation of the competition-standard break would deny local surfers a home ground advantage during big competitions, he pointed out, “because we will not have been able to practice there.”

Other local surfers have also slammed the idea. In a document circulated on social media,‘Surfers’ Report on Thanburudhoo’, they argue that the island has two of the atoll’s four accessible waves (Sultans and Honkeys).

“If Thanburudhoo is a resort the only two accessible waves in the atoll are in Himmafushi (Jails) and Thulusdhoo (Cokes) – the number of accessible waves in the atoll is halved from four to two,” the document states.

Most of the waves in the atoll are claimed by their respective resorts, including Tombstones (Full Moon resort), Ninjas (Club Med Kani), Lhohis (Hudhuranfushi) and Chickens (Kuda Villingili).

Sparked by the tournament’s international media attention, the situation has begun receiving attention from surf publications around the world.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that privatisation not only infringes on local surfers’ rights to freely access the reefs and islands they’ve inhabited and lived off for centuries,” reported South African surf news website Zig Zag.

“It also ensures any visiting surfers who can’t afford to pay the prices of these ’boutique’ resorts will instead be forced to sit shoulder-to-shoulder waiting for a set at the last two quality spots in North Malé. The knock-on effect could even lead to surf tour operations going out of business – why go on a surf trip when you’re not allowed to surf half the waves? The end result would mean locals not only lose out on waves, but for those employed by, or operating their own surf tour business, their very livelihood could be threatened,” the site reported.

Local surfers present at the Four Seasons’ event seized the opportunity to confront the Defence Minister about the proposed privatisation, following the presentations. Nazim reportedly promised further discussions.