MDP calls on the government to hand power to JP leader Gasim

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has called on the government to hand over power to Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim in light of recent events.

At the party’s emergency national council meeting, the council agreed to support a decree brought forward by former president Mohamed Nasheed urging the government changeover.

“The country is under a very dark cloud at the moment,” said former President Nasheed. “The president is not fulfilling presidential duties and ruling in absentia. So it is better for him to handover governance to Gasim Ibrahim.”

While presenting the decree to the members of the national council, Nasheed said that the government had failed in ensuring basic necessities for the people of the country and that President Abdulla Yameen should handover the government to Gasim since he was able to secure almost the same amount of votes in the first round of the 2013 presidential elections.

Gasim polled third twice in last year’s presidential elections – successfully requesting the first vote be annulled before again finishing behind Yameen and Nasheed in a rescheduled poll. Gasim eventually threw his support behind Yameen, forming a coalition that saw the latter win the presidency before relations soured earlier this year.

Nasheed highlighted the lack of a presidential response during the ongoing Malé water crisis saying that the president was nowhere to be seen.

As the MDP council was meeting, President Yameen briefed the public for the first time on the water crisis.

When about the MDP council decision, Yameen responded by saying that the governance of the country is handed over by the people, saying: “I do not pay much attention to such talk by Nasheed.”

“I would like to respond by saying that the shares of this country was sold to foreigners. I raised my voice against this as a member of the parliament. The question of handing governance will come when the presidential seat is empty,” said Yameen.

The former president also noted the growing insecurity amongst citizens, with an increase in gang violence, while saying that the government has done very little to curb these crimes.

“There has been 7 murders so far this year. While there has been overall 20 stabbing incidents there has also been cases of 6 people taken as hostages,” detailed Nasheed.

The early hours of this morning saw the most recent death in gang-related violence with a 28-year-old man being stabbed to death by group of men.

Police have denied any arrests related to the death although local media report that 10 men have been arrested related to the violence.

While discussing the decree before voting, MDP Rozaina Adam said that it is unclear who is really in charge of the government at the moment and that the president should step down if he is unable to fulfill his presidential duties.

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28-year-old man stabbed to death in gang-related violence

A 28-year-old was stabbed to death in the capital Malé in the early hours of this morning (December 7) near the People’s Majlis.

Local media identified the man as Ahmed Mafaz also known as ‘Masodi Mafaa’ from Seenu Maradhoo Island. Haveeru reported Mafaz as belonging to the Masodi gang.

A Maldives Police Service (MPS) media statement read that Mafaz died at ADK hospital while being given emergency treatment for numerous stab wounds including fatal cuts in his neck and shoulders.

An MPS official told Minivan News that the stabbing case was reported to the police at around 1.45am and that the police officers at the scene took Mafaz to the hospital after stopping a taxi on the street.

An eyewitness told online news outlet Vaguthu that he saw two men stabbing and beating up Mafaz near the Alora furniture store while another group of people wielding machetes and other sharp weapons were banging on door of  a building used by the Masodi gang’s nearby, threatening to kill everyone inside.

Haveeru commented that the injuries appeared to be even more severe than those inflicted upon Ungoofaaru MP Dr Afrasheem Ali, whose brutal murder shocked the Maldives in October 2012.

In a tweet today, former President Mohamed Nasheed accused the President Abdulla Yameen’s government of failing to investigate violent crimes.

“Over 20 cases of knife attacks and 7 murdered in such attacks this year. President Yamin’s Govt has failed to investigate these crimes,” read the tweet

While speaking at a rally held to celebrate the first anniversary of the current government, President Yameen said that his administration has established peace and order in the country.

“We have peace and order in Malé and all regions of Maldives. We have peace. However, this is not to say that isolated and significant dangerous crimes do not occur,” said President Yameen.

“Saving the Maldives from these big atrocities is the biggest aim of this government,” he added.

He also pledged to implement the death penalty – reintroduced under his government – for the sake of human rights and dignity.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has expressed concern over rising insecurity while claiming that the current administration has failed to protect right to life and security during its first year in office.

The MDP highlighted Yameen’s failure to find missing Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan. An investigation into the disappearance by a UK based private investigation firm concluded that radicalised gangs were the most likely suspects in his disappearance.

Meanwhile, ruling Progressive Party of Maldives have submitted amendments to the law prohibiting possession of dangerous weapons – a move which some civil society groups say violates constitutional rights such as the right to remain silent and to retain legal counsel.

A joint statement by Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) urged the parliament to withhold from passing the amendments saying that it would “absolutely violate rather than limit fundamental rights of the people”.

The amendment bill states that suspects arrested for assault with sharp objects or dangerous weapons will not be able to exercise the right to remain silent “to any extent”.

Police could also question the suspect if he or she is either unable to have an attorney present within six hours, or waives the right to retain legal counsel.

Moreover, the suspect could only consult a lawyer in the presence of a police officer for the first 96 hours after the arrest.

The government’s intention to narrow constitutional rights came after a spate of violent assaults in the capital – which police said were a series of gang reprisals.