PPM and MDA leadership to host coalition rally in Male’ tonight

The government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has scheduled a “mass rally” for the artificial beach area of Male’ this evening, according to media reports.

PPM representative and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dhunya Maumoon was quoted by Sun Online as stating that the event would be attended by senior party members, as well as representatives from coalition partner, the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA).

The PPM announced earlier this month that it would be forming an alliance with the MDA, headed by MP and resort owner Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam, ahead of the presidential election scheduled for September 7 this year.

MP Shiyam is expected to be in attendance during tonight’s rally, along with PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen and his running mate former Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.

Party founder and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – Yameen’s half brother – is also expected to attend, according to local media.

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


Maldives Development Alliance to hold coalition talks

The Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) headed by local MP and business tycoon Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam is reportedly looking to form a coalition with which to contest the presidential election scheduled for next month.

MDA national council members present at a meeting held on Thursday (August 1) unanimously approved the decision to form a coalition, with an unnamed party official telling Shiyam’s Sun Online news service that the power-sharing talks were thought to involve the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

According to local media, a five-member committee has already been formed to discuss forming a coalition with the PPM, which is presently standing by itself with Parliamentary Group Leader MP Adulla Yameen as presidential candidate.

PPM vice presidential candidate Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and Spokesperson MP Ahmed Nihan were not responding to requests to clarify the report at time of press.


PPM only party who can secure peace, investor confidence: Former Home Minister Dr Jameel

Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, running mate of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) presidential candidate MP Abdulla Yameen, has said ensuring peace and safety in the Maldives will be vital to ensuring economic progress following September’s election.

Speaking on the island of Dhuvaafaru in Raa Atoll on Thursday (June 28), Dr Jameel was quoted by Sun Online as saying that the PPM was the only party able to secure peace and safety in the country required to boost foreign investor confidence.

He also praised the PPM’s founder, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, for his efforts in trying to establish peace across the country during his time in office.

Dr Jameel said the former president had been able to attract major multinational companies and foreign leaders to the country due to the culture of “peace, solidarity and obedience that existed among the Maldivian people” during his rule.

Gayoom was the autocratic ruler of the Maldives for thirty years before being unseated by a coalition backing Mohamed Nasheed in the second round of the country’s first multi-party democratic elections in November 2008.

Dr Jameel’s claims were made after the PPM earlier this month accused President Waheed of ignoring the advice of his coalition government by abruptly terminating a US$511 million airport development contract with India-based GMR without holding talks with the company to first resolve the issue.

The PPM’s coalition partners later hit back by accusing the party of making “contradictory statements” regarding the decision to terminate GMR’s concession agreement, also claiming that its senior leadership tried to terminate the deal without discussion or following due process.

Dr Jameel, who served as home minister under the current coalition backing President Dr Mohamed Waheed, was dismissed from the role in May after announcing his intention to support MP Yameen’s campaign against the incumbent.


PPM schedules Funadhoo island “mega-rally” for Thursday

The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has been campaigning across Shaviyani Atoll this week ahead of attempts to hold a “mega-rally” on the island of Funadhoo on Thursday (June 27).

PPM MP Ahmed Nihan has said that a delegation including party presidential candidate MP Abdullah Yameen and his running mate Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed had so far campaigned on six islands in the atoll as part of the week-long trip expected to conclude Friday (June 28).

He said that MP Yameen has been travelling door-to door to meet voters and discuss his plans for economic development should he be voted president during September’s election.

Nihan added that the PPM had pledged would to put a high priority on economic development in Shaviyani Atoll, which he said lacked a regional airport that had in turn limited the local population’s access to the capital and other population centres.

He said that the party was already seeking to negotiate with the government for new resort developments in the atoll to facilitate jobs and economic growth to aid local development.

Nihan said that Funadhoo has traditionally been seen as a stronghold in terms of support for PPM founder and former Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s former party, the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) – now led by MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali.

