Vnews editor arrested for assault gets fired

Vnews editor, ‘Mundu’ Adam Haleem has been terminated from his post after police arrested him for assaulting a female colleague, local media reports.

A statement released by Vmedia said that Haleem was dismissed from work after a thorough investigation which proved that the assault had occurred due to personal reasons.

CCTV footage of the assault surfaced on social media showed Haleem grab and shove the female employee before being restrained by others at the scene.

The female employee reportedly sought treatment at ADK hospital for minor injuries.


Comment: Burial of the truth

This article first appeared on Dhivehi Sitee. Republished with permission.

Last Sunday night Lance Corporal Adam Haleem was stabbed to death on the island of Kaashidhoo. He was en route to duty and in full uniform. He died from multiple stab wounds just after midnight. He was 26 years old, and the father of a son not yet a year old.

Before the young policeman’s body was cold, his death had become a political opportunity for many. Politicisation of life and death is not a new phenomenon in the Maldives. It was on the rise before the change of government on 7 February. But the extent to which the current ‘Unity Government’ of Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik is going, to squeeze every drop of political juice from the death of Lance Corporal Hameed, is a revolting spectacle to behold.

It was Dr Waheed himself who set the ball rolling.

What was this about hate-mongering? What did he mean? Was the policeman’s murder linked to the current political unrest? That was certainly the inference, as he reiterated shortly after:

One of the first political figures to put into words what Waheed insinuated was MP for Kaashidhoo area Abdulla Jabir. He told the Sun within an hour of the news breaking:

[I] condemn this murder in strictest words. It is sad that such incidents are increasing. The reason for this is the continued actions by MDP [Maldivian Democratic Party] to spread lies about the police and create anger against them among the people.

Sun also reported that ‘Private MP’ Ahmed Mahloof (PPM), less than two hours after the news broke, said:

What we have seen tonight is the democracy that MDP talks about. The democracy we have seen is the one which calls to attack the police. I condemn this. Nasheed and MDP must take responsibility for this.

Several others were jostling for space on the bandwagon. Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed said this:

Here are some significant others.

Human Rights Commissioner Mariyam Azra, too, appeared convinced that what the Unity Government and its supporters were saying was indeed true. Within the hour she had this to say:

Very sad that a policeman has been killed like this. Nobody should speak in ways that incite hatred against another.

Politics of death

The death of a policeman—especially when hostilities between anti-government protesters and the security forces are at an all time high—is a potent event, laden with political consequences. For the Unity Government it became the ‘evidence’ with which to prove a ‘truth’ they have been peddling from the beginning: MDP is a violent political group determined to regain power at any cost.

This strategy for criminalising dissent and constructing all supporters of MDP as ‘terrorists’ who are also the cause of all the social unrest of today, has been at the forefront of this government’s efforts to legitimise itself since day one.

The government was helped in its campaign to exploit the young policeman’s death by the police themselves. Lance Corporal Haleem died at around quarter past midnight on Sunday night. Between then and mid-afternoon Monday—despite being in possession of all facts surrounding the murder—the police did not make public any details surrounding it. The only thing said was ‘a policeman has been murdered,’ and where.

This left a long Speculation Window in which the Unity Government could air as fact its message that Lance Corporal Haleem had been murdered by an MDP thug, driven to it by calls for violence against the police by MDP leaders.

During the midnight hours, knowing that most people stay up late during Ramadan, key figures in the Unity Government saturated the media with the message. Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim appeared on his Villa TV with Kaashidhoo MP Jabir and JP’s President Dr Didi to discuss ‘the problem of MDP’s continuous incitment of violence against the police.’

They intertwined news of the policeman’s death with the narrative of ‘MDP violence against the police’ so often and with such conviction that by the time the police finally revealed more facts, most people—except the accused—were convinced MDP was behind the policeman’s murder. Here’s a tweet that encapsulates the sentiments of government supporters the following day.

