President Waheed hands flats to ‘top 50’ police, promises more

President Dr Mohamed Waheed has expressed hope that more housing will be made exclusively available for police and military officers, while speaking at a ceremony to hand over 50 flats on Hulhumale’ to law enforcement officials yesterday (August 2).

Speaking at last night’s ceremony in Male’, the president said the whole nation should recognise the role that the police and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) played towards maintaining law, order and national security. He also called on officers to “uphold the constitution” and help ensure a peaceful election next month.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) meanwhile has raised concerns whether the 50 flats – which it contends forms part of the “Veshi Fahi” Male’ (decongestion) project launched under the previous government in 2011 – were being given to the “needy” and most deserving.

Since President Waheed’s government came to power during the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012, which followed a mutiny by sections of the police and military, more than 1000 officers have been promoted, while 110 new police officers were hired.

A housing scheme was also introduced for police officers, with 300 flats to be constructed in Hulhumale’, arrangements were made for cheap accommodation in Sri Lanka for police officers and their families and a loan scheme was set up for police officers.

According to the President’s Office website, while handing over 50 flats to specially selected officers yesterday, Dr Waheed also praised the majority of police officers who had served the nations for a long period of time under “difficult living conditions”.

He also praised Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz, who took office following a mutiny by certain officers that led to former President Mohamed Nasheed’s resignation in February 2012, for the “developmental achievements” to the institution made during his tenure.

Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News today that the 50 officers presented with housing were required to undergo an “internal” selection procedure, based on specific criteria outlined by the institution itself.

Haneef explained that all officers who applied for the housing were then judged on a points system using the aforementioned internal criteria, with the “top 50” officers being selected.

“Big concern”, MDP claims

MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said it was “very concerning” that police should be given flats exclusively, to the detriment of teachers, doctors and other civilians. He also questioned how officers themselves had been selected for the process.

“The intention for these flats was for the needy and people who deserved them. This is why these flats were built,” he added.

Ghafoor claimed that while some of the officers may have deserved the housing, which he said had been set aside from the “Veshi Fahi” Male’ program established under the former government, there was concern that some officers involved in last year’s mutiny had been rewarded with flats.

President Waheed awarded the housing days after Commissioner Riyaz declared that police will continue to refuse any orders the deemed “unconstitutional”.  The comments were made as Riyaz expressed concern over leaked proposals for reforming the country’s security forces allegedly devised by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) should it win the upcoming presidential election.

“I don’t want to say anything specifically about something that has been prepared politically or for a political purpose, but we do have a constitution and the MPS is an institution formed by the constitution,” he said, speaking just over a month ahead of the 2013 presidential election.

Proposals in the paper – leaked on social media earlier this month – include transferring the police to the authority of city councils, similar to the system in the US, while providing salaries and allowances of officers through the Local Government Authority (LGA).

The commissioner also rejected the professional capacity of individuals behind the reforms, which he claimed sought to “dismantle” and undermine the large role security services play in the country.

“I’d like to tell the MDP that they should clarify whether it is their policy or not. If it is their policy, it is of great concern. This [police] institution will be very concerned,” he said.

“Politicians should not try to play with this institution. Help this institution develop. Work to make this institution more responsible. To make it operationally accountable. Don’t use political influence to carry out political objectives through this institution.”

Riyaz alleged that certain senior government figures over the last three years had attempted to limit or weaken police in the country through the use of political influence that led to officers “straying from their path”.

He insinuated that police would not allow a similar event to happen again.

The opposition MDP have continued to question the legitimacy of the leaked reform proposals, claiming the party had no knowledge of such a document, despite backing the idea of a ”transitional arrangement” to reform the country’s security forces after last year’s power transfer.

The opposition party continues to maintain that former President Mohamed Nasheed was deposed in a “coup d’etat” after being forced to resign from office following a mutiny by sections of the police and military.

The allegations were later rejected by a Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) that ruled that there had been “no coup, no duress and no mutiny”, while also calling for action taken against unlawful acts committed by the country’s security forces following the transfer.


