The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and its presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen have dismissed as fake a leaked audio clip circulating on social media, in which Yameen admits to a “poor chance” of winning the upcoming 2013 presidential election.
The audio clip appears to be part of a telephone conversation uploaded on video sharing website YouTube, and was picked up by local media today. In the audio, a voice supposedly belonging to Yameen refers to an unnamed political party and concedes that his party does not stand a chance in an election against it.
“2013 [Presidential Election] is something which they already have in their bag. They already have won it. Therefore I don’t think we have a chance of any success in the 2013 presidential elections. I think we should now focus on 2018 [presidential elections],” the voice states, in the 19 second recording.
Speaking to local media outlet Sun Online, Yameen dismissed the audio clip describing as “completely fake”.
Meanwhile, Spokesperson for PPM’s Presidential Campaign Ibrahim Muaz told Minivan News he believed the clip was most likely to be a “compilation made by mixing several voice clips of Yameen taken from speeches given by him in various press conferences and interviews”.
“The audio clip which has been reported in local media as an audio clip of Yameen is not real,” Muaz said.
Rise of party’s presidential candidate
Yameen – who is the half brother of Maldives former autocratic ruler for 30 years, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – was made the party’s official presidential candidate after he won the party’s presidential primaries by a landslide victory, defeating his rival Umar Naseer.
Umar Naseer during the primary accused Yameen of involvement in drug trafficking, commissioning gangs to destroy political opponents, and corruption. Following the defeat Naseer alleged that the PPM’s presidential primary was rigged and that his rival Yameen had intimidated his supporters.
Naseer was subsequently dismissed from the party after he refused to apologise to Yameen for the allegations.
He later joined the ‘Jumhoree Coalition’ led by resort tycoon and Leader of Jumhoree Party (JP) Gasim Ibrahim – himself a presidential candidate for the forthcoming elections. During Naseer’s maiden speech at the JP podium, he claimed that Yameen was the “root of all the problems” faced in the Maldives.
“The 40,000 illegal immigrants who have entered the country are people brought in under [Yameen’s] nose. People say that there is a connection between Yameen and the illicit drugs that are sold on the streets of Maldives,” Naseer alleged at the time. “If Yameen comes to power, nothing but an empty pit will remain where the country’s safe deposit ought to be.”
Economy and youth
Meanwhile Yameen launched his presidential bid primarily on the “economy” and the “youth”. He claimed that a future government led by him would focus on securing foreign investment and the creation of job opportunities for young people.
“Given the current economic situation, local businessmen alone cannot create enough job opportunities. We must welcome foreign investors for the benefit of our nation,” he said at the time.
Yameen also announced that should he be sworn in as president, he would initiate an expedition to find oil within the Maldives.
“It is very possible oil might be found,” he declared.
Money laundering racket
In 2011, Singaporean police reportedly investigated Yameen for alleged involvement in an international money laundering racket thought to be worth up to US$800 million.
The oil trade first came into the limelight following an explosive article in India’s The Week magazine by Sumon K Chakrabarti, Chief National Correspondent of CNN-IBN, which accused Yameen –who was the head of State Trading Organisation (STO) at the time – of being “the kingpin” of a scheme to buy subsidised oil through the State Trading Organisation’s branch in Singapore and sell it on through an entity called ‘Mocom Trading’ to the Burmese military junta, at a black market premium.
“The Maldives receives subsidised oil from OPEC nations, thanks to its 100 percent Sunni Muslim population. The Gayooms bought oil, saying it was for the Maldives, and sold it to Myanmar on the international black market. As Myanmar is facing international sanctions, the junta secretly sold the Burmese and ‘Maldivian’ oil to certain Asian countries, including a wannabe superpower,” Chakrabarti wrote.
The article drew heavily on the investigation report by Grant Thorton, commissioned by the Maldives government in March 2010, which obtained three hard drives containing financial information detailing transactions from 2002 to 2008. No digital data was available before 2002, and the paper trail “was hazy”.
According to The Week, Grant Thorton’s report identifies Myanmar businessman and head of the Kanbawza Bank and Kanbawza Football Club, Aung Ko Win, as the middleman acting between the Maldivian connection and Vice-Senior General Maung Aye, then the second highest-ranking member of the Burmese junta.
Yameen has previously dismissed the allegations as baseless and unfounded.
Besides Yameen and Gasim, incumbent President Mohamed Waheed and former President Mohamed Nasheed are also contesting the election on September 7.