Dissemination of the message did not stop at the country’s borders. In fact, when spread to the international community, the Unity Government didn’t bother with the insinuations. It just came straight out and pointed the figure at MDP. Before Monday morning, the President’s Office Spokesperson, Masood Imad, had told the AFP in Colombo:

The MDP instigated the attack on policemen at Kaashidoo and one was stabbed to death.

Here’s how a Sri Lankan newspaper ran the story the next morning:

Whither the truth?

The truth of the matter, when details began to come out on Monday, was very different. Lance Corporal Haleem was killed by a criminal he had investigated for about a year, and was about to arrest.

The murder was straightforward, and Mohamed Samah, the 22-year-old culprit from the same island, was arrested at the scene. There was an eye-witness and several people, including the police, were on the scene within seconds.

The subsequent scramble to pinpoint the political party to which the accused belonged was ugly. And it was a malaise that affected not just the Unity Government but the general population in its majority. It was as if the violent death of a young man would only begin to matter once the murderer’s political affiliation was established.

His connections with various key figures in different political parties were discussed; his identity card number was keyed into the Elections Commissions website; his membership of one party thus established without doubt—only for that party to come out and say: “There are many MDP members who signed up to other parties by mistake.” Seriously. In a ‘functioning democracy’, as Dr Waheed describes the Maldives, the facts of Lance Corporal Haleem’s death would have required a formal retraction. And, at the very least, it would have elicited an apology to the MDP for very serious wrongful accusations made against it.

But that is not what happened, for it was not Lance Corporal Haleem’s death that was important but the concurrent narrative of MDP’s violence that it was used to construct. Under the circumstances, truth was irrelevant. Thus the political abuse of Lance Corporal Haleem’s body continued apace.

After the condemnations came the heavily publicised State funeral. Of course, the fallen must be honoured. Policemen put their lives at risk protecting society, and we should appreciate that, especially so when they die on duty.

But was the public spectacle put on by the Unity Government and Maldives Police Service really necessary? It is not part of Maldivian culture to hold ostentatious, loud, photographed and televised funerals.

We are humble and simple in our bereavement. But, pictures of Lance Corporal Haleem’s coffin being carried to Islamic Centre on the shoulders of sombre looking policeman were splashed across the media. As were pictures of various key Unity Government figures consoling the family, looking appropriately grieved, and even praying. Faith, like death, reduced to a photo opportunity.

In a slight digression: I could not help but notice Lance Corporal Haleem’s distraught mother photographed at the burial ground paying her respects. I know several mothers, wives, daughters and sisters (myself included) who have desperately wanted it to be otherwise. But it has always been maintained that a woman cannot partake in the burial. What was it about this occasion that allowed the bending of a seemingly inflexible Islamic rule?

Retaliation against the wrongfully accused

As the day passed, the rhetoric of MDP’s violence against the police was only ratcheted up, not lowered. Now the Unity Government’s efforts were on making people forget the truth.

It seems as if the fact of Lance Corporal Haleem’s death has been buried with him. What remained of concern was the accompanying narrative – MDP is deliberately inciting violence against the police and must be stopped.

Thus the Maldives Police Service began ‘retaliation’ against MDP for a crime it had nothing to do with. Chief among several actions taken to avenge Lance Corporal Haleem’s murder was the ’leaking’ of a telephone conversation between Nasheed and MDP Mariya Didi, one of his closest allies and friends. In the March 29 conversation, Mariya is heard updating Nasheed about police violence and use of pepper-spray against protesters resisting their dismantling of Usfasgan’du [MDP’s protest camp] that day. She asks for Nasheed’s advice, and he replies:

There’s not much we can do. I don’t know. What is there to do? I think [we] need to get people out to fight if we can get them. If we can get people to fight, get them out. It’s very clear to me, I think we need to fight back. If we can get people to fight. Find kids from Male to fight the police.

Mariya laughs. Not the response one would expect from a person who thinks she has just been assigned the task of recruiting a gang of thugs to take on the national security forces. Regardless, the police thought it prudent to release the audio clip. For what purpose? It was certainly not aimed at calming tensions or to make real the rhetoric of reconciliation.