However, he claimed that during the visit, a large number of islanders had expressed support for Gayoom and the PPM, which he founded in 2011 after breaking away from the DRP.


PPM condemns sacking of Dr Jameel, declares continuing support for government

The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has declared it will continue to support and cooperate with the administration of President Dr Mohamed Waheed, despite condemning the “harsh and abrupt” sacking of Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.

Jameel was dismissed from his post two days after being unveiled as the running mate of PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen last week.

The President’s Office has this week maintained that as Dr Jameel was a presidential appointee to the home minister role, his decision to stand as a direct rival to President Waheed in the upcoming election made his position untenable.

In a press release issued Sunday (May 12) following an emergency meeting of the PPM council in Addu City, the largest party in the current coalition government expressed “concern and regret” over President Waheed “sacrificing national interest” to serve his presidential ambitions.

“As you would recall, while the new government was at a critical juncture, Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed was appointed minister of home affairs for his competence, daring as well as academic and legal talents; and not under any circumstances in consideration of a party,” the press release stated.

It added that Dr Jameel served President Waheed faithfully and had won the respect of the security services and the public.

“Despite President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik prioritising self-interest at this time, PPM will always prioritise national interest. To that end, continuing to support the government on behalf of the beloved people of the Maldives until the end of the upcoming presidential election and completion of Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik’s presidential term is PPM’s aim,” the press release continued.

The PPM council’s statement concluded with the assurance that the party would not consider any course of action that could lead to political turmoil and unrest.

The sacking of Dr Jameel fueled speculation that the minority party in parliament could withdraw its support of the governing coalition.

Despite its decision to back the government, the PPM council decided that President Waheed’s recent trips out of Male’ constituted campaigning with state funds and appealed to its members not to welcome the president during his visits to islands.

Speaking at a press conference in Addu City following the council meeting, MP Ahmed Mahloof said the party was concerned that the president’s “self-interest” dictated the sacking of Home Minister Jameel.

Mahloof claimed that 90 percent of people who had greeted President Waheed during his trips to islands were PPM members.

“From now on PPM members will not come out during the president’s trip to islands. We cannot provide cooperation when he is campaigning at the state’s expense,” he said.

Responding to the PPM decision, Political Affairs Advisor to the President Ahmed ‘Topy’ Thaufeeg told Sun Online this week that people greeting the president in his visits were not “puppets” of political parties.

“President Waheed is accepted by the people as their president. He has gained the people’s support. People went out to welcome and support former President Maumoon, also because he was a good person. Similarly, President Waheed receives support because he is accepted by the people and because he is a good person. The people are not asked to do this by parties. This is sincere support by the Maldivian people,” he was quoted as saying.

On Sunday, President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad told Minivan News that both President Waheed and Dr Jameel understood the reason for his dismissal as home minister. Masood added that no other PPM cabinet members would be affected by the decision.

“I don’t think there would be a need to throw out other PPM members from the cabinet, that is unless they themselves wished to resign from their positions,” he said.

Masood said at the time that the PPM had continued to offer their support to the current government even after Dr Jameel’s dismissal. He added that any other cabinet appointees who decided to stand directly against President Waheed in the upcoming elections would also be required to leave their posts to prevent possible conflict of interests – regardless of their party affiliation.


Meanwhile, speaking to press on Tuesday upon returning from campaigning in Addu City, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom said President Waheed’s coalition did not pose a threat to PPM’s presidential bid.

The PPM figurehead and leader argued that power sharing coalitions were not a feature of presidential systems, such as in the United States.

The party also does not accept that Dr Jameel was dismissed because of a potential conflict of interest, Gayoom said.

“Our PPM members are also in cabinet because we want to serve the public. It is not a coalition government formed to support a particular individual who is running for president,” he was quoted as saying by local media.

Gayoom’s remarks followed an announcement by the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) of a formal coalition with President Dr Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party (GIP) ahead of the presidential election in September.

