MDP launches own investigation into transfer of power

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has launched an investigation into the February 7 transfer of power, claiming President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s inquiry into the change of government is not independent.

President Waheed instituted a three member Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) following ousted President Mohamed Nasheed’s allegation that he was deposed in a coup d’état orchestrated by remnants of the former dictatorship, funded by several resort interests and carried out by mutinous police and military units.

However, the Commonwealth has challenged the CNI’s independence, and on April 16 warned of “further and stronger measures” against the Maldives should the country fail to review the composition and mandate of the commission within four weeks.

Speaking to the press on Monday, former Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam said the MDP had decided to initiate its own inquiry because “we do not trust the current administration’s inquiry to be independent.”

The MDP investigation aims to establish the truth, and learn lessons from the change of government to ensure a coup d’état does not take place in the Maldives in the future, said Aslam.

MP Mariya Didi said the MDP will seek justice based on the evidence they obtain.

“When the investigation is complete we will decide whether to file with a Maldivian court or if necessary with an international court,” she said.

However, Aslam said the MDP did not trust the Maldivian courts to deliver justice.

“It is very clear to us what will happen if we conduct an investigation and file the findings with a Maldivian court. We do not trust the courts to deliver justice on any investigation, whether it is carried out by us or another party,” he said.

“Nevertheless, the ordinary citizen knows what transpired on that day. A day will come when this case will be tried in a court of law and we will obtain justice,” he added.

Aslam said the party has been collecting statements from senior politicians, ordinary citizens, and members of the police and military, and appealed to the citizens “who saw and heard what happened to share information with us.”

Statements obtained so far suggest “this did not happen by chance,” Aslam said. “This was planned in advance, with the participation of senior political figures in the country. Moreover, the two institutions that Maldivians depended on for security have failed.”

Mariya said President Nasheed had requested the investigation and had pledged to cooperate with other ongoing investigations.

“He has given a statement to the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), and will very soon submit a statement to the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) on the actions of the police on February 8. Police action on the day violated the respect that must be given to a former president,” Mariya said.

Videos from an MDP demonstration on February 8 show police tear gassing and beating unarmed civilians in front of the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) building, and show police in riot gear verbally abusing Nasheed as they dragged him out of a shop.

The HRCM and the PIC have previously told they will respectively investigate human rights violations and police actions before and after February 7, but said the commissions do not have the mandate to look into the circumstances surrounding the change of government.

The MDP will seek international assistance in its investigation, Aslam said.


MDP National Council appoints ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik as acting chairperson

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has appointed the party’s Parliamentary Group leader MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik as the party’s acting chairperson for a year, replacing Mariya Ahhmed Didi.

Mariya had previously resigned from the role in anticipation of being appointed Parliament’s representative on the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), however she was last week beaten to the post by Jumhoree Party (JP) leader and local business tycoon, Gasim Ibrahim.

The MDP said that 97 out of 99 council members present voted in favor of appointing Moosa as the acting chairperson, during the party’s 91st national council meeting held at Bandos Island Resort.

The council meeting started yesterday and was initially chaired by the party’s newly-elected Deputy Leader and MP Alhan Fahmy, until the decision to appoint Moosa as the acting Chairperson was made.

Following the decision of the national council, Moosa announced his resignation from his position as the leader of the parliamentary group.

The MDP council discussed the payment of a salary for the party’s deputy chairperson, but resolved not to pay any person at an elected post.

Full details of the national council meeting were not provided and no media outlet was invited to attend the meeting.

Deputy Leader of MDP and MP Alhan Fahmy told Minivan News that the national council meeting “concluded successfully”.

‘’All went accordingly to the party’s charter and rules,’’ Alhan said. ‘’There are no internal issues within the party or the leadership regarding any decisions made.’’

Local media have reported that MDP leader, former fisheries minister Dr Ibrahim Didi, was unhappy with the decision made by the national council to appoint Moosa as the acting Chairperson for one year.

Online newspaper Sun Online reported Didi as claiming that the decision violated the party’s charter and regulations and that he would seek legal advice to clarify whether it was possible.

Alhan however said that he has no information about the remarks made by Dr Didi, and MDP Parliamentary Group’s Media Coordinator MP Mohamed Shifaz did not respond to Minivan News.

President Mohamed Nasheed also attended the national council meeting.


Mohamed Imtiyaz appointed as acting Chairperson of MDP

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has issued a statement announcing that following the resignation of the party’s Chairperson MP Mariya Didi, all her responsibilities were handed to the Deputy Chairperson Mohamed Imtiyaz.

