DQP, Dr Hassan Saeed quit President Waheed’s coalition: “too much family, expatriate influence”

The government-aligned Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) has announced that it has left President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s ‘forward with the nation’ coalition, ending its support for his 2013 election bid.

The decision came shortly after the religious conservative Adhaalath Party left the coalition and joined resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP).

Local media is speculating that DQP Leader Dr Hassan Saeed – President Waheed’s Special Advisor since the controversial February 7 transfer of power – is likely to be announced as Gasim’s running mate.

In a statement released by the DQP on Thursday, the party said its council had unanimously agreed to leave the coalition, and accused President Waheed of being incapable of protecting the interests of his coalition partners.

Instead, the party alleged, Waheed was turning to “family influence” in making key decisions.

“The president dissolved the steering committee established with coalition partners to resolve issues within the coalition and resorted to taking decisions within his palace,” read the DQP statement.

Among other concerns, the party claimed that no key roles were given to coalition partners in the presidential campaign, which were instead outsourced to the president’s “family members and expatriates”.

The DQP alleged that some coalition partners had also breached their initial agreement to work together and were secretly attempting to induce members of other coalition partners to join their party.

The DQP, which has a membership of less than 1800 people, also claimed that president Waheed gave more priority to those who financially backed him over those who supported him with “sincerity and genuineness”.

“Therefore, despite repeated efforts, President Waheed’s failure to resolve these issues” forced the party to leave the coalition, DQP said.

Responding to the statement, a source in Waheed’s coalition told Minivan News that the DQP’s decision to leave the ‘Forward with the nation’ coalition was unexpected, when compared to the departure of the Adhaalath Party last week.

The source said DQP Leader Dr Hassan Saeed was himself in attendance during an official signing event held yesterday by Waheed, who was seeking 1,500 signatures needed to apply for candidacy as an independent. Saeed had been booked to attend another campaign visit over the coming days, the source said.

Despite the defection, the source claimed President Waheed’s campaigning would not be impacted by sudden defection of the DQP in any way.

“The [DQP] is a very small party of around 2000 members so we are not expecting much of an impact,” the source said.

With the departure of both the DQP and the Adhaalath party, President Waheed’s coalition now consists of his own Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP) and the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).

DRP leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali was earlier been unveiled as Waheed’s running mate, although whether the pair will contest on the same independent ticket remains uncertain.

“There are people trying to bar me from competing. I will not be the one to get caught in that trap,” Waheed said earlier this week.

“So I intend to take the form and go on the streets. I will visit houses, carrying the form, during the next two days and ask those who wish to see me remain in this post for another term to sign.”

Dr Hassan Saeed has meanwhile resigned from his position as Waheed’s special advisor, shortly after the DQP announced its decision to side with Gasim Ibrahim.

Saeed was promptly replaced by former Attorney General Aishath Bisham.


Adhaalath Party quits President Waheed’s coalition

Additional reporting by Mohamed Naahii

The Adhaalath Party (AP) has quit President Mohamed Waheed’s ‘Forward with the Nation’ coalition due to “mysterious events”, a day after the party slammed Waheed for telling the AFP the party had “extremist” individuals.

During a two day official visit to Sri Lanka, President Waheed told the news agency that it was “better to work with” the self-claimed Islamist party despite some elements within the party holding “extreme views”, since excluding the party from mainstream politics risked marginalising it. This, he said, would have a “negative long-term effect”.

In a statement (Dhivehi) published on the Adhaalath Party’s website Tuesday (July 9), the party said that it had been offended by the remarks and that such comments from the president would affect its relationship with Waheed’s party Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP). The party also denounced the claim that it held extreme views.

“The Adhaalath Party does not by any means hold extremist views. The party is working to introduce Islamic principles to the country, to protect the Islamic faith of the country and the country’s sovereignty,” read the statement.

“Therefore, the party leadership and its members are deeply disappointed by such allegations,” it added.

Yesterday (July 10) following the party’s announcement that Waheed’s comments would have a “significant negative effect” on their relationship, Adhaalath decided to leave the ‘Forward the Nation’ coalition during a meeting of their Consultative Council.

A near unanimous 97 percent of the council voted to leave the ‘Forward with the Nation’ due to “mysterious events”, as well as the coalitions prospective inability to succeed in “saving the nation” from former President Mohamed Nasheed’s “sacrilegious actions”, AP President Sheikh Imran Abdullah told local media.