Nasheed’s supporters are unlikely to accept the private conversation between him and Mariya as evidence of his alleged brutality. For them, his commitment to non-violence was proven beyond doubt when not just the MDP-affiliated Coup Report but also the so-called CONI Timeline documented Nasheed’s unequivocal refusal to use weapons against the mutinying police, or anyone else, on 7 February.

The only purposes the audio clip served was to harden government supporters’ dislike and mistrust of Nasheed, and to fortify government’s efforts to construct Nasheed as the cruel leader of the violent political organisation that is said to be MDP. To support their claim that MDP leaders are all characterised by political extremists prone to violence, they have also unearthed statements made by key MDP figures encouraging—wrongly so—retaliation against the police for their brutal violence against them during the events surrounding the transfer of government.

Whether or not their words bear any relation to the murder of the policeman, once again, is of the least consequence. What it did beautifully was fit the government narrative. What use to make of the audio clip, which the police has been in possession of since March, was decided shortly after Lance Corporal Haleem’s murder and long before facts of his killing were made public. Home Minister Jameel hinted at it on the night of the murder itself:

The ‘evidence’, with the allegation, is continuing to play across the media—mainstream and social–since then.

Before they brought foreigners and shot them dead, now getting Maldivians to stab them…Bravo to the democracy Anni is bringing.

The poster with the last Tweet from President’s Spokesperson Abbas Riza reads:

6 February Massacre

Main reasons why a massacre was desired:

—to declare a state of emergency

—to abolish the JSC and give MDP the power to appoint judges

—to arrest the leaders who stepped up to defend Islam and the Constitution

—to hand MPL (Maldives Ports Limited) to a company of which India’s GMR is a shareholder

These are not the words and actions of members of a government eager to calm the political and social turmoil afflicting Maldives today. On the contrary, they are intended to cause the opposite effect.

If the Unity Government were serious about reconciliation in the five long months gone, it would have taken due action against members of the police who mutinied. It would not have given them promotions instead.

It would not have appointed as leaders of the security forces men like Mohamed Nazim, Abdulla Riyaz and Mohamed Fayaz, men who the whole country saw playing a key role in the change of government on 7 February. The seeds of public mistrust of the police were planted on that day, and on 8 February. And they grow and mushroom with every day that passes without this government’s acknowledgement of the these facts.

There can be no reconciliation without the truth.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


Lance Corporal Haleem killed by “MDP loyalist”, government tells foreign media

The government has claimed that murdered policeman Lance Corporal Adam Haleem was stabbed to death by a “Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) loyalist”, in a text circulated to foreign media outlets.

President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad was reported as stating in a story published by AFP that “MDP instigated the attack on policemen at Kaashidoo and one was stabbed to death” during protests.

Police meanwhile held a press conference today during which they claimed that the murdered policeman was attempting to arrest his alleged killer, 22 year-old Mohamed Samah, at the time of his death.

Police stated that Haleem had observed Samah wandering the street despite being under house arrest, and asked him to accompany him to Kaashidhoo police station. Samah had reportedly been released to house detention on Sunday following a two day arrest over an assault case.

According to local media, police stated that Haleem had asked Samah to get ready to go to the station with him, and had waited outside his house. Samah allegedly came out of the property with a knife, which he used to stab Haleem while the officer was on the phone to the police station.

Police further alleged that Samah was intoxicated at the time of the incident, and stated that he had tested positive for cannabis following his arrest.

Speaking to Minivan News, Imad said “I can assure you that he was an MDP loyalist, and an active member of the Donbileih Kaashidhoo campaign. The attack took place moments after calls to engage in violence against police, in an MDP rally.”

MDP Spokespersons Hamid Abdul Ghafoor and Imthiyaz Fahmy were not responding at time of press.

Haleem suffered serious stab wounds in the attack, including a nine-inch deep stab wound to the chest. He was alive but in critical condition when brought to the hospital, but died soon afterwards while undergoing treatment.

The death has been swiftly politicised amid spiraling political tensions in the country.

The government condemned former President Mohamed Nasheed and his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) for the murder, claiming that MDP’s ongoing protests against the police in the capital Male’ provoked the attack on Kaashidhoo island.

Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed tweeted that the “murder of police officer came after continuous attack on police force by MDP, calling [the] entire police force traitors.”

In another tweet, Jameel also said that “evidence available to police [which] exposes MDP top leadership calling for violence against the police force.”

Police subsequently released a recording of a phone call between Nasheed and MDP MP Mariya Didi, in which Nasheed expresses frustration with the police dismantling of the party’s protest site at Usfasgandu: “I think we need to fight back. If we can get people to fight. Find kids from Male to fight the police. That is what I think. I don’t know if we can get people to fight. I want to fight against them,” the former President is heard to say.

The MDP retaliated by publishing a screenshot of the Elections Commission party registry indicating that Samah was a member of the government-aligned Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM).

The party further alleged that the suspect was a key supporter of Jumhoree Party (JP) MP Abdullah Jabir, who won the Kaashidoo constituency in the recent by-election with official endorsement from PPM.

Jabir has denied the claim and alleged the suspect had actually been working with MDP candidates at local elections, and was mentioned in a police report at the time for attacking a member of the JP’s campaign personnel.

PPM’s Council Member Ahmed Saleem yesterday stated during a press conference that “Party is not important. What’s important is the crime committed by the criminal.”

“We have also heard people say that he is from PPM. But we have not checked if it’s true. The reality is that MDP members have been registered under other parties by mistake,” Saleem claimed.


Comment: Blame game hardly solves problems

Lance Corporal Adam Halym of Maldives Police Service was on his way to start a new shift, leaving his baby daughter and loving wife at home, when he was mercilessly knifed and murdered in a dark alley leading to Kaashidhoo Police Station. He never returned home.

I strongly condemn the heinous crime of killing an officer of the law and as well the eight innocent people, whose blood was spilled before him. Thoughts, prayers and well wishes are with all those victims family at time of this great tragedy.

While the families and public is grappling with the aftermath of this ongoing carnage, much more appalling than the gruesome murder of the police officer is the notorious blame game started by the politicians. It took one or two hours tops before prominent political figures, most of them holding key portfolios in current government, to sinisterly twist the tragedy and manipulate in ways that it advantageous to their own political stand or disadvantageous to their political opponents. The former president Mohamed Nasheed and his party MDP  was on the receiving end of much of the accusations.

On twitter Ahmed Mahloof, MP for Galolhu Dhekunu Constituency, was amongst the first to break the news by posting a tweet saying “Innaalillahi vainna ilaihi raajioon” (a Quranic verse Muslims recite upon hearing the news of someone’s death) and ” mikamuge zinmaa seedha MDP nagan jeheyne”(MDP should directly take the responsibility of this)” along with a hyperlink to the news story on the Haveeru website.

Among many other tweets that followed, government-aligned Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) MP Mahloof emphatically blamed Nasheed and the MDP. One tweet when translated reads, “What we are seeing is the democracy Nasheedh and MDP wanted to bring to this country” while the another tweet reads: “We are seeing the result of Nasheed and MDP calling to attack police and military officers non stop.”

One hour into Mahloof’s tweets President Waheed himself posted a tweet saying “Strongly condemn the killing of a policeman while on duty. Enough of hate mongering against officers of the Law.”

In a subsequent tweet  an hour later the president emoted: “No excuses to kill anyone let alone policemen on duty. Shame on cowards hiding behind anonymity and inciting violence.” While he does not elobarate on who the “anonymous” is,  his counterparts have clarified it well with their own facts: Nasheed and MDP killed LCPL Adam Halym.

Here is what the Minister of Home Affairs said:

Not just that, while the President, his ministers, and other key government officials were all commotional on twitter, Dr Ibrahim Didi, Qasim Ibrahim and Abdullah Jabir – belonging to Jumhoree Party of Dr Waheed’s unity government – were doing their fair share of the blame game on VTV during late hours of last night.  They reiterated the crux of the above mentioned tweets, blaming Nasheed and his party.

