DRP Leader Thasmeen settles MVR 1.9 million debt owed to Deputy Speaker

Running mate of incumbent President Mohamed Waheed Hassan and Leader of the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has settled a debt of MVR 1.9 million (US$ 124,513) owed to the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim, the Civil Court has announced.

Deputy Speaker Nazim filed a court case at the Civil Court in March 2011 against the DRP Leader to recover the money – which is the remnant of a loan worth MVR 2.55 million (US$200,000) given by him to Thasmeen.

In April 2011, the Civil Court ordered the then-opposition leader to pay back the sum to the court in installments within a period of six months until the repayment was complete.

Sitting Judge Hathif Hilmy also ordered Thasmeen to pay Nazim MVR 1,800 (US$140) incurred as lawyer’s fees, based on a rate of MVR 300 (US$19.45) per hearing. Nazim had however claimed MVR 100,000 (US$6,485.08) in compensation for lawyer’s fees.

Following the verdict, Thasmeen appealed the case at the High Court. The High Court upheld the Civil Court ruling but invalidated the order concerning the payment of lawyer fees.  The case was presided by now-suspended-High Court Chief Judge Ahmed Shareef, Judge Abdulla Hameed and Judge Ali Sameer.

Despite the High Court ruling, Thasmeen had not paid the debt which forced Nazim to file another lawsuit in Civil Court requesting the court to enforce its previous verdict that was upheld by the High Court.

Civil Court subsequently issued a court order freezing the bank accounts of Thasmeen and withholding his passport – preventing him from leaving the country. During the hearings, Thasmeen’s lawyers told the court that they were preparing to appeal the High Court ruling at the Supreme Court.

However, the Civil Court judge responded that the civil case would proceed until such a time when the Supreme Court decides to hear the appeal.

In an announcement made on Wednesday (July 3), the Civil Court said that since Thasmeen has paid the court the sum of money, the court order freezing his bank accounts and withholding his passport will cease to have its effect.

Meanwhile former MP for Thimarafushi Constituency Mohamed Musthafa has filed a case at the Supreme Court requesting the apex court to declare the seat of Thasmeen in parliament vacant, over the unpaid debts.

As per the Maldivian constitution, “a person shall be disqualified from election as, a member of the People’s Majlis, or a member of the [parliament] immediately becomes disqualified, if he has a decreed debt which is not being paid as provided in the judgment.”

The former opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP – who lost his own seat through a Supreme Court ruling over unpaid debts – said Thasmeen’s seat is already deemed vacant as he had failed to pay in accordance with the court order.

Musthafa contested that even if Thasmeen repays the money, he would still lose his seat.

The former MP filed the case on the same precedent that unseated him from his seat, where the Supreme Court in 2012 concluded that Musthafa was constitutionally ineligible to remain in the seat over his failure to pay the debts.

Should the Supreme Court rule in favour of Musthafa, apart from losing his seat Thasmeen would face serious complications in becoming the running mate of a presidential candidate since the same constitutional prerequisite – to not have a decreed debt that is not being paid as ordered by a court – applies to those contesting for the position of president and vice president.


Thasmeen labels Yameen as “inhuman” for not endorsing two ministers

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s running mate Ahmed Thasmeen Ali – who also heads the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) – has strongly criticised the presidential candidate of fellow coalition party the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) over the parliament’s decision to reject several cabinet appointments.

On Monday, President Waheed’s government faced a major setback in parliament after two out of its three recent cabinet appointments failed to receive the required parliamentary approval.

The new Human Rights Minister Aishath Azima Shukoor and Attorney General Aishath Bisham were reject in close votes, while Transport Minister Ameen Ibrahim narrowly succeeded in getting the required consent.

Shukoor, also Waheed’s former Attorney General, was rejected 33 votes against to 31 in favour with no abstentions, while her replacement as Attorney General, Aishath Bisham, was rejected 32-32, with Speaker Abdulla Shahid casting the deciding vote not to approve her appointment.

Transport Minister Ameen Ibrahim was approved by 33 votes in favour to 32 against, with one MP abstaining.

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs followed their party line to reject all three ministers while PPM MPs were largely absent from the floor.

The PPM MPs who remained – including Ahmed Mahloof, rumoured to be considering a switch to the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – voted against the party whip line.

