Eid ul-Fitr celebrated in the Maldives

The Maldives celebrated Eid ul-Fitr this week with prayer by day and parties by night. After a month of fasting for Ramadan, residents appear to be enjoying the capital island’s festive, social atmosphere.

The Islamic Ministry announced that Tuesday, August 30 was Eid ul-Fitr this year, and Male’ residents woke early on Tuesday morning to the sounds of heavy metal playing near the tsunami memorial. By late morning, the music had stopped and people were moving among houses and shops and a relaxed holiday atmosphere settled over the usually bustling city.

As ordered by the government, all private vehicles were parked and quiet between 3:30pm and 10:30pm. The traffic ordinance made it possible for residents to walk comfortably in the streets on a day when most of Male’ comes out for a stroll or to see the festivities.

The Islamic Ministry extended prayer space from the Islamic Center to Jetty 1 on Male’s northern side. Women could pray in extended space between the Dhiraagu head office to the Friday Mosque Minaret. Men were allowed to occupy all other areas.

Many Male residents traveled to home islands for Eid this year. But those who stayed enjoyed a range of sports, music and cultural activities.

Lagoons Sports Club organised “Maali Neshun” and “Bodumas Beynun”, Maldivian sporting events, on Boduthakurufaanu Magu and Ameenee Magu on Tuesday afternoon.

In “Maali Neshun”, masked participants dressed in ash and palm leaves walked Male’s roads and frightened parade onlookers in jest.

Two fishermen in “Bodumas Beynun” used magic, or fanditha, to catch a large woven fish.

In the evening, Male’s youth and married couples were to be found in hoards at the live music show in the Raalhugandu area, which was sponsored by local telecommunications company Dhiraagu.

Local bands such as 1knightstand, Harubee, and MNDF Cops Band took the stage alongside solo artists like Unoosha and Easa. The concert, which featured a range of musical tastes from soft rock to metal, rap and ska, began around 10 pm and continued past 2 in the morning.

Just around the corner near Bodufungandu Magu, palm tree road blocks protected a street rave featuring drums and traditional dancers. Young people and families were seen, and heard, celebrating into the late hours of the night.

The five-day period of Eid continues through Sunday. Although business is expected to return to its normal, pre-Ramadan state on Monday, Maldivians are looking forward to a second, longer Eid celebration before the end of the year.


MPs exchange blame over cancellation of parliament session

MPs from both the opposition and ruling party have blamed each other for the cancellation of parliament’s session today.

Speaker of the parliament Abdulla Shahid cancelled the session after MPs began raising their voices against the speaker and deputy speaker of parliament, Peoples Alliance MP Ahmed Nazim.

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Ahmed Nihan said the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs deliberately created an uproar inside the chamber to make the speaker cancel the session.

‘Tthey did that because today there were two very important issues in the agenda, the endorsement of the new cabinet and appointment of new Auditor General,’’ claimed Nihan. ‘’Some of the MDP MPs are not in town, and they knew they were out of number to vote.’’

‘’MDP MPs have even told me like that, and also said they will keep doing it like this until their MPs are back.’’

Nihan also claimed that MDP was obstructing the country from being a democratic nation.

‘’MDP MPs think that this is a parliamentary government, they are not following the pulse of the people – in fact, they are putting forward their self-animosity,’’ he said. ‘’They are killing democracy.’’

MDP MP Ahmed Easa claimed that the speaker of the parliament scheduled a false report that was produced by Nazim himself without the consent of the financial committee.

‘’They deliberately sought to cancel the session, they knew uproar would be triggered inside the chamber when that report is scheduled again for it happened yesterday too,’’ said Easa. ‘’’The Speaker and Deputy Speaker want to smear the respect for MPs in front of the citizens.’’

Easa said all the work at the committee stage were always conducted very unfairly and against the parliament regulation.

‘’If you looked into how members of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) were appointed you will understand how unfairly marks were allocated for the people who expressed interest,” he claimed. “There were six people with PhDs, yet the committee omitted their names.”

Collectively, the Maldives MPs are paid Rf4.7 million (US$366,000) per month.


MPs vote against referring to Supreme Court on provinces issue

Yesterday MPs rejected the resolution presented by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to refer to the Supreme Court on the controversial provinces issue.

35 MPs voted for the resolution while 38 MPs voted against the resolution.

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party Vice President and MP Ali Waheed said that he doubted the accuracy of the resolution, claiming that it was presented “to mislead the people.”

