Home ministry to bring out 100,000 students for parade

More than 100,000 students will take part in a parade in Malé and other islands on Saturday as part of Independence Day celebrations, the home ministry has said.

The ‘Independence 50 office’ under the home ministry revealed today that schools from all 20 atolls and the capital will join the parade to mark the golden jubilee of independence.

“We estimate than more than 100,000 students will participate in the parade. A total of 22 schools in Malé will join the parade,” state minister for home affairs Ahmed ‘Maaz’ Saleem said at a press conference this morning.

However, according to statistics from the education ministry, the number of students in government, community and private schools in the Maldives is 86,799.

The home ministry’s spokesperson Thazmeel Abdul Samad said the students will be dressed in colours of the national flag. In Malé, the parade will be held on the two largest streets – Majeedhee Magu and Ameenee Magu.

Students from the atolls will march in the biggest street of their island, he said.

The government has organised numerous events ahead of the upcoming 50th anniversary of independence on July 26.

Several events have taken place in recent weeks and the home ministry has said it will announce more events in the future.

The events include skydiving, swimming competitions, a sea sports festival, a world record attempt, parades, float parades, an international football tournament, a police football tournament, several music shows and the unveiling of new currency designs.

The government has also started decorating the streets of Malé with national flags and sacrificed 150 goats in a public ceremony in April.

The Independence Day celebrations have drawn criticism over the lack of transparency of expenses made out of the state budget.

However, Saleem said most of the work is done by volunteers.

“We organised the events in a way so that we can enlist volunteers in helping us. But we are handing out material costs and also wages for professional workers,” Saleem said.

Thazmeel also insisted that the expenses were legal and made in accordance with public finance regulations, but did not offer details.

The opposition has criticised the government for holding independence celebrations soon after jailing opposition leaders including ex-president Mohamed Nasheed on terrorism charges.

The opposition had held daily protests and two mass demonstrations on February 27 and May 1. Nearly 200 people were arrested from the May Day protest.

The opposition halted its weekly protest march on Saturday to make way for a float parade.

“How can they stop our protest for a float parade? That’s depriving us of our rights. Any way no one had bothered to come and look at some floats,” MP Rozaina Adam said at a Maldivian Democratic Party national council meeting yesterday.

This article previously stated the parade will take place on Thursday. This is incorrect. The parade is to take place on Saturday. 


New deputy minister appointed to the Home Ministry and the Economic Ministry

President Abdulla Yameen has appointed deputy ministers to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Economic Development.

According to a tweet from the President’s Office Spokesman Ibrahim Muaz, Ahmed Saleem was appointed to the post of deputy home minister and Abdulla Mohamed to the post of deputy economic minister.

Mohamed, who previously served as a state minister at the home ministry and the registrar of NGOs, was also vice president of the Civil Alliance Coalition of NGOs – Madhanee Iththihad – a group at the forefront of protests that led to the ousting of former President Mohamed Nasheed in 2012.

Saleem, who joined the Jumhooree Party during the 2013 presidential elections after previously serving as a council member of the Progressive Party of Maldives, has left the JP after the party signed an agreement with Maldivian Democratic Party to defend the Constitution last week.


PPM presidential candidate “root of all nation’s problems”, Umar Naseer tells JP rally

The “Jumhoree Gulhun” – a new coalition consisting of the Jumhoree Party (JP), Adhaalath Party (AP) and Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) – held a rally on Monday night to celebrate new arrivals, including Progressive Party of Maldives’ former interim Vice President Umar Naseer, former PPM Youth Wing Leader Ibrahim Nazim, PPM MP Shifaq Mufeed and Islamic Democratic Party (IDP) leader Hassan Zareer.

“None of these fresh people joining us laid any conditions, demands or excuses before joining our coalition. They have come to join us to protect our sovereignty, our religion and the way of our ancestors,” JP Leader and presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim said, addressing 200-300 supporters gathered in their Male’ campaign office.

“Their self interest is the self interest of the Maldivian citizens,” he continued. “I would like to tell all those who have newly joined us that we will not disappoint you. Our desks are extremely clean. There isn’t even a single piece of paper which might be stained.”

“It is my belief that together with the other parties’ members, our coalition will now have at least 50,000 members. Therefore, there is no doubt that our coalition will win the elections, be it in one round or even if we go to a second round,” Gasim predicted.

“Yameen is the root of all our country’s problems”: Umar Naseer

PPM’s former interim Vice President, who lost the party’s presidential primaries to PPM Leader Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom’s half-brother Abdulla Yameen spoke at the JP coalition’s rally tonight, criticising the presidential candidates of both PPM and MDP.

