Supreme Court rules after High Court on council office relocations

The Supreme Court yesterday ruled against orders issued by Magistrate Courts in Maafushi and Nilandhoo that called for atoll councilors to move the premises of their secretariat offices back to their islands.

Haveeru reported that the decision of the Supreme Court followed the earlier verdict of the nation’s High Court backing temporary orders issued by local Magistrates in support of Kaafu Atoll councilors who opted to move their offices in Maafushi to Thulusdhoo without government approval. The High Court had also ruled in favour of council counterparts in Shaviyani Atoll, who wished to move their own office from Maafushi to Thulusdhoo.

In the ruling, judges were said to have ruled unanimously against the Maafushi and Nilandhoo Magistrates Court claiming that rulings that contradict previous judgments made at national courts of the same level were invalid.

According to the paper, judges added that the three levels of courts in the nation were a vital means of guaranteeing law and order and no court was allowed to intervene in the “special jurisdictions” of another legal institution at the same level.

The issue of relocating offices and the powers of local councils formed during local elections last month has proved to be a particularly divisive issue this week for the country’s politicians and courts, with the country’s police service also being drawn into the dispute.

Correction: The article has been amended from its original form that incorrectly stated that the Supreme Court had ruled against the High Court. Minivan News apologises for the error.


New councilors to take oath of office on Saturday

Councilors who have won seats on newly formed island and atoll councils are scheduled to take their oath of office on the morning of Saturday February 26, the Home Ministry has announced.

The ministry said that the oath-taking ceremonies will be held in all areas where the Elections Commission have announced the official results.

”The Island Councils will hold the ceremony in their respective islands and atolls, and councilors will take the oath in the capital island of each respective atoll,” said the Home Ministry.

Councilors of Male’ City will take the oath in Male’ and Addu City councilors will take the oath in Hithadhu, the Home Ministry added.

The Ceremony will commence at 9:00am in the morning and the Home Ministry has invited citizens to attend Saturday’s ceremonies “in the spirit of national unity.”

Meanwhile, the elections commission has announced the official results of almost all divisions except for the Council of Kela in Haa Alifu Atoll and other division where candidates got equal votes.

Following the election on February 5, the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) won a clear seat majority while the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) won control of the major population centres. The MDP calculated that the popular vote was 44 percent – 40 percent in its favour, but the EC has not confirmed this figure. Full breakdowns of the available results are available on the Elections Commission website.

Kela results were delayed according a High Court order after complaints were filed regarding the elections procedures.

Candidates uneducated

Islanders in at least one division have expressed concern that most of the elected councilors were not capable of handling such positions of responsibility.

One islander from the central region of the Maldives told Minivan News that on his island, only two of the five elected councilors have finished their GCE O’Levels.

”Because they ran as candidates for the seats under different parties, supporters of those parties have voted for them for the sake of promoting their party,” he said. ”Votes were not made with consideration for how educated the candidate is, or how capable the person, just by what political party he belongs to.”

He noted that the councilors will therefore follow the orders of their parties regardless of whether they were beneficial or harmful to their own island.

”For instance, if a foreign party were interested in developing our island, there is no way some councils could deal with it because they don’t even understand English very well,” he said. ”It would be the islanders who will have to suffer, I don’t think people really considered [candidates’] educational background or their capability.”

Recently Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali told Minivan News many successful candidates in the local council election remained unaware of their new responsibilities, or even of the mandate of a local council.

“It is a fact that candidates from many parties including ours may not be clear on their responsibilities and mandates,” he told Minivan News.

All the councilors will take over the the administration of their respective island and atoll offices following the oath Saturday.

The new structure of island and atoll councils is meanwhile expected to cost the Maldivian state an extra Rf 173 million (US$13.5 million) a year, a figure that has raised concerns among international financial donors such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The President of every island council will receive a salary and allowance of Rf 15,000 (US$1160), council members Rf 11,000 (US$850). The mayor of Male’ will receive Rf 45,000 (US$3500).