“By the will of God, Adhaalath Party will continue to facilitate in providing a safe passage in order to save the nation from Nasheed,” said Abdullah.

He added that the party’s efforts to resolve issues within the coalition last week were “of no use”, however despite leaving ‘Forward with the Nation’, AP will continuously work toward “taking people to safe harbour”.

In a statement (Dhivehi) released today (July 11), the Adhaalath Party detailed their reasoning for leaving Waheed’s coalition.

“They were not putting much effort in preventing Nasheed’s anti-religious, anti-nationalist secular rule from coming back. The ‘broad coalition’ was formed with high hopes to prevent this, but now it seems the coalition is incapable of it,” read the statement.

“No solution has been proposed by other members of the coalition,” it continued.

“By the will of almighty Allah, the Adhaalath [Party] will do whatever it can to protect the sovereignty of this country and its religion from all threats and will continue its actions within the best interests of the state,” it added.

Earlier this week – prior to Waheed’s AFP interview – reports were circulating that the GIP and AP had a falling out with each other after the Adhaalath Party expressed concern over a lack of campaign activities.

Meanwhile, there have been unconfirmed reports suggesting that Adhaalath is now considering the possibility of entering into coalition with resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP).

The GIP and ‘Forward with the Nation’ still hopes to work together with AP “even after the presidential elections,” the coalition stated in a press release issued yesterday, following the AP’s announcement it was leaving the coalition.

“The Coalition does not have any hard feelings towards Adhaalath Party,” read the statement.

“We also thank Adhaalath Party Leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla and other members for their time and support in forming this coalition.

“We believe that, even though we do not campaign together, our final goal must be to strengthen democracy and uphold democratic values and also to work in the best interest of the people,” it concluded.

The President’s ‘Forward with the nation’ coalition which is backing Waheed’s bid for election in September, now includes the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP). However, several key members of DQP have since defected to the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), while DRP leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali was recently taken to court by a series of creditors.

The Adhaalath Party President Sheik Imran and Sobah Rasheed, AP Member and team leader of Waheed’s election coalition media team, were not responding to calls at time of press.

Jumhoree Party (JP) Spokesperson Moosa Ramiz and Gaumee Itthihad Party (GIP) Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza were also not responding to calls at time of press.


Closer Chinese ties not a replacement for strained Indian relations: President’s Office

The President’s Office has said efforts to establish closer political and economic links with China are not an attempt to directly replace bilateral assistance traditionally provided by India – despite the recent strained relationship between Male’ and New Delhi.

President Dr Mohamed Waheed was reported in Sri Lankan media on the weekend as providing “hints” that the Maldives was moving away from India and towards China in terms of development, economic assistance and bilateral ties.

Senior Advisor to President Waheed, Teresa Wells, said despite a changing relationship with China that had led to growing economic and diplomatic ties in recent years, efforts were also under way to improve relations with India due to earlier decisions by the current government.

Dr Waheed has lately come under criticism by some partners in his coalition government – who are directly contesting against him in this year’s election – for his alleged handling of bilateral relations with India since coming to power last February.

Wells dismissed any implication that ties with India were being cut or reduced.

“The president feels that relations are improving with India,” she said. “ We would want relationships with both India and China.”

Speaking to the Sri Lankan Sunday Times newspaper on July 7, President Waheed said the relationship between the Maldives and India has been strained after his government last November declared a US$511 million airport development agreement with India-based GMR void.

He added that although restrictions on visas for Maldivian patients seeking medical treatment in India and a supply of construction materials remained in place, improvements had since been seen in bilateral relations between the two countries.

President Waheed said that the Maldives had also nonetheless moved to boost commerce ties with China.

“In terms of bilateral assistance, we have more access to Chinese financing now for development projects,” he said.

“Chinese nationals now make up the biggest chunk of tourists to the Maldives. With Europe in recession there is a slight decline of European tourists but with the middle class in China growing, the Maldives has become a new destination for them.”

Election predictions

Dr Waheed also expressed confidence during his visit to Sri Lanka that he would win September’s election by defeating former President Mohamed Nasheed, whom he succeeded following a controversial transfer of power in February last year on the back of a mutiny by sections of the country’s police and military.

“I am very confident of victory in the upcoming poll because I know that the Maldivian people will prefer me over the other candidates. I have steered Maldives through rough waters and very difficult times,” he told the Sunday Times.

“No one will join the former president because everybody has had a bad taste in the mouth after what happened last time.”