I am taken aback by the heedless audacity of especially government officials to create a diversion from the real issue, by using the oldest tactic in the book: the blame game. Every second spent accusing Nasheed and the MDP is a second wasted by the current government to address the cause of the  issue. At a time when the government is expected to take proactive and immediate measure to ensure the safety and security of the people of Maldives they are engrossed in politically assassinating their opposition party and its presidential candidate for the murder of LCP Adam Halym.

In the very press statement from police about the brutal murder of Adam Halym it was clearly stated that a suspect was brought under custody. The police already had a lead. Local media concurrently identified the killer as Mohamed Samah from the same island.

Only hours later more details were reported on local media shedding light on the attack and the killer: Samah has a criminal record for aggravated assault among other crimes and was also released  from police detention to house confinement the previous day.

The police have not revealed that Nasheed, the MDP or for that matter any political party had a role in the murder of Adam Halym: but from the few reports surfacing in the media, we can draw a conclusion that it was indeed a a preventable crime carried out by a dangerous criminal who found his murderous opportunity through a loophole in the very system that is intended to keep his like at bay.

But these facts did not get in the way of the vociferous accusations echoed by the self declared political pundits, nor did it stop MDP from making counterblasts over social networks, spreading picture of the suspected killer alleging that he was in fact from the government-aligned PPM’s members.

One of the most noticeable remarks was made on Facebook by former Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed:

While Dr Shaheed has rightly indicated to what really lead to the murder of LCPL Adam Halym, it would be unfair not to say he has again shot the blame at Home Minister. Doesn’t only a judge have the jurisdiction to release a criminal from police custody to house arrest? So why blame the Home Minister who has no direct authority under the current legal framework to release a criminal from police custody to house arrest?

Why are not we questioning which court or judge released Samah, only to kill a police officer in less than 24 hours?  Has the judiciary failed us again and this time we had  to pay with the life of an officer of the law? If it wasn’t a judge, who gave the authority to police to move the criminal?

These are fundamental questions that lurks around the murder of Adam Halym that neeed to be answered by the police, before we engross ourselves in this “you killed him” game, helping no one except fuelling the opportunistic politicians ready to feed on humanity when it suits them.

At difficult times like this, we humans might blindly seek solace in band aid solutions like the death penalty. Implementing dealth penalty right now in Maldives would only be a coping mechanism that would would provide a temporary relief to the community but leave the root cause of the problem untouched.

It was just few days ago that the whole nation came to a standstill over the murder of lawyer Najeeb. Najeeb’s murderer has said in court that he was inebriated at the time of killing.

Afterwards when his faculties were back to normal and realised what he had done, he cried  in regret.  Moving onto LCPL Adam Halym’s murder, what are the chances Samah too was intoxicated during the murder? More importantly would implementing death penalty prevent an angry, intoxicated person from murdering someone? Since drugs have become the root cause of all mischief in Maldives, and since the punishment under Islam for spreading mischief on Earth is capital punishment, isn’t it more just and appropriate to sentence drug lords to death?

Half of the youth population are enslaved to these substances marketed by these “untouchable” drug lords. They have destroyed lives of thousands of youth and their families. More will follow if we do not stop the menace and provide better opportunities for the younger generation.

Samah found his chance to kill LCPL Adam Halym through a loophole in the judiciary. Therefore when God has specifically prescribed in Quran “ Take not life, which God has made sacred, except by way of justice and law” how can we entrust the current judiciary, with its major loopholes, to rule “by way of justice and law”? For God’s sake, prerequisites laws to implement the death penalty do not even exist in Maldives as of yet and who knows when they will be passed. Let’s be realistic.

We know that Islam stipulates strict conditions that prevent arbitrary administration of any penalty, no matter how mild it is. The Prophet Mohamed has instructed us to“Avert punishments if suspicions arise”. According to Dr Hamdy Murad, an Islamic thinker and Professor of Sharia at Al-Balqa Applied University, “Suspicion means that for any offence that cannot proved 100 percent, so to speak, punishments should be averted.”

In the case of Murrath and Hana, the couple who murdered lawyer Najeeb who were sentenced to death with a fortnight, isn’t there room for suspicion? Did no one hear the girl say she did not kill him and was sleeping while her boyfriend did it?

