Funds for political parties delayed

The Elections Commission has delayed disbursing funds allocated for political parties in the 2015 state budget due to a delay in verifying the exact number of members in each political party.

A former MP for the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, has alleged the commission is delaying funds to obstruct political party activities.

The MDP, the Adhaalath Party and members of the Jumhooree Party have launched an antigovernment campaign over the imprisonment of ex-president Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim.

Some MVR19million (US$1.2million) has been allocated for political parties in the 2015 budget.

The 2013 Political Party Act states the state must allocate 0.1 – 0.2 percent of the budget for political parties. Funds must be disbursed within the first three months of the year according to the number of members in each party.

The parties must submit an annual report and an audit report before funds can be disbursed.

A spokesperson for the Elections Commission denied Thasmeen’s allegations and said the deadline for disbursing funds and the deadline for submitting the required documents to the commission fall on the same date.

“There was a delay in the verification of members of political parties as per the numbers stated in their annual reports. But we are now in the process of handing out the funds,” media officer, Fazla Ahmed said.

Commission member Ahmed Akram told CNM: “We are supposed to complete these two procedures within the first three months. So we need some time to check the reports. The commission doesn’t want to withhold the funds.”

There are 15 parties registered in the Maldives. Many are dysfunctional.

The commission in March fined the MDP and the opposition Adhaalath Party by MVR47,000 and MVR33,000 respectively on the charge of inciting violence in their then-daily protests.

The two parties have refused to pay the fines and asked the commission to review its decision. Fazla said today it has not made a decision on the appeal yet. The commission is authorized to deduct the sums from the annual payouts.

The commission has ruled a second mass protest by the opposition on May Day unlawful.


Dhiggaru by-election brought forward to June 6

The Elections Commission has brought forward the by-election for the vacant parliament seat for the Dhiggaru constituency to June 6.

The commission previously scheduled the election for June 13 after ruling party MP Ahmed Nazim was found guilty of defrauding the state of MVR1.4 million (US$91,400).

The Supreme Court sentenced Nazim to 25 years in prison on April 6, overturning lower court rulings that dismissed the corruption charges against the former deputy speaker of parliament.

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has invited interested candidates to seek the party’s ticket while the opposition alliance has said it will field a single candidate.

The opposition Maldivians Against Brutality coalition, made up of Adhaalath Party, Maldivian Democratic Party, and members of the Jumhooree Party, said they are holding discussions on fielding a single candidate against the PPM.

Adhaalath spokesperson Ali Zahir and a PPM member on the Meemu atoll council, Moosa Naseer, have expressed interest in standing for the vacant seat.


Opposition to field single candidate for vacant Majlis seat

The opposition coalition is holding talks to field a single candidate for a vacant parliament seat after the incumbent MP was sentenced to life in jail on corruption charges.

The Elections Commission has scheduled the by-election for the Dhiggaru constituency for June 13. The call for applications will be open from April 15 – 25.

Though the “Maldivians Against Brutality” coalition is made up of parties with vastly different ideologies, they are confident of fielding a single candidate against the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM).

Former PPM partners, the Adhaalath Party and the Jumhooree Party, allied with the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party following what they called a government crackdown on opposition politicians including former President Mohamed Nasheed and former defence minister Mohamed Nazim.

The two were sentenced last month to 13 years and 11 years in jail for terrorism and weapons smuggling, respectively.

Meanwhile, JP leader Gasim Ibrahim is facing a US$100million fine that may bankrupt his Villa Group.

Adhaalath spokesperson Ali Zahir and a PPM councilor for of Meemu atoll council Moosa Naseer have expressed interest in standing for the vacant seat.

The former Dhiggaru MP Ahmed Nazim lost his seat on Monday after the Supreme Court convicted him of defrauding the former atolls ministry.

Ex-MP Nazim, a former deputy speaker of the Peoples Majlis was convicted of defrauding the state of MVR 1.4 million (US $91,400) by submitting bids on behalf of non-existent companies to supply 15,000 national flags to the now-defunct atolls ministry.


