Jumhoree Party rejects accusations of campaign bribery

The Jumhoree Party (JP) has rejected accusations of directly giving money or any other incentive to the public during campaigning for the upcoming presidential election, after several rivals raised concerns.

Both the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have slammed the JP this week, accusing senior campaigners in the party of directly providing money and goods to the public to try and buy votes.

JP Deputy Leader Dr Ibrahim Didi today told Minivan News that “no donations” had been made through the campaign offices of its presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim or his coalition partners ahead of polling, scheduled for September 7.

He insisted that although donations such as scholarships and school equipment had continued to be given through the Villa Foundation – a charity established by Gasim – these were not political gestures.

Didi claimed that, as well as sending some 200 Villa scholars abroad, the foundation – which is run separately from the JP – had for decades been providing vital equipment to schools and health centres across the country independently of the JP.

Gasim will stand in the election as the candidate for a coalition of parties including the JP, the religious conservative Adhaalath Party, and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP).

“Dumping money”

The PPM, whose presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen will be standing against Gasim next month, has alleged that the JP has been providing donations directly from its campaign office in the build up to September’s vote, effectively “dumping money” in certain parts of the country.

PPM MP Ahmed Nihan claimed that while he respected the work of Gasim’s Villa Foundation in the Maldives, there had been “very clear” attempts by the coalition of parties backing his election to offer voters financial incentives, particularly over the last one and a half months.

“I do not think it is the Villa Foundation that has been providing televisions and refrigerators to households,” Nihan said.

Nihan, who reiterated his respect for Gasim as a fellow parliamentarian and one of the country’s highest profile business figures, said that the level of donations being made by the presidential candidate and his supporters was “questionable” for a democratic system.

“One of Gasim’s main plus points is that he has lots of money. He is definitely using it,” he said.

Nihan accused Gasim of trying to financially influence voting, both for the upcoming election and during the country’s first multi-party democratic vote in 2008, arguing that a growing number of young voters between the ages of 19 and 35 years would be aware of attempts to influence them.

He argued that the PPM’s island council by-election victory against the JP in Nolhivaram in Haa Dhaalu Atoll on Saturday (August 24) had indicated that Gasim’s alleged spending and donations would not translate to polling success.

“We are running a democratic campaign. We don’t have the money to provide televisions and refrigerators like the JP,” he added.

Nihan alleged that the majority of Gasim’s political supporters were only interested in profiting from the tycoon by getting what he claimed was a “quick buck” ahead of voting, and cited his previous unsuccessful campaign to stand for the presidency in 2008.

“[These supporters] will abandon Gasim after the election just like what happened in 2008,” he said.

Gasim unsuccessfully contested in the 2008 presidential elections finishing the race in fourth place, with 15.2 percent of the total vote.

He finished behind candidates including then President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, eventual winner Mohamed Nasheed, and the current JP running mate, Dr Hassan Saeed.

Official complaint

The opposition MDP, represented in the upcoming election by former President Nasheed, has filed a case with the country’s Elections Commission (EC) concerning campaigning by Gasim’s coalition.

MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor accused the JP of “unashamedly” trying to buy votes for the election.

“They believe this is how it has to be done. You give people things and they will vote for you,” he said. “They are oblivious to the fact that the world has changed. We are hearing that some people might accept money [they are offered by a candidate] and still vote for the candidate they want.”

The MDP also today criticised First Lady Ilham Hussain over reports in local media that she had donated MVR 100,000 (US$6500) to Mulaku School in Meemu Atoll, accusing her of trying to buy votes for President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s campaign.

Abbas Adil Riza, a spokesperson for President Waheed’s Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP) was not responding to calls at time of press.

Addressing complaints filed over campaign spending, Elections Commissioner  Fuwad Thowfeek today told newspaper Haveeru that any kind of donations by candidates contesting in next month’s presidential vote could potentially undermine the electoral process.

Thowfeek said that in light of allegations of bribery being raised with the commission, he believed it would be best to halt “social assistance” until voting next month had concluded.


“Gasim Ibrahim’s journey to wealth worthy of pride”: Dr Hassan Saeed

The Jumhoree Alliance’s vice-presidential candidate Dr Hassan Saeed has declared the coalition intends a first round victory in September.

The new coalition consists of resort tycoon, media owner and presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP), the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) led by Saeed, and the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP).

Prior to the formation of the alliance, both the DQP and AP were part of incumbent President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s ‘Forward with Nation’ coalition.

However, both the DQP and AP left the coalition and joined the Jumhoree Alliance after claiming that family members and foreigners within President Waheed’s campaign team had been making all the decisions.

Shortly after the formation of the alliance Saeed was appointed as Gasim’s running mate.

Along with Waheed and Gasim, former President Mohamed Nasheed and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)’s Presidential Candidate Abdulla Yameen are also contesting in the upcoming elections.

Speaking during a press conference held on Saturday, Saeed blasted rival candidates for disparaging remarks about Gasim’s wealth, claiming that “it seems getting rich is a crime”.

Instead, Saeed claimed that Maldivians should be proud of Gasim’s “journey to his wealth”.