President’s own Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP) is currently facing potential dissolution for lacking the minimum requirement of 10,000 members as stipulated in the recently passed Political Parties Act.

Meanwhile, the Maldives Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) last month alleged that of 100 members of the GIP interviewed, 85 percent of those polled had no knowledge of ever joining the party.

National interests

President Waheed also drew on parallels between himself and Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa in terms of efforts to protect national interests and “sovereignty”.

“Sometimes when we are smaller countries there is a tendency to push us around but we both feel we need to stand up to them,” he said.

Playing up his commitment to national interests, President Waheed also told Sri Lankan media that while the state-owned Maldives Airport Company Limited (MACL) had not ruled out future foreign assistance to develop the airport, the country could oversee such work itself.

“The airport is now being managed by our own airport company and there are plans to develop it. We will soon be developing a second runway. We will find the investment facility to develop the airport the way we want,” he was quoted as saying.

The Maldives faces a potential bill of US$1.4 billion – an amount four times the size of the Maldives’ state reserves – from GMR as part of compensation being sought in a Singapore through an ongoing arbitration process.

Coalition criticism

Despite Waheed’s claims about securing financing for the airport, the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) last month claimed foreign investors were now turning away from the Maldives due to concerns about political stability and safety in the country.

On June 29, PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen was quoted in local media as expressing concern that foreign businesses were shunning the Maldives in favour of financing projects in other countries in the region.

“With our present woes no one wants to invest here. They are looking at Seychelles and Caracas. No foreign investor wants to come to the Maldives,” Haveeru reported him as saying.

Earlier the same month, the PPM – part of the current coalition government – accused President Waheed of ignoring its advice by abruptly terminating the airport development contract with GMR.

MP Ahmed Nihan alleged that while the PPM believed terminating the GMR contract had been the right decision, President Waheed had nonetheless personally taken an executive decision to cancel the agreement without listening to the party’s advice in seeking a compromise with the company and the Indian government.

However, the PPM’s coalition partners later accused the party of making “contradictory statements” regarding the decision to terminate GMR’s concession agreement, accusing its senior leadership of trying to terminate the deal at the time without discussion or following due process.

Despite the high-profile termination of GMR’s concession agreement, the government’s sudden eviction of the Indian investor did not appear on a list of 11 grievances handed to all senior Maldivian reporters by the Indian High Commission in January.

The list instead included concerns such as discrimination against Indian expatriates and the confiscation of passports by Maldivian employers.


“Not extremist”, says Adhaalath Party in response to President’s AFP comments

The religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) has issued a statement slamming claims by President Mohamed Waheed to AFP that the party included “extremists”.

During a two day official visit to Sri Lanka President Waheed told the news agency that it was “better to work with” with the self-claimed Islamist party despite some elements within the party holding “extreme views”, since excluding the party from mainstream politics risked marginalising it. This, he said, would have a “negative long-term effect”.

“We believe we can work with [Adhaalath], we believe we must work with them, because not working with them would be to marginalise them,” Waheed told the AFP.

“Rejecting them would have a more negative long term effect. Inclusion is better than exclusion. It is better to take them on board. Better to work with them,” he added.

In a statement (Dhivehi) published on the party’s website on Tuesday, the Adhaalath Party said that it had been offended by the remarks and that such comments from the President would affect its relationship with Waheed’s party Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP).

The party also denounced the claim that it held extreme views.

“The Adhaalath Party does not by any means hold extremist views. The party is working to introduce Islamic principles to the country, to protect the Islamic faith of the country and the country’s sovereignty,” read the statement.

“Therefore, the party leadership and its members are deeply disappointed by such allegations,” it added.

The Adhaalath Party is a member of the President’s ‘Forward with the nation’ coalition, backing Waheed’s bid for election in September. The coalition also includes the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), although several key members of the latter have since defected to the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), while DRP leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali was recently taken to court by a series of creditors.

Local media meanwhile reports that the two parties have had a falling out with each other after the Adhaalath Party expressed concern over a lack of campaign activities.

The recent exchange is likely to worsen already strained ties between the parties, while unconfirmed reports suggest Adhaalath is considering the possibility of entering into coalition with resort tycoon Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP).

However President Waheed in local media has maintained he is confident the Adhaalath Party will remain in his coalition.


MDP launches youth policy: ‘Entertainment without fear’

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) on Friday launched its youth, sports and entertainment policy, dubbed ‘Majaa Kurun Birakaa Nula’: ‘entertainment without fear’.