Supreme Court takes over Civil Court case on legitimacy of transfer of power

The Supreme Court has taken over a case filed at the Civil Court by dismissed Human Rights Minister Dhiyana Saeed, who had requested a ruling declaring that the transfer of power on February 7, 2012 was illegitimate.

The Supreme Court ordered the lower court last week to suspend its proceedings and send over the case files before 3:00pm on Thursday (May 23). The court order (Dhivehi) stated that the apex court would determine whether the Civil Court had jurisdiction to hear the case.

The court order was issued following a request by the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) for the Supreme Court to decide on the question of jurisdiction.

At the first hearing of the Civil Court case, the AGO requested proceedings be halted pending a ruling from the Supreme Court. However, the judge decided to proceed with the hearing in the absence of a court order by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court order was revealed today by the recently launched official twitter account of the Civil Court.

Dhiyana Saeed – also former SAARC Secretary General and former President Mohamed Nasheed’s first Attorney General – had first submitted the case to the High Court, which however decided that it was outside the appeal court’s jurisdiction.

The case was filed at the Civil Court earlier this month.

The defendant in Dhiyana’s lawsuit was Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, who recently defected from the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) to the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and is currently campaigning for former President Nasheed.

Nasheed resigned in the wake of a violent mutiny by Special Operations (SO) police officers, who assaulted government supporters, ransacked the ruling party Haruge (meeting hall), protested at the Republic Square, clashed with the military, vandalised the police headquarters and stormed the state broadcaster on the morning of February 7.

Saeed’s lawsuit noted that Shahid was the state official with the authority under article 121 of the constitution to declare the office of the president vacant, should an incumbent president resign or vacate the office.

“It was the Speaker of Parliament who declared the office of president vacant, be it had he done it knowingly, mistakenly or unknowingly,” Saeed told newspaper Haveeru. “This doesn’t mean Shahid committed a criminal offense. It also does not mean that he partook in the events or that he made the decision [maliciously].”

She contended that Speaker Shahid had failed to look into the circumstances surrounding Nasheed’s resignation before accepting the letter.

Saeed told Minivan News that she and her co-counsels “stopped short of asking for Nasheed’s reinstatement,” adding that she did not have “the locus standi to ask for a particular relief.”

“If the ruling comes in our favour, it might be possible for Nasheed to institute a second proceeding for reinstatement. As far as this case is concerned, our interest is in the rule of law and invoking constitutional process to uphold the legal order as stipulated by the constitution,” Saeed explained at the time.

Supreme Court intervention

Meanwhile, in her report to the United Nations Human Rights Council following a visit to the Maldives, UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul observed that it was “troublesome that some of the Supreme Court’s interventions are perceived as arbitrary and as serving the judges’ own personal interests.”

“Moreover, the Supreme Court is said to have taken away cases directly from the superior courts before they were adjudicated, without explaining which criteria or procedures were applied,” Knaul wrote.

The Supreme Court has on a number of occasions issued writs of mandamus taking over cases from lower courts. In November 2012, the Supreme Court instructed the High Court to suspend proceedings on an appeal by former President Nasheed concerning the legitimacy of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.

At the same time, the apex court ordered the Civil Court to send over all files on a case submitted by a lawyer, Ismail Visham, disputing the legal status of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.

The Supreme Court also intervened in litigation concerning a border control project awarded to Malaysian mobile security firm Nexbis.

Transfer of power

Following her dismissal from the cabinet by President Dr Mohamed Waheed last year, Saeed released a personal memoir alleging that Nasheed’s political rivals had conspired to assassinate him.

Saeed alleged that the controversial transfer of presidential power on February 7 was the result of a premeditated and well-orchestrated plan, and questioned the findings of the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI), which concluded that Nasheed had resigned voluntarily.

In January 2013, parliament’s Government Oversight Committee commenced a review of the CoNI report and heard testimony from six of the highest-ranking officers of the security services at the time of the transfer of power.

Following its inquiry, Committee Chair MP Ali Waheed claimed that the report produced by CoNI was “flawed” based on the findings of the committee.