“But the truth is that [Gasim] arrived to Male’ as an orphaned boy. Gasim is someone who began work with nothing in his hands, but through his hard work he is now the richest man in the country. This is something we should be proud of,” Saeed claimed.

Saeed also contested that, should any of the presidential candidates other than Gasim become president, the Maldives would never see a second tycoon such as Gasim.

However, Saeed claimed that should the Jumhoree Alliance win the race, a future government led by the coalition will give the opportunity for poor people to “become a Gasim”.

“[Wealth] is not something we should be ashamed of. In fact we should be proud [of such an opportunity to become a Gasim]. Our focus is to create multiple ‘Gasims’,” Saeed said.

He added that Gasim is facing criticism from other political parties because he had decided to run for president, and claimed that Gasim was as rich as he was now as when former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom appointed him governor of the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) and later as Finance Minister.

“Some presidential candidates begged Gasim Ibrahim to join them. Some wanted him as their running mate. Others wanted him a different way. Today, because he decided not to go behind anybody else, and when it is becoming clear that he will win the elections, suddenly being rich has become a crime,” Saeed said.

“In my view, I think we all should be proud of a poor boy who became the richest man without any fraud or robbing a bank. Shouldn’t we be proud of it?”


Dr Hassan Saeed unveiled as the running mate of resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim

Resort tycoon and Leader of the Jumhoree Party (JP) Gasim Ibrahim has announced former Special Advisor to President Mohamed Waheed, Dr Hassan Saeed as his running mate for the upcoming presidential elections scheduled to take place in September.

The Chairman of Villa Group is among the five candidates who have formally declared their intention to contest in the presidential race. Other candidates include opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate former President Mohamed Nasheed, Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen, and current President Waheed – who heads the ‘forward with the nation’ coalition consisting of his party Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP) and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP). Former PPM Council member Dr Ahmed Saud has also declared that he will be contesting the polls as an independent.

Shortly after President Waheed’s controversial ascension to power in February 2012, Saeed was appointed to the position of Special Advisor. The Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) – of which Saeed is the leader – was announced as part of Waheed’s new national unity government. Last April, DQP announced its plan to join President Waheed’s coalition and support his bid to seek re-election.

However, Saeed last Thursday made a sudden announcement that he and his party had decided to leave Waheed’s coalition, claiming that President Waheed was strongly influenced by his family and relatives, was making decisions from his “palace” instead of discussing with other coalition partners.

In a statement released by the DQP at the time, the party said its council had unanimously agreed to leave the coalition after accusing Waheed of being incapable of protecting the interests of his coalition partners.

“The president dissolved the steering committee established with coalition partners to resolve issues within the coalition and resorted to taking decisions within his palace,” read the DQP statement. “Therefore, despite repeated efforts, President Waheed’s failure to resolve these issues” forced the party to leave the coalition, DQP claimed at the time.

The accusations were dismissed by the ‘Forward with the nation’ coalition and claimed that DQP’s departure would have little effect on its campaign.

In a campaign rally held last Friday evening, Gasim Ibrahim declared that Saeed will be his running mate and that Jumhoree Party have come to a coalition agreement with Saeed’s DQP and the religious conservative Adhaalath Party. Gasim also said that the three parties will contest in the presidential elections as a coalition under his leadership.

The Adhaalath Party was also initially part of President Waheed’s coalition but later left, criticising the campaigning and claiming “unknown activities” were being carried out within the coalition.

The party’s decision to part ways with President Waheed came shortly after the party slammed Waheed for telling the AFP that it had “extremist” elements within the party ranks. Adhaalath responded strongly to the remarks dismissing that it held “extreme views” and claimed that the party did not promote extremism but had always stood by “Islamic principles”.

Addressing the small number of people gathered during the rally, Gasim Ibrahim spoke highly of both Saeed and the Adhaalath Party.

Gasim, who claimed he met Saeed while during the formulation of the current constitution, described him as an “educated, experienced and hard working person who would never be involved in any corrupt activity”.

He also praised the Adhaalath Party stating that the religious conservative party had proven its “sincerity and integrity” even in 2008 presidential elections by joining his party, and claimed that it was prepared to make “any necessary sacrifice” for the country.

“This is indeed a memorable night for all three parties. This coalition represents a group of individuals committed to uphold the national unity and Islam,” Gasim said.

He further said that the coalition, once elected, would steer the country towards a safe harbour and bring development and progress to the people.

Hassan Saeed addressed the crowd, praising Gasim’s efforts during the reform movement and claimed that the resort tycoon was behind a lot of reforms. Saeed described Gasim as an individual who would not waste time to make important decisions concerning the people and development.

“In our government, political-economic principles will be based on the principle which will make Maldivian multi-millionaires into billionaires, make millionaires into multi-millionaires, and make average businessmen into millionaires. It is the principle that will allow expansion of smaller businesses to medium and large ones,” he said.

Both Saeed and Gasim contested in 2008 presidential elections as separate candidates and came to third and fourth positions behind then President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Nasheed. In the run-off elections, both Saeed and Gasim backed Nasheed and campaigned strongly against former President Gayoom.

