Adhaalath Party urges government to free ex defense minister

The religious Adhaalath Party (AP) has called on the government to free former defense minister Mohamed Nazim, who is currently in police custody on charges of terrorism and treason.

In a statement released on Wednesday, AP said an illegal weapons possession trial scheduled for 4pm today is unjust and said the charges against the former minister and his wife Afaaf Abdul Majeed are questionable.

“We urge Colonel (Rtd) Nazim to be freed immediately, and call on the state to protect him and his wife’s constitutional rights, which have been violated.”

The party also called on the state to stop unjust prosecutions against any citizen, cease brutality, and urged President Abdulla Yameen’s administration to refrain from influencing the judiciary. Failure to do so may destroy the separation of powers enshrined in the Maldives’ constitution, the statement read.

The AP currently holds one cabinet post in President Yameen’s cabinet. It has decided to remain with the government despite its ally Jumhooree Party’s decision to leave the ruling coalition.

Nazim was arrested on February 10 after Police Special Operations (SO) officers claimed to have found a pistol and an improvised explosive device in his apartment in a late night raid on January 18.

However, Nazim has denied the allegations with his legal team repeatedly stating that the items were planted in his home in order to frame him.


National Security Council holds first meeting

President Abdulla Yameen’s National Security Council held its first meeting on Wednesday.

The council is set up under the Military Act to advise the President on matters relating to national security.

Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim told local media discussions were held on developing facilities for the military and on compiling policies on national security. He declined to provide further details.

The Home Minister, Foreign Minister, Attorney General and Chief of Defense Forces also sits on the council.


Media Council slams Defense Ministry over threats to media

The Maldives Media Council (MMC) has expressed concern over the Ministry of Defense’s threatening the media for criticizing the dismissal of nine soldiers.

In a statement on Saturday, the Ministry of Defense threatened to take action against any party who criticized the ministry’s “routine” disciplinary actions.

The MMC – an elected 15 member council with media and public representatives – said the ministry’s statement infringes on freedom of the press and stressed that the freedom of press cannot be limited any more than is stated in the constitution.

The council appealed to the Defense Ministry to forward media complaints to the council instead of taking direct action against media outlets and reminded the Defense Ministry that the MMC is the legally authorized body to discipline any media.

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has also criticized the “politically motivated and unjust” dismissal of nine high-ranking officers at the Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF).

The nine were dismissed on charges of sowing discord within the military during the political tension surrounding the annulment, cancellation and delay of several round of presidential polls.

At the time, 17 high ranking officers signed a letter expressing concern over delay of polls and the repercussions in the absence of a president elect by the end of the presidential term on November 11.

Shortly afterwards, 73 mid ranking officers circulated an appeal calling on fellow soldiers not to obey “unlawful” orders issued by former President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan or his political appointees following the expiry of the presidential term.

The MMC has recently expressed concern with the Supreme Court asking the police to investigate a report aired by opposition aligned private broadcaster Raajje TV.

The police on Sunday sent case documents to the Prosecutor General’s office and requested charges be filed.

The military deployed soldiers to protect media outlets in October after masked men torched Raajje TV’s headquarters. The fire completely destroyed the station’s offices.


MNDF to establish TV channel, day care centre, open access to military hospital

The Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) will establish a TV channel and a day-care centre as well as providing public access to the military hospital within 100 days of government.

Recently reappointed Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim unveiled the raft of new initiatives during a ceremony held to reveal the MNDF’s new strategic action plan on Monday.

The Addana TV (Shield TV) will first be established solely for the MNDF, but will later be registered and broadcast for public viewing, MNDF Spokesperson Major Hussein Ali told Minivan News.

The military hospital Senahiya will be upgraded to provide MRI and CT scan services and will enlist specialised doctors. The 25 bed hospital currently caters to security forces and civil aviation staff but will be open for the public, Hussein said.

The day care center is an initiative of the Military Family Association and will ensure “soldier’s children are looked after in a compassionate and loving environment when their parents are at work,” Hussein said.