Despite the wet weather, the party’s presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed along with senior party members and hundreds of supporters gathered at the Raalhugandu area Male in yellow athletic attire.

Senior party members followed Nasheed’s lead in taking part in several sport activities organised in the area, including futsal, volleyball, table tennis, baton racing and bodyboarding.

Speaking at the function to inaugurate the policy, the former President promised more sports facilities and technical assistance for athletes in a future MDP-led government, while also promising that during his five year term the government would facilitate more public participation in sports.

According to Nasheed, the policy also includes the renovation and maintenance of football grounds in the Maldives.

Young people represent a potential election-swinging demographic in the September 7 Presidential Election. With 65 percent of the population were already aged under 30 at the time of the 2006 census, the number of eligible voters have 15 percent since 2008’s presidential election. The MDP has traditionally enjoyed strong support from young people, although prior to its February 7 ousting was challenged by rising political apathy among younger voters.

“We need to put our efforts into empowering the young people of this country. If we isolate them and let them fall apart, there is no way we can bring about much needed development of the country,” Nasheed said at the policy launch, promising “renewed-hope” for the young generation: “This is not simply a sports policy, it is also an entertainment policy.”

The MDP’s entertainment election promises include developing 40 turf stadiums throughout the country, development of high standard stadiums with modern-day training facilities, netball courts and courts for ‘Bashi’ – a traditional sport played by many women – across 60 islands.

“We will also develop the current national sports building as an ‘associations’ house’. In this Associations House, local sports associations will be given space to set up their administrative offices, while accommodation and boarding facilities will also be developed for international athletes and teams who visit the country,” he said.

Nasheed – who heads the country’s single largest political party both in terms of membership and parliamentary representation – also announced the development of a ‘sports resort’ – a sports-themed holiday resort specially designed to host famous international football clubs and other sports personalities who wish spend their off-season vacation in the country.

The said resort, Nasheed promised, would have quality in-house training facilities, practice grounds and gymnasiums for such teams.

Other plans include investment in youth development and skills development under the guidance of a National Sports Institute, and the establishment of a sports school.

“We will open the opportunity to develop a sports school through public-private partnership (PPP). We would also establish a special pension scheme for athletes who represent the country abroad as part of their retirement support,” Nasheed promised.

Responding to sarcastic remarks over the policy from his political opponents, Nasheed assured young people that the Special Operations (SO) officers of the police – known for their rough handling of MDP protests – would not be allowed to barge in and “ruin the fun”.

“Young people will decide what songs they wish to dance to,” Nasheed told the ecstatic young crowd.

Nasheed “a monster”, MDP “promoting homosexuality”: rival parties

The announcement of the MDP’s youth policy fueled harsh criticism from Nasheed’s opponents. Government-aligned parties currently backing the government of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan were quick to launch attacks on the policy.

While addressing a small campaign rally, the business tycoon and presidential hopeful Gasim Ibrahim – who also heads the Jumhoree Party (JP) – described Nasheed as a “monster” who had gone “crazy” with his “crazy talks to fool the people”.

Dismissing the MDP’s youth policy, Gasim challenged Nasheed’s academic qualifications and described him a ‘Jaahil’ (ignorant) who could not read the cover of the constitution.

“He doesn’t understand what the law says, so a crazy person like him may say that he would give the opportunity for people to limitlessly entertain themselves. Look, it is not something Allah has given us human beings,” Gasim said.

The business tycoon – who finished the last presidential election in fourth place – claimed Nasheed had done every “despicable act ever to be found in the world”.

“He thinks we, the people, are fools to believe such rubbish. Actually, he seriously may think that we are fools. He has now got the mindset of a monster,” said the resort owner.

Former Spokesperson for President Waheed and current spokesperson for his Gaumee Ithihaad Party (GIP), Abbas Adil Riza, joined Gasim in denouncing the policy but had a different interpretation.

Speaking on the government-aligned television station DhiTV, Riza alleged the MDP was trying to “promote illicit activities such as homosexuality and sodomy” under the façade of its youth policy.

The current state minister of finance – who formally worked with the MDP but left after failing to win a party ticket to contest in 2009 parliamentary elections – said Maldivians had long been having “fun without fear” and claimed MDP re-emphasising the concept could be interpreted as pledging to “facilitate such devious acts”.

Meanwhile, the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) – headed by Maldives’ former autocratic ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – claimed the youth policy was a tactic by the MDP to “win the votes of 15,000 or so drug addicts”.