GIP Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza told Minivan News yesterday (May 14) that the party was confident the alliance backing Dr Waheed could defeat the two largest parties – PPM and the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

PPM MP Ahmed Nihan however insisted that even if the president’s coalition included all other political parties in the country, the election will remain a contest between the rival ideologies of former President Mohamed Nasheed and former President Gayoom.

“Just 48 hours ago we concluded a meeting in Addu Atoll, one of the largest areas in the country outside of Male’. Given the numbers of people we met there, it is clear there are only two parties,” he said yesterday.


Dr Jameel sacked from cabinet “for becoming PPM running mate”

Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed has been sacked from the cabinet by President Dr Mohamed Waheed, two days after he was unveiled as the running mate of the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen.

“I am being informed by HEP Dr Waheed that I have been dismissed from my post as Home Minister for joining PPM & becoming running mate,” Jameel tweeted today.

Jameel added that he remained “determined to serve the nation” and expressed gratitude to President Waheed and the cabinet “for the opportunity I received to work together.”

“I extend my well wishes to HEP Dr Waheed and his team’s attempt to win the upcoming election which PPM will also attempt to win and succeed,” he wrote.

Dr Jameel is currently campaigning with PPM presidential candidate Yameen in Addu City.

In August 2007, then-Justice Minister Jameel along with then-Attorney General Dr Hassan Saeed resigned from former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s cabinet citing obstruction of political reforms and launched the latter’s presidential campaign.

After Dr Saeed came third in the first round of the October 2008 presidential election, the former ‘New Maldives’ ministers “unconditionally” backed Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Mohamed Nasheed in the second round run-off against Gayoom.

The pair were appointed special advisor to the president and minister of civil aviation and communication, respectively, in the MDP-led government that took office in November 2008.

Jameel was however sacked as civil aviation minister on May 31, 2009 following public criticism of the government ahead of the parliamentary elections earlier that month, which was also contested by Jameel’s Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP).

“Some people say he was a bit abrasive,” President Mohamed Nasheed’s press secretary told Minivan News at the time.

Fraying coalition

Prior to Jameel’s dismissal, President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad told the press that having a rival candidate’s running mate as the home minister would create a conflict of interest.

In addition to the PPM, the other main parties in the ruling coalition have fielded presidential candidates, including MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali from the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and tycoon MP Gasim Ibrahim from the Jumhooree Party (JP).

Dr Hassan Saeed’s DQP and the religious conservative Adhaalath Party have meanwhile entered a formal coalition with Dr Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party (GIP).

Speaking at Thursday night’s PPM ceremony to unveil Dr Jameel as running mate, former President Gayoom reportedly said that a sitting president should not be allowed to seek re-election if a serving cabinet minister could not become another candidate’s running mate.

On the same night, DRP Leader Thasmeen said at a rally on the island of Thulusdhoo in Male’ atoll that the party was concerned with Dr Jameel’s administration of the home ministry.

The former minority leader of parliament said that the DRP could have worked with the opposition MDP to pass a no-confidence motion against the home minister but the party instead “prioritised national interest.”

Jameel’s dismissal also follows friction between the PPM – the largest party in the governing coalition – and President Dr Waheed.

MP Abdulla Yameen told newspaper Haveeru last week that some PPM members were joining Dr Waheed’s party.

Yameen expressed disappointment with Mohamed Naseer, brother of slain PPM MP Afrasheem Ali, actively working with Dr Waheed’s GIP after the PPM campaigned to elect Afrasheem’s younger brother Ibrahim Ameen to parliament.

Yameen also referred to rumours of the possible defection of PPM MP Ahmed Shareef to GIP over dissatisfaction with a stalled airport project in his constituency.


Visa restrictions “signal” Maldives must address expatriate concerns: Indian High Commission

Indian authorities have said that tightened restrictions over providing medical visas to Maldivians are a “signal” for the country’s government to address a number of concerns about the nation’s treatment of migrant workers.

