Parliament resolution to ‘ensure election’ passed with show of hands, amid protest by pro-government MPs

A resolution submitted by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) calling on all state institutions to ensure that the second round of the presidential election is held as scheduled was passed at an extraordinary session of parliament today, amid disorderly protests by MPs of the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Jumhooree Party (JP).

The resolution was read out by MDP MP Ali Waheed over loud protests and whistle and horn-blowing by pro-government MPs. The special sitting – held during the ongoing recess upon request of 29 MPs – was adjourned shortly thereafter by Speaker Abdulla Shahid due to disorder in the chamber caused by PPM and JP MPs gathered in front of his desk.

When the sitting resumed at 1:00pm to vote on the resolution, PPM and JP MPs were occupying the Speaker’s chair as well as the secretariat desk. The vote was called by Speaker Shahid – surrounded by security guards – standing in front of the chamber well and passed with a show of hands.

According to MP Ali Waheed, the resolution was passed with 37 votes in favour. The MPs occupying the Speaker’s space and secretariat desk appeared not to participate in the vote.

Following the adjournment of the sitting this morning, MDP MPs alleged on social media that MP Ahmed Amir – a member of the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), which is currently backing PPM presidential candidate MP Abdulla Yameen – poured water on and damaged the parliament sound system.

The MDP resolution adopted by parliament today meanwhile states that the second round run-off scheduled for September 28 should “not be delayed for any reason” and called for all state institutions to cooperate with the Elections Commission (EC) in adherence with constitutionally-stipulated deadlines for the presidential election.

Moreover, the resolution stated that the parliament’s security services or ‘241’ committee would oversee the actions of the police and military with regard to the second round of the presidential election to be held next Saturday.

The resolution was passed while a Supreme Court case initiated by the JP seeking the annulment of the September 7 election is ongoing, with the fifth hearing taking place today.

Chaos in the chamber

Today’s sitting took place after two previous attempts yesterday was disrupted by PPM and JP MPs who blew on whistles and a vuvuzela and gathered in front of the Speaker’s desk.

Yesterday’s sitting in the morning was adjourned after Speaker Shahid’s microphone was vandalised during the disruption.

The sitting resumed at 9:00pm but could not proceed due to similar disorder caused by PPM and JP MPs protesting in front of the Speaker’s desk.

Videos meanwhile emerged on social media showing PPM MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla using obscene language against Speaker Shahid and insulting his mother during the morning session.

Following the cancellation of the 9:00pm session, the MDP-aligned Raajje TV showed video of JP MP Ilham Ahmed, also the party’s deputy leader, take out what appeared to be pliers from his pocket and cut a cable.

Local media reported that PPM MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla and JP MP Shifaq Mufeed were injured in scuffles that broke out between pro-government and MDP MPs at last night’s sitting. The former was reportedly treated at ADK hospital last night.

Despite their apparent injuries both MPs were seen actively protesting at this morning’s session.

Speaking at a press conference last night, PPM vice presidential candidate Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed contended that the MDP was attempting to “cover up irregularities of the first round” of the presidential election on through the parliament.

PPM MP Abdul Azeez Jamal Abubakur told press outside parliament today that the party believed MDP’s resolution was unlawful as it involved an ongoing court case, and suggested that the Supreme Court would rule that it was unconstitutional.

Both Dr Jameel and MP Abdul Azeez alleged that the first round of the polls was rigged in the MDP’s favour, claiming that the 95,224 votes (45.45 percent) its candidate former President Mohamed Nasheed received included fraudulent votes.

Meanwhile, in a letter to MPs published on the parliament website following the incidents last night, Speaker Shahid wrote that yesterday’s attempts to proceed with the sitting were unsuccessful due to “numerous acts in violation of the People’s Majlis’ regulations.”

“In particular, the sitting could not proceed because [computer] systems, cameras and cables in the Majlis chamber were damaged with sharp objects on a number of occasions,” the Speaker’s letter stated, expressing concern with the actions of MPs.

The Speaker added that “assault, damaging Majlis property, and intimidating Majlis staff” was “unacceptable” conduct as the parliament was an institution where disputes should be peacefully resolved through discussion and dialogue.

Meanwhile, a car in the garage of Speaker Shahid’s residence was set on fire in the early hours of Monday morning. Local media reported that the car belonged to Shahid’s brother.