PPM Spokesperson MP Ahmed Mahloof told local media authorities should take serious concern over what Nasheed was planning to do should he come to power.

“Our society is facing huge problems due to narcotic abuse, and then Nasheed comes out and says that in his government the young people can ‘enjoy without fear’,” Mahloof said.

He also said that policies such as ‘entertainment without fear’ gave the impression the party was trying to promote drugs and substance abuse.

“That is why we need to seriously think what type of entertainment or enjoyment they are allowing in the country,” he said.

Mahloof promised that his party would provide “better solutions” for youth.

Enjoy responsibly

Responding to the criticism, former Minister of Youth and Sports during Nasheed’s presidency, Hassan Latheef, told Minivan News that MDP’s policy did not promote breaking laws and anti-Islamic behavior.

“Maybe for Abbas Adil Riza having fun is simply a group of men getting together for a dance wearing excessively thin white sarongs. We are saying that entertainment can be carried out within the boundaries of the law and Islam. We are not promoting drug abuse or homosexuality at all,” Latheef said.

He explained that a seven year old who goes to play with others among their age and interacts with society produces better results at school than a boy who is not allowed to go out but is given video games at home.

Latheef said young people were subjected to derogatory treatment by police simply because of their appearance, and that the MDP was trying to remove the fear that had been cast upon youth during the 30 year reign of Gayoom.

“Like the President said, we will not let the police ruin the fun for young people. We will not let the young people be discriminated against like that. What we are saying is that the government should facilitate development and entertainment for young people,” he added. “This is a solution to a lot of problems we now face in the society.”

“Entertainment without fear does not mean letting our kids smoke or allow them to take drugs. It is simply freeing them from fear, and that doesn’t mean we are giving them the chance to break the law,” he added.

Despite the criticism, the policy has received strong support across social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook, with the hash tags #BirakaNula and #Majakurun associated with the title of the policy quickly gaining popularity among the Maldivian twitter community.


President Waheed pledges housing policy as part of election campaign

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan has pledged to establish a housing policy for the people of Male’ as part of his bid to secure election in the upcoming presidential elections.

President Waheed assumed power after the sudden resignation of his predecessor, former President Mohamed Nasheed on February 7, 2012, following a mutiny by police and the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF).

Speaking during a rally held by his own party Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP) on Saturday night, President Waheed claimed that it was his hope to provide separate housing for every Maldivian.

A website was also launched in collaboration with the GIP and a local NGO, Magey Male’ Foundation, to brief the public about congestion in Male’.

Social issues

President Waheed during the rally claimed that one of the major reasons contributing to increased criminal activities, drug abuse and divorce rates was the lack of housing available within the country to build a family.

Waheed noted that there were approximately 80,000 residents in Male’ including those who had migrated to the capital for various purposes, while population of the city stood at 150,000 – half of whom do not have their own housing.

“This is not something we can delay. Therefore, the government has planned to speed up the land reclamation from Hulhumale and I would like to inform on this occasion that the government has begun evaluating bids proposed by parties who expressed interests in carrying out the project. The result would mean Hulhumale’ will in the future be twice the size it is today,” President Waheed said.

Waheed also said that the capital Male’ belonged to all the people of the country and therefore services provided in the capital should have the capacity to provide these services all people.

He also said that projects seeking to provide fundamental needs of the people should not be fashioned around “the problems faced yesterday”, but rather address the issues that would be faced in the future.

“As these are the circumstances we are facing, I intend to form a committee consisting of technocrats and experts in the field to see how the problems faced by the capital Male’ can be addressed and resolved. At the same time, within our broad coalition, we will work on policies that would better the current situation of Male’,” he said.

Situation on the islands

Waheed highlighted that people from islands are still unable to get basic services and conceded that his government was unable to take adequate measures to develop these islands.

“[The lack of basic services] was significantly noticed during the 2004 tsunami crisis. The whole world has witnessed the difficulties endured by the people,” he said.

Furthermore, Waheed said that the ratification of the 2008 constitution meant that people who were in charge of the country were forced to address the issues faced by the people instead of consolidating power. It also forced the speeding up of infrastructure developments such as harbours, airports and sewerage systems, President Waheed said.

The solution to the problems, the President said, was to developing well populated islands throughout the country.

“Our hope is to build more housing facilities on such islands and provide basic services such as electricity, water and sewerage systems and let the population in those islands grow further.  I hope that land reclamation on such islands will begin soon,” he said.

