JP Legal Committee member files Supreme Court case to cancel seats of DRP MPs Nashiz and Azim

The Jumhoree Party’s Police and Legal Committee member Mohamed Haleem Ali has filed a case at the Supreme Court asking it to rule Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MPs Ali Azim and Mohamed Nashiz unfit to stay in their elected seats following the Bank of Maldives’ foreclosure on their loans.

“The civil court’s ruling number 935 of 2009 asks them to pay back the debts to BML. They didn’t. So I have submitted this case in accordance with subclause one of Article 73(c) and 74 of the constitution,” Haleem stated.

Subclause 1 of Article 73 of the Constitution of the Maldives states that a candidate for membership or a sitting member of the parliament would be disqualified if he has a decreed debt which is not being paid as per court rulings.

Article 74 states that any question concerning the qualifications or removal of a member of the People’s Majlis shall be determined by the Supreme Court.

MPs Nashiz and Azim have been in parliament since the 2009 election, the same year in which the civil court order them to pay the BML debts.

Asked why Haleem was submitting the case nearly three years into the debt case, after the Civil Court had Thursday ruled BML could sell the mortgaged property in lieu of payment by the guarantors, he replied: “Their seats would have been lost after the first month’s failure to pay as per the court order anyway. They are only able to sit in there because the Supreme Court has so far not ruled on the matter.”

The Supreme Court has confirmed that the case submission has been registered at the court. However, a court official said that the court has not yet made a decision on whether or not to accept the case.

JP concerned Haleem acted without consulting party

JP Spokesperson Moosa Rameez said the party had no role in filing the case against the DRP MPs.

“In fact, we are very concerned that Haleem submitted the case without any consultation whatsoever with the party. He’s not an ordinary member of the party, he sits on one of our committees. He ought to have discussed this within the party first. We only learned about it when it was covered in local media,” Rameez said.

Haleem responded saying that he had submitted the case in his personal capacity, and that he felt no need to consult with the party on personal decisions.

“As a party, JP would never wish loss or harm on anyone. I have no comment on the party’s position. However, I did this as an individual, for the betterment of the society. I am a lawyer by profession and felt it was time to take the initiative to bring this to the Supreme Court’s attention,” Haleem stated.

All parties are picking on us as we are the most popular party: DRP

DRP MP Abdulla Mausoom declined from commenting on the case in court, stating that everyone has the right to submit cases to courts, and to defend themselves in whatever way possible.

“I do know, however, that all parties are picking on DRP now. This is because DRP is currently the most promising party for the 2013 elections. Everyone from MDP [Maldivian Democratic Party], PPM [Progressive Party of Maldives] to all the presidential candidates are feeling threatened by DRP due to our popularity,” Mausoom added.

MP Azim has previously alleged that the case of BML debts being scheduled to coincide with the voting on secret balloting during no confidence motions is politically motivated. Azim further alleged that President Mohamed Waheed had tried to intimidate him, asking him to vote in a particular way, offering to cancel the court hearings in return.

Azim had been promptly summoned back to court after he subsequently voted in favour of secret balloting.

DRP Leader Thasmeen Ali declined from commenting on these allegations, stating that he had “not yet discussed the matter in detail” with Azim.

“Now it’s the Supreme Court that will come to a decision on the parliament seat. I believe the court will rule on this in the correct manner in which it should be done,” Thasmeen stated.

Minivan News tried contacting DRP MPs Mohamed Nashiz and Ali Azim. Nashiz was not responding to calls while Azim’s phone was switched off.


MNDF and govt register joint venture for investment including tourism

With plans to generate revenue to fund welfare services for the armed forces, the government and Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) has registered a joint venture company aiming to invest  in various businesses, including the tourism industry.

The “MNDF Welfare Company” registered at the Economic Ministry on Tuesday, is 10 percent government owned, and 90 percent by Sifco, MNDF ‘s cooperative society, which provides welfare services for defense force officers and their families,  including subsidised products and loans.

Speaking to Minivan News about the company, MNDF Spokesperson Major Abdul Raheem said the MNDF have been discussing the idea of expanding the cooperative society’s works through a registered company over the past 10 years.

He observed that the main objective of registering the company was to invest and run businesses, which can subsequently generate revenues to contribute to welfare services provided to the 7000 strong-armed force body.

“The allocated state budget is not enough to fund the welfare services. We are facing several financial problems. Therefore, our plan is to register the joint venture with the government and increase profitable business activities,” Major Abdul Raheem explained.

He added that the MDNF Welfare company was registered within legal boundaries, and the company’s board and other necessary decisions will be taken legally and without discriminating between any officers.

MNDF joining tourism?

Asked about the sort of businesses the company intends to invest in, the MNDF spokersperson responded that the discussions are underway and will be announced soon.

Local media Sun meanwhile reported that the company was targeting investment in the country’s main industry, tourism, and claimed islands have been leased for resort development.

