DQP MP Riyaz Rasheed joins PPM

Dhivehi Qaumee Party’s (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed has joined the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), local media has reported.

Riyaz said he signed to the party in the presence of both President Abdulla Yameen and Vice President Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.

According to Riyaz he joined PPM because he had worked hard to bring the current government to power and that he could best serve the government by joining the party.

Riyaz denied his changing party having any connection to Elections Commission’s decision to dissolve the DQP.


Dr Hassan Saeed retires from politics

Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) Leader Dr Hassan Saeed, running mate of third-placed candidate Gasim Ibrahim in yesterday’s presidential election, has resigned from his party and retired from active politics.

A council member of the DQP told newspaper Haveeru today that Dr Saeed has decided to end his political career based on a lack of electoral success during the past 10 years.

Running as an independent candidate in the first multi-party democratic election in 2008 – after resigning as Attorney General under former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom citing obstruction of the reform agenda – Dr Saeed came third in the first round and pledged “unconditional” support for the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Mohamed Nasheed in the run-off against the incumbent.

Appointed Special Advisor to President Nasheed following the MDP-led coalition’s victory in October 2008, Dr Saeed resigned from the post 100 days into the new administration after a series of disagreements and letters of advice shared with the media.

Saeed became a vocal critic of the Nasheed administration together with then-DQP deputy leader Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, who was sacked from Nasheed’s cabinet shortly after Saeed’s resignation.

In the run-up to a mass gathering organised by eight opposition parties and an alliance of NGOs on December 23, 2011 ostensibly to “defend Islam” from the alleged liberalisation and securalisation agenda of the MDP government, Saeed’s DQP issued a pamphlet titled “President Nasheed’s devious plot to destroy the Islamic faith of Maldivians.”

Following Nasheed’s controversial resignation in the wake of a violent police mutiny less than a month and a half later, Saeed was appointed Special Advisor to current President Dr Mohamed Waheed.

He resigned from the post citing excessive “family and foreign influence” and was shortly thereafter unveiled as Jumhooree Party leader and business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim’s running mate.


Party running mates debate on TVM ahead of September 7 elections

State broadcaster Televison Maldives (TVM) has aired a debate involving the running mates of all four candidates contesting the upcoming September 7 elections.

Jumhoree Coalition’s vice presidential (VP) candidate Dr Hassan Saeed from Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), Gaumee Ihthihaadh Party coalition VP candidate Ahmed Thasmeen Ali from the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) VP candidate Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) VP candidate Dr Mustafa Lutfi were asked questions regarding national unity, establishing a peaceful and safe environment, good governance and social protection.

According to TVM, the questions in the debate were formulated based on research done by the Maldives National University on the needs and priorities of Maldivian citizens.

National Unity

The show began with a question on what the candidates felt were the biggest challenges to the spirit of nationalism, and what their plans are to strengthen national unity.

All four candidates emphasised that Islam is the basis of unity, and that it was just as important to establish equitability among all citizens. Saeed and Jameel also spoke of treating citizens equally, without any discrimination based on political affiliation.

Saeed further pledged to introduce nationalism and civic education as subjects in all schools. He also noted the difference in economic status between north, south and central Maldives, stating their coalition would work to decrease this.

Thasmeen accused the previous MDP government of having contributed to decreasing national unity by “negligence when it comes to strengthening Islamic principles among citizens”, adding that his coalition will focus on training young children in the ways of Islam.

Jameel stated that the PPM would introduce Islamic studies in primary and secondary level education. Lutfi responded that in addition to Islamic studies already existing in the curriculum, “the entire education system is in line with Islamic principles as this is an Islamic nation”.

In response to a question as to what candidates would do to bring an end to political unrest, all candidates except Thasmeen focused on equal application of law to all citizens.

Saeed and Jameel alleged that the reasons behind existing political turmoil was former president and MDP presidential candidate Nasheed’s “habit of acting outside law”, as well as the importance of empowering and respecting decisions of independent commissions and courts.

Saeed stated that the JP coalition will ensure the Maldives is included among the 10 countries with the least corruption.

Thasmeen stated that the most important step that can be taken is to prioritise national interest over personal political interests.

Lutfi – whose party maintains that the February 7, 2012 transfer of power was illegitimate and the product a coup d’etat – answered that political unrest cannot be eradicated “until and unless a government elected by the people is established in the country”.