President Waheed subsequently re-appointed Shukoor – who had been serving as Gender Minister – to her earlier post of Attorney General, requiring another future vote of consent.

In a short media briefing held after the vote, a frustrated Thasmeen blasted Yameen, claiming that he had purposefully left the parliament floor with his party members to make sure the ministers did not get parliamentary approval.

“PPM MPs under the leadership of its presidential candidate decided not to be present on the floor when the vote took place. Due to that, two ministers were not able to get enough votes to get parliamentary consent,” Thasmeen declared.

PPM was among the many former opposition parties that pledged support to President Waheed following his sudden ascension to power in February 2012, after his predecessor former President Mohamed Nasheed stepped down during a mutiny within the police and military.

PPM has since then maintained that it had supported the government only for the sake of national interest and for the well being of the people.

However, Thasmeen on Monday disputed the claim stating that the real picture of Yameen and his “ruthlessness” had now been revealed to the public.

“It is a great blessing and a very good thing to see this side of Yameen prior to the election. People will see the real face of Yameen,” Thasmeen claimed.

Thasmeen – who was also the running mate of Maldives former dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in 2008 elections – reiterated that people must judge a candidate whom they would vote in the election by the yard stick of “humanity and humane values”.

“I remember exactly what happened when former President Nasheed unlawfully arrested Yameen [in 2010]. At that time it was Azima Shukoor who worked tirelessly day and night for his release from custody,” he added. “But Yameen forgot about that today.”

Despite the defeat, Thasmeen appeared confident claiming that the current government had a sufficient number of MPs supporting it and such defeats would not be a common occurrence.

Presidential election is more important, says PPM

Justifying the decision to leave the floor during the critical vote, Deputy Leader of PPM Abdul Raheem Abdulla told the media that its presidential candidate had not been present because he had to go on a campaign trip that was scheduled on the same day. He said PPM was currently more focused on the upcoming presidential elections.

Raheem also alleged that President Waheed had become “very personal” against the PPM, and said many individuals who held political positions in the government had been dismissed from their posts after they joined the PPM.

Previously, Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed – a former member of Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) that has decided to back Waheed’s re-election bid – was dismissed from his position upon the request of DQP’s Leader Dr Hassan Saeed after Jameel joined the PPM to become the running mate of Yameen.

Other members of the DQP, including Deputy Tourism Minister Maleeh Jamaal and State Minister for Economic Ministry Abdulla Ameen, were dismissed from their positions after their refusal to back President Waheed.

Meanwhile, speaking to local newspaper Haveeru from Addu City, Yameen said Azima was best suited for the position of Attorney General and PPM did not want to see her in another cabinet position. Yameen claimed President Waheed had not discussed the matter with the party before appointing her as Gender Minister.

“I was the one who first told President Waheed to appoint Shukoor as the Attorney General. I worked for that. Back then she was a council member of PPM,” Yameen said.

Regarding the new Attorney General Bisham, Yameen said PPM did not support her because the party believed Shukoor was the one who should be in the position.

“The most important thing is who is the most competent person for Attorney General. We were expecting Shukoor to be the attorney general knowing her competence and back then the government listened to what we say,” Yameen explained.


Yousuf Naseem second MP to leave DRP within 48 hours

MP Yousuf Naseem has today announced his decision to leave the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyitunge Party (DRP), according to local media.

Yousuf told Sun Online that despite leaving the DRP, he had yet to decide which party he would now look to join. The MP said he would give his reasons for leaving the party at a later date.

“I did not leave the party because anything big happened. I have left the party, but have not decided on an ideology to accept next,” he was quoted as saying in local media.

Yousuf is the second MP to leave the DRP within the last 48 hours, following the announcement yesterday (June 10) by MP Ali Azim that he was defecting to the MDP.

“It is time for me to move forward,” he wrote via Twitter at the time.

Azim’s decision to leave the DRP was announced the same day the party’s leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali was unveiled as President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s running mate for September’s election.

This week’s departures from the DRP have left the party with nine MPs within parliament, local media has reported.

In April this year, Parliamentary Speaker Abdulla Shahid announced he was joining the MDP – days after resigning from the DRP.