Stating that he and his supporters who had joined the JP coalition alongside him are “ultimately supporters of Gayoom”, Naseer said Gayoom’s half brother, Yameen “is a completely different story”.

“There is no way PPM can win the September 7 elections with Yameen as a candidate,” Naseer claimed.

“Yameen is the root of all the problems faced by our country today. The 40,000 illegal immigrants who have entered the country are people brought in under his nose. People say that there is a connection between Yameen and the illicit drugs that are sold on the streets of Maldives,” Naseer alleged.

“And so, any person who loves this country being in PPM and voting for a man like this is nothing but a betrayal to the nation. Even though you remain a member of PPM, you do not have an obligation to vote for a corrupt man like Yameen. The nation is far more important than that,” Naseer said.

Naseer stated that in the first round of elections, it will be Yameen who contests most closely with Gasim, adding that it is “of utmost importance to defeat him”.

“If Yameen comes to power, nothing but an empty pit will remain where the country’s safe deposit ought to be,” Naseer continued.

“I speak out of experience. And therefore, I pray we get Allah’s blessing in these efforts to save this nation, to prevent it from going into the hands of a corrupt group of people, to save it from the irreligious ideology of Mohamed Nasheed and to protect our nationalism.”

Naseer also stated that he had the utmost respect for current President Mohamed Waheed, but added that he could not support Waheed as he had appointed Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Thasmeen Ali as a running mate.

Rationalising his refusal to support a Waheed-Thasmeen presidency, Umar alleged that Thasmeen had made “underhand deals with Nasheed to sell out the airport to GMR” and described him as “a traitor to the nation”.

He also predicted that the days leading to the September 7 election will prove to be “highly dangerous and risky”, stating that MDP’s apparent plans to file a case against Gasim gives weight to his concerns.

“It will also go to the point of physical fights on elections day. What I have to say to the people of this nation is that this is the time when history will be written. We must defeat Nasheed at any cost.”

“Be vigilant as [they] might attempt to stop you from voting”: Gasim

JP presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim advised his supporters to be “very vigilant and careful” on election day.

“We all know there is a certain group of people who will vote first thing in the morning on election day, and will then proceed to harass people who try to go to the voting booths after them. So be extra careful to cast your votes as early as possible,” Gasim said.

“Beware of losing your national identity cards before election day. And be wary of other people living in the same house as you, as they may be instructed to hide your ID cards so as to stop you from voting,” he cautioned.

“If such things happen, then these people might win in one round, as they keep saying repeatedly. So be vigilant. Be extremely careful,” Gasim said, referring to the Maldivian Democratic Party.

“Nasheed keeps saying he will come to power ‘at any cost’. Listen carefully, he says ‘at any cost’, meaning he is willing to do anything at all to rise to power. This means they intend to create enough chaos and trouble to cause the international community to not accept the elections,” he stated.

“Some of your sons and daughters living in your homes are, like that man [Nasheed] says, not always in a sound state of mind or sober. They might be paid some amount of money to hide your ID cards and stop you from voting, so be very careful of this. Be vigilant and careful in order to fulfill this legal, national and religious obligation,” Gasim stated.

From PPM to JP

Along with Umar Naseer, other council members and general members of PPM also joined the JP coalition.

Ibrahim Nazim, who resigned from his post as PPM’s Youth Wing Leader on Monday night and joined the JP rally the same evening, also echoed Naseer’s claims that Yameen “has no way of winning the presidential elections.”

Nazim stated that he had defected to the JP as the PPM failed to respect elected positions in the party, including himself.

“It is impossible to even contact the leadership, be it via phone or even text messages. I do not see how a person like this can contribute to empowering youth. I have decided to support Gasim as he is the only one of the four contesting candidates who seem to be working with the common people.”

Having initially supported Naseer, Nazim later called on PPM youth supporters to back Yameen after he defeated Naseer in the party’s presidential primaries.

Following June’s Civil Court ruling that the outcome of the PPM primaries cannot be made void, Nazim called on Naseer’s supporters to remain or come back to the PPM, adding that he believed Yameen would maintain the political ideology of Gayoom.

Despite this, Nazim then left his position at the PPM and joined the JP coalition with Naseer and his supporters that evening.

MP Shifaq Mufeed, who initially was in MDP and later defected to PPM in 2012, also joined the JP coalition.

Mufeed stated that he had come to the JP coalition not due to any monetary incentives, but because he believed in Gasim’s pledges and political ideology.

