Majlis committee votes to approve Jaleel as Defence Minister

The People’s Majilis’ government oversight committee has approved Major General (retired) Moosa Ali Jaleel as Defense Minister, despite pending terrorism charges at the Criminal Court.

Five ruling coalition MPs voted in favor. Opposition MPs and one ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP voted against the retired general.

“I refuse to vote for him because there are serious accusations against him. It is not right to approve him with all of these accusations,” said PPM MP Abdul Latheef Mohamed.

Jaleel was charged with terrorism along with former President Mohamed Nasheed for the military detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in 2012.

On March 13, Nasheed was found guilty and sentenced to 13 years in prison.

President Abdulla Yameen appointed Jaleel as Defense Minister after dismissing Retired Colonel Mohamed Nazim from the position on January 20.

Nazim is currently standing trial for smuggling illegal weapons following the police’s controversial discovery of a gun and three bullets during a midnight raid on January 18.

Jaleel has previously participated in a rally demanding a speedy verdict for Nasheed.

The Criminal Court has scheduled a hearing for Jaleel tomorrow night (March 16) at 8.00 pm.


Majlis’ Ibthihaal investigation postponed until end of recess

The Majlis committee investigating the death of 3-year-old Mohamed Ibthihaal will wait until the house reconvenes in March before holding further meetings.

Chair of the Majlis government oversight committee Riyaz Rasheed told Haveeru that there was “no point” and that “nothing further that can be achieved”, accusing fellow committee member Rozaina Adam of releasing confidential documents.

“I specifically asked the members of the committee at its last meeting to not make any of these documents public,” said the Progressive Party of Maldives MP.

Since the committee’s first meeting was held on February 5 was adjourned to give members more time to study the case’s documents, opposition Maldivian Democratic Party MP Rozaina has accused Rasheed of slowing the committee’s work.

She has also told the media that the documents received from the police contained no details of the toddler’s case prior to his death, despite authorities acknowledging that they were previously aware of his abuse.

Last Thursday, she went on to say that the gender ministry’s report contained  questionable statements, alleging that both the ministry and police had acted in breach of the law.

Ibthihaal was found dead in his home with numerous wounds and bruises on the island of Vaavu Atoll Rakeedhoo on January 28. His mother is mother is charged with murder and is in police custody awaiting further investigation.

Riyaz reiterated that. while parliament’s involvement has been temporarily brought to a halt, the government is looking into the matter and taking necessary action to prevent further incidents of the kind.

Source: Haveeru


Majlis committee demands details from education ministry over deputy principals’ removal

The Majlis government oversight committee has demanded the ministry of education submit all relevant information regarding the removal of deputy principals from the schools.

Vice-Chair of the committee Maradhoo MP Ibrahim Shareef told local media that the letters demanding information will be sent today, with the ministry being given until tomorrow to submit the information. The committee also decided to summon serving deputy principals to clarify information.

The post of deputy principal has been abolished under a new organisational structure approved by the ministry for public schools. The ministry has said persons currently serving as deputy principals would be transferred to different posts in lieu of dismissal.

State Minister for Education Dr Abdulla Nazeer told state broadcaster Television Maldives last week that the change was intended to strengthen school management.

The decision came as a surprise to the 188 deputy principals in the country, with some telling media they were not previously informed of the decision, expressing shock upon hearing the news.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) submitted the case to the government oversight committee, stating that the party wants to clarify the reasoning behind the decision and that the government could not dismiss civil servants without due process.

An unnamed deputy principal told that they were offered two options by the ministry – either take up administrative or other relevant posts or be laid off with three month’s salary paid up front.

State Minister of Education Dr Abdulla Nazeer – while speaking to state television – said that the ministry’s aim was to eradicate the deputy principal level in the organisational structure in order to bring the principals closer to the teachers.

“The majority of the deputy principals are performing administrative level tasks at the school which should be done by administrative officers instead. We want to task the deputy principals with more academic related work,” said Nazeer.

The MDP severely criticised the government for its plans, however, stating that the decision was “inhumane” and “uncivilised”.

Speaking to Minivan News, former Education Minister Dr Musthafa Luthfee said that the government decision lacks any professional reasoning, speculating that it was taken to appoint more political figures to the ministry.

“Right now there are around 12 political figures at the education ministry therefore all the decisions regarding the education are made at a political level. This leads to problems because such decisions should be taken by educated academic professionals instead,” said Luthfee.