Ruling party wins Alifushi by-election amid bribery claims

The  ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has won a council by-election in Raa atoll Alifushi amid accusations of vote-buying and a high-profile handout of air-conditioners to the local school.

PPM candidate Aminath Ali won 685 votes at the by-election held on Saturday, while Ali Hameed, the candidate from the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), received 490 votes of a total 1175 valid votes cast.

However, the MDP said it had not been a fair fight, as members of the PPM had donated air-conditioners and cash to the island school shortly before the vote. They also alleged that vote-buying had taken place.

The MP for Alifushi constituency, Mohamed “Bigey” Rasheed Hussein, told Minivan News: “PPM did not campaign. They bought votes and used tactics of anti-campaigning.”

A government delegation that included ministers and parliamentarians visited Alifushi two weeks before the by-election and handed MVR 10,000 from First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim to the island school, while presenting the donation of air-conditioners.

Asked about the air-con systems, Ahmed Nihan, leader of the PPM parliamentary group, said: “The ACs were gifts from Abdul Raheem Abdulla [vice president of the PPM].”

“Members giving out gifts is not intended for corruption or to influence the election,” he added.

Nihan said that MPs being socially involved and helping citizens did not constitute a reason to accuse them of corruption, and denied any connection with the vote.

The PPM’s election win in an opposition stronghold parliamentary constituency indicated the growing support for the government, despite the recent coalition between MDP and former PPM allies, the religious conservative Adhaalath Party and Jumhooree Party.

“This is a government win over the MDP, Adhaalath Party and the Jumhooree Party, over all opposition parties. We are very proud since we won this election at a time when all of these parties were on the island campaigning against us,” PPM deputy leader and tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb said.

A landmark study by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) found last year that more than one in three Maldivians were offered bribes for their votes or witnessed vote buying in the March 2014 parliamentary polls.

It said vote buying in the Maldives had assumed “alarming proportions”.

Accusations also surrounded a visit by Ahmed Sulaiman, president of the elections commission, to Alifushi, with the MDP claiming he was involved in door-to-door campaigning for the PPM.

According to, the elections commission said Sulaiman was at Alifushi on an official visit and that they had no knowledge of wrongdoing.

During the campaigns, the two parties traded blows over the unfulfilled promise of a sewerage system for the island, with PPM representatives blaming Rasheed, the MP, who voted against the overall government budget in parliament.

Rasheed said, however, that it was down to the government to fulfil its promise of a sewerage system. “They should work according to their word,” he said.

Rasheed said he did not believe vote-rigging could have taken place on by-election day, as observers from both parties were present at polling stations.

PPM president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who was president of the Maldives for 30 years until 2008, congratulated the PPM candidate via Twitter, saing: “Warm congratulations PPM candidate Aminath Ali on a resounding victory in Alifushi council by-election today.”

The councillor’s position on Alifushi became vacant when Abdul Latheef Abdul Raheem, also with the PPM, resigned.

PPM will be holding a firework display, its customary celebration, on Alifushi tonight.


Parliament approves new Elections Commission member, ambassador to Pakistan

Parliament today approved President Abdulla Yameen’s nominees for a vacant seat on the Elections Commission (EC) and the new ambassador to Pakistan.

Former Human Rights Commission of Maldives President Ahmed Saleem was approved as the ambassador to Pakistan whilst Ahmed Akram was appointed to the EC.

Saleem had also served at the foreign ministry, the Maldives High Commission in Sri Lanka, and the Maldives’ permanent mission to the UN in New York.

Both nominees were approved unanimously with 53 votes in favour. Opposition MPs did not participate in the vote.

Akram was previously the deputy secretary-general of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and is reportedly related to the wife of the party’s former chairperson, MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, who was expelled from the party last year. Akram also quit the party last year.

President Yameen nominated Akram to the EC after the five-year term of a previous member expired in November.

Today’s sitting also proceeded amidst continuing protests on the People’s Majlis floor by opposition MDP MPs over the conviction of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Preliminary debate on an amendment submitted to the constitution by government-aligned Maldives Development Alliance MP Ahmed Amir as well as voting on the president’s nominees took place amidst the opposition MPs’ protest.

