MDP seeks candidate to contest Dhiggaru by-election

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) is seeking a candidate to contest an upcoming by-election for the vacant Dhiggaru constituency parliament seat.

The opposition alliance, made up of the MDP, the Adhaalath Party (AP), and senior leaders of the Jumhooree Party, had previously said discussions were ongoing on fielding a single candidate.

“At the discussions, opposition parties agreed to bring forward one candidate. We also agreed that the candidate will come from the MDP,” said MDP vice president Mohamed Shifaz.

The MDP announced yesterday that a primary will take place next Monday to select the party’s candidate and invited members to apply by Sunday.

The by-election, triggered by a 25-year jail sentence handed down to former ruling party MP Ahmed Nazim, is scheduled to take place on June 6.

Contestants must file candidacy papers at the Elections Commission before the end of April.

AP spokesperson Ali Zahir had previously expressed interest in contesting for the Dhiggaru seat.

However, AP secretary general Iaad Hameed told Minivan News today that the religious conservative party has not decided yet on fielding a candidate.

“We have also agreed on bringing one candidate from the opposition,” he said.

He stressed that Zahir had only expressed interest in contesting. Zahir is currently overseas and was unavailable for comment.

Meanwhile, a primary of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) is due to take place tomorrow between former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s eldest son, Ahmed Faris Maumoon, and Meemu atoll council president Moosa Naseer.

Three other candidates who initially sought the ruling party’s ticket withdrew their candidacies this week, including Meemu atoll councillor Moosa Naseer Ahmed and deputy environment minister Mohamed Hanim.

Polling is due to take place from 2:00pm to 5:00pm on Friday in four of the five islands that make up the Dhiggaru parliamentary constituency.

The five islands in the constituency are Dhiggaru, Madduvari, Veyvah, Muli and Raimmandhoo. Arrangements have been made for party members from Raimmandhoo to vote in other islands.

The by-election is expected to be hotly contested amid heightened political tension following the jailing of former president Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim as well as the alleged unfair targeting of JP leader Gasim Ibrahim’s business interests.


State witnesses offered political posts for testimony, says MP Nazim

Ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Nazim has alleged state witnesses were offered jobs in exchange for testifying against him in a corruption trial.

The former Deputy Speaker of Majlis was charged with four counts of corruption in late 2009 for allegedly conspiring to defraud the former Ministry of Atolls Development.

In February 2014, the High Court upheld the Criminal Court’s dismissal of all four counts of corruption.

The appellate court upheld the Criminal Court’s refusal to accept testimony by Nazim’s former employees, referring to a Supreme Court precedent which established that accomplices to a crime could not testify for or against an alleged partner to the crime.

Prosecutor General (PG) Muhthaz Muhsin appealed the High Court’s decision with the Supreme Court in July 2014, months after the 90-day appeal period expired.

“The two main state witnesses were bribed with political posts within the government. These charges are politically motivated,” Nazim told the Supreme Court today.

The atolls ministry scam – first flagged in a 2009 audit report – involved paper companies allegedly set up by Nazim to win bids for projects worth over US$400,000, including the fraudulent purchase of harbour lights, national flags, and mosque sound systems.

At the time, police alleged Nazim ordered his staff at Namira Engineering to set up paper companies to bid for public tenders, and channeled the money to Nazim through Namira and other unregistered companies

When Justice Adam Mohamed today asked state prosecutors why Nazim must be held responsible for fraud committed by Namira, state prosecutor Abdulla Rabiu pointed out the MP was the Managing Director of the company at the time and oversaw its daily activities.

All the money from the scam had gone to Namira’s accounts, he added.

Nazim’s employees had also testified they submitted bogus bids on the MP’s orders, in the name of nonexistent companies or in the name of other companies, without their knowledge, Rabiu said.

In response, Nazim’s lawyer Husnu Suood said an audit was necessary to prove the money was deposited into Namira’s accounts and claimed Nazim could not be held responsible for corrupt transactions carried out by the company.

Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed concluded today’s hearing stating the apex court would issue a verdict at the next hearing.

Nazim who was a close associate of President Abdulla Yameen appears to have fallen out of favour with the government, with the police withholding his passport on charges of blackmail in October.

Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb at the time blamed Nazim for a damning report implicating the minister in a US$6million corruption scandal. Adeeb accused Nazim of attempting to defame him due to his refusal to support Nazim’s bid for the Majlis Speakership.

At the Supreme Court’s first appeal hearing, Nazim told the court his former lawyers Adam Asif and Ahmed “Reynis” Saleem had said the current political environment was “too dangerous” to represent him.

Related to this story

Lawyers “afraid” to represent MP Nazim in Supreme Court corruption appeal

Adeeb “saddened” at PPM colleague’s attempts to link him with missing journalist

High Court upholds dismissal of corruption charges against deputy speaker of parliament

MP Nazim returns to Maldives, passport confiscated by immigration

Judge frees Nazim from all corruption charges: “acts not enough to criminalise”


MP Nazim returns to Maldives, passport confiscated by immigration

The department of immigration has confirmed that the passport of former Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim has been confiscated following the MP’s return to the Maldives yesterday (November 8).

Despite the Criminal Court ordered travel restrictions be placed on the Dhiggaru MP late last month, Nazim was able to leave the country the same day.

While abroad, the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) member has been at the centre of controversy regarding his alleged attempts to smear party deputy leader and Minister of Tourism Ahmed Adeeb.

Nazim’s passport will be held until November 21, in accordance with the court order. Police have not revealed the nature of the charges facing the MP.

After a recent audit report implicated Adeeb in a US$6 million corruption scandal, the minister revealed that he had been threatened by Nazim as a result of his failure to support him for re-election as deputy speaker in May.

“But I didn’t believe the threats because the auditor general is someone I respected,” Adeeb told media after the report’s release.

“I believed up until the report was released yesterday that he would not compromised. Nazim threatened me very recently as well before he left for Malaysia.”

Adeeb expressed dismay at reports that his party colleague had attempted to link him with the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan.

“I am saddened that former Majlis Deputy Speaker asked different journalists to write, implicating me in the case to divert focus, as the case was being investigated by police,” said the deputy leader of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) yesterday.

He told journalists that Dhiggaru MP Nazim had suggested to the media that Rilwan was abducted in relation to his work on the Dhaalu Maagau case – also featured in the recent audit report.

Rumours of Nazim’s attempts to have Adeeb linked with the disappearance of Rilwan on August 8 first appeared in an independent report commissioned by the Maldivian Democracy Network in September.