He also pointed out that, even though the deputy principals should have been contacted by the civil service commission regarding the issue, some were consulted through mobile phones and at cafes by political figures.

Deputy Minister of Law and Gender Aiminath Nadira said in a tweet that the decision would leave a lot of women in a vulnerable position (most deputy principals are women) and that the government needed to find a good alternative solution.

Luthfee also alleged that a circular was sent to the schools specifying that the chief guests for school-related events should only be brought after consultation with the ministry.

The MDP has also taken issue with the government’s spending plans for the education sector, which includes money for eight new political postings and over 2,000 new staff members.

Despite unrest among teachers this year, education minister Aiminath Shiham has said that the government has brought significant changes to the sector, including introducing Quran classes for the entire primary education and vocational training.

Around 90 percent of the teachers across the nation protested in September 21 by wearing black clothing to raise issues such as poor pay, inadequate  protection of teachers, and the failure to grant the Teachers Association of Maldives (TAM) official recognition.

The government avoided a full on strike at the eleventh hour after sitting down with TAM and creating a timeline in which to meet the demands of teachers.

Related to this story

MDP says poorly prioritised 2015 education budget will lead to corruption

“Significant changes” brought to education sector, says minister

Teachers’ Black Sunday protest prompts government talks, strike decision pending

Teachers Association calls an indefinite strike on Tuesday


Government oversight committee asked to investigate rising airline fare

Parliament’s government oversight committee has been asked to investigate rising airline ticket prices after summoning officials from the government regulatory body.

The issue was raised at today’s meeting of the committee by Jumhooree Party MP Ilham Ahmed, who reportedly said that a number of Maldivians traveling to India and Sri Lanka for medical treatment were affected by the abrupt increase in airline fare.

Another issues raised at the meeting included looking into a case of an Imadhudheen School teacher who allegedly bullied a grade three student.

The female teacher reportedly returned to work last week after the Ministry of Education lifted her suspension. While the ministry has compiled a report based on its investigation, the Teachers Association of Maldives has defended the accused, contending that the allegations against her did not warrant suspension.

Progress into the police’s investigation into the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan was also raised at the meeting.

Meanwhile, Chair Riyaz Rasheed – deputy parliamentary group leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives – declined to put either issue to a vote, saying he would clarify information regarding the proposals.

Parliament is due to resume sittings next month after a one-month recess.


Hospitalised Maafushi inmate requested transfer from cell before assault

An inmate who suffered serious head injuries in a prison fight at Maafushi jail last month requested to be transferred from his cell more than an hour before the assault, according to a one-page report shared by the Maldives Correctional Services (MCS) with parliament’s government oversight committee.

On February 24, Prison Corporal Mohamed Mujthaba, the ranking duty officer at the time of the incident, was informed by guards of unrest in cell number 12 of unit three, wing one, at about 5:25pm, stated the report read out by MCS Lawyer Mohamed Zahir at yesterday’s committee meeting.

Mujthaba questioned the prisoners and was asked by two of the three inmates in cell 12 – Ali Ashwan of Ma. Oasis Villa and Ibrahim Azar of M.Dhodhilige – to be transferred to a different cell.

“However, when [the inmates] were asked to explain the reason for wanting to change cells, they refused to do so until they were taken out of the cell,” the report revealed.

At about 6:00pm, the report stated, instructions were given by Prison Corporal Ali Maaniu, deputy head of the operation and security department, to transfer the inmates.

However, the third inmate in cell 12 – Ahmed Liushan, also from Ma. Oasis Villa – obstructed prison guards who attempted to take the other inmates out of the cell.

Duty-in-charge Corporal Mujthaba then made arrangements to transfer the inmates with the assistance of officers from the Emergency Support Group (ESG).

At about 6:50pm, Mujthaba and the ESG officers made their way to the cell upon hearing a commotion from the unit.

“When they opened the cell and looked inside, Ibrahim Azar was severely beaten. A lot of blood was flowing out of Ibrahim Azar’s head at the time. [Azar] indicated with gestures to the officers that he was assaulted by Ahmed Liushan. In addition, some officers saw Ahmed Liushan attacking Ibrahim Azar when they opened the cell,” the report stated.

The injured inmate was first treated by nurses at the Maafushi jail reception area before being taken to the Maafushi Health Centre.