A new building with 72 new flats is also to be built in Bandeyri Koshi in Malé and the MNDF will build additional housing for soldiers in the MNDF headquarters.

Defense Minister Nazim said the key policies of the new Strategic Action Plan are strengthening of the national security framework, establishing a welfare system that does not rely on the state budget, developing infrastructure to enhance soldier’s living and working conditions and expanding education and training facilities to further professionalize the army.

Speaking to Channel News Maldives today, Nazim said the development of Senahiya will be sourced from foreign aid and not through the state budget.

The military will also buy a new hovercraft and a helicopter within 100 days of government, Nazim said.

Within 100 days of government, the MNDF will also submit a military discipline bill to parliament and establish military courts to ensure equality and justice within the military, he said.

The MNDF had established a joint venture “MNDF welfare company” in August 2012 to invest in various businesses, including the tourism industry.

The company is 10 percent government owned and 90 percent owned by Sifco, the MNDF’s cooperative society.

Soon afterwards, the MNDF said it would develop the military training island Thamburudhoo as a “boutique surf resort” in order to generate income to fund welfare services and training facilities

The move has garnered opposition from Maldivian surfers who started a campaign called “Save Thamburudhoo” claiming the resort will kill surf tourism in the Malé atoll.

The new initiatives come in the wake of dissent within the military ranks following the cancellation, delay and annulment of 2013 presidential polls.

A letter signed by 17 high ranking soldiers expressing concern over politicization of the military and possible repercussions should a president-elect not be determined by the end of the presidential term.

In November, an appeal signed by 73 mid-ranking soldiers, calling on fellow soldiers not to obey any “unlawful” orders issues by former President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan was leaked on social media.

The MNDF has also amended its regulations to punish officers who promoted “upheaval and chaos” in the military.

Six soldiers including Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam were dismissed from service on Monday.


Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam, five MNDF officers dismissed

The Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) has dismissed six soldiers including former head of military intelligence Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam.

In a statement on Tuesday, the MNDF said Nilam had been demoted from the post of Brigadier General and dismissed for “violating MNDF duties and disciplinary norms, repeating acts that should not be seen from an MNDF officer, revealing secret information against military regulations, diminishing the honor of the MNDF, and sowing discord in the military.”

Nilam was suspended in January after he told the People’s Majlis Government Oversight Committee that he believed the transfer of power in February 2012 had all the academic characteristics of a coup d’état.

A separate MNDF statement said First Lieutenant Abdulla Shareef, Sergeant First Class Ali Waheed and Staff Sergeant Ibrahim Ali had been dismissed for breaching MNDF’s duties and responsibilities.

Further, Staff Sergeant Hassan Hameed had been dismissed for disciplinary offenses and Lance Corporal Shahrab Rashid for leaking secret MNDF documents.

All six soldiers had previously been suspended on charges of sowing discord in the military.

Speaking at a ceremony to unveil the MNDF’s strategic action plan held last night, Chief of Defense Force Major General Ahmed Shiyam called for “100 percent loyalty” from the MNDF.

“Soldiers must have absolute loyalty. Every single man and women working in this institution must have this characteristic. Otherwise, they are lacking the most important characteristic of a soldier,” Shiyam said.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ahmed Nazim appealed to all soldiers to stay away from ideological warfare and to remain steadfast in evading attempts to sow discord among soldiers.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has condemned the “unlawful” dismissal of the six officers “on baseless allegations.”

The party said it accepted the military’s work in upholding the constitution and working to resolve the political turmoil following the annulment, cancellations and delays in presidential polls.

Following the Supreme Court order to delay run-off polls pending a verdict in a case to annul the first round of presidential election held on September 7, 17 high ranking MNDF officers sent a letter expressing concern over politicization of the military and possible repercussions should a president-elect not be determined by the end of the presidential term.