“AT this critical time, political parties uniting with one another for the sake of the country is similar to that of two neighbours teaming up to address big issues. Therefore, unity and cooperation do not have a set time or a set venue to take place and neither do they belong to a separate system,” he added.

Waheed during his speech also claimed that he was a person who considered advice, rather than taking matters into his own hands, and said he would therefore only make important decisions after discussing them with necessary stakeholders.

Party reinforcements

During the rally, two members of parliament, former Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Shareef and Independent MP Ahmed ‘Kurendhoo’ Moosa, officially announced they would be joining GIP.

Male City Council member and former Male Mayor ‘Sarangu’ Adam Manik also announced his defection from the MDP to GIP. Along with Manik, former PPM member and former MP Jaufar ‘Jausa Jaufar’ Easa Adam joined the party.

The GIP spokesperson’s phone was switched off at time of press.


Actor Ali Seezan newest addition to government’s list of political appointees

Local Actor Ali Seezan has been appointed as technical advisor to Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture Ahmed Adheeb, reports local media.

According to the President’s Office, Seezan was appointed to the position last Thursday with a salary of MVR 15,000 (US$ 972.76) and an additional allowance of MVR 10,000 (US$ 648.50), a total monthly income of MVR 25,000 (US$1,621.27).

Seezan – who is the nephew of opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson MP Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik – has won National Film Awards and Maldives Film Association Award twice and is a member of business tycoon and MP Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP).

He has recently been seen attending President Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP) rallies.

Minister Adheeb – who was recently pictured in the media with an infamous pair of Armenian brothers linked with drug trafficking, money laundering, raids on media outlets and other serious crimes in Kenya – told local newspaper Haveeru that he had no role in the appointment of Seezan.

According to statistics obtained by local media outlet Sun Online, the government is spending MVR 5 million (US$325,000) a month on 136 political appointees, approximately US$4 million a year.

The monthly spend includes 19 Minister-level posts at MVR 57,500 (US$3730), 42 State Ministers (MVR 40,000-45,000, US$2600-2900), 58 Deputy Ministers (MVR 35,000, US$2250), five Deputy Under-Secretaries (MVR 30,000, US$1950) and 10 advisors to ministers (MVR 25,000, US$1620).

President Mohamed Waheed is officially paid (MVR 100,000, US$6500) a month, Vice President Waheed Deen (MVR 75,000, US$4850).

Waheed’s Special Advisor Hassan Saeed, the Chancellor of the National University and the Controller of Immigration are paid at ministerial level.

The country’s 77 MPs are meanwhile paid a base salary of MVR 42,500 (US$2,750) per month, a further MVR 20,000 (US$1,300) per month in allowances for phone, travel, and living expenses, and a further MVR 20,000 in committee allowances.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has meanwhile criticised President Mohamed Waheed for appointing family members and activists “who took part in the coup that ousted the democratically elected president.”

President Waheed’s Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP) was earlier accused of offering illegitimate inducements to join his party to people ranging from youths to employees of government companies, in a bid to shore up the party’s membership base ahead of parliament’s dissolution of parties with less than 10,000 members.

In October 2012, a number of young people came forward and alleged to Minivan News that they were offered government positions, promotions, jobs with salaries of more than MVR 10,000 (US$650) a month, music equipment and even hosted parties, if they joined GIP.

GIP Secretary General Ahmed Mushrif dismissed the allegations at the time as an “outright lie”, and said that the party from its formation had never attempted to add members illegally.

A young Maldivian working in the tourism sector told Minivan News on condition of anonymity that a parliament member and prominent figure in the industry had called him and asked him to sign with GIP “as a favor”.

“He told me that in return for me joining the party, I would be rewarded with a position in the current government that I could never have even imagined. He further tried to convince me that all I needed to do was join the party – I could vote for anybody I wanted,” he said.

Another person who has worked in the civil service for the last 15 years told Minivan News that he was contacted by GIP with a promise that he would “easily be promoted” to a supervisor level job if he joined the party.

“A GIP member called me and told me that I could easily get promoted to supervisor level if I left my current party and joined GIP. Even though I am not an active MDP member I said I would think about it, but later did not respond to his calls,” the civil servant said.

A third person – aged 20 – claimed that he and his group of friends aged around 18 to 22 were approached by GIP through a friend and were invited to the party’s office where they were received by the party’s Deputy Leader  and the former Maldives High Commissioner to Malaysia, Mohamed ‘Nazaki’ Zaki.