The Indian High Commission in the Maldives, which this month tightened rules on granting medical visas for Maldivians, has today claimed the action was taken to draw attention to fears over the treatment of workers from India by both local employers and authorities.

The High Commission has claimed that the tightened restrictions were in line with a bilateral agreement signed back in 1979 and its appropriation by Maldivian authorities in the intervening years.

The Department of Immigration and Emigration has today said it was presently working to address some of the issues raised by Indian authorities.

However, some of the High Commission’s concerns have been played down by Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, who earlier this week dismissed allegations that Indian workers had experienced difficulties in coming to the Maldives.

Diplomatic tensions

Amidst increased diplomatic tensions between the Maldives and India in recent months, members of the public have this month found themselves queuing outside the Indian High Commission in Male’ in order to obtain visas to travel for medical treatment.

In some instances, local people have complained of queuing for over 24 hours outside the high Commission’s building in Male’ to try and get a limited number of daily tokens for obtaining an Indian medical visa.

A high commission source speaking to Minivan News today claimed that critically ill patients seeking urgent medical attention outside of the Maldives were being cleared for travel immediately, while other cases were being prioritised depending on the severity of their illness.

The source also contended that all visas given to Maldivians for travel to India were provided free of charge – a courtesy claimed to have not been extended to Indian citizens coming to the Maldives for work.

The commission spokesperson added that the introduction of the tighter regulations was in line with the visa agreement signed back in 1979 and was imposed as a clear “signal” from Indian authorities that the concerns it had over practices in the Maldives such as the confiscation of passports of migrant workers, needed to be brought to an end.

On November 26 this year, a public notice had been issued by the Maldives Immigration Department requesting no employer in the country should be holding passports of expatriate workers.

The Maldives has come under strong criticism internationally in recent years over its record in trying to prevent people trafficking, with the country appearing on the US State Department’s Tier Two Watch List for Human Trafficking three years in a row.

Back in October, a senior Indian diplomatic official in the Maldives had expressed concern over the ongoing practice of confiscating passports of migrant workers arriving to the country from across South Asia – likening the practice to slavery.

The high commission also claimed this year that skilled expatriate workers from India, employed in the Maldives education sector, had continued to be “penalised” due to both government and private sector employers failing to fulfil their responsibilities.

Meanwhile, a senior Indian medical working in the country has also alleged that expatriate professionals were regularly facing intimidation and fraud in the country from employers and some members of the public.

“Real progress”

Sources with knowledge of the High Commission’s present discussions with Maldivian authorities have nonetheless expressed hope that “real progress” was being seen in trying to address both countries’ respective grievances over the medical visa issue.

Minivan News understands that discussions were being held to ensure that aside from verbal commitments, Maldivian authorities would directly address the concerns Indian authorities held about the treatment of its citizens.

The Department of Immigration and Emigration today said it was presently working to try and resolve some of the concerns raised by the Indian High Commission over treatment of expatriates coming to work in the Maldives.

Immigration Controller Dr Mohamed Ali confirmed to Minivan News that his department was looking into issues such as Maldivian employers confiscating passports of Indian workers.

“We are working on that,” Dr Ali responded when asked if officials were working on issues such as retaining the passports of Indian Expatriates in the Maldives. The immigration chief did not clarify the exact nature of the work presently being carried out by his department on the matter.

Speaking to local media on Thursday (December 27), Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed dismissed accusations from the high commission that Indians were facing difficulties in travelling to the Maldives – as well as claims that some 50 nationals from the country had been deported this year.

Dr Jameel pointed to recent tourism ministry statistics that he said indicated 4,180 Indians had travelled to the Maldives to date this year.

“If you look at these numbers, there is ground to believe that it’s relatively easy for Indians to travel to Maldives. Moreover, the policy is the same for other neighbouring countries,” he was quoted as telling newspaper Haveeru.