Once elected, Saeed was appointed as the Special Advisor to Nasheed while Gasim was appointed as the Home Minister. However three months into the new government, both Saeed and Gasim left government and joined the then opposition. Both Saeed and Gasim later played a significant role in ousting Nasheed’s administration from power.


DQP, Dr Hassan Saeed quit President Waheed’s coalition: “too much family, expatriate influence”

The government-aligned Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) has announced that it has left President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s ‘forward with the nation’ coalition, ending its support for his 2013 election bid.

The decision came shortly after the religious conservative Adhaalath Party left the coalition and joined resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP).

Local media is speculating that DQP Leader Dr Hassan Saeed – President Waheed’s Special Advisor since the controversial February 7 transfer of power – is likely to be announced as Gasim’s running mate.

In a statement released by the DQP on Thursday, the party said its council had unanimously agreed to leave the coalition, and accused President Waheed of being incapable of protecting the interests of his coalition partners.

Instead, the party alleged, Waheed was turning to “family influence” in making key decisions.

“The president dissolved the steering committee established with coalition partners to resolve issues within the coalition and resorted to taking decisions within his palace,” read the DQP statement.

Among other concerns, the party claimed that no key roles were given to coalition partners in the presidential campaign, which were instead outsourced to the president’s “family members and expatriates”.

The DQP alleged that some coalition partners had also breached their initial agreement to work together and were secretly attempting to induce members of other coalition partners to join their party.

The DQP, which has a membership of less than 1800 people, also claimed that president Waheed gave more priority to those who financially backed him over those who supported him with “sincerity and genuineness”.

“Therefore, despite repeated efforts, President Waheed’s failure to resolve these issues” forced the party to leave the coalition, DQP said.

Responding to the statement, a source in Waheed’s coalition told Minivan News that the DQP’s decision to leave the ‘Forward with the nation’ coalition was unexpected, when compared to the departure of the Adhaalath Party last week.

The source said DQP Leader Dr Hassan Saeed was himself in attendance during an official signing event held yesterday by Waheed, who was seeking 1,500 signatures needed to apply for candidacy as an independent. Saeed had been booked to attend another campaign visit over the coming days, the source said.

Despite the defection, the source claimed President Waheed’s campaigning would not be impacted by sudden defection of the DQP in any way.

“The [DQP] is a very small party of around 2000 members so we are not expecting much of an impact,” the source said.

With the departure of both the DQP and the Adhaalath party, President Waheed’s coalition now consists of his own Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP) and the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).

DRP leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali was earlier been unveiled as Waheed’s running mate, although whether the pair will contest on the same independent ticket remains uncertain.

“There are people trying to bar me from competing. I will not be the one to get caught in that trap,” Waheed said earlier this week.

“So I intend to take the form and go on the streets. I will visit houses, carrying the form, during the next two days and ask those who wish to see me remain in this post for another term to sign.”

Dr Hassan Saeed has meanwhile resigned from his position as Waheed’s special advisor, shortly after the DQP announced its decision to side with Gasim Ibrahim.

Saeed was promptly replaced by former Attorney General Aishath Bisham.


President Waheed and running mate Thasmeen to contest elections as “independent pair”

President Dr Mohamed Waheed and his running mate Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali will be competing in the September’s presidential election as independent candidates.

Waheed announced today (July 16) his intention to officially register with the Elections Commission (EC) as an independent candidate, despite heading the Gaumee Ithihad Party (GIP) and leading the ‘Forward with the Nation’ coalition.

The coalition backing Waheed’s and Thasmeen’s bid for election in September currently includes the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), in addition to the GIP. However, several key members of DQP have since defected to the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), while DRP leader Thasmeen was recently taken to court by a series of creditors.

Waheed told local media during a press conference held in the President’s Office today that he would be contesting the election as an independent candidate, since “certain parties” have questioned GIP’s legitimacy and the Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the dissolution of political parties with less than 10,000 members.

“If I decide to compete as a party candidate before the matter is decided [by the Supreme Court], it will be questioned. There are people trying to bar me from competing. I will not be the one to get caught in that trap,” said Waheed.

Candidates unaffiliated with a political party are required to submit signatures of at least 1,500 supporters with their official candidacy application, according to local media.

“So I intend to take the form and go on the streets. I will visit houses, carrying the form, during the next two days and ask those who wish to see me remain in this post for another term to sign,” Waheed explained.

Investigations are currently underway into 46 cases of fraudulent political party enlistment filed by the EC, as well as another case individually lodged, Police Chief Inspector Abdulla Shatheeh told local media. Some of the people signed up to the party were alleged to already by deceased at the time of their registration.

The fraudulent political party forms are said to include 15 people signed to President Waheed’s GIP, five from his DRP running mate Thasmeen, and 27 from prominent businessman and MP Ahmed Siyam’s Maldives Democratic Alliance (MDA).

The Maldives Police Service has recently said it is experiencing “difficulties” investigating the 47 cases of fraudulent enlistment, with “no way” to hold the respective political parties accountable.