Local Council Elections: Day 2

The opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) took the lead in the local council elections this morning, as ballot boxes across the islands were tallied overnight. However the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) appear to have decisively won both Male’ and Addu City Councils, taking all but two seats in the former and every seat in Addu.

Police reported that incidents were generally minor and restricted to isolated outbursts on several islands due to the prevalence of ‘assisted’ voting for the elderly and blind. An exception was on Kela in Haa Alif Atoll, where police had to last night evacuate election officials and the ballot box to Hanimaadhoo before controlling a irate crowd.

“There was a misunderstanding between the Elections Commission and the people voting,” said Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam. “Some people may have gone there after the 4pm deadline and found they were unable to vote.”

Both major parties have expressed concern with the low voter turnout, while the DRP yesterday expressed particular frustration with the Elections Commission’s last minute decision to reallow an election for Addu City Council, following Supreme Court permission. Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali told Minivan News that the party has dissassembled its campaign team in Addu after the EC cancelled the election.

10:50 – Two-thirds of the ballot boxes (276) have been counted so far, with 141 remaining to be counted. Current tally:

DRP 375
MDP 343
Independent 132
JP 9
AP 10

12:50 – Haveeru reports issues with the ballot box on Baarah in Haa Alif Atoll, delaying preliminary results for the island.

Elections Commission Deputy President Ahmed Fayaz told Minivan News that many such issues had been reported to the Commission.

”The commission’s officials have been working since dawn yesterday, and it is possible for them to make mistakes,” he said. ”We have now sent a team to the island to resolve the issue.”

13:19 – DRP pulls further ahead as island votes come in, although vote % won’t be available until later in the day.

Of 288 boxes counted, 129 to go:

DRP 402
MDP 359
Independent 140
AP 10
JP 9
PA 2

2:15pm – Votes for Baarah are being recounted due to a mismatch between the number of ballots and votes cast, reports Haveeru. The Kela ballot box is currently being recounted, amid reports that over 600 people on the island may have been unable to vote due to deadline policies.

16:35 – Both major parties seem to have declared victory. Former DRP Deputy Leader Umar Naseer has passed around an SMS invitation declaring that a “Welcome to Blue Maldives” victory function, organised by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, will be held at the Artificial Beach in Male’ at 8:45pm this evening.

Meanwhile, jubilant MDP supporters have crowded into pickup trucks and are parading the city hooting and cheering.

17:15 – Preliminary results of 307 boxes counted:

DRP 440
MDP 369
Independent 153
AP 13
JP 9
PA 2

17:17 – The Elections Commission has said it may call a re-election in Kela after violence erupted last night when voting was closed. Haveeru reports that over 600 people were unable to vote by the deadline.

18:12 – Elections Commission confirms that temporary counts for almost all boxes have been completed across 188 islands and 400 polling stations, and are currently being faxed and emailed through to the EC to be tabulated.

Deputy Commissioner Ahmed Hassan Fayaz told Minivan News that the final results should be received around 11pm this evening, “although changes to the temporary results should be minor.”

“The temporary results suggest that MDP has won more seats in the city councils, while DRP has a clear majority in the island and atoll councils,” Fayaz said.

The percentage vote tally, rather than seat count, should be available later this evening or early tomorrow morning once tabulation is complete, which will give some insight into support for the major parties.

18:34 – Latest count:

DRP 449
MDP 381
Independent 164
AP 13
JP 8
PA 2

Rolling coverage will continue today until votes have been counted. Refresh the page for updates.


Maldives votes: Local Council Elections 2011

The Maldives votes today in its first local council elections. Minivan News will provide rolling coverage throughout the day (scroll down).

Local Council Election Guide (English)

10:00 – The country’s ballot boxes opened from eight this morning without any major disruptions across the country and are expected to remain in use until 4:00pm this afternoon, according to Elections Commission (EC) President, Fuwad Thaufeeq.

Thaufeeq told Minivan News that there were no reports of delays or closures at any of the country’s polling stations, with an additional two ballot boxes opened in Trivandrum, India and Colombo, Sri Lanka, for Maldivian nationals overseas.