The MNDF then amended its regulations to punish officers who promoted “upheaval and chaos” and Brigadier General Abdulla Shamaal was subsequently removed from his position as the Commandant of Training and Doctrine.

Shareef, Waheed and Shahrab were suspended from service.

As the prospects of electing a president by the end of the presidential term on November 11 dimmed, 73 mid-ranking officers circulated an appeal calling on fellow soldiers not to obey any “unlawful” orders issued by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan or his political appointees.

Sergeant Hassan Hameed was then detained on the MNDF training facility at Girifushi Island.

The MDP has said the “politically motivated dismissal of soldiers who have served the state for long periods of time will only weaken the institution.”

According to local media reports, First Lieutenant Abdulla Shareef had served in the MNDF for eight years, Sergeant First Class Ali Waheed for 30 years, Staff Sergeant Ibrahim Ali for 18 years, Staff Sergeant Hassan Hameed for 19 years and Lance Corporal Shahrab Rashid for 14 years.

Ali Ibrahim had served as body guard to former First Lady Laila Ali during President Mohamed Nasheed’s tenure and Shahrab Rashid had served as bodyguard to Nasheed’s running mate Dr Musthafa Luthfy in the 2013 presidential polls.


Defence Ministry slams Majlis recruitment of independent security

The Ministry of Defense and National Security has slammed the People’s Majlis decision to establish an independent security unit to oversee the safety of MPs and Majlis premises.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the Defense Ministry said Article 105 (a) and (b) of the constitution mandated the security forces to oversee security of the People’s Majlis offices, facilities and protection of all members, and hence the Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) is currently in charge of the task.

“When the constitution has set out specific responsibilities and roles for the Maldives security forces, the Ministry of Defense and National Security, as the most important institution mandated to ensure security of the Maldives, does not believe that the People’s Majlis secretariat can hand over this task to any body that is not part of the security forces.

And this ministry does not believe that the protection of the People’s Majlis, and ensuring the security of the Majlis can be handed over [to another party] in violation of the constitution,” the Defense Ministry said.

The statement follows the Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid’s appointment of former MNDF officer Mohamed Haleem to the position of Sergeant at Arms and announcement to recruit an additional 104 security officers.

Majlis secretariat announced for a Sergeant at Arms after MNDF officers stormed the People’s Majlis to remove Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ali Azim from its premises. Shahid condemned the move stating that under parliamentary regulations, the MNDF are to operate under instructions from the Speaker inside the Majlis premises.

Soldiers clad in combat fatigues removed Azim from the Majlis building on October 26 after the Supreme Court stripped Azim and MDP aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Mohamed Nashiz of their seats over decreed debt. The Parliamentary Privileges Committee said it does not accept the “politically motivated” ruling.

The MDP and DRP currently control a simple majority in parliament. The DRP decided to back the MDP after its candidate Mohamed Nasheed gained 45.45 percent of the vote in the annulled first round of presidential elections on September 7.

Defending the Majlis

MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor is currently taking refuge inside the Majlis following several attempts by police to arrest him and present him at the Criminal Court for a trial on alleged refusal to provide a urine sample. Hamid said the Criminal Court had fast tracked his case unlawfully and without due process to “purge” MDP MPs from parliament.

Refusal to provide urine can result in a one year jail sentence. If Hamid is found guilty, he may lose his parliament seat.

The Criminal Court on October 31 sentenced Hamid to six months in jail for disobedience to orders when he refused to comply with several criminal court summons.

However, Hamid will still be able to attend Majlis hearings after amendments to the Parliamentary Procedures the day before his sentencing permitting MPs to attend Majlis even if convicted of criminal offenses.

Speaking to Minivan News today, Hamid said: “I think it is very normal for a parliament to have its own security within its premises.”

DRP MP Rozaina also supported the move, saying: “In the system we have now, where courts, police and MNDF are politicized by the people leading these institutions, the Majlis definitely needs its own.”

The Inter-Parliamentary Union is currently in the Maldives to “to help find ways to improve trust and confidence between State institutions.” The IPU has expressed concern “the frequent intimidation, harassment and attack of MPs as they go about their work.”