Establishing a peaceful and safe environment

The segment started off asking what plans had been made to handle the rising problem of the sale of illicit drugs and drug abuse, especially among youth.

While all four candidates mentioned the establishment of more rehabilitation centres, each had their own ideas as to how the issue should be handled.

Thasmeen suggested more awareness programs as a preventive measure. On the other hand, Saeed and Jameel urged stricter penalisation for drug related offences.

“Our government will give the strictest possible punishment as per the law to those involved in the drug trade. We will not hesitate even if we have to hang them to death,” Saeed stated.

Along with stricter penalties, Jameel added that it was important to expedite court processes, and implement sentences. While he mentioned privatisation of rehabilitation facilities, he placed emphasis on PPM’s plans to further strengthen the police force and provide them with greater jurisdiction in investigating drug cases.

“It is often a huge obstacle for police that they have to work alongside customs and other authorities. Our government will ensure the police have increased powers,” he stated.

Lutfi approached the matter from another angle, suggesting stronger preventive measures can work more effectively than stricter sentences in reducing drug crime.

He stated that the MDP would provide higher education and job opportunities, thereby facilitating paths for youth to create better lives for themselves, and steer them away from drugs.

“As I see it, youth do not take up drug abuse simply through faults of their own, but largely due to failures in a state’s system,” Lutfi said.

All candidates spoke of introducing educational, entertainment and job opportunities for youth.

Saeed added that his coalition would provide accommodation for all young couples who get married. Thasmeen said that youth who are between jobs will be given an “unemployment benefit”, although he did not reveal how much such an allowance would be.

Good governance

Asked about the foreign policies included in each of the parties’ respective manifestos, all candidates spoke about the importance of ensuring that no outside influences compromised the country’s constitutional requirement to be 100 percent Muslim.

Saeed, Jameel and Thasmeen stated the importance of not letting foreign influences compromise Maldives sovereignty, religion and independence.

“We must not go begging to foreign powers every time we need something,” Saeed asserted.

Jameel meanwhile alleged that Nasheed had “negatively affected our tourism industry by speaking openly about the country being at risk of sinking due to climate change while he was still in power”, adding that a leader should always keep the country’s best interests in mind.

The candidates also spoke on the issue of politicisation of the security forces. Saeed suggested that the best way to deal with the problem was to create stricter regulations regarding the protection of state secrets, and by politicians refraining from using security forces as a political tool.

Lutfi however suggested that the best way to ensure the forces upheld their pledges to protect state secrets was by maintaining equality among officers, and by providing adequate training and education.

Implementation of Islamic Sharia

Saeed assured that the JP coalition would not hesitate to implement Sharia law, be it even severe punishments including amputation and the death penalty. He accused former governments of hesitating to do so, as some among their leadership had cases against them which warranted these hadd penalties.

The other three candidates acknowledged that there were problems within the law enforcement forces and the judiciary which inhibited the implementation of harsher Sharia penalties.

Thasmeen stated that the GIP-DRP coalition would open up a national debate to address the issues, while Lutfi stated that such penalties could only be implemented after the judiciary had reformed and gained the trust of the people.

Admitting that there were weaknesses in the law enforcement bodies and the judiciary, Jameel stated that “there are changes we need to bring to the penal code and the criminal justice system. It is also a huge problem that people are currently granted the right to remain silent and that the [Prosecutor General] is not compelled by law to prosecute criminal cases in a predetermined short period of time.”

Jameel asserted that as it is specifically stated in the Quran, there was “no way anyone can refuse to implement death penalty”.

Criticism of competitors

While the program was carried out more as a question and answer session, some candidates leveled criticisms at others in the time allocated for closing statements.

Saeed stated that his candidate, Gasim Ibrahim had served both during Gayoom’s time and Nasheed’s time, and that he had been tasked with major responsibilities, displaying the trust that previous leaders had in his capabilities. He further accused PPM candidate Abdulla Yameen, MDP Candidate Mohamed Nasheed and GIP-DRP coalition running mate Thasmeen Ali of being involved in cases of corruption.

Saeed stated that only MDP and JP had created manifestos after consulting with citizens, adding that “Gasim traveled to all inhabited islands through rain and shine”.

Thasmeen retorted that while Gasim had been busy visiting citizens, Saeed had been writing the GIP coalition manifesto prior to his defection. Thasmeen also said that prior to contesting in the upcoming elections, both Saeed and Jameel had “sung nothing but praise for President Waheed”, which was evidence of the president’s capabilities.