“No other legal way”

“Now Waheed is working as a coalition president, however the Constitution doesn’t allow a coalition president to be nominated or contest as a presidential candidate,” ‘Forward with the Nation’ Coalition Spokesperson Abdul Rasheed Nafiz told Minivan News today.

“There are two options; President Waheed has to apply through a political party or as an independent candidate,” said Nafiz. “There is no other legal way to become a presidential candidate.”

“Now because he is in a coalition with other parties – which work as one under the brand name ‘Forward with the Nation’ – he doesn’t want to say he’s president of GIP only,” he continued.

“In that case, he would have to use the GIP logo on campaign materials, etc, so this was the only solution,” he added.

Nafiz noted that Waheed had mentioned his intention to run as an independent candidate “a long time ago” and that his coalition partnerships would not be negatively affected by the decision.

“The strongest part of the coalition is Dr Waheed, and the coalition partners remain with us and public support is also the same as before,” said Nafiz.

“There is no problem even though Adhaalath has left the coalition, as they [are still] part of the government. They have said that although their leader has decided to leave [the coalition] they will support President Waheed as a candidate,” he added.

Earlier this week the Adhaalath Party (AP) withdrew from ‘Forward with the Nation’, a day after the party slammed Waheed for telling the AFP newswire that the party had “extremist” individuals. The party left the coalition citing “mysterious events” as well as the coalition’s prospective inability to succeed in “saving the nation” from former President Mohamed Nasheed’s “sacrilegious actions”, AP President Sheikh Imran Abdullah told local media at the time.

Waheed will be conducting his social policy launch on Thulusdhoo Island in Kaafu Atoll tonight, noted Nafiz. He has also announced the coalition’s health, education, and youth policies.

“As the ruling coalition, they have shown they have the capacity to rule the country with opposition parties,” said Nafiz. “Waheed has proved that he has brought peace, order and done good work to improve the economy.”

Meanwhile, DRP Parliamentary Group Leader MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom told Minivan News that Waheed’s running mate will also be registering as an independent candidate.

“Of course Thasmeen is the leader of DRP, but in the presidential campaign he will be running as an independent,” said Mausoom.

“There is no slot to represent DRP because he is Waheed’s running mate. They are an independent pair,” he continued.

Mausoom noted that although Waheed made the announcement today, the decision was made previously and that there is “no change at all” between DRP’s relationship with the coalition.

“It not a surprise at all, this was discussed,” said Mausoom. “The coalition leaders have an agreement.”

“This is how the coalition wanted to go, it’s the way it is and it’s the right way forward,” he continued.

“It is a coalition of political parties and individual people,” he added.

“The DRP coalition with Dr Waheed will give people an alternative vote, an opportunity other than [former President Maumoon Gayoom’s] 30 years or [former President Mohamed Nasheed’s] three years,” he declared.

Eailer this week EC announced it will open the opportunity for presidential candidates to formally file their candidacy at the commission to contest in the presidential elections, from July 22 until July 24.

The Adhaalath Party President Sheik Imran was not responding to calls at time of press.


Adhaalath Party quits President Waheed’s coalition

Additional reporting by Mohamed Naahii

The Adhaalath Party (AP) has quit President Mohamed Waheed’s ‘Forward with the Nation’ coalition due to “mysterious events”, a day after the party slammed Waheed for telling the AFP the party had “extremist” individuals.

During a two day official visit to Sri Lanka, President Waheed told the news agency that it was “better to work with” the self-claimed Islamist party despite some elements within the party holding “extreme views”, since excluding the party from mainstream politics risked marginalising it. This, he said, would have a “negative long-term effect”.

In a statement (Dhivehi) published on the Adhaalath Party’s website Tuesday (July 9), the party said that it had been offended by the remarks and that such comments from the president would affect its relationship with Waheed’s party Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP). The party also denounced the claim that it held extreme views.

“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 sovereignty,” read the statement.

“Therefore, the party leadership and its members are deeply disappointed by such allegations,” it added.

Yesterday (July 10) following the party’s announcement that Waheed’s comments would have a “significant negative effect” on their relationship, Adhaalath decided to leave the ‘Forward the Nation’ coalition during a meeting of their Consultative Council.

A near unanimous 97 percent of the council voted to leave the ‘Forward with the Nation’ due to “mysterious events”, as well as the coalitions prospective inability to succeed in “saving the nation” from former President Mohamed Nasheed’s “sacrilegious actions”, AP President Sheikh Imran Abdullah told local media.

“By the will of God, Adhaalath Party will continue to facilitate in providing a safe passage in order to save the nation from Nasheed,” said Abdullah.

He added that the party’s efforts to resolve issues within the coalition last week were “of no use”, however despite leaving ‘Forward with the Nation’, AP will continuously work toward “taking people to safe harbour”.

In a statement (Dhivehi) released today (July 11), the Adhaalath Party detailed their reasoning for leaving Waheed’s coalition.

“They were not putting much effort in preventing Nasheed’s anti-religious, anti-nationalist secular rule from coming back. The ‘broad coalition’ was formed with high hopes to prevent this, but now it seems the coalition is incapable of it,” read the statement.

“No solution has been proposed by other members of the coalition,” it continued.