The MDP led parliament also voted out Attorney General Azima Shakoor and has submitted no confidence motions against Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim, Prosecutor General Ahmed Muizz and deputy speaker and PPM MP Mohamed Nazim.

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

MP Ali Waheed is on trial for disobedience to order for crossing a police barricade, while Hamid and Abdulla Jabir are on trial for alleged alcohol and drug abuse.

Police are charging MPs Alhan Fahmy, Imthiyaz Fahmy, and Mohamed Rasheed with contempt of court for criticizing the Supreme Court, and MP Ibrahim Rasheed with assaulting a police officer.

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


Defence Minister Nazim and lawyer Shaaheen Hameed dismiss speculations of impending military takeover

Prominent Lawyer Shaaheen Hameed and Defence Minister Retired Colonel Mohamed Nazim have dismissed social media speculation of an impending military takeover, should no president be elected by November 11 – the date on which the current five year presidential term expires.

Speculation began circulating on social media after former Minister of Environment and Housing Mohamed Aslam – who is himself an ex-serviceman – wrote on his Facebook status that he had received information of an impending military takeover by the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).

“The following I was informed just now: Reports from Supreme Court staff say they have seen notes written by judges saying that [the] military is studying how to take over the government and call for elections in 100-180 days. [Defence Minister] Nazim had asked Shaaheen Hameed and [Attorney General] Azima Shukoor to study similar takeovers in Thailand, Fiji and in Algeria,” wrote Aslam on his Facebook update.

“They are paid, I am told, 1.7 million rufiyaa for this study to be completed in 7-10 days. Under this, they will dissolve the [Parliament], Courts and appoint a military commission including [Yameen Abdul Gayoom] and [Gasim Ibrahim]. Supreme Court verdict stalled.”

Speaking to Minivan News on this Sunday, Defence Minister Nazim claimed that Aslam’s allegations were baseless and said such rumours were spread by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to tarnish his image and reputation.

“I have never spoken about such a thing. I believe governments should be changed through a vote of the people. I would never do such a thing. It is against all democratic principles,” Defence Minister Nazim told Minivan News.

Meanwhile in a statement released to local media last Saturday, Shaheen Hameed claimed that he had not taken part in any legal work relating to the Jumhoree Party (JP)’s Supreme Court petition against the Elections Commission (EC), in which the party requested the court to annul the first round of presidential election. Although local and international election observers praised the credibility of the polls, the third-placed JP alleged the vote was flawed due to electoral discrepancies and irregularities amounting to a “systematic failures”.

Shaheen in the statement added that he had not given any legal advice regarding the case to anybody including a political party or a state institution, let alone the Defence Minister.

“And, I shall not by any means take part in an attempt to undermine the constitution of the Republic of Maldives,” wrote Shaaheen Hameed.

Shaaheen furthermore claimed that such baseless allegations levied against were intended to tarnish his public image and incite hatred towards him.

Concerns within the military

The speculations began shortly after some 17 senior military officers sent a ‘letter of concern’ to MNDF Chief of Defence Force Major General Ahmed Shiyam, in which the officers expressed concern over the recent Supreme Court injunction to indefinitely delay the second round of Presidential Election – which could possibly lead the country in to a state of constitutional limbo.

“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,” wrote the officers

“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,” concluded the letter.


Shortly after the reception of the letter, MNDF introduced an amendment to its own regulations to include a chapter that imposed punishments and penalties against officers who incite ‘upheaval and chaos’ within the military ranks.

Three officers have been indefinitely suspended after the amendment came into force, while Brigadier General Abdulla Shamaal – who appeared to be the first signatory to the letter – has been sidelined from his position as the Commandant of Training and Doctrine.

Three officers: First Lieutenant Abdulla Shareef, Sergeant First Class Ali Waheed and Lance Corporal Sharhaab Rashid have all been suspended under the section 4(a) of the MNDF Employment Regulation.

