FIFA appoint normalisation committee to revise FAM laws and organise elections

FIFA has appointed a normalisation committee to revise Football Association of Maldives (FAM) statutes, removing President Ilham Ahmed.

“The decision to appoint a normalisation committee follows the collapse of the FAM Congress in September and resignations of several of the members of the FAM Executive Committee, which made it impossible to reach the necessary quorum to take valid decisions,” read a statement from football’s world governing body today.

The five-member normalisation committee is tasked with organising elections by 30 September 2015 at the latest.

The FAM’s 6th congress was abandoned in late September after a number of clubs refused to continue with the agenda, following the refusal to consider a no-confidence motion against Ilham – also Jumhooree Party MP for the Alif Dhaal Dhagethi constituency

Ilham had told local media prior to the meeting that suspension from FIFA was likely if the FAM failed to proceed with the congress, while New Radiant Sports Club Chairman Ali Waheed also warned of dire consequences.

Waheed – also Maldivian Democratic Party chairman – urged revisions to FAM statutes during the eventually-abandoned congress, reported

Article 7, paragraph 2 of the FIFA statutes, under which the decision has been made, reads as follows:

“Executive bodies of Member Associations may under exceptional circumstances be removed from office by the Executive Committee in consultation with the relevant Confederation and replaced by a normalisation committee for a specific period of time.”

Members of the normalisation committee include Mohamed Shaweed as chairman, Abdul Hameed Abdul Ghafoor as deputy chairman, Mohamed Nizam, Ali Umar, and Faseeh Zahir.

The FAM also came under scrutiny during the AFC Challenge Cup, held in the Maldives during May this year.

The Asian Football Confederation suggested that the Maldives could face suspension from further tournaments should the Anti-Corruption Commission follow-through with plans to investigate possible corruption regarding ticket sales.

The ACC had announced it would investigate potential misconduct after irregularities in the sale of tickets prompted angry protests outside FAM headquarters.

“Since the jurisdiction to investigate any misconduct remains exclusively with the AFC and FIFA, if any domestic investigative authority attempts to intervene in the affairs of AFC or in any tournament conducted by AFC in partnership with FAM, the Republic of Maldives, as a member of AFC and FIFA is at risk of being penalised for such intervention, including suspension from international events and tournaments,” read an AFC press release in May.

Minivan News received information at the time that relatives of FAM staff had been selling tickets at inflated prices.

Related to this story

Afghan coach suggests Maldives should not host further tournaments


JP MP Ilham attacked with a pavement brick

Jumhooree Party’s (JP) deputy leader and MP for Dhangethi constituency Ilham Ahmed was attacked on Friday morning with a pavement brick, the party has said.

Ilham, also the President of the Football Association of Maldives, was reportedly attacked shortly after he had left JP leader Gasim Ibrahim’s residence in the early hours of the morning.

The police said no arrests have been made in the case yet.

In a statement condemning the attack, JP said Ilham had suffered various injuries and had to receive medical care.

The attack comes at a time when the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives is dismissing political appointees belonging to the JP after it dissolved a coalition agreement with the JP, the statement noted.

The JP urged the government to investigate the matter immediately and called on the government to ensure a safe environment for MPs.


Corruption and conspiracy allegations mar AFC Challenge Cup

With additional reporting by Ahmed Naish

The national unity created by the AFC Challenge Cup appeared to waver today as protests broke out in ticket lines amid claims of corruption while the police commissioner alleged a conspiracy in yesterday’s Addu City bus crash.

Supporters of the national team staged a protest outside the Football Association of Maldives (FAM) after ticket sales for Tuesday’s semi-final against the Phillipines were halted, with the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) promising an investigation.

Sources who wished to remain anonymous told Minivan News today that they had bought tickets at inflated prices from relatives of senior FAM officials – the organisation has denied these claims.

ACC President Hassan Luthfee expressed confusion over the sale of tickets, telling local media that the commission will investigate how the number of available tickets in the 8,000 capacity stadium suddenly dropped to 150 today.

Luthfee was not responding to calls at the time of publication.

Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Hussain Waheed told police media that suggestions yesterday’s accident was pre-planned were credible. He did not provide details, saying the police would be looking into the matter further.