Dr Jameel was presently out of the country and unable to respond to calls from Minivan News at the time of press.

However, the High Commission, in a statement released yesterday (December 28) said that the home minister had incorrectly stated figures of visitor numbers to the Maldives

“The [home minister’s] statement contains incorrect facts and figures. While it states that only 4,180 Indians have travelled to Maldives so far this year, as per statistics published by the Maldives Ministry of Tourism, 26,199 tourists from India have arrived in Maldives during the period January – November 2012,” the commission’s own statement read.

“Regarding the deportation of Indian travellers from Male’ International Airport, the High Commission of India stands by its figures. The high commission urges that the above figures may be verified and, the general public may be apprised of the correct facts.”


Majlis committee approves secret ballot for no-confidence votes

Parliament’s General Affairs Committee last week approved an amendment to the rules of procedure to conduct no-confidence motions through secret ballot.

The amendment was proposed by Maldivian Democratic Democratic (MDP) MP Mohamed Shifaz after a similar amendment was withdrawn by Independent MP Ahmed Amir.

The MDP-majority committee approved the amendment with four votes in favour and none against, committee chair and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP for mid-Henveiru Ali Azim told local media. Only five MPs reportedly attended the committee meeting last week.

The amendment to parliament’s standing orders or rules of procedure would have to be approved in a vote at the Majlis floor to become official.

The MDP has submitted no-confidence motions against both Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.

While a minister can be removed from his post through a simple majority of the 77 MPs in parliament, a two-thirds majority or 52 votes would be needed to impeach a sitting president.


Civil court freezes accounts and imposes travel ban on ‘VB’ heirs

The Civil Court has frozen all bank accounts and issued a travel ban for all heirs of late Moosa Faheem, father-in-law of the Minister of Home Affairs, Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.

The Civil Court order stems from a case filed by Mohamed Anees, who had served as General Manager of four AAA Resorts, before the company split up.

The court order was issued on Sunday, based on the heirs’ failure to settle a debt of MVR 559,555 (US$36,300) owed to the plaintiff in accordance with a Civil Court ruling of 2009.

The court had at the time ordered the heirs to pay the specified amount as damages after it had been proven in court that assets belonging to Anees, including a speedboat and a ‘dhoni’ boat, had been wrongfully passed on to the heirs of Faheem following his death.

Anees had told local media that the amount specified was a value proposed by the court itself as the cost of renting his vessels until the 2009 hearing.

“Moosa Faheem’s family was ordered by court to make this payment back in 2009. But then they appealed the case in the High Court without paying up. However, on July 27, High Court ruled in favour of the Civil Court’s verdict,” Anees told local media.

“The Civil Court has been trying to implement this ruling, but Shaveed’s family members never attend hearings. They didn’t even come to this last Thursday’s hearing. Then at a hearing of another case I’ve filed against them I said it’s possible to do things like freeze their accounts or hold their passports. That then I’d get the payments,” Anees further said.

Meanwhile, a member of Faheem’s family is reported in local media as saying that the court had concluded the case while they have appealed it in the Supreme Court and none of the heirs were in the country. He further said, “This is a political move to tarnish our family name.”

The heirs of Moosa Faheem include Haulath Faheem – wife of current Minister of Home Affairs Mohamed Jameel Ahmed – and Mohamed Shaveed, Chairman of VB Brothers Pvt Ltd.

Local media has reported that the Department of Immigration denies having received a court order for withholding the passports of Faheem’s heirs.

Controller of Immigration Mohamed Ali, spoke to Minivan News today on the issue.

“We get lots and lots of court orders to impose travel bans. From magistrate courts, the civil court and many other courts. We implement these orders as they come to us. I will have to check and see if this particular order has been received. But even if it did, to share it with media? I’ll need to seek advice on whether or not to to do that,” Ali said.