Besides, should we not question why a convicted criminal like Murrath – who was suppose to be in jail – and Samaah, a criminal with a record of multiple assaults – was out of the streets instead of confinement?

In the wake of such tragic events, it is tempting to blame someone for the pain simply because it absolves the person from shouldering any responsibility. But, one must not forget the most effective tool we can utilise for hate mongering is these slanderous accusations. It never yields solution or heals the scars, but fuels more hatred and divisions in the community.

More than ever, we as a nation need to skip this blame game and find solutions to address the real issues that have jeopardised the very fundamental human right our people have: the right to life.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


MDP condemns PA Shareef’s appointment to Elections Commission

)The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has today issued a statement condemning the Elections Commission (EC)’s decision to appoint former Peoples Alliance Party (PA) Secretary General and Spokesperson Ahmed Shareef as the Secretary General of the EC.

‘’MDP believe that anyone appointed for any position at the Elections Commission shall be a person away from influence, independent, fair and a person that would not protect the interest of a specific person,’’ said MDP in the statement.

MDP said it regretted that the commission would appoint a political figure to the commission and condemned the action “in strongest possible terms.”

Former Spokesperson of MDP Ahmed Haleem told Minivan News that ‘’as long as Shareef is in that position, this country can never hold free and fair elections.’’

Haleem said if he remained in the post, it will cause to “violence following future elections as people to question the fairness of the elections.”

‘’He is a person definitely adapted to a political idea and he will have his own interest,’’ Haleem claimed. ‘’The Elections Commission is the commission that has to be most fair and independent.’’

He also said the new President of MDP Dr Ibrahim Didi “will do anything that he has to, to solve this issue.”

Secretary General of EC Ibrahim Shareef told Minvan News that he had resigned from his post in the PA earlier this month and “resigned from politics.”

‘’My position in PA then was not also a political position, it was more an administrative position and it was my job then, I worked there as an employee,’’ Shareef said. ‘’Now I am in a non-political position and I will work independently.’’

Shareef said he was “very confident” that his actions would not be those claimed by the MDP.

‘’I assure the people that my actions will not be like that,’’ he said. ‘’I will follow the EC rules and regulations as well as the constitution and other laws and continue my work sincerely.’’

President of Elections Commission Fuad Thaufeeq did not respond to Minivan News at times of press.


Forty percent of manifesto complete, claims MDP

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) claimed at its congress last weekend that 40 percent of the party’s manifesto had been implemented since the party took office in 2008.

MDP spokesperson Ahmed Haleem told Minivan News that the congress was “very successful”, with launch of the local council election campaign representing “major progress” towards the upcoming local council elections.

During the congress the MDP launched a “Youth Wing’’ and a ‘’Womens’ Spirit Wing’’, which Minivan News understands intends to encourage “positive discrimination” towards involving women in politics.

Haleem said more than 1000 delegates took part in the congress including observers.

“All delegates were selected through primaries, unlike how it is done in other political parties in the country,’’ he said. “Other parties just call their friends to be delegates or hold a little primary at the event.”

Speaking at the Congress, President Mohamed Nasheed outlined dates for the construction of housing, claiming he would lay the foundation for flats in Male’ on November 10, the foundation for 1000 flats in Hulhumale on November 11, and 500 flats in the atolls.

A further 1000 flats would be built with the assistance of Korean aid, he said.

He also noted that projects such as land reclamation, harbour development and sewerage works were not included in the manifesto, but were also being implemented. Harbour developments had been completed in 27 islands since the party took office, Nasheed said, while further harbour developments were currently occuring at 11 islands. Projects would commence in Hoarafushi, Ihavandhoo and Dhiffushi in November, he said.

Speaking on corruption, Nasheed noted that years of accumulated corruption could not be dismissed in two years. But, he said,  “a good governance system without torture is now being created in the Maldives. The government has done away with revenge.”

MDP’s election manifesto consists of five core pledges: ‘nationwide transport’, ‘affordable living costs’, ‘affordable housing’, ‘affordable quality healthcare’, and the ‘prevention of narcotics abuse and trafficking’.