Jameel meanwhile stated that it was irrelevant to listen to three men who had individually served as Attorney General, Minister of Atolls Administration and Minister of Tourism during Gayoom’s 30 year administration. He asserted that the PPM was the right choice as all three candidates had previously worked in Gayoom’s administration. Jameel himself served as Gayoom’s Justice Minister.

Lutfi, who asserted the importance of establishing “a people’s government”, concluded the debate with a summary of the policies launched by the MDP, stating that “on September 7, the Maldivian people will be making an extremely important decision.”

The full debate (in Dhivehi) can be viewed here.


DRP denies holding coalition talks with President Waheed’s election rivals

The government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has rejected allegations it ever considered forming a coalition to back a candidate other than President Dr Mohamed Waheed.

Local media quoted senior figures in the Jumhoree Party (JP) of accusing DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali of unsuccessfully trying to become the running mate of its presidential candidate MP Gasim Ibrahim, before opting to side with the incumbent in May this year.

JP candidate Gasim, one of the country’s highest-profile business figures, has since formed his own coalition with the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) and Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) after they both defected from President Waheed’s ‘Forward with the nation’ coalition in July.

“Last minute” decision

DRP Spokesperson Ibrahim Shareef today categorically denied that discussions had ever been held over backing any other candidate for this year’s election, claiming the decision to stand in a coalition with President Waheed has been made by the party’s council at the “last minute”.

“We were originally trying to run on our own [as a party] right up to the last minute,” he said. “However, it was decided to sacrifice [the party’s] ambitions for the sake of the nation.”

Shareef claimed that in comparison to the three other candidates preparing to contest this year’s election, President Waheed was not promising policies that could not be delivered under the current economy.

He accused Gasim, Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen and opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate former President Mohamed Nasheed of being “very unrealistic” with their campaign promises.

“We are careful to make promises within the resources we have available and within the budget,” Shareef added.

Both the PPM and MDP have previously accused President Waheed of making development pledges outside the approved budget, while also alleging he had been using state resources to campaign for his own Gaumee Ihthihad Party (GIP).

According to Shareef, the ‘Forward with the nation’ also faced notable challenges in terms of limited party financing compared to other parties, accusing both the AP and DQP of defecting to Gasim’s coalition simply to secure an increased campaign budget.

“They went to the person who has money, while we are concerned with running an effective campaign,” he added.

Shareef said this year’s election was very much a “money game” that had affected the wider campaign atmosphere in the country, notably in how individual candidates were being portrayed in the media.

He expressed particular concern at the role the country’s media – often owned and controlled by political parties and business men – played in the electoral process.

Shareef argued that with media in the Maldives controlled by just a few powerful figures, it was difficult in the country’s fledgling democracy to effectively explain a candidate’s individual stand to the “ordinary public” and therefore allow them to make an informed decision and hold public figures to account.

On the campaign trail

A source in President Waheed’s campaign team told Minivan News that the defection of the AP and DQP from the ‘Forward with the nation’ coalition had required little change to the coalition’s campaign strategy, and that the party’s internal polling data suggested this had had a negligible impact on the coalition’s election chances.

The source said the departure of the AP in particular had actually increased the party’s support among the under 35 demographic.


President obtains 1,500 signatures for independent candidacy, coalition claims “things going to plan”

President Dr Mohamed Waheed has obtained the 1,500 signatures required to register himself as an independent candidate in the upcoming election, his ‘forward with the nation’ coalition has said.

Amidst the possibility of his Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP) facing dissolution for not having the 10,000 members required to officially register a political entity in the Maldives, President Waheed this week announced his intention to stand for election as an independent candidate.

The incumbent will stand as an independent alongside his running mate, MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali – leader of the government aligned Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP).

Candidates unaffiliated with a political party are required to submit signatures of at least 1,500 supporters with their official application to stand in the upcoming presidential election, according to local media.

In order to meet this total, President Waheed held a signing ceremony at the presidential residence of Hilaaleege in Male’ on Wednesday (July 17) evening.

Minivan News observed an estimated 200 people present at the ceremony by around 10:00pm, where the president’s family members and news reporters were seen mingling with supporters.  The signing event concluded at midnight.

In a statement released Thursday ( July 18 ), the ‘Forward with the nation coalition’ claimed it had seen an “overwhelming response” from the public to sign the petition backing President Waheed’s candidacy, with over 500 people attending the ceremony during the course of Wednesday evening.