FAM President and MP Ilham Ahmed said today that Asian Football Confederation (AFC) officials had called him to ask if the environment in the country was safe to continue the tournament. The confederation intends to take action against the FAM regarding yesterday’s accident, reported Ilham.

After AFC reportedly raised concerns about security at the National Stadium, Chief Superintendent of Police Ismail Naveen today said that – despite proceedings having been peaceful up to now – police were now upgrading security services of the national stadium.

Speaking at the press conference held today, FAM’s director of football said that tickets were not sold or given to FAM staff in a way that could lead to misuse.

Ilham – who said that police had advised the FAM stop selling tickets after people broke the queue – said the FAM had sold three tickets to each member of staff , while locals were only allowed two tickets each for the semi-final.

Ilham claimed that 50,000 people wanted to get into the 8,000 person National Stadium for Tuesday’s semi-final saying that the FAM would try to screen the upcoming matches in Olympus theatre, Adi Park, and in the Social Centre in Malé.

Today’s events followed yesterday’s accident in which five members and two officials from the Afghan team suffered minor injuries in a bus accident on Addu City’s link road.

Police and media reports describe the accident as having been caused when the driver attempted to overtake a van travelling in front of the team’s motorcade. The van was forced to break, causing the following vehicles to hit it from behind.

One police officer accompanying the motorcade broke an arm, while a female protocol officer suffered head injuries. Eight others, including two soldiers and two locals also suffered injuries.

The site of the accident – the 14-kilometer Link Road in Addu City – is the longest paved road in the country and is a notorious accident hot spot.

The tournament, which concludes on May 30, has been lauded for uniting the people of the country after a prolonged period of political division.


JP and PPM coalitions unite in condemnation of the Elections Commission

“The Supreme Court’s verdict very clearly says the elections commission planned and systematically attempted to commit electoral fraud,” said Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed last night.

Rasheed spoke during a joint press conference held by the three government-aligned parties still contesting in the presidential election.

Representatives of the Jumhooree Party (JP), the Adhaalath Party (AP), the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), and the Maldivian Development Alliance (MDA) also took turns to denounce the Elections Commission (EC).

“If the lawful punishment for these people is a jail sentence, then we will not hesitate to do that. There is no other way but resignation for them,” said JP Deputy Leader Ilham Ahmed.

“I call on the police, the attorney general and the prosecutor general to investigate [EC Chair] Fuwad Thowfeek and his allies and file the case at court through the prosecutor general,” he continued.

The press conference came shortly before the EC revealed the schedule to be adopted for what will be the third attempt at completing the presidential election.

September’s poll – won by opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Mohamed Nasheed- was later annulled by the Supreme Court which ruled that the preparations of the EC had “broadly facilitated fraud, undue influence and corruption”.

The second attempt to hold the election on October 19 failed after police withdrew their logistical support, informing EC staff that they would be prevented from moving any election-related documents out of the commission’s premises.

The decision to delay the election brought consternation from the international community as well as renewed messages of support for the EC, which has received praise from over 1000 local and international observers for its conduct in the first round.

After consulting with the government and political parties, the EC yesterday announced the decision to hold the first round on November 9, and the run-off – if needed – on November 16.

“We, the two coalitions, remain steadfast”

The police’s decision to obstruct polls – decried by both the Police Integrity Commission and the Human Rights Commission of Maldives – came after the PPM/MDA and JP/AP/DQP candidates had refused to sign the voter registry as mandated in the court’s ruling.

The allied parties yesterday called for the EC to abide by the Supreme Court’s guidelines when holding the re-vote.

“There is only one choice. If some of the points in the guidelines are difficult for them, then there is no other way but to seek to change those points,” Ilham said.

Adhaalath President Sheikh Imran Abdulla called for the EC to resign if it could not act according to the court’s guidelines.

“We, the two coalitions, remain steadfast. God willing, there will be no election in the Maldives at this time unless it is an election that follows the SC guidelines.”

During its own press conference last night, the EC announced it would continue to follow the Supreme Court’s guidelines, but would seek to change them in the future.

“I hope the government considers these restrictions in the future and finds a solution. Otherwise, holding elections will become impossible and that affects the most fundamental [right] in a democracy,” said EC Chair Thowfeek.