First Lieutenant Abdulla Shareef and Sergeant First Class Ali Waheed had been suspended for inciting “upheaval and discord” among the ranks of the military while Lance Corporal Sharhaab Rashid had been suspended for “disseminating confidential information to the public without authorisation”.

Meanwhile in another turn out of events, First Lieutenant Mohamed Haleem requested resignation from the defense force over “difficulties in executing his duties”.

“I do not believe the security services are currently adhering to the constitutional provisions stated in articles 237 and 238. Also, while the spirit of article 246 of the constitution is, to refrain from political affiliations and to treat equally among the people and different groups, respecting the principles of Islam and human dignity, I do not see this currently happening [within the security services],” First Lieutenant Haleem wrote on his resignation letter.

The alleged disgruntlement within the MNDF officers also coincided with a letter from Former Male Area Commander of MNDF Retired Brigadier General Ibrahim Mohamed Didi published on social media, in which he advised military officers to uphold the law and constitution regardless of who attempted to undermine it.

“My advice to the military officers is: ‘Do not give the opportunity to anyone who plans to rule this country by taking the laws to their own hands and override the constitution and undermine the constitutional framework of this country’,” wrote the ex-Brigadier General.


Comment: From confrontation to conciliation and coalition?

With the Maldives warming up for presidential polls slated for September and the Election Commission fixing July 15 as the date for opening nominations, the climate of confrontation from the past year is slowly but surely giving way to the possibilities of new coalitions, pointing to the inevitability of conciliation and/or reconciliation now and later.

If still some political leaders will still not talk about conciliation and nor talk to one another, and instead hold grudges against one another, it has have more to do with personal hurt and/or ego than politics and political philosophies.

Independent of the political implications involved, Parliament Speaker Abdulla Shahid’s decision to join the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), after quitting the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP), is a case in point. At the height of the ‘power-transfer’ in February last year, the MDP charged him and the Majlis with impropriety in hurrying through the ‘succession processes’ after President Mohammed Nasheed gave way to Vice-President Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik in a surprising yet not wholly unexpected turn of events. Earlier, too, Speaker Shahid was locked in a series of procedural issues between the Executive under President Nasheed and the Majlis, where as the ‘minority party’ the MDP saw him more as an ‘opposition man’ than as an unbiased Speaker of the House.

A fortnight after Speaker Shahid’s formal announcement, no major party in the ruling coalition has demanded his resignation. Nor has any of them talked about moving a no-trust vote against him. Individual voices have been raised, but they have remained as such.

The DRP to which he had belonged until the other day and of which he was among the leading-lights, has since gone about its national congress as if nothing had happened. The party has enough worries on hand, in terms of its continued stability and future, starting with DRP Leader Thasmeen Ali contesting the presidential polls of September. Going by media reports, the national council has amended the party’s constitution, authorising the executive committee to formulate the internal laws for dissolving the DRP, if and when it so desired.

Army told to stay away

In a fitting and much-needed direction ahead of the polls, Defence Minister Ahamed Nazim has reportedly told the armed forces not to get involved in direct politics. They should stop with exercising their democratic rights as voters, and should not identify with individual political parties, the local media quoted him as telling the personnel of the Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF). A retired colonel of the armed forces, Nazim was at the centre of the controversy attending on the MDP charges of a ‘politico-military coup’ against President Nasheed in February 2012.

Minister Nazim’s direction now should have a salutary effect on the morale of the Maldivian forces in the future, if it is taken to its logical conclusion. It could help ensure free and fair elections, which the constitution has promised every five years. More importantly, it could set the tone and tenor for the political class and the armed forces reconciling themselves to the division of the security requirements of the State between the MNDF (external security) and the Maldivian Police Service (MPS for internal security duties), when the unified National Security Service (NSS) was bifurcated for the very reason in 2006, during the relatively long run-up to the democratisation process.