A doctor at the health centre advised that the inmate be immediately taken to Malé after completing medical procedures, the report continued, whereupon he was sent to Malé on a speedboat with three prison officers and two nurses at around 7:45pm.

The other two inmates in cell 12 were meanwhile kept separately in holding cells for the investigation of the assault.

Commissioner of Prisons Moosa Azim was informed of the incident at 7:02pm, the report stated, whilst the assault was reported to the Maafushi police station at 8:03pm.

A police team began investigating the case shortly thereafter, took witness statements and sought forensic evidence.

Azar meanwhile underwent surgery at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) for multiple injuries to his skull and remains in a coma under intensive care. He had been serving a five year sentence for drug abuse.

“Relevant” officials

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party MPs on the committee meanwhile contended that prison officers were culpable in the incident as the inmates had been left unsupervised for more than 50 minutes.

Although Home Minister Umar Naseer and Commissioner of Prisons Moosa Azim were told to appear before the oversight committee yesterday, neither attended the meeting.

While Deputy Commissioner of Prisons Hassan Zilal and Superintendent Ibrahim Mohamed were sent in their place, both senior prison officials were unable to answer questions posed by MPs, citing lack of information.

The deputy commissioner informed MPs that he had been on the job for just two weeks and was yet to be given operational responsibilities. Zilal said he was not in Maafushi on the day in question.

Both officials suggested that MPs summon “relevant persons” to clarify details of the incident. Ibrahim Mohamed however revealed that doctors at IGMH had advised MCS that Azar should be flown overseas for medical treatment.


Resigning not the solution: Health Minister Dr Shakeela

Resigning in the wake of last week’s transfusion of HIV positive blood to a patient is not the solution to problems in the health sector, Health Minister Dr Mariyam Shakeela told MPs on the government oversight committee on Friday (February 28).

Dr Shakeela told the opposition-majority oversight committee that “human error” was to blame for the incident at the government-run Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH), as the lab technician reported the blood as negative despite the machine showing otherwise.

“My resignation isn’t going to solve this. I could resign if that is the case. My resignation is not going to solve it. That’s why I am saying, what is the solution? The solution is all of us cooperating and working together to improve the system,” she said.

Shakeela added that she had been receiving text messages calling for her resignation.

Asked by opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Hamza if she accepted “full responsibility without any excuses” for the incident, Shakeela replied that she accepts responsibility for “providing benefits” to whomever it was owed.

The ministry would attempt to explain to the public that the incident occurred due to “human error,” she stressed, adding that she did not think members of the public would stop visiting the government-run tertiary hospital.

As the donor was found by the patient, Shakeela stressed that the blood sample did not come from the hospital’s blood bank. The donor was not previously registered as an AIDs patient.

The government was ready to take whatever measures were necessary to restore public confidence, she added.

The minister also denied that there was a cover-up, or that the revelation to the media was prompted by leaked information.

Shakeela urged MPs to consider the mishap as “a one-off” incident caused by a mistake.

“Don’t think that this will keep happening to us all the time. We are taking steps for example to try and go to a fully automated system, to improve it and reduce human mistakes,” she said.

ISO standards

Upon learning of the incident on February 19, Shakeela said she informed the World Health Organisation (WHO), seeking advice and assistance following an emergency meeting with high-level officials at the Health Ministry.

The Health Ministry acted in line with international best practices, she said, and immediately launched independent inquiries.

The incident was revealed to the media shortly after receiving a draft report from an independent committee, she added, noting that further investigations were taking place to identify shortcomings at the hospital.

The machines at IGMH were state of the art whilst the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and protocols were at international standards, she noted.

Health Ministry Director General Dr Sheeza Ali meanwhile revealed that the laboratory was presently not “ISO certified”.

“But we are starting work during this year towards ISO certification. It is likely that we might not reach the latest [standards] as we might not be able to fulfil all the requirements,” she said.

Budget constraints

While the Health Ministry had asked for a “realistic budget” of MVR4 billion, Permanent Secretary Geela Ali said the budget approved by parliament had only MVR2.5 billion earmarked for the health sector.

Of the MVR2.5 billion annual budget, Geela noted that MVR1.8 billion was allocated for the National Social Protection Agency (NSPA).

Shakeela meanwhile told MPs that the health sector was in disarray, with crumbling infrastructure and facilities due to insufficient funds allocated in the state budget for many years.

“If we look at machinery, a screw comes loose from the machine and it falls on the head of the patient who is taken into the operating theatre,” she said.