“By the will of almighty Allah, the Adhaalath [Party] will do whatever it can to protect the sovereignty of this country and its religion from all threats and will continue its actions within the best interests of the state,” it added.

Earlier this week – prior to Waheed’s AFP interview – reports were circulating that the GIP and AP had a falling out with each other after the Adhaalath Party expressed concern over a lack of campaign activities.

Meanwhile, there have been unconfirmed reports suggesting that Adhaalath is now considering the possibility of entering into coalition with resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP).

The GIP and ‘Forward with the Nation’ still hopes to work together with AP “even after the presidential elections,” the coalition stated in a press release issued yesterday, following the AP’s announcement it was leaving the coalition.

“The Coalition does not have any hard feelings towards Adhaalath Party,” read the statement.

“We also thank Adhaalath Party Leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla and other members for their time and support in forming this coalition.

“We believe that, even though we do not campaign together, our final goal must be to strengthen democracy and uphold democratic values and also to work in the best interest of the people,” it concluded.

The President’s ‘Forward with the nation’ coalition which is backing Waheed’s bid for election in September, now includes the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP). However, several key members of DQP have since defected to the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), while DRP leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali was recently taken to court by a series of creditors.

The Adhaalath Party President Sheik Imran and Sobah Rasheed, AP Member and team leader of Waheed’s election coalition media team, were not responding to calls at time of press.

Jumhoree Party (JP) Spokesperson Moosa Ramiz and Gaumee Itthihad Party (GIP) Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza were also not responding to calls at time of press.


Better to work with Adhaalath Party than risk “negative long-term effects”: President Waheed

President Mohamed Waheed has pledged to continue working with the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) and has said he remains unconcerned about radicalisation in the Maldives.

Following a two day official visit to Sri Lanka, Waheed spoke to the AFP about his Adhaalath coalition partners and addressed concerns about rising religious fundamentalism in the Maldives.

Waheed believes excluding Adhaalath from mainstream Maldivian politics risked marginalising the party, which would have a “negative long-term effect”.

“We believe we can work with them (Adhaalath), we believe we must work them, because not working with them would be to marginalise them,” Waheed told the AFP.

“Rejecting them would have a more negative long term effect. Inclusion is better than exclusion. It is better to take them on board. Better to work with them,” he added.

Waheed described some AP members as having “extreme views”, however he believes most have “moderate Islamic beliefs”.

“I don’t worry too much about this [radicalisation]. There will always be a few extremists everywhere, even in Europe and the America,” said Waheed.

No attacks have been blamed on Islamic extremists recently, according to Waheed, but he noted that the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has accused extremists of destroying the entire collection of 12th century Buddhist artifacts at the National Museum in Male’ during the political unrest last February.

Waheed pledged that despite pressure from his coalition partners to adopt stricter Sharia Law punishments, the Maldives would remain a bastion of tolerance.

Meanwhile, recent local media reports have suggested the AP is considering backing out of Waheed’s coalition due to a lack of campaign activities, however the party has yet to overtly raise concerns over the manner in which President Waheed is campaigning ahead of September’s presidential election.

In addition to the AP, Waheed’s coalition consists of his Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP), the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP).

Adhaalath Party

Both Adhalaath and GIP do not presently have any elected members in parliament.

The religious conservative party was previously a coalition partner in the government of former President Mohamed Nasheed, later leaving the government citing concerns at what it alleged were the irreligious practices of the administration.

This led the AP in December 2011 to join then fellow opposition parties – now members of Waheed’s unity government – and a number of NGOs to gather in Male’ with thousands of people to “defend Islam”.

During the same day, Nasheed’s MDP held their own rally held at the Artificial Beach area in Male’ claiming his government would continue to practice a “tolerant form” of Islam, reminding listeners that Islam in the Maldives has traditionally been tolerant.

“We can’t achieve development by going backwards to the Stone Age or being ignorant,” Nasheed said at the time.

Shortly after coming to power in February 2012, flanked by members of the new government’s coalition, President Waheed gave a speech calling on supporters to “Be courageous; today you are all mujaheddin”.

In December 2012, shortly after the protests led by Adhaalath Party President Sheikh Imran Abdulla under the self-titled ‘national movement’ against GMR concluded, the government of President Waheed abruptly terminated the agreement and gave GMR a seven day ultimatum to leave the country.

Subsequently, Imran has been accused of attempting to influence the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC)’s investigation into alleged corruption in the previous government’s aborted airport privatisation deal, a commission member alleged to local media outlet CNM this June.

The ACC’s findings, which were published in June, concluded that there was no corruption in the airport privatisation deal, days prior to GMR claiming US$1.4 billion in compensation for “wrongful termination” of its 25 year concession agreement.

Meanwhile, Chair of Adhaalath Party’s Scholars Council, Sheikh Ilyas Hussain was recently summoned to Parliament’s Penal Code Committee after alleging he had made misleading comments about provisions of Penal Code bill during a religious sermon.

According to local media, on March 22 Sheikh Ilyas held a religious sermon dubbed the ‘Purpose of Islamic Sharia’ at the Furuqan Mosque after Isha Prayers, where he swore to God that the new Penal Code was “made to destroy the religion of Islam”.