“All the [polling] stations were opened on time and many were staffed from about 45 minutes before operating to ensure they were fully ready,” he said. “We also have the two boxes in Sri Lanka and India that will also open between 8:00am and 4:00pm local time.”

Constituents wishing to take part in the elections will have until today’s 4:00pm deadline to queue up at one of the country’s polling stations to ensure they can select their chosen candidate, according to Thaufeeq. Any arrival after this deadline is expected to be turned away without being able to vote, the EC has said.

10:15 – The Maldives Police Service has said that it has received no major reports of major violence so far this morning or in the run up to the local council elections, despite fears about potential clashes between rival supporters.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said that despite some “little misunderstandings” at some island polling stations, there had been no major clashes.

“There has not been any violence so far today, yesterday or the day before that,” he said. “We are trying to work with the Elections Commission (EC) in regards to any problems, though there hasn’t been much confrontation.”

Shiyam said that certain “misunderstandings” had been reported to have occurred at some island-based ballot boxes, where confusion had arisen over whether one constituent was able to correctly see how he would be casting his vote.

“As someone was casing their vote, allegations were made that the constituent in question was blind, while others denied there was a problem,” he said.

10:30 – Police questioned a man in Villimale after he allegedly used his phone to photograph his ballot. Election officials are alert to the use of phone cameras at the ballot box, which can be used to show evidence that bought vote was made as demanded. Police were reportedly unable to find the photo on the man’s phone.

10:40 – Two Commonwealth Election Observers are working in Male’ and nearby islands, while two more are covering larger population hubs such as Kulhufushi.

The team includes Commissioner Florence Kebbie (National Election Commission of Sierra Leone), Zenaida Moya-Flowers (Chairperson of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum and Mayor, Belize City Council), Anuya Kuwar (Project Officer – Asia region, Commonwealth Local Government Forum) and Alison Pearman (Policy Officer, Political Affairs Division, Commonwealth Secretariat).

“We don’t normally observe local council elections, but the Elections Commission asked us. We’re not formally monitoring the election – we won’t be doing press releases or making public announcements, but we will produce a report for the Commonwealth Secretary General and this will like by passed to the Elections Commission,” explained Pearman.

The EC has said that 913 observers from local NGOs and political parties will be observing the election. 1179 applications were submitted.

12:15 – Fares-Maathoda in Gaaf Dhaal has reportedly suspended voting because of the number of elderly people voting with help of assistants.

12:20 – Miadhu has reported on some of the rhetoric adopted by politicians in the lead up to today’s voting, with rival parties being compared to diseases and “back breakers” as election fever heats up.

The paper reported Speaker of Parliament and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) member Abdullah Shahid as claiming that the party offered “vaccination” against “yelllow fever” – yellow being the colour of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Majlis Speaker and DRP Council member, Abdullah Shahid said Saturday’s election provided an opportunity to cure voter disaffection with the serving government.

“I appeal to all people to take your family and vaccinate them against yellow fever on Saturday,” Shahid was yesterday reported as saying. “This rally will end our campaign for the upcoming elections. And likewise the elections will end the yellow fever epidemic for the whole of the Maldives,” he said.

Meanwhile MDP Parliamentary Group Leader ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik suggested that voters would not turn to the DRP, as they had already had their “backs broken” during the party’s previous innings. ‘Back breaking’ is a reference to allegations against a prominent opposition figure, who is alleged to have broken the back of a dissident under the former administration.

According to Miadhu, Moosa told attendees at an MDP campaign rally held yesterday at Male’s artificial beach that former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom had headed “an oppressive government” that he claimed “ruled tyrannically by abusing the rights of the people.”

Beyond MP wordplay and party rhetoric, Minivan News last week reported on what a number of the country’s most prominent parties saw as the key election issues.

13:30 – Aiman Rasheed, Projects Coordinator for NGO Transparency Maldives which is coordinating the domestic observation of the elections, has claimed that it continues to have a number of major concerns including the prevalence of ‘assisted’ voting, ongoing campaigning by parties within ballot areas, and low levels of voter education as to the process.

