Government-aligned parties condemn India for hosting “cowardly” Nasheed

Political parties supporting the current government of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan have criticised both former President Mohamed Nasheed and the Indian High Commission after Nasheed sought refuge inside.

Former President Nasheed entered the Indian High Commission on Wednesday ahead of a scheduled court hearing, to which he was to be produced under police detention.

Government aligned parties including the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) have all claimed accused Nasheed of being “cowardly”.

Leader of the DRP and presidential candidate Ahmed Thasmeen Ali told local newspaper Haveeru he was “disappointed” over former President Nasheed’s decision.

He claimed that the decision by the high commission to provide refuge for Nasheed meant the embassy was meddling in the domestic affairs of the country, and said the issue was too complex for India to resolve.

“When a former President shows up in an embassy and claims he was there for protection, it is not an easy matter to solve. A quick solution should be sought through dialogue,” he said.

Thasmeen claimed that there was no need for Nasheed to seek refuge from the Indian High Commission.

He also contended that no political figure could force the Prosecutor General (PG) to withdraw the charges levied against the former President, and that it was solely at the discretion of the PG to decide the matter.

Nasheed is being tried for his controversial detention of Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed during his last days in office.

“Appoint a better high commissioner”, Adhaalath party tells India

In a statement released on Saturday, the Adhaalath Party accused Nasheed of using the Indian diplomatic office as a shield to protect himself from being summoned to court.

“The Adhaalath Party believes that this cowardly act by Nasheed is a huge crime and an attempt to destroy the country’s legal system. Instead of working on proving his innocence, Nasheed is continuously harassing the legal system, defaming security services, showing disobedience and attempting to create chaos,” read the statement.

The party also condemned the Indian High Commission and the Indian government “for assisting a criminal fleeing from trial”.

“Making the Indian High Commission a political camp of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), and [letting Nasheed] hold discussions with MDP activists on the premises and encouraging them to create chaos and unrest among society lowers the respect of Maldivian people towards India,” read the statement.

The Adhaalath Party told the Indian government “to appoint a high commissioner who is professional and capable of mending the deteriorating bilateral relationship between the two countries”.

“The worsening of bilateral ties between the Maldives and India is not at all something which this party wants to happen,” it added.

The Adhaalath Party was a vocal opponent of India’s GMR Group, and its US$511 million concession agreement to develop Ibrahim Nasir International Airport. During on of the party’s rallies, several senior government figures mocked and insulted Indian High Commissioner D M Mulay calling him a “traitor to the Maldives”.

During a PPM press conference held on Thursday, party spokesperson MP Ahmed Mahloof claimed Nasheed was “coward” on the run knowing that his crime would invalidate his candidacy in the presidential election.

Mahloof said Nasheed did not have the patience to remain inside the high commission and that he would come out “very soon”.

“What is actually happening to Nasheed is that after resigning on February 7, 2012, he claims he will the MDP protests even if the police shoot him. But when the protests begin he is nowhere to be seen and is either at his home or on an island. Now we know Nasheed is a big coward,” he said.

He further said that Nasheed should be proving his innocence in court instead of hiding in the Indian High Commission.

Mahlouf said Nasheed’s decision to remain in the high commission until the elections would be costly to his party, as he would not have the opportunity to campaign as much as his rivals.

MDP response

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy dismissed the remarks made by the government-aligned parties, claiming that their respective leaders were desperate to eliminate Nasheed from the upcoming presidential election.

“Why are they condemning Indian High Commission’s hosting of Nasheed when there are graver issues to be concerned about? Our judiciary is failing. The Commonwealth, the European Union (EU), UN and even the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) report highlights the flaws within Judiciary. Why are they silent on that?” Fahmy questioned.

He further reiterated that India was observing the situation in the Maldives and were wary of the situation with the judiciary.

Fahmy also condemned the Adhaalath Party’s derogatory remarks towards Indian High Commissioner D M Mulay.

In a statement, the MDP said the party’s comments were “unacceptable” and would “mindlessly”  impact the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

“President Nasheed has sought protection from the Indian High Commission after the Prosecutor General levied politically-motivated charges against him which lacked any legal grounds, and is concerned for his security,” the party said.

The party further contended that the Hulhumale Magistrate Court – which has been hearing the Nasheed trial – was illegitimate was therefore it unlikely that the former president would get a fair hearing.


PPM membership tally overtakes DRP

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has overtaken the membership of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), from which it split in 2011.

According to the latest political party membership statistics released on Tuesday by the Election Commission (EC), the PPM is now the second largest political party with 22,793 members, with 472 membership forms pending.