Moreover, attracting qualified foreign doctors was “very difficult” as the salary of doctors in the Maldives has not kept pace with pay rises for doctors in the South Asian region, she explained.

Due to the budget constraints, Shakeela said the ministry was seeking foreign assistance, and that machinery and equipment were “on the way”.

In response to complaints regarding the budget, MDP MPs on the committee pointed out that health policy was formulated by the government while the state budget was proposed by the Finance Ministry, reviewed by a budget committee controlled by the ruling coalition, and approved by the government majority in parliament.


IGMH lab technician responsible for HIV blood transfusion in custody

An expatriate lab technician at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) responsible for the transfusion of HIV positive blood to a pregnant Maldivian patient has been taken into police custody on Thursday night (February 27).

IGMH Deputy CEO Dr Mohamed Habeeb told MPs on the government oversight committee yesterday that the Indian national had admitted his culpability in the incident.

Local media has since revealed his identity and reported that the Criminal Court has extended pretrial detention to seven days.

Habeeb was summoned to the oversight committee along with Health Minister Dr Mariyam Shakeela and senior officials at the ministry.

Briefing MPs on the incident, Habeeb explained that the blood test was done on February 2 and the transfusion took place the next day.

The technician at fault reported the blood as negative despite the machine showing that it was positive for HIV.

The error was discovered when the patient came in for a routine checkup on February 18, he continued, after which the blood test report was reviewed.

A high-level meeting with senior officials from the Health Ministry was held immediately after the discovery and a three-member committee was formed to look into the incident, he said.

The committee comprised of an experienced doctor, senior nurse, and retired lab technician, he added – none of whom were employed by the hospital.

The incident was revealed to the media hours after the committee shared its findings, he said.

The blood sample was taken from a donor found by the patient and not from the hospital’s blood bank, Habeeb stressed. The donor was not previously registered as an HIV patient.

While there were normally two technicians at the lab, Habeeb noted that the Indian national was alone on the day in question as it was a public holiday.

Habeeb revealed that the technician left for India on the day of the incident and returned to the Maldives about two days later.

The technician had been working at the hospital for seven years and had recently received an award for his performance, Habeeb said.

However, Permanent Secretary at the Health Ministry Geela Ali revealed that the technician had been fired from his previous job in 2006.


Majlis endorses full cabinet

The People’s Majlis has endorsed all 15 of President Abdulla Yameen’s cabinet ministers.

Ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), coalition partners Jumhooree Party (JP) and Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) as well as six members of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) voted to approve ministerial nominees.

The ministers were endorsed despite the Majlis’ Executive Oversight Committee’s decision to reject eight out of the 15 cabinet ministers on Saturday. The opposition majority committee said the eight were “ministers of the coup government” established after the controversial transfer of power in February 2012.

The MDP enforced a three line whip in rejecting the eight ministers, but had a free whip on voting for the remaining seven.

The six MDP parliamentarians who breached the three line whip are Abdulla Jabir, Zahir Adam, Ahmed Rasheed, Mohamed Rasheed, Abdulla Abdul Raheem and Ahmed Easa.

Two MDP parliamentarians – Ali Waheed and Alhan Fahmy – voted against all fifteen ministers.


During Monday’s vote, 73 out of 77 parliamentarians were in attendance.

Among the 15 cabinet members, Attorney General Mohamed Anil, Minister of Economic Development Mohamed Saeed and Minister of Environment and Energy Thoriq Ibrahim received the highest number of votes in endorsement, with each minister receiving 64 votes.

Minister of Education Aishath Shiham and Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Mohamed Shainee received 63 votes each.

Minister of Youth and Sports Mohamed Maleeh Jamal received 58 votes, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dunya Maumoon received 55 votes.

Minister of Tourism Ahmed Adeeb received 45 votes, with Minister of Defence and National Security Mohamed Nazim, Minister of Transport and Communication Ameen Ibrahim and Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Mohamed Muizzu each receiving 44 votes.

Minister of Finance and Treasury Abdulla Jihad, Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed and Minister of Health and Gender Aishath Shiham received 43 votes each.

Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer got endorsed with the least number of votes, receiving only 41 in favour from a total of 73.

Pre-vote Debate

The Speaker allowed one member from each party to speak on the parliament floor about the report prepared by the Executive Oversight Committee.