Rasheed told Minivan News that Transparency Maldives had particular concerns regarding public’s understanding how to vote in a such a complex election, and feared this would lead to many votes being invalidated, particularly in areas where multiple votes were required for island and council atolls.

“If people pick four instead of a required five candidates, then their vote is invalidated. It has to be just right,” he said. “[Transparency Maldives] anticipates quite a lot of invalid votes. In the general election – 2008 – only about one percent of votes were invalid. We are expecting a higher number this time.”

Rasheed added that there was also potential for the abuse of the assisted voting system, which is used to aid disabled or incapacitated constituents to attend the ballot.

“Assisted voting is given at the discretion of the Elections Commission (EC) officers, though we have been getting complaints from all over the country and police have also raised concerns,” he said.

According to Rasheed, although laws have been outlined over the provision of assistance and votes to constituents with mental illness or disabilities at the ballot box, many of the traits for defining these criteria in the country remain “subjective”, making enforcement difficult.

13:40 –Transparency predicts vote counting will begin at 5:30pm, after those still in the queue at 4:00pm are given the chance to vote. Initial results should be available after two hours (~7:30pm).

14:50 – Haveeru reports that several ballots on Baarah in Haa Alif Atoll have been destroyed after an ink bottle spilled on the ballots. The EC confirmed a request for more ballots to be sent to the island.

15:45 – Large crowds remain outside several voting centres in Male’, despite proximity to ballot closing.

16:30 – As polling comes to a close, some of the political parties have begun discussing early impressions from the polling.

Ahmed Haleem, spokesperson for the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), said that although polling appears to have gone relatively smoothly, he was not happy with voter turn-out within Male’, which he claimed had been “poor” – a major potential setback for the party.

According to Haleem, the ruling party was concerned that many in the electorate were not aware of the importance of the council elections, which meant that voter turnout in the city was not as high as islands across the country’s atolls.

“This is a big problem for the MDP, we have a large support base in Male’,” he claimed.

The party spokesperson also expressed concern at the decision to end polling by 4:00pm as opposed to later in the evening.

“People are not coming to vote by 4:00pm – a lot of people are still waiting outside the gate to vote, but they can’t get in now.”

16:46 – A number of islands have reported problems with assisted voting for disabled or impaired constituents, says Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam, with allegations that insiders from various parties may have been abusing the system to gain votes.

Despite these complaints, Shiyam added that police had not become involved in the matter as it was not believed to be sufficiently widespread or organised, leaving Elections Commission officers to deal with the matter.

Beyond some concerns over the assisted voting, Shiyam claimed that voting across the islands had remained peaceful during the day.

“So far, there has not been any big issues with violence,” he said.

15:09 – Ballots are closing as queues recede, and counting has begun for some islands. Preliminary results should be available in several hours.

17:52 – Preliminary result for Hulhuheniveiru, 52% MDP (Maizan Ali Maniku), 40.5% DRP (Ahmed Nizam).

18:00 – Preliminaryresult for Galolhu Dehkunu area T-05 ballot box, DRP leading 43% out of five candidates (Ibrahim Sujau).

18:27 – Total four ballot boxes counted, temporary results indicate 3 to MDP, 1 to DRP.

18:29 – Preliminary results for Male’ city council available shortly.

18:43 – Latest ballot box count: MDP 8, DRP 4, GIP 1, Independent 2

19:42 – Latest ballot box wins: MDP ahead with 16, DRP 9, Independent 3, GIP 1.

20:49 – Preliminary results for 27 boxes counted in Male’ suggest MDP may hold all but 2 seats, although margins remain narrow. MDP’s Maizan Ali Manik, has 847 to DRP’s Ahmed Nizam’s 395 for Hulhuhenveyru Dhaairaa. DRP looks to have won Galolhu Dhekunu Dhaairaa with 442 to Ibrahim Sujaau, against MDP’s Abdulla Shafeeu with 396.
Incumbent municipality head, prior to his resignation several days ago, Adam ‘Sarangu’ Manik, has a narrow lead with five boxes counted in Machangolhi Dhekunu Dhaairaa, with 979 to DRP’s Assad Shareef’s 926. Independent Aishath Sherin so far has 63 in this area.