Both MDA Deputy Leader Ahmed Amir and PPM MP Ahmed Mahloof expressed doubt that a free and fair election can be held as long as the EC members stay in place.

“Maldivian citizens know there is nothing we will not do for this nation. That we are not divided. This press conference shows we are together. God willing, we will remain like this,” Riyaz said yesterday.

Yesterday’s show of unity comes after relations between the parties and their candidates had appeared at a low ebb.

Following the October 8 decision to re-hold the first round of polling, initial suggestions that the parties might back a single candidate failed to result in consensus.

The PPM subsequently accused Gasim of being overly-influenced by MDP sympathisers within his party, whilst Gasim himself suggested that Yameen’s record during the autocratic rule of his half-brother Maumoon Abdul Gayoom meant that he would never win the popular support of the people.


Parliament approves MDP MP Ahmed Hamza to Judicial Service Commission

Parliament today approved Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Hamza as the People’s Majlis’ representative to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) with 43 votes in favour, 27 against and one abstention.

The MP for Faafu Bilehdhoo was approved after a proposal backed by pro-government Progressive Party (PPM) of Maldives and Jumhooree Party (JP) to appoint JP MP Ilham Ahmed to the judicial oversight commission was defeated 34-39.

Hamza’s name was proposed by Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP ‘Colonel’ Mohamed Nasheed and seconded by MDP MP Eva Abdulla.

The opposition party’s success in approving its member to the JSC confirms a new-found majority for the MDP with the provisional support of the DRP, which is currently backing MDP presidential candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed in the upcoming presidential election.

The MDP currently has 33 seats in parliament while the DRP has nine.

The 10-member independent judicial watchdog body meanwhile consists of three judges from the three tiers of the judiciary, the chair of the Civil Service Commission, the Attorney General, a member appointed by the president, the speaker of parliament, an MP approved by parliament, a member of the general public selected by parliament, and a lawyer elected by licensed practitioners of the legal profession.

The slot for the parliament representative was vacated after JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim accepted the loss of his seat in July after lawyers questioned the legality of a presidential candidate remaining in the JSC.

Article 10 of the JSC Act states that a member of the commission will automatically lose his seat in the event that they “file to contest in an election for any political position under the constitution of the Maldives”.

The newest member of the JSC, Ahmed Hamza, is an experienced lawyer and long-serving MP.


Jumhoree Party contest election results amidst rumours of anomalous votes

A group of around 15 Jumhoree Party (JP) supporters demonstrated outside the Dharubaruge convention centre this morning ahead of a delayed Elections Commission (EC) briefing to unveil the country’s provisional election results.

The crowd called for the resignation of EC President Fuwad Thowfeek amidst uncertainty over hours of delays to the results being unveiled and allegations on social media of a discrepancy in vote numbers.

When the press conference did take place – some six hours after originally scheduled – Thowfeek dismissed these claims but said the EC’s complaints department would investigate any reported irregularities.

“Fuwad Thowfeek, resign,” the dozen-strong crowd chanted outside . “Just because you wife is MDP [Maldivian Democratic Party], it doesn’t mean you can steal 10,000 votes.”

The initial results filtering through local media had shown that JP leader Gasim Ibrahim narrowly lost out on a place in the second round of voting, with the MDP and the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidates gaining more votes.

The EC’s final results have since revealed the PPM’s Abdulla Yameen beating Gasim to the run-off by 2,677 votes. MDP candidate Mohamed Nasheed took the largest share of the vote with 95,224 votes. Incumbent President Dr Mohamed Waheed tallied 10,750 votes – just over five percent of the popular vote.

However, the results had been noted for their confusing presentation, with sluggish EC figures supplemented by differing poll results, depending on the outlet chosen. One local newspaper even had a set of voting figures that equated to 102 percent.

“Fuwad Thowfeek resign”

The highly agitated group, led by Youth Wing leader Moosa Anwar, surrounded the door to the building before falling back upon learning that the EC officials were not yet on the premises. With encouragement from a handful of newly arrived police, the group were soon ushered toward the road, where they sat and continued to chant.