In February 2013, the Adhaalath Party declared that the 15 year-old rape victim who was recently sentenced to 100 lashes and eight months of house arrest “deserves the punishment”, as this is the penalty for fornication under Islamic Sharia. While, in 2011, the AP issued a statement calling on the state to implement Islamic Sharia and execute mothers who abort their children.

In September 2012, the Islamic Minister, the party’s senior member Sheikh Shaheem Ali Saeed, sent a circular to all government institutions banning the holding of any mixed gender dance events.

In April 2012, the Adhaalath Party called on the Education Ministry to cancel the inter-school singing competition, claiming that music and singing is ‘haram’ [prohibited in Islam].

Despite these past objections, the AP and Waheed’s coalition held multiple campaign events – including a music show and barbecue – targeting youth in June 2013, to launch the first of its pledges and policies.

Adhaalath Party representative Hussain Wafeer said the party’s involvement was only with the policy launch, and distanced the party from other events.

Asked about the party’s official stand on the music show events being carried out under the name of the coalition they were part of, Wafeer said he would confer with party leaders as to their stand on the matter. Minivan News was later unable to contact him.

Rising extremism

Rising religious fundamentalism is negatively impacting women in Maldives, a study published this week, the “Maldives Operational Review for the ICPD Beyond 2014”, conducted under the supervision of the Department of National Planning (DNP) in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) determined.

“Even though, the Maldivian Constitution guarantees equal rights and freedom for all Maldivians without any discrimination, prevailing traditions and socio-cultural norms have limited women’s participation in the workforce and in the community,” the study stated.

“The increasing level of religious fundamentalism and conservative thinking has worsened the situation,” it added. “The sudden growth of religious fundamentalism and conservative thinking is an emerging challenge, particularly for women and young girls.”

“There has been an increase towards certain trends such as preference for home schooling and refusing vaccination and other medical services for women based on religious beliefs.”

Meanwhile, religious conservatism and extremist violence have been increasing in the Maldives over the past decade, while incidents of Maldivians joining overseas jihadist groups are becoming more common, according to a report published in the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) Sentinel, a publication based out of the West Point military academy in the US.

“The country has already suffered one terrorist attack targeting foreign tourists, and a number of Maldivians have traveled to Pakistan’s tribal areas to receive jihadist training. Moreover, evidence exists that jihadists tried to form a terrorist group in the country in 2007-2008,” the report states.

“This has coincided with a number of violent attacks on liberal activists and other citizens who have expressed outspoken support for moderate religious practices,” the report notes.

If current trends continue “extremist incidents may rise, with violence targeted against the country’s more liberal citizens,” it added.

Asked to clarify the President’s remarks on radicalisation, GIP Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza told Minivan News yesterday (July 9) he was “not aware of this” and “did not have any comment” on the matter.

The Adhaalath Party was not responding to calls at time of press.


Reports Thasmeen to be appointed Waheed’s running mate unconfirmed

Local media has reported that Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali will be appointed President Mohamed Waheed’s running mate next Monday, however the parties have yet to confirm the decision.

“We’re getting ready for the day. We will officially begin our campaign that day,” a senior official from one of the coalition parties told Haveeru.

Despite the growing speculation surrounding Thasmeen’s candidacy, Waheed’s Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP) and DRP have not made any official announcements.

“So far I have not received confirmation. There is speculation, but these are rumours only, I cannot confirm,” GIP Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza told Minivan News today (June 4).

DRP Deputy Leader MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom refused to comment on the matter.

Following an inaugural rally of President Waheed’s coalition held May 24, local media reported that Thasmeen was likely to become Dr Waheed’s running mate.

A senior member of the coalition told local news website CNM that Thasmeen’s appointment was “almost finalised” and other coalition parties had no objections.

In May, the government-aligned DRP announced it would be joining the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) in a coalition backing President Waheed.

Both the DQP and GIP are small political parties currently facing potential dissolution for lacking the minimum requirement of 10,000 members as stipulated in the recently passed Political Parties Act.

Coup parties consolidating: MDP

“Our concern is the involvement of Waheed and Thasmeen in the coup. That is the disturbing thing for us. We are now seeing the active coup participants come together,” Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Minivan News today.

“Thasmeen was at police headquarters [on February 7] seen hugging Gasim [Ibrahim], [Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) leader and current presidential advisor Dr Hassan] Saeed, [recently sacked Home Minister Dr Mohamed] Jameel and other non MPs,” said Ghafoor.

“The coup parties are consolidating themselves into one opposition party to defend themselves,” he continued. “We suspect [Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Presidential candidate MP Abdulla] Yameen will have to follow suit.”

“It is disappointing that the alternative to the PPM, which we hoped [would be the DRP], has double crossed their members,” Ghafoor said.

“The cost to the party is that Thasmeen as lost some of the most valuable DRP MPs and there are no guarantees [he and Waheed will win the presidential elections],” he noted. “Thasmeen has really divided a promising party, he has not done them any favors.”

“We always had some hope the DRP would make a coalition with MDP and [in return] we would forget about [their role in] the coup,” he lamented.