Shahid told newspaper Haveeru that CCTV footage showed a man with his face covered pour petrol and set the car alight, describing it as “an act of intimidation” intended to incite political unrest.


Yameen elected as PPM presidential candidate

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Parliamentary Group Leader Abdulla Yameen has been elected as the party’s presidential candidate to compete in the upcoming national elections.

The preliminary results of the PPM’s presidential primary reveal that Yameen won with a total of 13,096 votes, beating rival candidate Umar Naseer’s 7,450 votes – a 63 percent majority, according figures quoted by local media.

A total of 31,298 PPM members were eligible to vote in the party’s presidential primary through one of the 167 ballot boxes placed in 140 islands, Sun Online reported.

Umar Naseer accepted defeat: “If it’s a free and fair election, I will always accept the final result. I believe so far the election has been fair. As I said we will know how to proceed once we assess the complaints,” he told Haveeru.

“The party won’t be divided. I believe this will further strengthen the party as this exercise shows the strength of democracy within this party.”

Former President of the Maldives and PPM President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom congratulated his half-brother, Yameen, via Twitter following the announcement of the results.

Gayoom had urged party members to take part in Saturday’s election, despite not casting a vote himself in order to remain “neutral”.

During the voting period on Saturday (March 30), Yameen told local media that certain party members had been seen inside voting centres in Male’ using foul language in an attempt to start fights and create disorder.

Private media outlet Raajje TV captured a brief scuffle on camera between supporters of the two presidential primary candidates Umar Naseer and Abdulla Yameen.

The footage shows police being brought in to control the crowd, who are dressed in the party’s pink colour scheme.

Yameen told local media shortly after casting his vote outside the Aminiya School in Male’, that despite the minor conflicts, the party would not split.

“Overall, the voting is alright. But people from within the party have entered voting centres and have tried to start fights.

“They have raised they voices, used foul language, this should not happen in an internal election. It is very sad,” Yameen was quoted as saying in Sun Online.

On Friday (March 29), Yameen’s half brother, former President of the Maldives and PPM president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, called for PPM members to show the world what a “responsible party” the PPM is during Saturday’s primary.

Slanderous accusations

The recent internal disorder among rival supporters follows a month of increasingly heated rhetoric between the two presidential candidates.

Earlier this month, Yameen responded to several accusations made against him, claiming the “stories” to be untrue.

“I have been accused of holding large sums of money in different accounts. I’m not responding to these allegations. But the people who work with me need public confidence.

“I want to say to you, that there are several allegations targeted at me. But those allegations are baseless and unfounded. None of those stories are true. Don’t believe them,” Yameen was quoted as saying in local media.

A spokesperson for Abdulla Yameen’s ‘Yageen’ campaign team told local media on March 23 that Umar Naseer had made slanderous and “blatantly untruthful” statements about Yameen during a recent rally.

Speaking at the aforementioned rally, Naseer claimed that Yameen’s campaign team is forced to play “80 percent in defence” in order to denounce the public’s claims against him.

“We heard our brother MP [Ahmed] Nihan speaking at Yameen’s campaign rally. All he did was try to denounce what the public says about Yameen,” Naseer said at a rally held on March 15.

“Nihan said that although people allege Yameen has ties with gangs and gang violence it is not true. He said that although people say Yameen bathes with mineral water, that isn’t true either.”

An MP is trying to frame me: Umar Naseer

Earlier in March, Naseer claimed that he had received “intel” that an attempt would be made to “assassinate” his character by planting illegal substances in his offices.

Following Naseer’s initial claims, he told supporters at a rally on March 15 that an MP involved in the illegal drug business was attempting to “frame him”.

“[The MP] tried to ruin my reputation by sending police to my business offices in the pretence of looking for illegal substances. I do not get involved in such acts.

“I will not name the MP, I do not need to name him here. He is trying to hide the relations he has with gangs and his involvement in the illegal drug business.”

On March 17, a police source told Minivan News that a bottle of alcohol had been found in a car belonging to Naseer’s wife when searched by police.

Despite Umar Naseer’s comments, former President Gayoom tweeted earlier this month that external influences were attempting to split Yameen and Umar apart.

“Some people from outside PPM are trying hard to drive a wedge between Yameen and Umar. All PPM members please be alert to this,” Gayoom tweeted.