Mariya had resigned from her post to stand as a candidate for the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) as the member representing the parliament, after DRP MP Dr Afrashim Ali was removed for misconduct.

Leader of MDP, former fisheries minister Dr Ibrahim Didi, said Mariya’s resignation was a great sacrifice to establish an independent judiciary in the Maldives.

Speaking to the press today, Didi said that within the next two months the new Chairperson of the party would be appointed after 60 days of campaigning, as granted by the party’s charter.

Maryia was not appointed as the member from the parliament to JSC, after the post was narrowly secured by Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader and MP ‘Buruma’ Gasim Ibrahim.

36 MPs voted in favor of appointing Mariya to the JSC, while 38 voted in favor of appointing Gasim to the commission from the parliament.

Mariya congratulated MP Gasim and said she hoped he would carry out his responsibilities as a member of the JSC with sincerity for the benefit of the citizens and the best interests of the nation.

She also thanked all the MPs that voted for her.

Today’s parliament session ended after MDP MPs left the parliament chamber.

DRP MP Ahmed Nihan said that it has become a major issue that MPs were leaving the parliament, forcing the speaker to cancel the session.

”I think MPs have to seriously think about this now,” Nihan said. ”It has become a major issue.”

Nihan said that after MDP ”bought” former DRP MP Ali Waheed, he had been “very inactive” in parliament.

”Nowadays he just roams around the parliament singing songs and often goes to the tea room. He hasn’t been doing any work at all,” Nihan said. ”However, Gasim’s appointment to the JSC is a great victory for the citizens in this delicate situation.”


MDP MPs refusing to accept committee allowance

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs are coming forward to declare they would not accept a Rf20,000 committee allowance on top of their salaries, if approved by parliament in the controversial MP Privileges Bill.

The MPs came forward in support of the party’s Chairperson MP Mariya Ahmed Didi, who yesterday withdrew her resolution to cut the allowance after the MDP Parliamentary Group voted in its favour.

“I was not at that meeting but I bowed to the party’s rules and took it out,” Mariya told Minivan News yesterday, adding that she had informed parliament that she did not wish to receive the allowance herself.

MDP’s internal branches were today criticising their parliamentary group following the decision.

Official website of MDP today carried a statement that MDP MPs Eva Abdulla, Hamid Abdul Gafoor, Ilyas Labeeb, Mohamed Gasam, Mohamed Nazim and Ibrahim Rasheed had also announced that they did not support the committee allowance and would not accept it.

Following Mariya’s withdrawal of the resolution opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Ahmed Mahlouf resubmitted it.

“I was the first one to raise it before Mariya, but the Speaker [DRP MP] Abdulla Shahid went with Mariya’s changes, perhaps because of the factional fight [the opposition] is having. When Mariya withdrew it I resubmitted it.” Mahlouf said yesterday.

Increasing MP salaries by Rf 20,000 would be a huge blow to parliament’s credibility, Mahlouf said, “as the public do not believe we are working to their expectations.” he said.

MDP MP Ahmed Easa also said he did not support the committee allowance, but he said the MPs who did support the committee allowance “have reasonable points.”

”It’s true what they say, MPs have so much to do with their salary each month. People can’t even imagine how many calls a MP receives each day asking for help,” Easa explained. ”Anyone in trouble from a area will run to their MP first, MPs have to lend money for people in need of medication, even for reasons such as people coming to get money to pay the school fees of their children.”

Easa also explained that most of the MPs were not from Male’, which forces them to live in rented apartments.

”As everyone knows, a standard apartment’s rent in Male’ will be Rf10000-20000 (US$750-US$1500), and what about all the phone calls that MPs have to make, that costs an additional Rf5000 (US$375) each month, and what about their family, wife and kids?” he asked, claiming that MPs “have to spend most of their salary on society.”

”As for me, there has never been a month that I have saved any amount of money in my bank account. I am ready to provide any document necessary to prove it,” he said.

However, Easa said due to the economic condition of the Maldives it was not wise to increase the salaries of MPs or any other institution of the government.

”The government’s recurrent expenditure may rise over 80 percent next year which means there will be only 20 percent of the budget to spend on development,” Easa said.


MDP dismisses rumours of DRP MP Mahlouf defecting to MDP

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson Mariya Ahmed Didi has denied that leader of the opposition’s Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Youth Wing, MP Ahmed Mahlouf, has signed to join MDP, after rumours to that effect began circulating yesterday.