21:15 – Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has said he remains confident the opposition party will have a positive feedback from the elections as more votes come in from the country’s island councils.

Thasmeen told Minivan News that despite not doing “too badly” in the Male’ council elections so far, he was disappointed at a last-minute decision by the Supreme Court allow the elections for the formation of a council to serve an Addu City.

Otherwise the party remained positive of success, he said.

“We have been getting feedback from the islands and so far it looks good,” he said.  “We still are awaiting all the results from the island council that are slowly coming in and over the course of the night, we expect we will have a reasonable margin.”

In Male’, of four seats won by the DRP during the previous government election within the city, Thasmeen said he believed it would lose only one in the council elections; a decision he blamed on a DRP member running as an independent alongside an official party candidate.

According to the DRP leader, the major disappointment of the day had so far been felt in the controversial decision to once again allow elections for the Addu City that it had not been prepared for.

Thasmeen claimed it had reluctantly gone along with the decision of the courts, but was hindered by having disbanded its campaign team for Addu.

“It was clearly announced [the Addu elections] would not be today,” he said.  “[The decision to hold them] has given the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) an advantage due to their larger finances.  We should have had more time to allow constituents to return.”

21:21 – 50 percent of ballot boxes have been counted or are in process, according to Aiman Rasheed from Transparency Maldives.

“I think things have gone much better than we anticipated, although there have been issues that the Electoral Commission could have prevented,” he said.

Low voter turnout, Aiman suggested, was likely due to general apathy “as people don’t know what these councils are supposed to do or what their mandates are.”

21:31 – Complaints have delayed the counting of two ballot boxes in Dhaalu Atoll. Ballot box for Maavah in Laamu Atoll has resumed counting after temporary disruption.

21:36 – Preliminary results suggest Fuvamulah Maadhandu won by MDP, Mahibadhu in South Ari Atoll by DRP.
23:10 – Haveeru reports clashes between police and MDP supporters on Kela in Haa Alif Atoll MDP after the Elections Commission reportedly allowed voting to continue this evening. President Mohamed Nasheed is holding a meeting at the MDP Haruge shortly.
23:15 – MDP looks to have won all seats of the Addu City Council and nine of the 11 seats in Male’. A last minute decision by the Supreme Court allowed voting to take place in Addu after the Elections Commission declared in cancelled two days ago, in a move that has antagonised the opposition.
00:10 – Counting of ballots from outer island continues, while preliminary results suggest strong result for MDP, particularly in Male’ and Addu.

Refresh this page for further updates as the day progresses

Download the Local Council Election Guide (English)

Credit: Analysis spreadsheet prepared by Aishath Aniya. Data sourced from Elections Commission.


Divide or unify: Gayoom’s return to politics raises election stakes

The return to politics of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom following his retirement in February last year could unify the opposition or deepen the growing factional split between the two parties, observers have suggested.

The former President returned to the Maldives to campaign on behalf of the opposition Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP), of which he remains the ‘Honorary Leader’.

In a speech on Thursday evening at Kalaafaanu School in Male’, Gayoom did not show overt support of either the faction led by dismissed Deputy Leader Umar Naseer, or that of current party leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali whom he endorsed on his retirement.

Conflict between the two factions came to a head in mid-December when a party rally descended into a factional brawl after supporters of the dismissed Naseer gatecrashed the venue.

In his speech Gayoom urged unity, quoting from the Quran and emphasing that “we should work to reduce the disputes among us.”

“I am saying this in my capacity as the Supreme Leader of DRP, as a father of all you members and as an elderly person,” local newspaper Haveeru reported the former President as saying.