The political executive not having kept its part of the deal, the MNDF and the MPS have remained extremely and excessively politicised with their top-rung getting a make-over with every change of government. Given to practices from the past and also the paucity of MPS personnel at the ground-level, successive Governments too commanded the MNDF to what essentially are policing duties, leading to a cycle of ‘mutual dependency syndrome’ and consequent controversies. The fact that the MNDF was involved in the arrest of political personalities by successive Governments even after the bifurcation, in the one-day closure of the Supreme Court, all escalating to levels in which the force and also the MPS got entangled in the ‘power-transfer episode’ of February 7, 2012, speaks volumes.

Coalition realignment

Coalition and conciliation have been the basis for the emergence of multi-party democracy in the country and its sustenance since. Elections-2008 became possible, and results became pronounced, thanks to the opposition coalition of the time, particularly in the second-round, run-off polls to the presidency, despite what otherwise may be parroted in public. The process went unacknowledged as such, but that was what it was. Despite the controversial circumstances for which the 2008 constitution had not provided for, the realignment of that coalition was a major factor in the ‘transfer of power’ in February 2012.

In the run-up to the September polls, there is a talk of further realignment. Every party is talking to every other party, or is possibly sending out feelers. Whatever the reason, senior leaders of parties which were supposed to have been after one another were known to have met over the past year of conflict, controversy and confrontation. Where some such meetings were supposed to have been private, affairs became public knowledge almost immediately, whatever the reason, whoever leaked it.

Thus, Nasheed had DRP leader Thasmeen Ali and PPM’s Abdulla Yameen, since elected as the party’s presidential nominee, calling on him on separate occasions over the past year, like Speaker Shahid would do months later. Their’s was however said to be either a courtesy call on a former President or was to discuss specific issues like deadlocks in Parliament, where the MDP is the single largest party and controls many House Committees. Yet, the ice was broken, post-February ’12.

Protagonists remain. Of the three, Maumoon Gayoom and Mohammed Nasheed were past Presidents. The third one, Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik, is the incumbent. Waheed has since called on Maumoon, talking about a possible coalition still for the September poll, against Nasheed and his MDP. President Waheed has also been talking to ruling coalition partner and Jumhooree Party (JP) presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim and Gayoom’s PPM rebel, Umar Naseer. He already has the religion-centric Adhaalath Party (AP) and Presidential Advisor Hassan Saeed’s Dhivehi Quamee Party (DQP) in alliance with his own Quamee Iththihaad Party (QIP), all backing him for the presidency.

Gasim and Thasmeen Ali, leader of the DRP, founded by Gayoom before he split away and launched the PPM had once projected themselves as partners. There are also reports from time to time that the MDP has been sending out feelers or receiving them to and from partners in the ruling coalition. For them, Gayoom not contesting the primary even while retaining the party presidency and Yameen becoming the PPM’s presidential nominee should blunt some of their misdirected angst from the past, near and far.

The MDP is the single largest party, both in Parliament and outside now, going by the numbers. The recent cross-over by Speaker Shahid and a few others has added to the party’s parliamentary strength. MDP leaders claim that it is a reflection of the public mood ahead of the presidential polls. Candidate Nasheed has declared since that the party would not opt for a coalition as it was unworkable under the Maldivian constitutional scheme, which provided for Executive Presidency.

Party leaders attribute Nasheed’s declaration to the MDP’s confidence in being able to win the presidential polls by itself. Critics remain. They say, there are no takers for a coalition with the MDP after the 2008 experience, and that the MDP was making a virtue of a necessity. Yet, through the past year there have been occasion in which the MDP, and some of the leading partners in the ruling coalition like the PPM and the DRP, voting together on crucial pieces of legislation, reflecting the need and possibilities of ‘bipartisanship’, which is an inherent, yet unpronounced element of the Executive Presidency scheme.