Just a month earlier, Nolhivarum constituency MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed announced he had opted to join the DRP from the MDP.


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.


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]


Independent MP Ali Mohamed joins MDP

Independent MP for Noonu Velidhoo Ali ‘Alibe’ Mohamed joined the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) on Thursday, the former ruling party’s Parliamentary Group Leader MP Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih has confirmed.

Solih told newspaper Haveeru that MP Ali Mohamed’s membership form would be sent to the Elections Commission (EC) by the end of the day.

MP Ali Mohamed’s signing has given new strength to the party, Solih added, and expressed confidence that the MDP would get a majority of votes from the new MP’s constituency.

MDP won four out of five island council seats in Velidhoo in February 2011. At a recent rally on the island, a large number of youth signed for the MDP during a visit by former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Solih told Haveeru that the party was confident of winning a majority in Holhudhoo as well, the other island island in MP Ali Mohamed’s constituency.

Ali Mohamed – who is among senior MPs who chairs parliamentary sittings in the absence of both the speaker and deputy speaker – was elected to parliament on a DRP ticket.

He resigned from the party in mid-2011 and began working as an independent MP. Ali Mohamed voted with the MDP to pass the previous administration’s tax bills.

He however voted against the MDP to appoint Jumhooree Party (JP) presidential candidate and MP Gasim Ibrahim to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

Solih meanwhile suggested that several politicians were closely observing the changing political landscape, predicting that more MPs would join the MDP in the near future.

Ali Mohamed’s signing to MDP comes shortly after Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid also made the switch from the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).

Addressing MDP supporters at his first rally, Shahid said he joined the opposition to “prevent the window to democracy from being closed”.

“As our hearts yearned to stay in these gardens for good, an attempt was made to try and close this window. An attempt was made to extinguish that glow of hope in people’s hearts. It was the courageous members of MDP who obstructed the powerful forces that tried to close this window to democracy.” Shahid said during the rally held by MDP to announce his arrival.

“Today, I am here with all of you brave, steadfast warriors to prevent that window from being closed,” he added.

Earlier this month, local media speculated that a number of MPs were on their way to join the opposition, including MPs Alhan Fahmy (Independent), Abdulla Abdul Raheem (JP), Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed (DRP), Ali Azim (DRP) and Hassan Adil (JP).

Minivan News was unable to confirm the reports at time of press as none of the MPs were responding to calls.

MDP Spokesperson MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor previously speaking to Minivan News claimed that “a re-alignment in favour of the opposition was definitely happening”.

“I can confirm for you as I am a parliamentarian myself that several parliamentary groupings who previously stood behind the old dictatorship are slowly dismantling now. They have now started to realise that backing an old dictatorship is wrong,” said Ghafoor at the time. “I can guarantee you that a re-alignment is definitely happening and dismantling of the old dictatorship is imminent.”

Ghafoor however declined to reveal any names.

Following the signing of MP Ali Mohamed and Speaker Shahid, the number of MPs representing the opposition MDP now stands at 31, eight short of a simple majority in the 77-member house.

Parliament breakdown by party (prior to rumoured defection of five DRP MPs):

MDP 31

PPM 19

DRP 10

JP 3

PA 1


Independent – 10


DRP committee reveals contenders for deputy leader posts

Five people have expressed interest in standing for three vacant deputy leader posts within the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), according to local media.

Ahead of the DRP congress scheduled to run from April 23 to April 25, the party’s Election Committee has said that MPs Ali Azim, Rozaina Adam and Mohamed Ramiz will be among those contesting for the posts, according to Sun Online.

Current Minister of Economic Development Ahmed Mohamed, as well as Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Ali Solih are also expected to stand.

The committee also announced that 12 individuals had expressed interest in standing for six spots on the DRP’s council that are reserved for members of the public.

According to Sun Online, the DRP election committee has opted against holding votes to appoint a president and vice president for its women’s wing, along with a member of its Behavioural Committee as only one candidate had applied for each position.


Reports of Speaker Shahid, DRP MPs’ defection to MDP unconfirmed

Rumours that Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid and two other government-aligned MPs, Alhan Fahmy and Abdulla Abdul Raheem, have joined the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) are being widely circulated by local media.