“When we arrived we were received by ‘Nazaki’ Zaki and treated with pizza. He said that in return for joining GIP, he would offer each of us a job with a salary not less than MVR 10,000, but asked us not to question where the jobs would be allocated from,” the youngster claimed.

Apart from the job, the source alleged that Zaki had offered him and his friends “music equipment and a place to play for free” to those among them who wished to play music. He added that the group were also promised various entertainment activities such as “hosted shows and parties”.

“They asked us to join the party and work in the party’s youth wing,” the source said.

When they asked what they were supposed to do as members of the party’s youth wing, the source said Zaki had told them that their main task would be to increase the party’s membership as it was “currently very low”.

At the end of the meeting, the high commissioner reportedly suggested the holding of a party event that would be fully funded by GIP.

“They said we should all party sometime. Maybe they said that because we had long hair and looked stylish,” the source suggested.

Download a ‘Who’s Who’ spreadsheet of Dr Waheed’s ministerial appointees (English)


“When cats are elected they will fight”: Maldives’ plight caused by citizens electing self-interested MPs, says Ibra

The former chairman of the committee responsible for drafting the 2008 Constitution has said the country’s current crisis is the result of Maldivian citizens electing self-interested parliamentarians.

The Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) released the 2012 Majlis (Parliament) Watch report on Sunday (March 24). The report was launched by Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail, former chairman of the Special Majlis Drafting Committee.

Ibra emphasised that parliamentarians must represent public welfare and national interests foremost and “not exploit their official positions,” as clause 75 of the Constitution specifies.

However he said most parliamentary decisions are influenced by individual, business, and political party interests.

Responsibility for MPs’ prioritising their self-interests above Maldivian citizens’ well-being should be placed with the Maldivian people who elected these “shadowy figures,” Ibra declared.

“I would say the current plight of this country is down to the failure of the 77 parliament members to take note of Article 75 of the constitution. When casting votes in parliament they are thinking what is the best thing for me? How can more political power be given to the person who secures business opportunities for me? How can an Article be written to make it easy for me? I’m not referring to a particular party but to everyone,” Haveeru quoted Ibra as saying.

“During the last parliamentary elections we’ve all heard people saying they would even vote for a cat if it was the candidate from a specific party. So we are seeing the result of that today. When cats are elected they will fight,” he added.

Parliament Watch 2012

MDN’s Executive Director, Humaida ‘Humey’ Abdulghafoor, emphasised that parliament’s main priority should be service to the people and discussed the report’s main findings.

“MDN is not privy to the same information as Ibra. We try to be very objective in what we say, do, and how we present the [Majlis Watch] report,” stated Abdulghafoor.

“We advocate Majlis members serve responsibly as representatives of the people. They should have a clear idea of the lives and livelihood needs of their constituents.

“MPs should monitor the main needs of their constituencies, ask important questions, and highlight issues that relate to the lives of their constituencies. Based on these needs, MPs should prioritise the most relevant legislation that reflects what the people would like to see,” Abdulghafoor added.

Some of the main issues highlighted in the MDN report are in regard to challenges parliament has faced following the controversial transfer of power last February.

“We acknowledge that 2012 was very difficult for the Majlis. Their work has been slowed due to pending issues, which are a reflection of the challenges faced over the last year,” said Abdulghafoor.

“In some months, such as March and August 2012, the number of [committee] meetings were far lower than anticipated. Also, parliament halted for several days in March, because quorum was not achieved,” she added.

Abdulghafoor also discussed how meaningful legislation is often delayed at the committee stage and takes a “number of years” to become law. She stated that MPs must work together to “accelerate and overcome” obstacles that impede the law-making process, so to meet the urgent needs of Maldivian citizens.

“The number of bills submitted was also significantly lower [than expected], because the government is the largest source of bills. After February 7 2012, the government was not able to submit legislation, because the executive (President Waheed Hassan Manik) didn’t have a representative in the Majlis,” she stated.

“In other words, there were no sitting Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP) party members in parliament. To accommodate this challenge, parliament had to change their regulations, which didn’t occur until October,” Abdulghafoor further explained.

Free elections require civic education

MDN also highlighted parliamentarians’ responsibility to create civic awareness among their constituents and ensure elections are legitimate and free from corrupt practices.

“We are advocating for Maldivians to use their vote responsibly to ensure elections are inclusive, free and fair,” Abdulghafoor stated.