End to ‘negative politics’

It is but natural for any nation that has continued with and under the same political leadership for three long decades, and a history of sorts before it, to suffer the effects of ‘anti-incumbency’ afflicting the regime. The 2008 Constitution and the presidential polls were the cause and effect of the anti-incumbency finding a democratic expression, leading to the most controversial of ‘transfers of power’ that the nation had anticipated or others had gone through. There is no reason why 2013 could not be a repeat of 2008, pushing 2012 to the background and permanently so, at least as far as the process are concerned and independent of the results, which rests with the people of the country.

If Elections-2008 were thus won and lost on ‘negative votes’, it may not be any different in 2013. In most democracies the world over, ‘anti-incumbency’ rather than the ‘promised moon’ has been at the bottom election-driven power-transfers. In some of those nations, palpable in the Third World than in the First, internal dynamics of individual political parties have been driven by their inherent belief in ‘anti-incumbency’ – and not their ‘positive’ politics, policies and programmes – putting them (back) in power.

So complete has been the belief that some leaders in some of the parties would rather fight to keep the party leadership with them, ready to be catapulted to power by the externality of anti-incumbency against the ruler of the day. This throws up the problem of the newly-elected not having thought of working out and working with a ‘positive programme’ to endear him and his party to the people at large, who thus end up crying ‘anti-incumbency’ before long.

Democratic over-heating

It is under these circumstances that post-poll governments in these democracies have often been driven to stick to their electoral promises which are mostly confined to ‘exposing’ those that they had replaced and bringing them to justice for whatever offence that they might have been said to have committed while in power and abusing that power. This ‘eye-for-an-eye’ merry-go-round, if it could be called so, has only made every one blind to the power that they have come to enjoy and enforce, rather by default than any other way.

This alone has had the potential to defeat the people’s faith in democracy, as they get to feel little or no positive contributions and consequences of democracy touching their everyday life. Despite hopes to the contrary at birth, Maldives has proved to be no exception. However, in this case, over the past five years of democratic over-heating Maldives has proved that popular democracy has come to stay. So has coalition politics, in power and/or out of it.

‘Coalition-compulsions’, a new phrase that Maldives and Maldivian polity will have to come to terms with even while practising it already, would imply that all stake-holders should be ready for future cross-over by individual parties and their individual leaders and should not say or do things that they might regret on a later date. In a nation where the total registered membership of all political parties does not add up to half the electorate, it is saying a lot.

It is a message to the political parties that they need conciliation processes and reconciliation procedures in their own larger and future interest than their short-lived present, which the first five years of democracy has proved to each one of them, individually and collectively. If at a critical stage in the nation’s history, Presidents Gayoom and Nasheed could ensure a smooth power-transfer through a promise of give-and-take in 2008, there is no reason why the un-kept promises as perceived by various stake-holders cannot be revisited in the run-up to the second presidential polls under the multi-party democracy scheme.

There is thus a need for finding institutional solutions for ending mutual conflict and consequent confrontation that the nation can ill-afford in times such as these — when political stability is threatened alongside by economic downslide. It can blame the economy on the external world. Political problems are a Maldivian making just as the transition to democracy was a boon earlier. Both have had the ‘Made in Maldives’ brand sealed all over them.

The writer is a Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


Parliament postpones no-confidence votes against Home, Defence Minister over issue of secret ballot

Parliament called off scheduled no-confidence votes set to be taken today (April 8 ) against Home Minister Mohamed Jameel and Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim, after Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs objected to the vote not being made in secret despite a parliamentary decision otherwise.

The Supreme Court in March struck down the amendment to parliament’s standing orders that allowed no-confidence votes to be made through secret ballot, declaring the amendment unconstitutional. The majority opinion of the Supreme Court contended that the move contravened article 85 of the constitution as well as parliamentary principles and the norms of free and democratic societies.

During today’s parliament session, Deputy Parliamentary Group Leader of MDP, MP Ali Waheed, contended that the Supreme Court’s ruling itself had been unconstitutional as it had exceeded its own mandate as under the constitution parliament is deemed a separate power of the state – which the Supreme Court does not have the jurisdiction to meddle with.