Minivan News was unable to confirm the reports at time of press as Speaker Shahid and the other MPs were not responding to calls. The DRP has acknowledged the rumours, but has said it has not been officially informed of the switch.

Local media has also reported that government-aligned MPs Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed, MP Ali Azim and MP Hassan Adil are also preparing to join the opposition.

Speaker Shahid, Ali Azim and Nasheed are all from government-aligned Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP). The supposed reason for their defection, as reported in local media, was a clash within the party’s parliamentary group over its stand on recently scheduled no-confidence motion against Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.

A source in the MDP familiar with the matter alleged to Minivan News that the defection of the MPs was prompted after DRP Leader MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali brokered a “last minute deal” with the government in return for DRP not voting against the minister.

According to a 2010 report by former Auditor General Ibrahim Naeem, loans totalling Rf1 billion taken out by Fonadhoo Tuna, a company owned by Thasmeen at the time, and luxury yachting company Sultans of the Sea, connected to the party leader, had yet to see any repayments.

Together the loans accounted for 13 per cent of the total amount loaned by the bank in 2008. Naeem commented at the time that defaults on bank loans issued to “influential political players” could jeopardise the entire financial system of the country.

DRP MPs Mohamed Nashiz and Ali Azim were summoned to court in November 2012 regarding the debts, just as parliament was voting to determine whether no-confidence motions against ministers could be taken in secret.

Those summons were in relation to a Civil Court ordering Mahandhoo Investments and Kabalifaru Investments – two companies with ties to DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali – to repay millions of dollars worth of loans to the Bank of Maldives Plc Ltd (BML). The verdict was also upheld by the High Court in October 2011.

MP Azim alleged at the time that President Mohamed Waheed Hassan and other senior members of the executive had approached him, offering to cancel the court summons if he agreed to vote for the secret balloting in a way they preferred.

According to the MDP source, ahead of the no-confidence motion on April 8 the DRP had “in principle agreed” to vote against the minister, but had changed their minds at the last minute. Speaker Abdulla Shahid was “left no choice but to call off the session”.

Shahid called off the parliamentary session following point of orders taken by opposition MDP MPs over the issue of the secret ballot, which the Supreme Court had overturned despite parliament’s earlier vote in favour.

Upon concluding the session Speaker Shahid announced that the matter raised by MDP MPs regarding Supreme Court’s decision had been sent to parliament’s General Affairs Committee. He said the committee will review the decision and begin working the following day.

Despite the rumours, the DRP MPs have been in no hurry to confirm the reported switch.

Speaking to Minivan News, MDP Spokesperson MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor claimed that “a re-alignment in favour of the opposition is definitely happening”.

“I can confirm you as I am a parliamentarian myself that several parliamentary groupings who previously stood behind the old dictatorship are slowly dismantling now. They have now started to realise that backing an old dictatorship is wrong,” said Ghafoor. “I can guarantee you that a re-alignment is definitely happening and dismantling of the old dictatorship is imminent.”

However Ghafoor declined to reveal the names of those MPs involved in the claimed switch.

Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) Deputy Leader Ibrahim Shareef said the party had received no official confirmation that Speaker Shahid or any of the party’s MPs had resigned from the party or were  looking to switch to the MDP.

However, Shareef said he could not rule out the possibility of such a switch in the current political climate, citing that political defections “occur very fast in this country”.

“Anything is possible” he admitted. “As far as we are concerned, there are a lot of rumors right now about a political switch.”

Should the defections happen as rumored, the number of opposition MDP MPs will be 35 – just 4 MPs short of the parliament’s simple majority required for the dismissal of cabinet ministers and pushing through legislation.

Parliament breakdown by party (prior to rumoured defection of five DRP MPs):
MDP 29
PPM 19
DRP 11
JP 3
PA 1
Independent – 11

MP Colonel Nasheed defects to DRP, claiming MDP “undisciplined”

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP for Nolhivarum constituency Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed has opted to join the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).

The DRP was founded by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and now led by his former vice presidential nominee, MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, after a split in 2011 that saw Gayoom and his supporters leave the party to form the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

During a small ceremony held at the DRP head office, Nasheed signed to the party in front of party leader Thasmeen.

The defection comes the day following his defeat in the MDP’s parliamentary group elections, in which he contested for the position of one of the two deputy leaders.