Opposition MPs used whistles and megaphones to call for the release of the opposition leader.

Amir’s amendment meanwhile – which would require a three-quarters majority of the 85-member house to be passed – proposed removing clauses b) and c) from Article 231 of the Constitution.

The clauses stipulate that local councils shall be elected for a three-year term and that chairs and deputy chairs shall be elected through secret ballot by councillors.

The MP for Dhaal Kudahuvadhoo proposed specifying both the terms and process of electing chairs and deputy chairs in the Decentralisation Act.


Elections Commission says MDP cannot force Moosa to follow party whip

The Elections Commission (EC) has reportedly found no legal grounds on which the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) can impose the three-line whip on MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik.

According to media sources the EC’s letter noted that Moosa took an oath to sincerely and truthfully carry out the responsibilities of a parliament member in accordance with the Maldivian Constitution.

EC officials referred Minivan News to Moosa for further details regarding the deliberation, but the Hulhuhenveiru MP was not responding to calls at the time of press.

The commission investigated the case after Reeko – also deputy Majlis speaker- had requested a review of the MDP disciplinary committee’s decision to dismiss him from the party – a decision later backed by the party’s appeals committee.

When asked whether the decision regarding the case submitted by Moosa would oblige the MDP to take any particular action or reverse the party’s decision, the EC today stated that the commission cannot order any party to a particular course of action.

Moosa has previously refused to pursue the case in the courts, and said he would he not be joining another party. CNM has today quoted Moosa as saying: “I do not wish to leave the MDP, I will even participate in the party’s activities”.

According to the decision by the MDP’s disciplinary committee, if Moosa wishes to rejoin the party he is required to issue a public apology and obtain 50 new members for the party, but will be barred from standing for any leadership position or contesting in party primaries for five years.

Although Moosa has described the disciplinary committee’s decision as “discriminatory”, the appeals committee found no evidence that any other MPs had defied the party whip more than once, claiming that Moosa had done so on five occasions.

The appeal committee’s report noted that Moosa had violated the parliamentary group’s three-line whip on four other votes in December, listing them as: voting to consider and then to accept amendments to the Judicature Act, voting to pass the 2015 state budget, and voting to amend the Import Export Act.

Moosa was dismissed on December 22 after the party’s national council asked the disciplinary committee to take stern action against those who violated the three-line whip in the crucial vote to remove Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan on December 14.

The Majlis decision to remove the Supreme Court judges has been deemed unconstitutional by multiple local and international groups including the Maldives’ own Civil Court.

Responding to the appeals committee, Moosa said that the decision to expel him and to bar him from contesting in the MDP’s internal elections is in contradiction of articles 26 (b), 90 (a) and 109 (a) of the Constitution.

Article 90 grants immunity for actions carried out in the People’s Majlis, Article 26 defines the rights to vote and contest in elections, and Article 109 defines the requirements of an individual intending to run for the presidency.

Moosa has expressed his belief that the real reason for his dismissal from the party was his announcement that he intented to contest the MDP’s presidential primaries in 2018.

Related to this story

MDP expels MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik

Reeko Moosa appeals to MDP disciplinary committee after dismissal

Reeko Moosa condemns MDP expulsion as a move to bar his 2018 presidential candidacy


Jumhooree Party submits over 1,000 membership forms to EC

The Jumhooree Party (JP) has announced that it has sent over 1,000 new membership forms to the Elections Commission (EC).

JP spokesman Ali Solih told Haveeru the membership drive was intended to inject new vigour into the party ahead of its upcoming congress, though the exact date has not been revealed.

The party currently holds 13 seats in the People’s Majlis after the signing of the formerly independent member Muaz Mohamed Rasheed earlier this month.

Party leader Gasim Ibrahim proved the kingmaker in last year’s presidential elections, leading his party into a short-lived coalition with President Abdulla Yameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives.

The JP was fined for the ninth time by the EC earlier this month for submitting fraudulent membership forms. The commission revealed that the party was fined MVR10,000 (US$649) after it discovered repeated fingerprints of 36 persons on 258 party membership forms.

