Brother-in-law of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Ilyas Ibrahim, has left the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), accusing it of disrupting President Waheed’s coalition government.
“I can’t accept stymieing the government whilst being part of the coalition,” Haveeru reported Ilyas as saying.
Ilyas publicly backed Umar Naseer in the PPM primary vote to determine the party’s presidential candidate, which was marred by allegations of vote rigging.
The primary was won by Gayoom’s half brother, MP Abdulla Yameen. Ilyas and Yameen are believed to have had a longstanding feud following Ilyas’s clash with Gayoom and subsequent banishment in 1998.
Tensions between the government and the PPM were exacerbated recently with the defection and dismissal of several high profile figures, such as former Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel – now Yameen’s running mate.
“This is a sad day for PPM. Hon Ilyas has left the party. He was such a big asset to us. I thank him for being with us from the beginning,” Gayoom tweeted, following the recent announcement.
Immigration Controller Ilyas Hussein Ibrahim is to trade roles with head of the National Disaster Management Centre Abdulla Shahid, also Minister of State for Housing and Environment.
Minivan News understands that the official letters of appointment have not yet been delivered but are awaiting the President’s signature, after news of the decision was leaked.
Ilyas told Minivan News that the Haveeru report was the first he had heard of the proposal: “No one’s shared it with me yet,” he said.
The move may have a political dimension, as Ilyas is one of the few remaining members of the Vice President’s Gaumee Itthihaad Party (GIP) in government, which was dropped as a coalition partner by the ruling Maldivian Democractic Party (MDP) last year after Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan publicly criticised
the government for sidelining him.
The supposed reshuffle also comes a month after President Mohamed Nasheed called on the Immigration Department to postpone the roll-out
of the Nexbis electronic border control system for the Maldives in accordance with concerns by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) over the project’s selection process.
The President’s Office previously confirmed to Minivan News that Nasheed has requested that the Department of Immigration and Emigration adhere to the ACC’s guidance until it rules over the next step for the project, with no appeal expected to be heard on the current decision.
Nexbis has meanwhile said it will be taking legal action against parties in the Maldives, claiming that speculation over corruption was “politically motivated” in nature and had “wrought irreparable damage to Nexbis’ reputation and brand name.”
The project is intended to curb illegal immigration by tying biometric data to an individual at point of entry, thus reducing the reliance on potentially forged paper documentation. Labour trafficking in the Maldives is thought to be worth at least US$42 million a year and up to US$200 million, according to the former Bangladeshi High Commissioner.
Both positions – Immigration Controller and head of the National Disaster Management Centre – share the same rank.
When I arrived today (February 16, 2011) at the GRM Male’ International Airport on flight IC 966, I saw Mr Hareef wearing a ‘Customer Service’ uniform and it was the first time I saw such a high level staff at the apron to welcome the arrivals. I took it as a positive sign and as a proof of GMR’s commitment to improve customer service at the airport.
From the flight we went direct to the Immigration Counter. When the Immigration Officer signaled for our turn, Mr Hareef intervened and handed over five Maldivian passports to him. He instructed not to take our passports but to process passports of his friends who were behind the queue. Those friends included Mr Ilyas Ibrahim, a man who has squeezed Maldivian blood for 30 years.
When the airport was handed over to the GMR, we celebrated it with great pride because it was the day airport got ‘freedom’ from the cronies and thugs of the 30-year dictatorship. As you may be aware, Mr Ilyas is the brother in-law of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, one of the world’s most brutal dictators and Ilyas’s influence at the airport is a proof that our beloved airport is still not free from the cronies of the dictator.
Ilyas’ close ally Hareef is an official who played a key role in deals at the Male’ international airport during Gayoom’s 30-year rule. It is a shame on GMR to employ such thugs and destroy the reputation of our international airport.
As a customer I expect you to take appropriate action against Hareef because discrimination is a crime in our constitution and he continues to practice his power similar to the years of the dictator.
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