Majlis elections: “Maldivians have said yes to President Yameen’s strong leadership” – Foreign Minister

Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon has described the Progressive Coalition’s victory in the Majlis elections as vote of confidence in President Abdulla Yameen as well as a signal to foreign powers to stay out of the country’s affairs.

“Maldivians have said yes to President Yameen’s strong leadership,” said Dunya.

She also interpreted the coalition victory as a sign of voters’ faith in the leadership of her father, former President and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – President Yameen’s half-brother.

Fellow cabinet member, Tourism Minsiter Ahmed Adeeb, reiterated Dunya’s comments during a press conference held today, adding that opposition MPs would now be unable to further “obstruct” the government’s efforts.

“This shows that the ideology of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and the policies of President Abdulla Yameen has the full support of the people as well as the extent of support for [Progressive Coalition partners] Honourable Gasim Ibrahim and Honourable Ahmed Siyam Mohamed,” said Adeeb.

Dunya’s press statement came as the results of the elections to the 18th People’s Majlis are being finalised. Preliminary reports suggest a clear victory for the PPM and its allies – the Elections Commission is expected to announce the preliminary results in the coming hours.

“I wish to congratulate the people of Maldives for their belief in the value of democracy. The world should not underestimate the perseverance of Maldivians. I also wish to congratulate the Elections Commission for holding the elections in an efficient, free, fair, and transparent manner,” she stated.

Dunya served as the State Minister for Foreign Affairs under former President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, and was a key figure in defending the legitimacy of Dr Waheed’s cabinet in the international community following former President Nasheed’s allegations of coup d’état following his February 2012 exit from power.

Dunya further said “yes to the Government’s foreign policy that is aimed at building national resilience of the Maldives; and yes to the Government’s firm stand of helping Maldivians to shape their own destiny.”

“The Elections also shows that Maldivians have said a resounding ‘NO’ to the efforts of some to invite foreign interference in domestic politics through a number of statements issued telling Maldivians how to organise our own affairs”.

“I wish to congratulate the people of Maldives for their belief in the value of democracy. The world should not underestimate the perseverance of Maldivians. I also wish to congratulate the Elections Commission for holding the elections in an efficient, free, fair, and transparent manner”.

The foreign minister’s praise of the Maldivian people – whom she stated have shown  “tremendous determination” to resist attempts to cause “internal disharmony by inviting international pressure” – echoed statements issued earlier this month.

On March 3 – after the European Union and civil society groups had voiced concern over the actions of the Supreme Court – Dunya requested that international communities refrain from comment which “undermine” the Maldivian judicial system.

International concern at that time had come in response to court’s pursuit of contempt of court charges against the Elections Commission (EC) over comments made  in a privileged parliamentary committee regarding the annulment of last year’s presidential election first round.

The Supreme Court accused the EC of contempt, claiming it had criticised the verdict which had annulled the first round of presidential elections held in September 2013, as well as disobeying a Supreme Court order by dissolving eight political parties last month.

The Supreme Court subsequently dismissed the senior members of the Elections Commission just weeks before the parliamentary elections – a decision roundly condemned by the international community.

“We request our international partners to support us. We request you to contribute constructively in overcoming our challenges. We urge you not to undermine our judicial system,” said Dunya during the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

“We call on all to respect our institutions, young though they may be. And we urge you to base your partnership with us on dialogue and cooperation, not on judgment and retribution,” she added.


“Be strong”: President Waheed’s brother tells former President Nasheed

Naushad Waheed, former Deputy High Commissioner to the UK and brother of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, has urged former President Mohamed Nasheed to “be strong” in a public message published yesterday (December 21).

The message came after Nasheed was prevented from the leaving the country to visit his ill father in Bangkok, Thailand.

“Be strong. Waheed will know you will be very sad when he stops you travelling [on] this trip,” he wrote.

While in jail under the autocratic rule of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Naushad noted that Gayoom had refused to allow him to attend his mother’s funeral.

“So Waheed is following all the footsteps from Golhaboa [derogatory term for Gayoom]. Revenge is the only word for them. Be strong,” Naushad wrote.

Naushad, a famous artist, was first arrested in 1999 following publication of a cartoon in a magazine called Hukuru. Two years later, he was arrested for criticism of the Gayoom administration and found guilty of treason.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Naushad became Deputy High Commissioner to the UK following Gayoom’s defeat in the October 2008 presidential election.

He later resigned from the post following the transfer of presidential power on February 7 and called on his brother to follow suit.

Meanwhile, President Waheed met former President Gayoom at Muleeage on Wednesday night. Gayoom told local media that “nothing special” was discussed and that the meeting was “just a friendly visit.”

Gayoom reportedly claimed that the pair were “old friends.” PPM Deputy Leader Umar Naseer meanwhile said the party’s interim leader and figurehead met President Waheed “frequently” for “lunch or dinner.”


Salaf calls for “new regulations” to protect Islam

Local religious NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf has called on the parliament to enact stronger regulations to protect Islam, beyond the the Religious Unity Act.

In a statement issued today Salaf claimed there were regulations protecting sea turtles, whales, birds, lagoons and the environment, but no adequate regulations that protected Islam as such.

Salaf claimed that the new Religious Unity Regulations allowed “anyone to play with the faith of Maldivians, any way they want to.”

The NGO accused the government of pressuring and threatening Salaf when Salaf once asked Home Ministry, Islamic Ministry and the parliament to investigate some persons that have violated the Religious Unity Regulation.

Salaf also claimed that Ali Ahsan, the developer of  the website promoting Friday’s protest, was arrested under the Religious Unity Regulations.

An Islamic Conference due to be held at Thinadhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll, organised by the Foreign Ministry and the Islamic Ministry, was questionable, Salaf said in the statement, alleging that article 22 of the regulation allowing for the deportation of missionaries was deleted before it was published in the gazette.

Salaf this week declined an invitation from President Mohamed Nasheed to meet and discuss their concerns.

In its statement, Salaf accused President Nasheed of pardoning “Christian missionaries” deported by the former government, and attached a list of names and passport numbers of individuals blacklisted by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Foreign Minister under both governments, Dr Ahmed Shaheed, has previously told Minivan News that allegations of proselytising against foreigners were often “political charges” deployed by the former President, and had reached “saturation point”.

“There is this very, very deep reaction to anything un-Islamic in this country, and you can use Islam as a political tool quite easily,” he told Minivan News in June, following his appointment as UN Special Rapporteur on Iran.

“But I think people are getting fed up with it – you can see the reactions in the press to my appointment as special rapporteur. DRP MP Mahlouf said it was a Zionist conspiracy and a trade-off for favours done to Israel on my part. These things ring hollow the more you say them. They become cliche.”

At the height of the heated election rally in October 2008, the former government “mischievously suggested” that Salisbury Cathedral in the UK was conspiring to blow up the Islamic Centre in Male’ and build a church.

Salisbury Cathedral subsequently denied the allegation.