Source: Haveeru


PG orders Elections Commission to reprimand MDP for resolution on transfer of power

Prosecutor General Muhuthaz Muhsin has ordered the Elections Commission (EC) to take all legal action possible against the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) for its “irresponsible” resolution calling for Jumhooree Party’s Gasim Ibrahim to assume the presidency as an interim leader.

In a letter to EC President Mohamed Sulaiman, Muhuthaz said MDP’s call “is not the best for public order” as the Constitution clearly states how a head of state is elected and how the president’s powers may be delegated.

The decree proposed by MDP leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed during a severe water shortage in the capital Malé called on President Abdulla Yameen to hand over the reigns to Gasim.

Speaking to the MDP’s national council on December 7, Nasheed said: “The country is under a very dark cloud at the moment. The president is not fulfilling presidential duties and ruling in absentia. So it is better for him to handover governance to Gasim Ibrahim.”

Gasim polled third twice in last year’s presidential elections – successfully requesting the first vote be annulled before again finishing behind Yameen and Nasheed in a rescheduled poll. Gasim eventually threw his support behind Yameen, forming a coalition that saw the latter win the presidency before relations soured earlier this year.

President Yameen had been out of the country during when a fire at Malé’s desalination plant cut off water to the city’s 130,000 residents on December 4. He returned from Malaysia two days into the crisis.

Nasheed has repeatedly suggested Yameen’s frequent trips out of the country may be due to ill health and has called on the President to inform the public of his health.

Yameen’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) on December 8 said the MDP’s resolution “irresponsible and cowardly.”

“At a time when the government is carrying out urgent efforts to resolve the water shortage in Malé, this party believes that the [MDP resolution] is an activity planned by the MDP leadership to disrupt the country’s peace and security as well as the unity among Maldivians,” read the statement.

The PPM also characterised the national council decision as an “undemocratic and uncivilised” attempt to topple a legitimately elected government.

When asked about the MDP council’s resolution, Yameen on December 7 responded by saying “I do not pay much attention to what Nasheed’s says on such matters.”

Nasheed has also highlighted deteriorating public safety – with at least five fatal stabbings this year, and the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan as a further reason for a changing the government.

The government’s failure to investigate and prosecute serious crimes is tantamount to “deliberate state-sponsored terrorism,” he contended in a statement on the occasion of International Human Rights Day on December 10.

He has also accused senior government officials and elements of the police of complicity in abductions, murder, arson attacks, and gang violence.

“I note that the government has not investigated such incidents that have occurred throughout the year and serious criminals are on the loose. The state has not pressed charges against them,” the statement read.

Nasheed argued that the government’s inaction has caused harm and undermined fundamental rights, calling on the public to “find courage from each other for justice and stand up against inhumane torture.”

Local NGO Transparency Maldives (TM) earlier this week, however, included the MDP’s call for Yameen’s replacement in a list of what is considered a growing trend of instances undermining democratic practices and institutions.

The other issues cited by TM were the removal of two Supreme Court judges this week, and the reappointment of the auditor general in November.

Related to this story

MDP calls on the government to hand power to JP leader Gasim

PPM condemns MDP’s “unlawful” resolution for handover of presidency to JP Leader Gasim

Transparency Maldives notes “grave concern” over undemocratic trends


Majlis committee approves two more EC candidates

The Majlis independent institutions committee has approved the nomination of two new member to the Elections Commission (EC).

The names of Mohamed Shakeel and Ahmed Sulaiman will now be sent to the full floor to be approved as the third and fourth members of the EC.

Despite being presented with three nominees earlier this month, the Majlis only approved Amjad Musthafa, leaving the five-seat commission with just two members following the expiry of Mohamed Farooq and Ali Mohamed Manik’s terms.

The five-member commission that oversaw last year’s presidential election was reduced to four after Ibrahim ‘Ogaru’ Waheed resigned for health reasons during the poll.

The commission was further reduced in February this year, with the Supreme Court removing Chair Fuwad Thowfeek and Deputy Chair Ahmed Fayaz.

Source: Haveeru