One member of the group told Minivan News that they were calling to have the vote recast, before producing his phone. The tweet displayed on the screen detailed a set of results for Kunahandhoo, in Laamu Atoll – showing 438 eligible voters, but 690 votes cast.

Minivan News was also shown the examples of Paradise resort, and Hinnavaru – both reported with similar anomalous numbers.

Another JP supporter explained that they had learned of the potential problem via the media, and had filed an official complaint.

“Please help us – we want to vote,” one protester said who had heard turnout figure as high as 93 percent. “If they say they will look into it, we will go away.”

The crowd were soon joined by JP MP’s Shifag Mufeed and Ilham Ahmed, as well as party spokesperson Moosa Ramiz, who said he was unable to speak with the media until the party had clarified its position.

Tempers flared at around 4:30 am, with the group suddenly charging the police in an attempt to get into the convention centre. MP Shifag made the most progress before the police forced them all back on to Ameenee Magu.

Shortly after this, the press were invited to go back into the building, and the small crowd began to recede. Commissioner Thowfeek soon arrived to give the long-awaited provisional results.

He gave the final turnout figure as 88 percent (of 239,593 people were eligible to vote), adding that he had not yet had a chance to examine the complaints, although he did state that no person of “sound mind” would believe that 10,000 additional votes could have been cast in the presence of monitors and observers.

Transparency Maldives – who ran the most comprehensive observation operation on the day – had earlier announced that no incidents reported on election day would have a “material impact on the outcome of the election”.


MP Ilham Ahmed switches to Jumhoree Party

MP Ilham Ahmed has signed to the government-aligned Jumhoree Party (JP) Thursday (April 18), days after resigning from his post as Vice President of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

The PPM is part of the national coalition government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed along with the JP.

Speaking Thursday at a special JP rally at the artificial beach area in Male’ following his defection, MP Ilham was quoted in local newspaper Haveeru as claiming there was no other party that he had wished to join.

He also stressed the need for forming a coalition in order to secure victory during presidential elections scheduled for September of this year.  Ilham claimed that forming the election would be much easier under JP Leader and business tycoon, MP Gasim Ibrahim

Gasim also spoke during the event claiming that he would be prepared to form a coalition with other parties, but that he would not stand as a running mate of another candidate, according to Sun Online.

Earlier on Thursday, JP Spokesman Moosa Ramiz said the party had ruled out the idea of forming a coalition with fellow government-aligned parties ahead of this year’s elections, despite its involvement in recent power sharing talks with President Dr Mohamed Waheed.

MP Ilham and JP spokesperson Ramiz were not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press. MP Gasim had his phone switched off.


PPM MP Ilham Ahmed stands by Commonwealth withdrawal bill

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Ilham Ahmed has told local media that there has been no “consideration” to remove a bill from parliament to renounce the Maldives’ membership in the Commonwealth.

Ilham was reported in Haveeru yesterday as claiming that a parliamentary motion to leave the Commonwealth would not be retracted without first holding discussions with President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, the PPM and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP).

The bill was forwarded by Ilham and Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed last month over allegations that the intergovernmental association was working to “protect the interests” of one party in the country without understanding the “reality” of February’s controversial transfer of power.

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (GMAG) has increased pressure over the last few months on the Maldives government to revise the composition and mandate of an independent commission established to ascertain the nature and legitimacy of how President Waheed came to power on February 7.

During a visit to India this week President Waheed said he would not back proposals to withdraw from the Commonwealth, despite expressing disappointment with CMAG’s statements regarding the transfer of power.

Dr Waheed told media that he believed any bill to renounce membership in the intergovernmental organisation would be dismissed as soon as the Majlis returned from recess.

The bill to leave the Commonwealth has also been criticised by the leader of the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Ahmed Thasmeen Ali .


DRP Deputy Leader “disappointed” in party, considers resignation

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Deputy Leader Ilham Ahmed may resign from his post, reports Haveeru.

MP Ilham Ahmed, of Gemanfushi, is allegedly disappointed with some of the DRP’s internal matters. Ilham told Haveeru that party leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali appeared to be too close with the government, and said tax reform was one area of concern.

Ilham said he would decide whether to resign in the next 2-3 days.

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who Ilham allegedly supports, has given the same deadline for his announcement of a new political party.