Criticising the the government’s achievements, opposition Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) MP Ahmed Mahlouf claimed that the 40 percent implementation of the pledges announced at the congress “was more like five percent.”

“I think it’s very clearly not true,” he said. “What we saw at the MDP Congress was some deleagates criticising the President for giving dates for the launch of projects because they knew it was going to make it difficult for them to campaign.”

Mahlouf noted that while the number of poor registered in Male’ in 2008 was 2000, “now it has increased to 9000.”

“Nasheed also promised to bring down the price of goods – but now it costs Rf 300 for a kilogram of chilli. I was shocked.”

Mahlouf further claimed that the DRP had attempted “to help the MDP implement its manifesto by ensuring there was a free state media, run by a board determined by parliament, but they were against it.”

Mahlouf also noted that as for the promise to tackle corruption, “Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index now ranks the country next to Zimbabwe.”

The government contends the index reflects a growing awareness that corruption is a problem.

Image: Maurouf Khaleel


MDP to hold ‘national protest’ against corruption

The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has announced it will conduct a special protest today to eliminate corruption and bring “justice and balance” to the Maldives.

Spokesperson for the MDP, Ibrahim Haleem, said the party called on the “whole nation to take part in this protest”, but did not encourage any more people living in the islands to come over to Male’.

”A lot of people from the islands have arrived Male’ to participate in this event,” said Haleem. ”We are expecting at least 10,000 to participate in this protest.”

Haleem said the protest was to “eliminate corruption and to establish justice in the country.”

”MDP has made more than 27 pledges to the people of the Maldives. One of them is to eliminate corruption from the country and to establish justice and peace,” Haleem said. ”Today we will erase the civil unrest caused to the country due to the disgusting act of corruption and bribery for eternity.”

Jumhoree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim and People’s Alliance (PA) leader Abdulla Yameen, both high-profile businessmen, were recently taken into police custody on charges of corruption and treason. Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim was also taken into custody.

On Sunday the Supreme Court ruled the pair be released from custody, as evidence against them was deemed insufficient. The major opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) denounced the arrests as political at a rally held Tuesday night, where it promised to deliver a “shocking message” to the government.

Today Haleem said protesters will call on judges “to judge fairly and to be impartial.”

”Judges should remember that they also shall work according to the laws, and the protesters will call on the judges to bring justice and peace to our country,” he said. ”We do not have any personal issues against any individual judge.”

He said the protest would start in front of the social centre at 4:00pm, “and God knows when or where we will conclude.”

”Our acts will be strong and voices will be loud today,” he suggested.


Education Minister and Deputy Trade Minister joins MDP

Minister of  Education Dr Mustafa Luthfy and Deputy Trade Minister Ahmed Inaz yesterday left the Gaumy Ihthihaadh Party (GIP) to join the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Last week the MDP National Council announced it was tearing up its coalition agreement with GIP, and requested President Mohamed Nasheed remove all GIP ministers from public office. Economic Minister Mohamed Rasheed was sacked several weeks ago amid ongoing tension between the two parties.

Dr Luthfy, who was deputy leader of GIP, said  he joined MDP not because he had been influenced or under threat of losing his job, but because he felt that it was “the best way to continue serving the people.”

”I discussed it with GIP Leader Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik before taking the decision,” Dr Luthfy said. ”He said it was sad, but said to do as I wished.”

Dr Luthfy said he did not condone criticising the government while he was a member of it.

”I do not know whether GIP might join the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP),” Dr Luthfy said, ”but I noticed that during a recent GIP rally held at Giyasudeen School, a lot of DRP members attended.”

He said that there was no split between the government and GIP, and that the tensions were rather between the two parties.

”The President told me I could stay in the position as an a individual,” he said, ”but I preferred to join MDP of my own wish.”

He said that MDP had invited him to join the party on several different occasions.

Vice President of the Maldives Dr Waheed Hassan Manik, who is also a key figure in GIP, said the decision by Luthfy and Inaz was their own and he had nothing to say.