“While we have already exceeded the legal minimum we will continue to sign up supporters in the coming days,” the statement said.

Minivan News understands that President Waheed also conducted a door to door campaign to obtain signatures for his candidacy, with the coalition anticipating similar event will continue into next week.  An exact number of signatories was not received at time of press.

President’s Waheed’s coalition until last week consisted of several government-aligned parties; including the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP), the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), the DRP and his own GIP.

However, the DQP yesterday announced it would be following the AP in leaving the president’s coalition to back the campaign of resort tycoon and Jumhoree Party (JP) MP Gasim Ibrahim instead.

DRP Parliamentary Group Leader MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom has said the defection of both the AP and the DQP from the ‘Forward with the nation coalition’ “did not change the game at all” in terms of its strategy to secure the election during a second round of voting.

A second round will be held between the top two candidates during polls scheduled for September 7 should either fail to secure at least 51 percent of the vote.

“We know that the 2013 election will require a second round of voting and that all candidates wish to be in the grand final. We are optimistic that we will be in this final,” he said.

Mausoom has previously claimed that the DRP – both as an individual party, and later as members of President Waheed’s coalition – remained the main alternative viewpoint for voters disenfranchised by the “polarised views” of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) or the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

Dr Mausoom added that even with the defection of the Adhaalath and the DQP, President Waheed still presented a coalition of people rather than individual parties, with more “political figures” expected to come out and back him before voting commences later this year.

He therefore said the coalition was confident it would still appeal to voters as alternative to MDP candidate former President Mohamed Nashhed and the PPM, led by former autocratic President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

The MDP and PPM presently represent the country’s two largest parties in terms of parliamentary representation.

While anticipating “moments” in the run up to the presidential election where political figures – either out of financial or ideological reasons – would switch to rival candidates and parties, Mausoom said it would ultimately be the general public who decided on the next president. He argued that Dr Waheed’s record as president following last year’s controversial transfer of power would therefore be recognised by voters during polling.

“President Waheed has done a wonderful job of keeping the government together and shown what a great leader he is,” Dr Mausoom said. “Things are going to plan and we are confident during the second round [of voting] that the people will opt for [the coalition].”

However, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) today rejected claims that the ‘Forward with the nation’ coalition would receive sufficient support to see President Waheed elected to office.

MDP MP and Spokesperson claimed that the majority of voters would opt to reject President Waheed as a candidate owing to the controversial transfer of power that brought him to power and the conduct of his coalition government since.  The MDP has continued to allege that former President Nasheed’s government was ended prematurely by a “coup d’eat” on February 7, 2012 following a mutiny by sections of the police and military.

“The bottom line is people will vote overwhelmingly against the coup. It is regrettable [President Waheed] is still hanging on,” he said. “Pretender Waheed has already cost the state upwards of a billion US dollars since the coup.”

Meanwhile, the PPM announced this week that no formal decision had yet been taken on whether to retract its support for the coalition government, despite growing “complaints” from its members over the conduct of President Waheed.

MP Ahmed Nihan today told Minivan News that both the PPM’s senior leadership and ordinary members held significant “concerns” over the conduct of President Waheed in the build up to this year’s presidential election, with the party accusing the incumbent and his supporters of unfair campaigning.

The PPM is the largest party in terms of MP numbers presently serving within the coalition government backing President Waheed.


Original documents of transactions with Meridian Services stolen: STO lawyer

Lawyers for the government-owned State Trading Organisation (STO) claimed in the Civil Court today that original documents of business transactions with Dhivehi Qaumee Party (MP) Riyaz Rasheed’s Meridian Services had been stolen, reports Haveeru.

At today’s hearing of STO’s lawsuit against Meridian seeking to recover MVR 19.3 million (US$1.2 million) released as credit, the company’s lawyers said the theft of the documents from the STO office occurred on October 27, 2011 and were reported to police at the time.

The lawyer reportedly requested the opportunity to present witnesses to prove the authenticity of copies or other records of the stolen documents.

However, lawyers for the Vilufushi MP’s Meridian Services disputed the authenticity of the purchase orders, delivery notices and invoices submitted as evidence by STO, claiming the documents were forged.

The Meridian lawyer claimed that there were discrepancies in the purchase orders and delivery notes with inconsistent numbers and quantities as well as lack of signatures.

In response, the STO lawyer said Meridian had not submitted any evidence or a statement challenging the validity of the evidence submitted by STO.

