PPM wins Vaadhoo council by-election

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has won a by-election held yesterday for a vacant seat on the Gaaf Dhaal Vaadhoo island council.

PPM candidate Naushad Waheed won the by-election with 329 votes against independent candidate Abdulla Rasheed, who got 309 votes.

A second by-election was also held on Saturday for a vacant seat on the Raa Angolhitheemu island council with three independent candidates contesting.

The winning candidate, Mohamed Ibrahim, received 101 votes, while the second placed candidate, Aishath Inasha, received 92 votes.

Both by-elections were called when independent councillors resigned from the five-member Vaadhoo and Angolhitheemu island councils.

The Vaadhoo council currently has four independent councillors and one PPM councillor, while the Angolhitheemu council has four opposition Maldivian Democratic Party councillors and one independent councillor.


Kalaidhoo islanders catch 10ft crocodile

Laamu Atoll Kalaidhoo islanders have caught a crocodile measuring 10ft in length this morning.

According to CNM, the islanders reported seeing the crocodile in shallow waters around the island, with efforts to track the animal failing yesterday despite the efforts of police.

Kalaidhoo Council President Moosa Hassan told CNM that islanders were concerned about their safety because of the crocodile and therefore decided to catch it. It was caught using ropes from the jetty area.

The council has decided to hand over the animal to Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) as the council’s budget cannot support feeding it, Haveeru reported.

MNDF Spokesman Hussein Ali confirmed to Minivan News that the crocodile is being handed over to MNDF. He was unable to provide any further details.

While not native to the Maldives, the discovery of crocodiles in the islands is not uncommon. The most famous of the ‘Kinboo’s’ is housed in the Malé’s children’s park, where it has grown to over 10ft in length since its capture in 2008.

However, the crocodile’s cramped living space has prompted repeated accusations of animal cruelty against the MNDF.

Source: CNM, Haveeru


Elections Commission announces official results of Kolhufushi by-election

The Elections Commission (EC) yesterday announced official results of a by-election held on the island of Kolhufushi in Meemu atoll on Saturday (October 18) for a vacant seat on the five-member island council.

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Hussain Shamil won the by-election with 355 votes while ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Mohamed Nasir received 333 votes.

Of 964 eligible voters, 694 people cast their ballots.

The by-election was called following the resignation of Councillor Ibrahim Rasheed.

Opposition leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed told the press following the MDP’s victory that the result was indicative of public dissatisfaction with the current administration.

The opposition party also won a recent by-election held in Addu City for a vacant seat on the city council for the Feydhoo constituency.

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – leader of the PPM – meanwhile said on social media that the ruling party “must learn” from the by-election defeats.


Kodey councillors sworn in seven months after election

Three councillors-elect for the island council of Gaaf Alif Kodey took their oaths of office on Thursday (August 21) seven months after the local council elections in January, reports local media.

Independent members Murthala Saleem and Ahmed Ibrahim along with Adhaalath Party member Siyam Mohamed were sworn in by Gaaf Alif Villigili Magistrate Azeem Hassan at a ceremony at the Kodey school.

A fourth councillor-elect, Shan Mohamed, meanwhile informed the Local Government Authority (LGA) that he no longer wished to serve on the council.

Shan told Sun Online that he has moved to Malé since January’s polls and begun practicing law in the capital.

Elections Commission (EC) Director Ahmed Abubakur, however, insisted that Shan must first take the oath of office and then resign if he did not want the seat.

He added that the EC would make a decision once the LGA informs the commission of Shan’s letter.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court overturned the High Court’s annulment of the Kodey island council election.

In February, the High Court ordered a revote for the five-member island council. The decision was, however, appealed at the Supreme Court by the EC.

In its verdict (Dhivehi) – delivered more than four months after the appeal was filed – the apex court ordered a revote to be held among the two fifth-placed candidates and the sixth-placed candidate.

The fifth-placed candidates received 88 votes while the candidate in sixth place received 87 votes.

As the margin between the candidates for the last seat was just one vote, the High Court had invalidated the election after it emerged that an elderly Kodey man residing in Dhaandhoo had cast his ballot in the wrong box.


Supreme Court overturns High Court’s annulment of Kodey island council election

The Supreme Court yesterday overturned the High Court’s annulment of the island council election on the island of Kodey in Gaaf Alif atoll.

Following the local council elections in January, the High Court in February annulled the polls in Kodey and ordered a revote for the five-member island council.

The Elections Commission (EC) subsequently appealed the decision at the Supreme Court.

In its verdict (Dhivehi) – delivered more than six months after the council elections – the apex court, however, ordered a revote to be held among the two fifth-placed candidates and the sixth-placed candidate.

The fifth-placed candidates received 88 votes while the candidate in sixth place received 87 votes.

As the margin between the candidates for the last seat was just one vote, the High Court had annulled the election after it emerged that an elderly Kodey man residing in Dhandhoo had cast his ballot in the wrong box.

Earlier this month, the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives MP Jameel Usman – who represents the Kodey constituency – had expressed concern with the lack of an elected council in the island.