He said their decision would not affect GIP and that he was not sad about it.

”[Luthfy and Inaz] discussed it with me,” he said. ”I told them to do as they wished.”

MDP Spokesperson Ahmed Haleem said both the Education Minister and Deputy Trade Minister had been serving the party unofficially long ago, in different ways.

”Now have they returned to where they belong,” Haleem said. ”It will be a progress for them.”

He claimed that GIP was now “close to joining DRP”.

”In my political experience I can say that it is very likely to happen,” he suggested.


Thasmeen endorsed as DRP leader and presidential candidate

Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has been endorsed as leader of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and its presidential candidate, during the party’s third annual congress.

841 delegates out of 882 attending voted for the proposal by the party’s council to automatically make the DRP’s leader its presidential candidate. A further proposal put forward by Umar Naseer and Aneesa Ahmed calling for a primary election was overruled as it was contradictory.

Yesterday evening, during a dinner for DRP supporters, former party leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom said the party “must unite and work in the spirit of democracy.”

”The DRP should be a party that does not fear to debate democratically,” he said. ”It should be a party that believes having different minds and different thoughts is democratic, and should work united.”

Gayoom said the party had to realise that “obeying the will of the majority is the spirit of democracy.”

Gayoom previously endorsed Thasmeen as his successor during his announcement that he was retiring from politics. Thasmeen was then elected leader by default as no other member of the party stood against him.

However Naseer, former president of the Islamic Democratic Party (IDP) and DRP member, said that Thasmeen “must not [automatically] be the DRP’s candidate for the presidential election; it has to be taken by a vote.”

Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaheed told newspaper Miadhu that the DRP would not be democratic or successful if it continued its “clan-style” decision making, noting that the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has “by far the best internal democracy in the country”.

MPs from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), including MP Ahmed Easa, had criticised Thasmeen’s automatic election as “undemocratic”, particularly after Gayoom’s public endorsement.

“It’s unbelievable that nobody else stood up for the DRP leadership,” Easa commented.

Two days after Thasmeen’s election as leader, president of coalition party People’s Alliance (PA) Abdullah Yameen, widely believed to have leadership ambitions, sued Thasmeen for debts of US$100,000 in the civil court. The DRP however quashed speculation that the DRP-PA coalition was under strain.

DRP spokesperson Ibrahim Shareef confirmed that Yaameen was invited to the congress but did not attend.

Last night Gayoom rallied the party, telling the assembled congress that the party should remain united, “even though I am no longer the party’s leader.”

”DRP is a national tree growing up from a seed we buried, and to water and provide food for the tree is a responsibility of all the members,” he said.

The DRP should boost the role of its MPs in parliament and ensure the party continued to have wide appeal, he suggested, while pursuing the goal of winning the next presidential election.

DRP MP Ali Waheed said Gayoom’s words were still in his ears.

”He showed us the example, we all will follow him,” he said. ”We will do our best to work united and reach our goals.”

After the congress the DRP would start its journey to win the next presidential election, he said.

DRP MP Ahmed Ilham said the party was encouraged by Gayoom’s words.

”We will reach our targets within the next leadership,” he said, ” and walk on the path Gayoom showed us. Gayoom is the founder of DRP, 98 per cent of it belongs to him.”

Umar Naseer, a candidate for DRP’s vice presidency, said he was very encouraged by the speech, and if elected “would give all my will to follow Gayoom’s advice.”

”Even if I lose, I will not stop our work,” he said.

Ibrahim Shareef said the party would work as much as it could to follow Gayoom’s advice.

”Without a doubt we would win the next presidential election,” he said. “Half of the people who voted for MDP are now against them.”

He responded to Shaheed’s description of the party as “clan-like” by calling him a ”political prostitute”, with ”words that do not have any political weight.”

MDP spokesman Ahmed Haleem said the MDP had closely watched the DRP congress and noted that ”Gayoom’s brother Yameen was missing.”

That meant the DRP was now in control of Thasmeen, he said.

”I think the next leadership of DRP will be great,” Haleem said, ” Thasmeen is a very talented person and he is very democratic.”