“Come next week the situation could change, it’s very fickle,” Ghafoor concluded.

Any two can become a company: PPM

“Most probably [Waheed] may appoint Thasmeen, it’s a foregone conclusion, he has no other choice,” PPM MP and Campaign Media Manager Ahmed Nihan told Minivan News today.

“It will have no impact on the election. Any two people can become a company,” Nihan said.

“In terms of members and political participation PPM and MDP are the only two proven parties,” he added.

Nihan estimated that PPM currently has between 31,000 and 32,000 members, while current DRP members are not active or do not realise they are still registered with the party.

Nihan also refuted Ghafoor’s allegations that “coup parties are consolidating to defend themselves and Yameen will have to follow suit”.

“On 7 February 2012, what has happened, happened. The MDP still believes it was a coup, however PPM does not. The transition was fine, the CoNI was fine,” said Nihan.

“We have been hanging around and giving our strong support to Waheed to better the country and take care of the people,” he explained. “It is still difficult to find basic services on the islands and we want to make things better.”

However, Nihan alleged that Waheed’s administration is now firing PPM members from various government positions – such as former Home Minister Jameel – and appointing his own supporters in their place, as well as giving them high salaries in exchange for votes in the presidential election.

“The PPM has been sidelined. It is a misconception we should have to follow. They should back off because PPM has strength,” declared Nihan.

2012 police headquarters celebration

Local television station Raajje TV aired a video clip on in March 2012 showing senior then-opposition figures inside police headquarters on February 7, prior to the resignation of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

In the video, Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim makes a comment thanking Allah that former president Mohamed Nasheed resigned before the use of military force.

Thasmeen Ali, shown standing directly in front of Gasim at the time, told Minivan News that he does not recollect Gasim’s statement. “It was very loud,” Thasmeen said.

The video clip depicts former opposition leaders at the time celebrating inside the police head quarters, exchanging hugs, and shouting “Allah Akbar” and “Thank Allah” shortly before Nasheed’s public television resignation of February 7.

According to Raaje Tv’s timeline of the video, inside the Police HQ, current Police Commissioner, Abdulla Riyaz tells the gathered group — which includes Thasmeen, Saeed, former Home Minister and current PPM Vice Presidential running mate Dr Mohamed Jameel, current State Minister for Islamic Affairs Mohamed Didi, current Deputy Commissioner of Police Hussein Waheed, current Foreign Minister Dr Abdul Samad, current Minister of State for Tourism, Arts and Culture Ahmed Shameem, Fonadhoo MP Ali Saleem, and the Adhaalath Party’s Asadullah Shafee — that he has now shared the mutinying police’s demands with the opposition leaders and asks them to give the police a response.


President Waheed “most patient, just and capable” among candidates: Dr Hassan Saeed

Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) Leader Dr Hassan Saeed has said he believes President Mohamed Waheed is the only presidential candidate who has the required “patience and drive” to work alongside people with differing views.

The recent comments by Saeed – who currently serves as Special Advisor to President Waheed – were made the same month the DQP formally entered into a coalition with the President’s own Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP) ahead of elections scheduled for September 7 this year.

Both the DQP and GIP are small political parties currently facing potential dissolution for lacking the minimum requirement of 10,000 members as stipulated in the recently passed Political Parties Act.

Speaking to local newspaper Haveeru on Sunday (April 14), Saeed said that President Waheed was the most “academically qualified” candidate.

“He stands even far taller when you compare his international experience  and experience in government than any of the candidates. So if you look at it in any angle, this man is far more capable than all of the remaining candidates,” he said.

Despite the remarks, in February 2012, in a leaked audio clip, Saeed was heard describing President Waheed as “politically the weakest person in the Maldives” .

In the audio clip, he also went onto mock the size of the GIP’s support base, claiming at the time that the party’s only members were “Dr Waheed and the wife, that Ahmed ‘Topy’ Thaufeeg, [Secretary General of the GIP] and Waheed’s secretary at the President’s Office”.

Dr Saeed was not responding to calls at time of press when contacted by Minivan News.

Saeed – who was himself a presidential candidate in 2008 and ended the race at third position with 16 percent of the popular vote – claimed that there was a high possibility that many other government-aligned parties would follow the DQP in joining President Waheed’s coalition.

Saeed said these parties could include the government-aligned Jumhoree Party (JP) of business tycoon MP Gasim Ibrahim, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and the Maldivian Development Alliance (MDA), led by tourism magnate MP Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam.

Gasim and DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali are both presidential candidates for their respective parties.

The religious conservative Adhaalath Party has also publicly pledged its support to President Waheed, last month announcing plans to form a coalition with the GIP.

Saeed claimed that all political parties, except the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), were welcome to join the coalition.

He claimed that should such an alliance find an agreement on a common ideology, then it could possibly “change the face of Maldivian politics”.

Giving his reasons why the door was closed for the MDP – the largest political party in the country – Saeed claimed that party’s presidential candidate, Mohamed Nasheed, was not a person who had the capacity to work in a coalition government since he always had problems in “digesting opposing views”.