The judge adjourned the hearing after announcing that a decision would be made at the next hearing over STO’s request to present witnesses.

On April 26, 2012, the STO issued a press statement announcing that it would file a case at Civil Court to recover MVR 19,333,671.20 (US$1,253,804.88) allegedly unpaid by Meridian Services.

STO and Meridian Services signed an oil trade agreement on March 31, 2010, which offered the company a credit facility worth MVR 20 million (US$ 1,297,016.86) for purchasing oil from STO, stipulating that payments had to be made within a period of 40 days.

However, in August 2010, STO lowered its credit limit from MVR 20 million to MVR 10 million (US$648,508.43) and shortened the payment period from 40 to 30 days, prompting Meridian Services to sue STO for alleged breach of contract.

Meridian Services however lost the first case after Civil Court Judge Abdulla Jameel Moosa ruled in favor of STO.


Parliament rejects bill proposing enforcement of death penalty by hanging

Additional reporting by Neil Merrett

Parliament on Monday rejected 26-18 with no abstentions a bill proposed by government-aligned Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed to implement the death penalty by hanging.

The death penalty legislation was put to a vote to decide whether or not to proceed with the bill at committee stage.

Presenting the bill at a sitting earlier this month, the MP for Vilufushi said the legislation proposed implementing the death penalty by hanging if the Supreme Court upheld a death sentence passed by a lower court.

He contended that the death penalty would act as an effective deterrent to the increasing rate of premeditated murders in the Maldives.

MP Riyaz was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.

Government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed reportedly said he “will not vote to kill someone” at a time when the judiciary did not inspire public confidence.

“In reality, there are a lot of things I want to consider before I cast a vote that will allow a Maldivian citizen to be executed. Islam has determined penalties for certain reasons, to protect certain things. To protect property, life, religion, lineage and dignity. I don’t want a person to die because of a vote that I cast in favour of a law that does not protect these things,” the former MDP MP was quoted as saying by Sun Online.

The MDP meanwhile said today that there had been a “strong understanding”  among the party’s MPs participating in the vote to dismiss the bill.

MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said the party’s parliamentary group had opted to throw out the bill on the grounds that it would be “irresponsible” to approve such measures with ongoing concerns held by itself and independent experts over the functioning of the country’s judiciary.

Ghafoor additionally criticised the proposed bill as being irrelevant, arguing that the country’s draft penal code – a recent issue of contention between MPs and certain political parties – already included provisions for the death sentence as outlined under Islamic Sharia.

He said that with the implementation of the death penalty in the Maldives being a sensitive issue, some party MPs and politicians had preferred not to attend yesterday’s vote. Ghafoor said the vote highlighted the difficulties in the country of voting over issues requiring religious understanding.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) said no whip line has been established for yesterday’s vote, which was attended by only a limited number of its parliamentary group.

“Most of the PPM’s MPs were not in Male’, but at campaign locations [at the time],” the spokesperson claimed.

Implementation debate

The last person to be judicially executed in the Maldives was Hakim Didi, who was executed by firing squad in 1953 after being found guilty of conspiracy to murder using black magic.

Statistics show that from January 2001 to December 2010, a total of 14 people were sentenced to death by Maldivian courts.

However, in all cases, the acting president commuted these verdicts to life sentences.

In October 2012, the government announced its intention to introduce a bill to the People’s Majlis in order to guide and govern the implementation of the death penalty in the country.

As well as the bill proposed by MP Riyaz, in December 2012, former Attorney General (AG) Azima Shukoor drafted a bill outlining how the death sentence should be executed in the Maldives, with lethal injection being identified as the state’s preferred method of capital punishment

The Attorney General’s Office at the time said that it had looked to procedures followed by Egypt, Malaysia and the US in carrying out the death sentence, while also obtaining the opinions of religious scholars and lawyers when drafting the bill.

Minivan News understands that the bill submitted by the former AG remains open for comments on potential amendments.

The state’s stance to review implementation of death sentences has led to strong criticism from certain human rights-focused NGOs this year.

Speaking to Minivan News immediately following a visit to the Maldives in April 2013, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director Polly Truscott raised concerns about the recent drafting of new bills outlining implementation for executions.

She argued that even in practice, such bills would be deemed as a human rights violation, with the NGO maintaining that there remained no research to support the assertion that executing criminals served as an effective deterrent for serious crimes.