Waheed also warned that the MDP would not allow the speaker to go forward with the vote without making it a secret ballot.

Several other opposition MPs argued that government-aligned Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) was prepared to vote with the opposition should the ballot be a secret ballot, giving the vote the 39 MP majority needed for it to pass.

However, Deputy Parliamentary Group Leader of DRP MP Abdulla Mausoom denied the claim stating that the party’s stand was to abstain from the vote.

Mausoom told local media outlet Sun Online that the party had come to the decision in an attempt to prioritise national interest ahead of party politics and to prevent chaos and confusion among the public.

During the debate on the vote, members of the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) spoke in favour of both Jameel and Nazim claiming that the vote was a tactic employed by the opposition to intimidate and harass the ministers.

Speaking during the debate, former Interim Deputy Leader of PPM, MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla said that Jameel a remarkable background and was one of the most educated and able ministers in the current government.

He also said that PPM was defending the Minister not because the party felt that the government of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan was doing any good, but because PPM MPs loved the nation and its well being.

Raheem Abdulla also applauded the minister for his “remarkable reforms” brought to the police institution, claiming that the police force “was a mess” during former President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration.

Speaking in the debate, MP Ali Waheed questioned the Home Minister as to why the police were excessively spending public funds on fireworks and celebrations when the country’s largest hospital IGMH did not even have enough doctors.

Meanwhile Independent MP Alhan Fahmy stated that although he did not question Jameel’s academic qualifications, he argued that the minister had failed in executing his duties and accused him of being negligent in looking into police misconduct.

Responding to the allegations levied against him, Jameel told parliament that the no-confidence motion filed against him by the MDP MPs lacked any basis.

Jameel, former Justice Minister during President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s administration, claimed that allegations against him were “misleading and politicised” and that the motion was put forth to achieve “political leverage”.

“When I took over as the Minister, the whole police institution was in a mess. I cannot fix everything in a year. Under my leadership, the role of the police has been expanded throughout the country. Demonstrations can now be held anywhere in the country peacefully,” he said.

Jameel also contended that police are now more professional and do not discriminate when executing their duties and responsibilities.

Order in the chamber was lost halfway through the morning session after Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim entered the parliament floor wearing his military colours.

Opposition MDP MP Mohamed ‘Kubey’ Rasheed took a point of order contending the parliamentary regulation did not allow Defense Minister – who was accompanied by his lawyer and the Deputy Attorney General – to enter the parliament floor with military colours.

Several other MPs also joined Rasheed in protest and the session had to be suspended for few hours.

Before the break, MPs decided to hold the debate on Defence Minister’s impeachment behind closed doors.

The parliament session reconvened at 1:00pm and when Speaker Abdulla Shahid called for the vote, MDP MPs began protesting, claiming that the vote should be a secret ballot.

After several failed attempts by the Speaker to calm the MPs, the session was cancelled. Speaker Shahid also announced that the matter raised by MDP MPs regarding Supreme Court’s decision had been sent to parliament’s General Affairs Committee.

Speaker Shahid stated that the committee with review the decision and will begin its work on Tuesday.

In October last year, the MDP submitted its first motion against Home Minister Jameel over concerns from the party of what it called an “unprecedented” increase in murders and assault in the Maldives since the transfer of power.

Despite the MDP withdrawing the no-confidence motion against the home minister a month later in November for an unexplained reason, a second no-confidence vote was submitted by the party in December.

A statement issued by the MDP accused Jameel of failing to control civil peace and order in the country, which it said had led to the loss of eight lives.

The MDP further referred to an incident in which a man on a motorcycle was killed after a police officer struck a second motorcyclist with his baton, causing him to collide with the first.

The MDP alleged that Home Minister Jameel had tried to cover up police involvement in the death.

A no-confidence vote was also due to be taken against Jumhoree Party MP and resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim’s position on the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), which has come under fire internationally amid questions over its conduct and impartiality.