Raheem did not verify these reports but commented: “It is hard to confirm specifically which business  it will do, but I cannot say tourism is not an option.”

Following reports suggesting the MNDF’ is venturing into the country’s tourism sector, government aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP)’s parliamentary group member Dr Abdulla Mausoom updated his twitter saying: ” SIFCO (of MNDF) & Maldives government venturing into tourism business? This will not promote capitalism, tourism or democracy!”

Mausoom told Minivan News that it was “not visible in many places” for military personnel to form joint ventures with the government and start investing in businesses.

“It is a trend observed mostly in communist states, where everything is run by the state,” he added. “This also seems to be going more in that direction.”

“However, my main concern is that the tourism industry is already saturated,” said Dr Mausoom, who has previously served as the Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation under Gayoom’s administration.

He explained the industry was already challenged by the excess supply of resorts, which he claimed had been approved for development without any proper plans.

While several resort islands are now under development at a time when several investors are going bankrupt in the industry, Mausoom suggested that it is “not a good idea for the state to increase injection into the sector through joint-ventures.”

“It may be legal for the MNDF cooperative society to go into joint venture with government and even lease islands without even an open bidding process under the law. However, just because it is legal it does not mean it is the right thing to do,” he contended.


Five MPs will join DRP when parliament resumes, claims DRP Deputy Leader

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Deputy Leader and Spokesperson Ahmed ‘Mavota’ Shareef has claimed that “four or five” members of parliament will join the DRP when parliament resumes.

Speaking at a DRP press conference, Shareef said next month there will be a ceremony to celebrate the joining of the new MPs, however he declined to provide further information.

Shareef also told the press that “about 1000” people had expressed interest in joining DRP in the future.

He further claimed that five “hardcore Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) activists” had joined the party.

DRP Parliamentary Group Leader and MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom today told Minivan News that he did not wish to disclose any information on the matter.

‘’Due to the current political environment in the country, MPs and supporters will keep shifting parties for the next three or four months,’’ Dr Mausoom said. ‘’It will go like that until the major political parties elect their presidential candidates.’’

Dr Mausoom predicted that after the major political parties elect their candidates, the shifting of MPs and supporters would settle.

Former MDP MP Abdulla Abdulraheem recently shifted to the DRP.

“I, on March 27, 2012, have decided to rejoin DRP as the principles of MDP contradict the principles I believe in,” he claimed. “I’m quitting MDP and resigning for the DRP as I know the party will always welcome me,” Haveeru quoted him saying during the signing ceremony at the DRP office.

Earlier this month MDP MP for Fuvamulah central constituency Shifaq Mufeed joined former President Maumon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).


DRP’s Thulusdhoo branch threatens to “shift sides” if internal dispute continues

The opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP)’s Thulusdhoo branch has released a statement to the media claiming that supporters of the DRP in Thulusdhoo will “shift sides” if the internal split in the party continues.

‘’We call on former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and DRP Zaeem (honorary leader) to solve the internal dispute within the party,’’ read the statement,signed by the Deputy Head of Thulusdhoo Branch.

The statement acknowledged that DRP supporters were “in turmoil and deeply confused due to the split” and warned that those supporters in Thulusdhoo might have to change sides if the dispute remained unresolved.

‘’The citizens can no longer tolerate watching members leave the party,’’ the DRP branch stated, in reference to the recent defections of several DRP MPs to the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), including Ali Waheed Abdulla Abdu-Raheem. ‘’Consequently it will the ordinary citizens living in the islands that will suffer, due to the unrest and loss of members.’’

The branch added ‘’that as Maumoon was the person who introduced democracy to the Maldives, who led the Maldives for 30 prosperous years and is a person who lives in a democracy, we call on Maumoon to solve the dispute between the leadership democratically.’’

Thulusdhoo is an island with a majority of DRP supporters who voted for the party in the recent local council elections.

Since then, the party has been split after ‘honorary’ leader Gayoom clashed with the party’s leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali over the dismissal of former Deputy Leader Umar Naseer. Gayoom’s supporters have since created a splinter faction they call the Z-DRP, in a move that prompted the defection of several MPs previously loyal to Thasmeen.

DRP MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom said the statement issued by Thulusdhoo’s DRP branch showed that the remaining supporters in the party wished it to be unified.

‘’To do that firstly, everyone in the party must fully respect the party’s charter,’’ Dr Mausoom said. ‘’There are different ways people express concern – some put more effort to solve the dispute, while others leave the party in frustration.’’

He said to uphold democracy in this country a strong, responsible opposition party was needed.

‘’The entire nation believes that the DRP is an opposition party which has to be there to uphold democracy,’’ he said. ‘’Although there are some internal disputes, we will solve them hopefully and by God’s will we will win the 2013 Presidential Elections under Thasmeen’s leadership.’’

Z-DRP spokesperson Ahmed Nihan was unavailable at time of press.