Progressive Party of Maldives MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla called on the parliament to endorse all members, specifically calling on opposition members to follow “the courageous example set by [MDP] Presidential Candidate Nasheed. He said that Yameen’s cabinet is compiled of the most capable selection of ministers that the country has seen to date.”

Jumhooree Party (JP) MP Ilham Ahmed stated that the constitution demands that all ministers be endorsed. “There will be no reasons for regret by endorsing this cabinet. In any case, if there arises a need, the parliament has a mechanism through which we can hold ministers accountable. Jumhooree Party will not shy away from taking action against any cabinet member, whichever party he may come from, should he do something that may cause a loss to citizens,” he stated.

Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) MP Ahmed Amir stated that “it is unacceptable to not be able to endorse ministers without appeasing a particular individual”, and alleged that the Government Oversight Committee had not acted justly in reviewing the cabinet appointees.

Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) member Riyaz Rasheed added that there is no appointee against whom questions of capability can be raised. He added that the parliament should not set any conditions when voting to endorse ministers.

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed said that the party will endorse members as appointing ministers is the mandate of the President. He added that the party would employ a moderate approach in holding the government accountable.

Independent MP Ibrahim Muhtholib stated that all 15 ministers met the qualifications required in a cabinet appointee. He alleged that the committee had failed to present sufficient reasoning for their refusal to endorse over half of the cabinet.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik stated that the party’s members would vote to endorse those they saw fit, and not the rest.

“There needs to be an opposition that holds the government accountable, and today that role is ours. We are a responsible party and we will do what it takes to hold the government accountable, even if it means bringing citizens out on to the streets [to hold demonstrations],” he stated.

“MDP stands strictly against coup d’etats. And even if a baaghee [traitor] changes their clothes and comes infront of us, we can see that they still have the characteristics of a baaghee.”


The Executive Oversight Committee – compiled of a majority of 6 MDP members from a total of 10 – previously decided to reject endorsement of eight ministers.

The committee rejected endorsement of Nazim, Adheeb, Shaheem, Shakeela, Ameen, Jihad and Muizzu on the grounds that they were “coup ministers” as they had served in the previous Waheed administration.

The committee also rejected Home Minister Umar Naseer saying that various speeches given by him at political rallies made it “evident that he will not be loyal to Yameen”.


Dr Latheef cannot be sworn in to JSC due to Supreme Court judgment: President’s Office

Cabinet Secretary Dr Abdulla Nazeer told parliament’s Government Oversight Committee on Thursday (October 24) that the President’s Office could not organise a swearing-in ceremony to formalise Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chair Dr Mohamed Latheef’s appointment to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) due to a Supreme Court ruling declaring that parliament’s removal of former CSC Chair Mohamed Fahmy Hassan was unconstitutional.

Dr Latheef was appointed chair of the CSC by parliament in August with 60 votes in favour. While the chair of the CSC is also an ex-officio member of the JSC, Dr Latheef has yet to be formally appointed to the judicial watchdog body by the President’s Office.

Responding to queries regarding the delay from MPs on the oversight committee last week, President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s cabinet secretary said that the Attorney General had advised that Dr Latheef could not be sworn in to the JSC due to the Supreme Court judgment.

Dr Nazeer repeatedly insisted that a solution to the impasse must be found either by the People’s Majlis or the Supreme Court.

Asked who the current chair of the CSC was, Nazeer replied: “To tell you truth, I do not know. So someone should clear this up.”

While he was unaware which of the two received the salary and benefits of the CSC chair, Nazeer said the President’s Office does not state the name of the commission’s chair in official correspondence with the CSC.

In November last year parliament voted 38–32 in favour of removing Fahmy after the Independent Institutions Committee investigated a complaint of sexual harassment lodged by a female CSC employee.

The Supreme Court however overruled parliament in March this year on the grounds that the committee allegedly violated due process and criminal justice procedures in its sexual harassment inquiry, and that Fahmy would receive two punishments for the same crime if he was convicted at court (double jeopardy).

Parliament had approved a replacement for Fahmy – Fathmath Renee Abdul Sattar – in August this year with 51 votes in favour and none against. However, shortly before a swearing-in ceremony at the President’s Office to present Renee her credentials, the Supreme Court issued an injunction to block her appointment.

However, the following day Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain accused his own court of issuing the injunction without his knowledge.

Former JSC member Aishath Velazinee has argued that the Majlis was given authority over CSC appointments in 2010, describing the Supreme Court’s move as a “mutiny”.