PPM’s ‘Maaz’ Ahmed Saleem, who supported Naseer in the party’s primaries also spoke at Monday’s rally.

Speaking in praise of JP’s presidential candidate, Saleem said, “Gasim already owns 30 percent of this country. What reason is there to not grant him the remaining 70 percent?”

“We gave power to Waheed on February 7, 2012 with a lot of hope. But today we are seeing Waheed filling his pockets with irreligious thoughts and imparting these anti-Islamic ideologies to the people,” he said.

“And as for Nasheed, if he wins the election, it is a fact without doubt that we will see the construction of temples in our Islamic nation.”

“Umar Naseer and I, we worked very hard to get the PPM to hold primaries. We did succeed in doing so. But then, the half-brother poked his hands in and meddled with the primaries, making it corrupt too,” Saleem alleged.

Other speakers at the rally included Abdulla Mohamed, who led the Civil Coalition of NGOs, the main organiser of the December 23 coalition which held the 2011 rally under the banner of “defending Islam” from the MDP.

Abdulla Mohamed said the JP stands an “irrefutable likelihood of winning the election if every member guarantees an additional 10 votes for Gasim.”

“Although initially Gasim was going to contest in the elections with only a handful of people backing him, as in just his Jumhoree Party, he now has the support of a large coalition, which guarantees he will win,” Abdulla claimed.

“On February 7 we rid the nation of a creature far more fearful than the historical sea demon known by the name of Rannamaari. We rid the nation of Nasheed and his sidekick, Mariya Ahmed Didi (MP and former MDP Chairperson), whom we can call ‘AnniMaari’. We must do so again in September,” he said.

“If we can do that, and if every member obtains 10 more votes, winning this election will be as easy as peeling an onion.”


Umar Naseer contests dismissal from PPM in Civil Court

Umar Naseer, who lost the presidential primaries of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) to Abdulla Yameen, has submitted a case to the Civil Court seeking a ruling that he was dismissed from the party against the party’s regulations.

Ahmed ‘Maaz’ Saleem, a PPM member who served as Naseer’s campaign manager,  stated that the case also concerned irregularities in the primaries. He reportedly told local media that they did not believe that Naseer’s allegations the primaries were rigged were enough ground for him to be dismissed from a political party in a modern democratic system.

Saleem further claimed that Naseer’s dismissal breached the fundamental regulations of the party itself.

“It’s against democratic principles to dismiss every person who expresses a dissenting view on party matters,” Saleem said.

Saleem went on to criticise other internal issues of PPM, stating that even the party’s Disciplinary Committee consisted of members who remained “under the control of” PPM’s presidential candidate Yameen.

Saleem further stated that a large number of PPM members are still supporting Naseer, and that they would back his claims that the primaries had been rigged through ballot-stuffing, falsifying vote counts and other such actions.

Saleem said that problems had risen in PPM after “a group of corrupt people from some organisation called the PA which does not even have 3000 members” joined the party.

The PA (People’s Alliance) was headed by Abdulla Yameen until the Dhiivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) split and formed the PPM. Yameen then joined PPM, leaving PA to be headed by Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim.

Unfair disciplinary action

Naseer’s close political ally Saleem added that the party had failed to take action against MPs Shifaq Mufeed and Ali Arif, who had strongly criticised the current government and President Mohamed Waheed Hassan in parliament, despite the party’s council having ruled it would not publicly criticise the government as they were part of its coalition.

“President Maumoon himself expressed concern about this action of the MPs,” Saleem was quoted as saying in local media.

“The decision to not criticise this government was made in a council meeting chaired by President Maumoon himself. And then these MPs acted against this decision right in front of MP Abdul Azeez Jamaal (Chair of PPM’s Disciplinary Committee). And even then, the committee did not even look into the matter. Tell me then, where is the justice in them taking action against Umar Naseer?”

Cases against PPM primaries

Saleem further said that “it is not a sensible line of action” to dismiss Naseer for alleging the primaries had been rigged, while there is an ongoing case in the Civil Court submitted by a general member of PPM regarding vote rigging in the primaries.

Earlier this month, member of PPM Rahma Moosa has lodged a case in the Civil Court challenging the results of the party’s presidential primary.

The case was filed claiming that 8,915 people who were not officially registered as members of PPM had been allowed to vote in the primary.

Moosa alleged that the move breached the Political Party Act and compromised the rights of all general members of the party.

PPM Spokesperson Ahmed Mahloof’s phone was switched off at the time of press.

Umar Naseer was not responding to calls. Earlier this month his secretary stated that, as a rule, he would not conduct interviews with Minivan News.