Truscott said that with the draft Penal Code also including provisions that would leave applying the death sentence to the discretion of an individual judge, the whole purpose of codifying laws would be undermined should the bill be passed.

She noted this was a particular concern considering the recent findings of various international experts such as  UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Judiciary, Gabriela Knaul, regarding the politicised nature of the country’s judicial system.

“To leave Sharia law to the discretion of individual judges is something we believe would be a bad idea,” she said at the time.


President’s Office dismisses two ministers at behest of DQP

The President’s Office has today dismissed Deputy Tourism Minister Mohamed Maleeh Jamal and Minister of State for Economic Development Abdulla Ameen from the government at the insistence of their former party.

The President’s Office said the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), part of the present coalition government, had requested the dismissal of both men, as well as recommending replacements for their positions. The names of the suggested replacements had not been revealed to the public at time of press.

A statement released by the President’s Office said that the positions of deputy tourism minister and minister of state for economic development were assigned to the DQP as part of the conditions under which President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s coalition government was formed.

The present government, formed by a number of former opposition parties, came to power following the controversial transfer of power in February, 2012, when former President Mohamed Nasheed resigned from office following a violent mutiny by sections of the police and military.

Election support

Mohamed Maleeh Jamal told Minivan News that he had been informed of his dismissal today via a phone call from the President’s Office.

He alleged that both former State Minister Ameen and himself had been sacked for refusing to back President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s election campaign, claiming he could see no other reason for the dismissal.

Although Maleeh said he was yet to receive an official termination notice confirming his dismissal, he expressed his belief that he had been fired because of his support for the presidential candidate of the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), MP Abdulla Yameen.

He said that he had not been surprised by his dismissal after pledging support to the PPM, adding that he would not allow “the fear” of losing his government post to change his mind on whom he believed was the best candidate to back in the election.

“To bring the nation forward, we need a strong government in order to boost investor confidence in the country and bring about economic stability,” Maleeh said. “I believe there is only one candidate who can do this and it is the reason I have decided to join the PPM and support Yameen.”

He argued that the new constitution adopted in August 2008 guarantee that no citizen should be scared of making a democratic decision over the fear of losing a job, adding that he had nonetheless decided to sacrifice his government position to back his preferred presidential candidate.

DQP Leader Dr Hassan Saeed was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.

Former DQP Deputy Leader Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, who was dismissed last month as home minister by the government after announcing his decision to stand as the running mate of PPM candidate Yameen, today slammed President Waheed for the dismissing the two ministers.

Writing on Twitter, Dr Jameel questioned the president’s capability to serve as a leader of the nation by allowing the dismissals of Maleeh and Ameen from the government.

Speaking to local media, he later denied the government’s claim that the DQP had been exclusively allocated the positions of deputy tourism minister and minister of state for economic development within the government.

The PPM said following Dr Jameel’s dismissal last month that it would continue to support President Waheed’s administration, despite condemning what it called the the “harsh and abrupt” sacking.

The PPM, the minority party in the People’s Majlis with the highest number of MPs after the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), has since accused President Waheed of campaigning unfairly for September’s election by using state funds and resources.

Earlier this month, the party also slammed the manner in which President Waheed opted to terminate an airport development contract with Indian infrastructure group GMR last year, accusing him of failing to heed its advice on first negotiating with the developer.

However, the party was accused at the time of making “contradictory statements” on the GMR issue by coalition partner Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), which is backing Waheed in September’s election.

PPM MP and Spokesperson Ahmed Nihan was not responding to calls at time of press.


Parliament announces five MPs’ change of parties

Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid announced at today’s sitting of the People’s Majlis that five MPs have officially informed the secretariat of their recent change of political parties.

The movement of MPs included Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim from the People’s Alliance (PA) to the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), MPs Ahmed Shareef Adam and Ahmed Moosa from PPM to President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party (GIP), and MP Ali Azim from the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) to the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

DRP MP Ali Saleem meanwhile left the party to become an Independent MP.

Following the changes, the majority party MDP currently has 33 seats, minority party PPM has 20 seats, the DRP has 11 seats, the Jumhooree Party (JP) has three seats, and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) has one seat.

There are currently nine independent MPs of the 77 elected to parliament in May 2009. The two MPs who recently joined President Waheed’s GIP along with MP Ibrahim Muttalib of the Adhaalath Party as well as two MPs of the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) are considered independents under the parliamentary rules as no candidate has been elected to parliament on either an Adhaalath, MDA or GIP ticket.