“Chasing and slowing down”

Saeed claimed that the former president’s “impatience” would not allow him to work in a coalition government, adding that the “science of making a coalition government work” required patience and tolerance.

“One cannot simply run at the pace he wants to,” he said. “A coalition partner would always chase the president and slow him down, should he take such a pace. There should always be an environment for dialogue. [In a coalition,] one cannot simply take a wrong way and jump into the sea. Likewise, you cannot go in the right direction as fast as you want. But in general, a coalition government would always be heading in the right direction. Nasheed cannot be like that,”

The MDP previously said that it would not look to form a coalition ahead of elections this year.  However, Saeed claimed by contract, that there was no political party interested in forming an alliance with the main opposition party of the country.

“[The MDP] are only getting the opportunity to work in a coalition within the parliament. Therefore, MDP is seen to work in collaboration with other parties in parliament. They don’t have a problem working as a coalition in parliament. But outside the parliament, they keep saying that they do not want a coalition. This is because, they really don’t have anyone to form a coalition with,” he said.

Speaking during a recent party gathering, former President Nasheed stated that leaders of various political parties had learned “bitter lessons” over the difficulties of running a government by sharing cabinet positions among different political parties over the last four years.

“A cabinet in which one minister belongs to this party and another belongs to that party, cannot run a government,” he said. “I want the people of this country to remember that, when there is word of coalition, it means of forming a weak government.”

Meanwhile, Chairperson of the MDP, MP Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik echoed similar sentiments claiming that the MDP could not work with political parties demanding political positions as a pre-condition of any alliance.

“There is no place in the MDP for those who come to us and demand a package of four cabinet positions, 12 judges, three warehouses and the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA). But it doesn’t mean all doors are closed for those parties interested in working under a common political ideology,” Manik said at the rally.

Political weight

Saeed this month also criticised former President Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).  The PPM is fielding Gayoom’s half brother MP Abdulla Yameen as its presidential candidate.  Saeed claimed that even Yameen should be backing President Waheed instead of the other way round.

Dr Saeed alleged that Yameen was a candidate who was too “hard to sell” to the public, claiming there remain a number of unpleasant “characteristics” that came to the minds of voters about him.

“Yameen will face the anger of anyone who hated Gayoom’s 30 years [in power]. Yameen will get the hatred of every person who was tortured during Gayoom’s time. He would not get the support of anyone who wished to leave the past. Even the person who wishes to support Yameen would hate him because Gayoom is right beside him,” he told Haveeru.

“There are a lot of people who hate dynastic rule.  A lot of businessmen also suffered during Yameen’s tenure as the trade minister. So they would have a hard time to back him.”

Saeed’s remarks in local media were met with harsh criticism from PPM MP Shifag Mufeed, who described the DQP leader as someone that lacked any political weight.

“The Maldives has two political ideologies. It is that of former President Gayoom’s ideology and that of former President Nasheed’s. Though he says that no one would join those two ideologies, Dr Hassan Saeed himself must know that he does not even have the weight of a wheat grain in Maldivian politics,” Mufeed said in parliament yesterday (April 15).

Shifag also slammed the government of President Waheed, claiming that a bill proposed to parliament on increasing an existing Airport Service Charge was an attempt by the government to recklessly increase its income so that it could be utilized in “fooling people” to vote for him.

The PPM and DQP are both members of President Waheed’s national unity government.

Saeed’s election history

After facing defeat in the first round of the 2008 presidential elections, Saeed publicly announced unconditional support to the MDP candidate Mohamed Nasheed during the subsequent run-off election.

Once Nasheed was elected president, the MDP alleged that Saeed took a U-turn on his own unconditional backing and had demanded several cabinet portfolios for his supporters.

Saeed was later appointed as the special advisor to the president – a cabinet minister level position – in the new government.  Meanwhile, Saeed’s running mate, Dr Ahmed Shaheed, was appointed as the Foreign Minister and current Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed was given the cabinet portfolio of Communication and Civil Aviation.

However, following a falling off with Nasheed, Saeed left the government claiming that his “diligent” advice was not considered by the former president.  Later, Jameel was sacked from the government and Shaheed joined forces the MDP.

Leaving the government, Saeed and his fellow party colleague Jameel quickly turned against former President Nasheed and became outspoken critics of his administration.

‘Hate-pamphlet’ scandal

In January 2012, just a few days before the controversial fall of Nasheed, DQP released a 30-page pamphlet accusing Nasheed’s government of working under the influence of “Jews” and “Christian priests” to weaken Islam in the Maldives.

“When the Nasheed administration established diplomatic relations with the biggest enemy of Islam [Israel], the government agreed to change the school curriculum and teach our small children about the goodness of Jews,” read the pamphlet. “The Jew’s plan and way of thinking is to divide Islamic countries.”

The Nasheed administration denied the allegations and claimed that the pamphlet was filled with “extremist, bigoted and hate-filled rhetoric” intended to incite hatred among public towards the government.

Following President Waheed’s controversial ascension to power on February 7, 2012, Saeed was reappointed as the Special Advisor for the President while his colleague Jameel was given the position of Home Minister.