The DRP currently has a membership of 22,501 members.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) of former President Mohamed Nasheed remains the largest political party by a substantial margin, with 46,321 members, with 1,234 membership applications are pending with the EC.

Business tycoon and presidential hopeful MP Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party is the fourth largest political party in the country with 11,139 members.

Meanwhile, the religiously conservative Adhaalath Party’s membership stands at 5,877 members.

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s party Gaumee Ithihaadh Party (GIP)’s membership stands at just 3,217 members with 1,395 membership forms pending.

The Dhivehi Gaumee Party (DQP) membership has meanwhile fallen to 2099 members.

The recently established Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) led by tourism magnate Ahmed ‘Sun travel’ Shiyam has a membership of 3,441 with 161 new membership forms pending.

DRP concerns

Following the release of party membership statistics, the government-aligned DRP expressed alleging that the Elections Commission was being politically influenced by fellow government party, the PPM.

Speaking to local media after a meeting with the commission, DRP Spokesperson Ali Solih said it was “very clear” that the Elections Commission was working in favor of PPM while verifying membership forms.

Solih alleged the decision by the elections commission to cease the practice of fingerprinting for membership forms was to enable the PPM to rapidly increase its membership.  The decision was made by the Parliament’s Independent Institutions Oversight Committee last November.

“Even if a committee decides on it, the Elections Commission should not stop the practice immediately. They have to check the forms that were submitted with fingerprints. But what we saw was when people from a specific party come to the Elections Commission, they stopped checking for fingerprints. This is something done to please a certain political party,” he said.

He further alleged that the EC had updated the party membership statistics ahead of PPM’s presidential primary, and suggested that something was taking place behind the scenes. He also claimed the commission had been negligent in assessing the membership forms from his own party.

“When we submit 800 forms, they don’t update them. But we see membership of parties that have  not submitted any forms continuously updating. We have doubts over how the Elections Commission carries out the process,” he added.

Human error

Speaking to Minivan News, Vice President of Elections Commission Ahmed Fayaz dismissed the allegations of party bias.

“We can assure that that Elections Commission is not working in favor of a certain group of people or certain political party,” he said.

Regarding the decision to not include fingerprints in membership forms, Fayaz said it was made by the parliamentary select committee and was not based on the request of a specific political party.

“When we make a decision, there will always be people who are not content with it. I believe that is the case with the DRP. They are expressing their views and we respect that,” he said.

Fayaz acknowledged that the commission had received complaints from the DRP regarding discrepancies in its membership forms submitted, and said the matter was being addressed.

“I do not deny the fact that there could be mistakes. We are all human beings. We use our human senses to verify membership forms, so it is subject to human error. It is also important to note we are not processing a few hundred forms, but thousands of forms from different parties. So there could possibly be errors,” he said.

According to Fayaz, if the current Political Parties bill in parliament becomes law, it would solve a lot of issues that the commission is currently facing.  The bill was passed by parliament and sent for ratification, but was rejected by President Waheed claiming that it bill compromised the constitutional right of freedom of association, by requiring parties to have a minimum of 10,000 members.

The number of political parties in the country currently stands at 16. That is expected to increase in the days to come as yjr Elections Commission has granted permission for ex-servicemen and current Minister of State for Home Affairs Mohamed Fayaz to create a new political party, which the local media has identified as the ‘Maldives Industrial Alliance’.


Elections commission disbursing politcial party funds

Political parties will receive funds disbursed by the Elections Commission (EC) this week, according to local media.

Secretary General of EC Asim Abdul Sattar told Sun Online that the Finance Ministry was facing “difficulties” because of the high number of vouchers received at the beginning of the year, which is why funds had not previously been distributed.

According to EC Member Ali Mohamed Manik, seven political parties have had funds withheld because they have not held any political activities or submitted “up-to-standard” audit reports.

The Maldives presently has 16 registered political parties, however only eight meet the requirements for actively holding political events and having at least 3,000 registered members, states local media.

Party funding:

  • Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP): MVR 3.6 million (US$233,280);
  • Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MVR 1.98 million (US$128,304);
  • Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MVR 1.9 million (US$123,120);
  • Jumhooree Party (JP) MVR 1.2 million (US$77,760);
  • Adhaalath Party (AP) MVR 794,000 (US$51,451);
  • Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) MVR 624,000 (US$40,435);
  • Gaumee Itthihad MVR 608,000 (US$39,398);
  • Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MVR 529,000 (US$34,279); and
  • Maldives National Congress (MNC) MVR 478,000 (US$ 30,974).