He expressed concern that rival parties would exploit the opportunity to divide the opposition ahead of the elections, and said the DRP needed to win in order to protect both the country’s Arab-Islamic heritage and national assets – a clear criticism of the government’s decision to allow Indian infrastructure giant GMR to take over the management and development of Male’ International Airport.

“We should utilise the resources bestowed on us by God Almighty. The rich natural resources we have are for our children, the future generations and for us. That should not be given to foreigners,” Haveeru reported Gayoom as saying.

Despite the call for unity and his prior public endorsement of Thasmeen, Gayoom appears to be hitting the campaign trail with dismissed Deputy Leader Umar Naseer – whom the Elections Commission last week maintained had been formally removed from the party’s membership list despite the party’s “internal dispute”.

”The DRP office requested the commission remove his name from the party’s membership, saying that they have dismissed him,” said Elections Commissioner Fuad Thaufeeq. ”So we removed his name accordingly in respect to the party’s wishes.”

DRP MP Ahmed Mahlouf, himself a supporter of Naseer, told Minivan News today that while Gayoom “had invited everyone in the party to join his [campaign] trip, the others [Thasmeen’s faction] are travelling separately.”

“The target is the same – to win the local council elections,” Mahlouf said. “He definitely helped during the parliamentary campaign when he travelled to the islands, and he also campaigned for me. He is starting his first trip on Janurary 10, and islanders and candidates are looking forward to his visits.”

Political impact

The former President remains an enigmatic figure in Maldivian politics. The true extent of his popularity since the DRP’s win in the parliamentary elections over two years ago is unclear, given the absence of independent and impartial political polling in the country. The MDP contends that its infrastructure and development projects have won over many islanders, but many Maldivians – and certainly Thasmeen – still live in the shadow of their ‘Honorary Leader’ of 30 years, and responsibility for the many teething problems of the new democracy have landed at the MDP’s feet.

Certainly, news of Gayoom’s return to Male’ prompted thousands of supporters to appear at the jetty on December 31 holding posters of the former president.

The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Mahlouf suggested, was scared of Gayoom and the loyalty he inspired in the party faithful.

“Gayoom is the only person with popular support, and that was clearly seen in the parliamentary election. [The MDP] are scared he will run in 2013, but that will be the decision of other people. He is the right person for an election in 2011, if it were held,” Mahlouf said.

Gayoom had not said whether he would run for 2013, Mahlouf added, and had only said he would talk about the 2011 local council elections.

“But if he fit enough to run, he is the right person to change things again, and stabilise the economy,” Mahlouf suggested. “Maybe not the full five year term, maybe 2-3 years and then hand the leadership to his Vice-President. This is just my speculation, nothing has been decided – I think it should be decided at a DRP primary.”

He acknowledged that while Gayoom had publicly endorsed Thasmeen as leader in February, “I’m not sure whether he supports him anymore, or feels that [Thasmeen] is the right candidate for 2013.”

The split has put the party’s coalition agreement with the People’s Alliance (PA) under strain, with growing tension between Thasmeen’s faction and PA leader Abdulla Yameen potentially threatening the opposition’s parliamentary majority.

Mahlouf acknowledged that “the fighting is getting hot”, but said the party had resolved not to discuss internal politics with the media before the conclusion of the local council elections.

“I know Yameen is also very concerned about what the government is doing, and will only tolerate things to a certain point. There are things that need to be corrected on both sides, and we need to sit down and resolve them.”

MDP Chairperson Mariya Ahmed Didi said the former President’s return to politics “gels us together – those who believed and came out against his dictatorial regime.”

Furthermore, she suggested, it had allowed “aspiring leaders in DRP and those affiliated to DRP to see Gayoom for what he really is – concerned only about his self interest and trying to set up a dynasty.”

Thasmeen and DRP party spokesman Ibrahim Shareef had not responded to Minivan News at time of press.


Concern over the former President’s impact on Maldivian politics reached right to the top: in the final days of 2010, President Mohamed Nasheed publicly warned Gayoom that returning to the campaign trail would not be wise and raised concerns over his safety.