Five arrested in connection with rape case of 17 year-old girl in Milandhoo Island

Police have arrested four men and one minor in connection with the gang rape of a 17 year-old girl on the island of Milandhoo in Shaviyani Atoll.

In a statement police said that five arrested were aged between 17 and 21.

Police did not provide further details of the case but stated that the victim was 17 years-old and the incident occurred on Monday night at around 10:00pm.

Island Council President Mohamed Yasir told Minivan News he received information about the incident shortly after it occurred.

‘’Upon hearing the news I went to the girl’s house and she was with her mother sitting down and crying, her clothes were torn and there were lots of signs she’d been attacked on her body and clothes,’’ he said.

‘’She told us that the group of people appeared from nowhere and snatched her while she was walking home from tuition class last night,’’ he said. ‘’She said all the men in the group were covering their faces but she could identify some of them by their height, voice and other characteristics.’’

Yasir said the victim had scratches and bruises on her body and said ‘’the group not only sexually assaulted her, she was physically abused. She told us it was a huge group and almost everyone there took photos and videoed her and threatened to leak it on Facebook if she told anyone about it.’’

Yasir said the girl was taken to the island’s beach where the group tore off her clothes and gang-raped her.

According to Yasir, the girl said she had recently received threats from several people in the group.

A local islander alleged a group of men grabbed the victim and covered her face using a T-shirt before abducting her: “There were scratches on her face,” he said.

“She knew some of the people in the group that snatched her and she the police their names. They have been arrested,’’ he said.

The girl was admitted to the island health centre after the incident.


Parliament accepts bill on inclusion of women’s committee chair in island council

Parliament on Monday (June 26) accepted an amendment proposed to the Decentralisation Act by Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Rozaina Adam to reserve a seat on island councils for the chair of women’s development committees.

The bill was accepted with 38 votes in favour and sent to committee for further review.

During the preliminary debate, most MPs supported the proposal in principle while others argued against affirmative action on the basis of gender.

Elections for women’s development committees to function under island and city councils took place in November 2012 in 102 islands.

Under article 36 of the landmark Decentralisation Act (Dhivehi), the powers and responsibilities of women’s committees are: (a) Advise island council on matters related to island development and municipal services provided by the council; (b) Own properties and conduct business activities with others in the name of the committee; (c) Sue and be sued in the name of the committee; (d) Conduct various activities for income generation and for the development of women; (e) Work to uphold the rights of women; (f) Work to increase religious awareness amongst women; (g) Work to increase political participation of women; (h) Work to increase the numbers of women enrolled in higher  education; (i) Work to improve the health condition of women; (j) Gather important information related to women; (k) Manage assets and finance of the committee.


MDP wins Omadhoo by-election

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) won a by-election on Saturday (June 15) for a vacant island council seat in Omadhoo in Thaa atoll.

According to provisional results from the Elections Commission (EC), MDP candidate Javid Hassan won the contest with 53 percent of the vote (161 votes) against three independent candidates.

Second placed candidate Nooh Ali received 85 votes while Mohamed Shaz came third with 52 votes. Fourth placed candidate Ahmed Hamdhoon received 3 votes.


Dead tourist found on Dhiffushi Island

Additional reporting by Leah Malone

The dead body of a foreign national has been found washed up on the west shore of Dhiffushi Island in Kaafu Atoll,  police have confirmed.

Police stated that the body of a caucasian male was found at about 1:23pm this afternoon (June 5), and a team of officers had been dispatched to the island.

A Police Spokesperson confirmed the incident had occurred and referred Minivan News to the Police Duty Officer hotline, which was switched off at time of press.

Dhiffushi Island Council President Hussein Rabeeu told Minivan News a group of islanders had noticed this afternoon that something was drifting towards the beach on the west side of the island.

Rabeeu said he was called by the islanders when the object came close enough to be identified as a dead body.

“I called the police who said they are on their way and asked us not to touch it,” he said.

“But a while later two American tourists from nearby Meerufenfushi Island Resort swam to the island and said the dead body was the third person who was with them.”

According to Rabeeu, the two tourists swam to the island from a nearby resort looking for their friend.

“They told us that they went out snorkeling and hit a storm, and lost one of their number. They confirmed it was the body of the person they were looking for,” he said.

“Now the management of the resort is also here and have confirmed the body is of a guest staying at the resort.”

Rabeeu said the dead man was wearing snorkelling gear when he was found. Local media published pictures of the body showing a man with dark hair and wearing blue swimming trunks.

Meeru Island Resort and Spa said it was unable to make a statement at time of press.

“Our general manager is very busy handling the case at the moment and is unable to take calls,” Meeru Island Resort and Spa Secretary Sherlyn Mauricio told Minivan News.

“We do not have the full details and are still dealing with the incident, so we are not allowed to say anything at this time.”

The US Embassy was unable to confirm the nationality of the deceased at time of press.

“Our consular staff are looking into the incident. Out of respect for the individual’s privacy we cannot share anything further at this time,” US Embassy official Chris Elms told Minivan News.