MP Nasheed placed last after receiving five votes out of the 30 members. However, he said during the ceremony that the defeat in the party election had nothing to do with his defection to DRP.

Speaking during the ceremony after joining the party, the MP said that even though former President Mohamed Nasheed had a vision to reform the country, his aides never had the same thinking.

He also claimed that he joined DRP because he wholeheartedly believed the DRP was consistent in upholding its policies, and had“civilised” policies to offer for the nation.

“MDP is a party that I love. To sell MDP’s ideology, I took it on my own shoulders and carried it to the international stage. I spent days in imprisonment to uphold that ideology. But the truth is that our former presidents can do little to help this country. We cannot remain tied with the past,” he said.

Nasheed argued that whenever there was a conflict of opinion among a group of members the matter should not be settled “in the wrestling ring”.

He also said that both the parliament and the courts deserved privileges and respect.

“All boys who get ‘A reports’ are in DRP”

“In my view, we should never disrepute the state organs. At the same time I do admit to the fact that both the country’s legislature and judiciary have their problems. I believe the DRP is the only disciplined party that can solve the problems in a civilised manner,” he said.

Nasheed also criticised the recent anti government protests led by the MDP, contending that freedom of assembly should be exercised within the law.

“I do not believe that it is freedom of assembly when protesters overturn a passing van,” he said. “I believe in the right to freedom of assembly. But it is not freedom of assembly when you shatter the windows of a car and injure two school boys in it.”

Nasheed, who spoke highly in favor of his new party, said that DRP was a formidable vehicle that only needs to be activated by a few young people.

The MP claimed the party “has the most able and competent individuals in the country”, which is reflected from the performance of DRP cabinet ministers.

“All those boys who get ‘A reports’ are in DRP and all those who gets ‘B reports’ are with the MDP. What we are seeing today is that the country is being run by boys who end up with ‘C reports’ while those who get ‘A reports’ and ‘B reports’ are kept sidelined. This is something that public should clearly think about,” MP Nasheed said.

MP Eva Abdulla and Ilyas Labeeb calling the shots in deciding party whip line: Colonel Nasheed

Nasheed also alleged that MP Eva Abdulla and MP Ilyas Labeeb were calling the shots in deciding the party whip line in parliamentary votes, and claimed that there was no discussion between the remaining members of the parliamentary group.

“[MDP’s] whip line comes depending on what Eva Abdulla and Ilyas Labeeb feel about the matter. That is not how I want to follow the party whip line. When you vote in parliament, the first priority is the nation. The nation is bigger that any of our individual interests,” Nasheed said, expressing his frustration.

“The DRP is a party that upholds principles. Those principles are followed by the members of the DRP parliamentary group. When we don’t vote on a matter, we have reasons and justifications to our actions,” he said.

Following the addition of a member to his party’s parliamentary group, an ecstatic Ahmed Thasmeen Ali said that Nasheed and he had common views and principles.

The DRP leader described MP Nasheed as a person of both conviction and principle.

“The way he acts in parliament will prove whether he is a person who sticks to principle,” Thasmeen said.

Meanwhile DRP Deputy Parliamentary Group Leader Abdulla Mausoom tweeted welcoming Nasheed’s decision to join the party.

“Happy Day! Welcome [MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed] to DRP, the responsible political party of Maldives,” he tweeted.

MDP response

Speaking to Minivan News about the defection, MDP Spokesperson MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said that MP Nasheed and the rest of the parliamentary group members did not share common thinking.

Although he said he did not know the exact reason for the defection, Ghafoor suggested that the move could be for the reason that Nasheed wanted to assure his re-election to parliament.

“Maybe it was an attempt to secure his re-election. But we see that re-election possibilities are high within our own party. We also noticed that he was working very hard to get a position in the parliamentary group which did not bear much fruit,” he said.

MP Colonel Nasheed began his parliamentary career in 2007 following a by-election victory for the Male’ seat of the constitutional assembly that drafted the current constitution. He won the seat on an MDP ticket with a support base of 7,000 votes, but left the MDP to join the Social Liberal Party (SLP) following disputes.

Nasheed again rejoined the MDP ahead of the 2009 parliamentary elections and won the seat of Nolhivaram constituency on an MDP ticket.