”MP Ahmed Sameer (who presented the resolution) has told so many lies standing near the podium,” Waheed said. ”Maybe he wanted to make a record for the first ever issue taken to the Supreme Court.”

The provinces section was removed from the decentralisation bill on the vote of the DRP, Dhivehi Qaumy Party (DQP), Peoples Alliance (PA), Jumhoory Party and several Independent MPs.

”I never knew that people voted to divide the country into seven provinces,” he said.

Waheed said even if the issue was taken to the Supreme Court, they were also unable to divide the country.

”It can only be done by the vote of 77 MPs,” he said.

Independent MP Ibrahim Muthalib said he was concerned that if the issue was taken to the Supreme Court, it would set a precedent and many decisions would be made by the Supreme Court.

”We are losing our dignity on our own,” he said.

MDP MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed said that the issue was not a constitutional issue, and was rather a political issue.

”Dividing the country into provinces were in both the MDP and DRP manifestos,” Nasheed said. ”To fulfill the pledges of MDP, it’s one path we have to go down.”

He said that it would be more beneficial if there were seven ‘Males’, instead of one.

”What is really going on is that some DRP MPs and vice presidents had told me that if the issue was taken to the Supreme Court, it would rule that it is lawful,” he said. ”They asked me how they will save face in front of the people if that was the case.”

He called on the DRP MPs to take the issue to the Supreme Court if they were confident on the matter.

”If the Supreme Court rules it is unconstitutional we will also be supporting DRP MPs,” he said.

DRP MP Ahmed Mahloof said the purpose of MDP presenting the resolution was to mislead the people.

‘The ‘DRP manifesto do not say it the party will divide the country into provinces,” he said, ”it says it would make four cities like Male’.”

Jumhooree Party MP Gasim ‘Buruma’ Ibrahim said it was not necessary to pass the resolution and take it to the Supreme Court.

”We should take this out of the parliament floor and continue our work making laws,” he said.

DRP MP Ahmed Nihan said that before taking the issue to the Supreme Court people should define the meaning of MDP’s pledges they made to the people.

”They pledged to provide houses for people made homeless by the Tsunami within one year,” he said. ”We should ask them what they meant by ‘one year’ and ‘providing houses’.”

MDP Parliamentary group leader Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik recently said that the MDP parliamentary group would put forward a no-confidence motion against the speaker of the parliament.

However, newspaper ‘Miadhu’ reported that DRP MP Rozaina Adam had claimed there were MDP MPs who would not vote for the no-confidence motion.

Rozaina told Minivan News that she did not wish to speak about the matter.

Reeko said that the parliamentary group would be deciding the matter after the decentralisation bill.

”We do not want to speak about it yet,” he said.

MDP Secretary General Ahmed Shah, Spokesperson Ahmed Haleem and Chairperson Mariya Didi did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.

DRP Vice President Umar Naseer said Reeko had promised to draft the no-confidence motion against the speaker not with the intention of doing it, ”but just to charge their activists.”

MDP can only get 27 votes even if the no-confidence motion was forwarded, he said: ”MDP can’t shoot goals in parliament.”


Thasmeen elected DRP leader by default

Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has been elected as the leader for the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), as no other member of the party stood to compete against him.

The party’s former leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom recently endorsed Thasmeen as the DRP’s leader following his resignation from politics.

DRP member and former president of the Islamic Democratic Party (IDP) Umar Naseer congratulated Thasmeen for becoming leader but the leader of the DRP “must not [automatically] be the DRP’s candidate for the presidential election; it has to be taken by a vote,’ he said.

DRP spokesman Ibrahim Shareef said he had “nothing to say about it.”

“The DRP congress will confirm Thasmeen as the president and it’s done, what else should I say?” he said.

MDP MP Ahmed Easa claimed Thasmeen’s automatic election as leader was undemocratic, particularly after Gayoom’s public endorsement.

“It’s unbelievable that nobody else stood up for the DRP leadership,” he said.

Press secretary of the president’s office Mohamed Zuhair said while the government was happy that the DRP is strengthening its internal democracy, Thasmeen’s election and Gayoom’s endorsement was “a one horse race, just the way it used to be.”

‘That the leader of the DRP was elected without a single person standing against is not very democratic,” Zuhair stated.

Minivan News was unable to reach Thasmeen for comment.