“Political parties have a huge responsibility to recruit members ‘cleanly’ as well as inform party members what civic participation entails and what [democratic] political processes are – openness and clarity.

“The recent reports of registered deceased people are a stain on the reputation of the political party,” she declared.

The Elections Commissions (EC) said it has noticed a surge of discrepancies on membership forms submitted by certain political parties including forged documents, forms with false information and even forms filed under the names of dead people.


Forgeries, fraud and dead people appearing on party membership forms: Elections Commission

The Elections Commissions (EC) has said it has noticed a surge of discrepancies on membership forms submitted by certain political parties including forged documents, forms with false information and even forms filed under the names of dead people.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Vice President of the Elections Commission Ahmed Fayaz said the commission noticed the discrepancies after it received a large number of membership forms ahead of parliament’s decision that parties with under 10,000 members would be dissolved.

According to Fayaz, within the last few weeks the EC noticed that a large number of membership forms had major forgeries including forged signatures and duplicated national identity card numbers.

He also said the commission had received forms submitted in the name of people who no longer were alive.

Fayaz said the commission had now forwarded the cases to relevant authorities, including police and the Department of National Registration (DNR) to investigate the matter.

Speaking to Minivan News, Secretary General of Elections Commission Asim Abdul Sattar said the commission was now working to verify and validate all the forms that it had received from the parties.

He added that the commission felt the forged membership forms began appearing after the parliament previously ordered the commission to stop using fingerprint verification on membership forms.

In April 2010, the Elections Commission introduced a new political party registration form to avoid the recurrent problem of people being registered to political parties without their knowledge.

President of the Elections Commission Fuad Thaufeeq at the time said the commission had uncovered an estimated 900-1100 people registered to political parties without their knowledge, “from all political parties.”

The new form introduced required the person’s fingerprint, two witnesses and their signature. It came under heavy criticism from political parties alleging that the EC was biased in approving forms by certain political parties.

On November 2012, Parliament’s Independent Institutions Oversight Committee requested the Elections Commission cease requiring fingerprints on applications for political party membership.

The committee members questioned the efficiency of fingerprinting technology, arguing that no mechanism or database presently existed in the Maldives that could store the required amount of information.

Explaining the decision to discontinue the EC’s request for fingerprints at the time, Deputy Chairman of the Independent Institutions Committee, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Sameer, said the Maldives did not presently have a mechanism or system to collect and store such information.

“In regards to issues with the fingerprinting system, the EC, Department of National Registration and the Maldives Police Service all agreed they do not have enough records or verification systems available,” he told Minivan News at the time.

The DNR was also reported to have confirmed that no fingerprint database presently existed in the Maldives.

The EC Secretary General added that another factor causing the sudden boost in forged forms may have been the passage of Political Parties Bill, which requires parties to achieve a prerequisite of 10,000 members before being recognised as a political party – and receiving state funding.

“Some political parties began campaigns to achieve 10,000 members and during the process we started noticing such [invalid] forms. They may have predicted that the Political Parties bill would be passed,” he said.

Sattar admitted the commission was facing “technical difficulties”, such as the technology required to verify fingerprints.

“Now we are working to formulate political parties regulation under the newly passed act, and we believe that when this regulation comes into force, it will significantly lower the problems the commission is currently facing,” he said.

However, Sattar declined to reveal the names of the parties that were involved in the scandal, stating only that “the commission will decide whether to reveal the details after investigations by relevant authorities conclude.”

Following the parliament’s decision to speed up the drafting of political parties bill, several smaller parties began membership sprees to reach the limit of 10,000 members, including President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP), business tycoon MP Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party and the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP).

Waheed’s GIP was accused of trying to induce people to join through illegitimate means, in a bid to shore up the party’s membership base. The inducements included offering “music equipment and a place to play for free” as well as “hosting shows and parties” for young people.

Apart from luxurious parties and entertainment, GIP also allegedly promised highly paid government jobs and promotions in return for joining the party.

Meanwhile, contrary to GIP’s approach, the Adhaalath Party (AP) employed a more conservative approach running membership campaigns under slogans such as “Join Adhaalath to defend Islam” and “Adhaalath, the path to paradise”.

At the time of the ratification of Political Parties Act, the Adhaalath Party managed to attain 10,000 members along with the Jumhoree Party (JP), while GIP failed and was removed from the list of political parties.

The Elections Commission has called on the public to be wary of the situation and report to the commission as soon as anyone noticed they were registered to a political party without their knowledge.