The CoNI report lacked “key information [senior police and military officers] had given” while “others claimed their information was wrongly presented,” the MDP MP said at the time.


Dr Jameel unveiled as PPM running mate: “I remain ever committed to serve this nation”

Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed was last night unveiled as the running mate of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) presidential candidate MP Abdullah Yameen, ahead of elections scheduled for September this year.

Dr Jameel’s appointment was announced during a ceremony held yesterday evening at Dharubaaruge conference centre in Male’, with local media soon reporting that the President’s Office had called for the minister’s resignation to prevent any apparent “conflict of interest”.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) meanwhile claimed that Dr Jameel’s selection would have no impact on its own campaigning ahead of September’s vote, accusing the current home minister of political opportunism in the hopes of prolonging his time in government.


Following the PPM ceremony yesterday, Home Minister Jameel used his Twitter account to comment on the appointment.

Earlier the same day, PPM MP Ahmed Nihan told Minivan News that the party had selected the “perfect running mate” to contest the upcoming presidential elections alongside MP Yameen.

“We have selected a political candidate who has the best interests of the country,” Nihan told Minivan News ahead of the ceremony, adding that the PPM was one of the few parties in the country currently in a position to be able to announce a presidential running mate.

Nihan said that despite ongoing legal wrangling over the validity of the party’s recent primary vote, the party would continue to move forward with its elections plans with its election manifesto expected to be printed soon.

Shortly before the PPM officially confirmed Dr Jameel as MP Yameen’s running mate, President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad was quoted in local media as calling for the home minister to resign from his position.

Masood told Sun Online yesterday that Dr Jameel’s decision to stand with the PPM during elections would create a conflict of interest regarding President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s own re-election plans.

Foregone conclusion

MDP Spokesperson and MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said the PPM’s decision to pick Dr Jameel’s to stand alongside MP Yameen in the upcoming elections was a “foregone conclusion” as far as the party was concerned, adding it would not have a drastic impact on its own campaigning.

“It is not a surprise to us. The appointment will be of no consequence to our election campaign,” he said.

Ghafoor claimed that the decision to appoint a senior member of President Waheed’s government to the PPM ensured that the party would be linked by voters to the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012.

The power transfer, which saw former President Mohamed Nasheed resign from office after a mutiny by sections of the police and military has been labelled a “coup d’etat” by the MDP.  The party’s allegations were nonetheless dismissed by a Commonwealth-backed Commission of national Inquiry (CNI).

Ghafoor accused Dr Jameel of being one of the main “fragments behind the coup”, accusing him of siding with the PPM to try and prolong his time in government.

Dr Jameel, along with Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim, were last month set to face no-confidence motions in parliament that were later withdrawn by the party, after the Supreme Court blocked the holding of the vote as a secret ballot.

With the opposition party claiming previously it had still not ruled out re-submitting the no confidence motions, Ghafoor said Jameel’s move was a deliberate attempt to “escape impeachment”.

“This is definitely political opportunism. I believe he has leapt out of the frying pan and into the fire with this move,” he said.

Speaking personally on the appointment, Ghafoor questioned the support and respect in the country for Dr Jameel, accusing him of being a “discredited man” and praticing “hate speech”.

Dr Jameel has held the position as Deputy Leader of the government-aligned Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP). During the DQP’s time in opposition under the previous administration, the party published a pamphlet entitled ‘President Nasheed’s devious plot to destroy the Islamic faith of Maldivians’.

The publication, described by the then MDP government as a “pamphlet of hate”, accused Nasheed of “working ceaselessly to weaken the Islamic faith of Maldivians, allow space for other religions, and make irreligious and sinful behaviour common.”

The repeated arrest of Jameel by police over his alleged hate speech, and his subsequent releases by Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed, led to Nasheed’s decision to detain the judge on charges of corruption and political collusion in early 2012. Protests by the then-opposition in the wake of the judge’s detention were shortly followed by a police mutiny and Nasheed’s resignation on February 7, which he maintains was made under duress.