“Sometimes when former presidents leave the country and then return to the Maldives, a very regrettable fate has occurred,” Nasheed said. ”I am concerned that something very regrettable is about to happen in Male’.”

”If Gayoom is returning to politics then he is messing with the feelings of the citizens that could cause them to confront and return to their history, and it is very possible that a regrettable consequence may occur,” Nasheed said. ”Do not mess with the feelings of the citizens of the Maldives, because when they are shaken, not even I can curb the pressure.”

Rumours of a previous back-room truce between the two leaders over the pursuit of corruption and human rights allegations against the former President in return for his retirement from public life appeared to be on shaky ground following Nasheed’s high profile support of elderly historian Ahmed Shafeeq during the launch of Shafeeq’s book in October 2010.

In his book, Shafeeq alleged that 111 people died in custody under the former administration and that he himself had been arrested and his diaries destroyed. Nasheed promised that police would investigate and revealed that human bones discovered in the former Gaamaadhoo prison matched the age and estimated period of death of Abdulla Anees, Vaavu Keyodhoo Bashigasdhosuge, an inmate officially declared missing in the 1980s.

Nasheed’s public support of the book prompted Gayoom to write to the British Prime Minister David Cameron, appealing for pressure to be placed on President Mohamed Nasheed following “the escalation of attempts to harass and intimidate me and my family.”

The matter, he told the British PM, involved “unsubstantiated allegations by an elderly man by the name of Ahmed Shafeeq that I had, during my tenure as President, ordered the murder of 111 dissidents.”

“In a book authored by this Shafeeq, which was ceremoniously released [on October 10] by Mohamed Nasheed himself, it is accused that I also ordered the man’s arrest and supposed torture in prison. In a country of just over 300,000, it is safe to assume that even one ‘missing person’ would not go unnoticed, let alone 111.”

Nasheed’s government had “escalated its attempts to harass me” in the run up to the local council elections, Gayoom wrote, despite his retirement from politics.

“After the government’s defeat in last year’s parliamentary elections, the popularity ratings of the ruling MDP have fallen further in recent months as a result of the government’s failure to deliver on its campaign promises, and its lack of respect for the law.”

“On the other hand,” Gayoom told the British PM, “I continue to enjoy the strong support, love and affection of the people, and have been voted by the public as ‘Personality of the Year’ in both years since stepping down from the presidency.”


Alhan Fahmy questions impact of Gayoom’s political return

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Alhan Fahmy has heavily criticised former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s return to the Maldives, claiming the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) honorary leader’s sole motivation to re-enter the country’s political landscape is to keep alive his family’s leadership legacy.

Fahmy claimed that he believed Gayoom’s presence will not ultimately help the cause of the DRP.

”No matter how many candidates from the DRP run for the local council elections, the party cannot win these elections,” Alhan claimed. “The DRP cannot also win the presidential elections for the coming 500 years.”

Representatives for the DRP were not available for comment when contacted by Minivan News in regards to Fahmy’s comments. However, DRP Deputy Leader Ibrahim Shareef said earlier this week that the assistance of Gayoom during the local council elections would be welcomed, though he added that the party’s leadership had not at the time been informed of his exact plans.

“He [Gayoom] is our honorary leader and enormously popular right now,” Shareef said. “While we will appreciate his help during campaigning, we have not been informed of his plans right now.”

Gayoom last year publicly announced that he was leaving the field of politics and would not get involved in such affairs anymore.

However, he has since promised DRP members, including former Deputy Leader Umar Naseer, that he would return to help with campaigning in local council elections, though Gayoom stopped short of confirming any future presidential ambitions.

Fahmy, who was himself a former DRP MP elected to parliament on the party’s ticket, was dismissed from DRP after he voted against the party in a no confidence motion concerning Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed back in 2009.

Fahmy has also criticised the religious Adhaalath Party, claiming it was attempting to topple the government by using the religion as a political weapon.

Recently, Adhaalath Party member and former State Islamic Minister, Sheikh Ahmed Shaheem Ali Saeed, resigned from his post over concerns he held about government policy in relation to Islam.