Mahlouf yesterday broke the three line whip of his party and voted with MDP, sparking rumors that Mahlouf had signed with the ruling party. Former DRP MP Alhan Fahmy controversially switched to the MDP last year prior to facing his party’s disciplinary committee over voting against the party line on the dismissal of then Foreign Minister, Dr Ahmed Shaheed.

The Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC) yesterday reported that Mahlouf had signed to MDP, after the incident.

MDP’s official website quoted Mariya as saying that the rumor was spread by DRP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali’s faction after Mahlouf broke the party’s three line whip in a vote taken by the parliamentarians to appoint members for the Broadcasting Commission.

”Mahlouf has always had a close relationship with some of the senior members of the MDP. But the news that he had signed to join MDP is just a rumor,” Mariya said according to MDP website.

Mariya said that Mahlouf broke the three-line whip during the vote to appoint his aunt for the Broadcasting Commission, whose name was proposed to the parliament and supported by MDP.

Mahlouf has told Haveeru that he will join MDP only if former President Maummon Abdul Gayoom joined MDP.

After yesterday’s parliament session speaking to the press outside the parliament DRP Deputy Leader MP Ali Waheed has called on DRP Council to terminate the coalition agreement with Peoples Alliance Party (PA).

Waheed claimed that during all the recent votes PA had discussed with the government and voted according to how it will benefit both the government and the PA, ignoring DRP’s side.

He also heavily criticized Mahlouf for voting on MDP’s side.


MDP Parliamentary group head calls for Gayoom’s arrest

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) parliamentary group leader and MP Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik has called on President Mohamed Nasheed and Home Minister Hassan Afeef to arrest former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, ahead of the local council elections.

Speaking at a MDP rally held at Hinnavaru in Lhaviyani Atoll, he alleged that Gayoom had “tortured many citizens of this nation” and claimed that the former president was “causing civil unrest by spreading enmity.”

”We are here to rule the country with courage. Despite the opposition parties dismissing all the cabinet ministers, the President will rule this country by himself with the citizens,” Moosa said. ”We will not put this nation on the hands of torturers, not any more.”

Moosa said that even if only one seat of the local council elections was won by the opposition party, ”[the people] will suffer the bitterness of it.”

He also thanked the MDP parliamentary group for their efforts to “make useful laws for the country” in this difficult situation.

DRP MP Ahmed Mahlouf observed that Reeko Moosa “has always been like this – shouting about Gayoom and demanding he be charged.”

“There have been a lot of allegations of corruption made against Gayoom, but in the past two years nothing has been proven,” Mahlouf said. “What I know is that if anything happens to him, the whole country will become very chaotic. There are many people willing to die for him.”

Gayoom wrote a letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron in November alleging intimidation by the Nasheed government, expressing concern that the President would attempt to have him arrested “despite my innocence”, and despite praise from election observers at the “smooth handover of power” and assurances of safety and privileges in the Constitution for the former president.

Instead, the former President claimed Nasheed’s government had “escalated its attempts to harass me” in the run up to the local council elections, despite his retirement from politics earlier in 2010.

MDP Chairperson and MP Mariya Ali also spoke at the rally held over the weekend.

”We have traveled to many islands now, we can see the ‘other Maldives’, we can see the Maldives becoming yellow, we can see the local councils elections falling in to our hands,” said Mariya.

Mariya said that MDP was not the type of party that would point a finger at a person and say “here is the MDP presidential candidate.”

”In fact, MDP will determine who could bear the responsibility and give it to a person capable of carrying out that responsibility,” she said.

”We have reclaimed the land of Hinnavaru within nine days, only because we have elected a president that was appointed that way.”

MDP’s campaign delegation also visited Naifaru in Lhaviyani Atoll.


Party backlash over 33% boost in electricity prices

The ruling Maldivian Demcratic Party (MDP) have expressed concern over the raised electricity prices in Male’.

“It has always been a vow of the MDP to lower living costs, however at the moment electricity prices are ridiculously high,” said MDP chairperson Mariya Didi.

MDP MP Hamid Abdul Gafoor explained the main issue was the change in the pricing scheme.

“On average, a household will use at least 300 to 350 units of electricity in a month,” he said.

STELCO, the state electric company, recently dramatically increased the price for the first 300 units of electricity. The first hundred units have risen from Rf1.60 to Rf2.25, while the second and third hundred units have risen from Rf .70 and Rf2.15 to Rf2.50 each.

That means the average monthly electricity bill for household has risen almost overnight from Rf545 ($US42) to Rf725 ($US56).

“Many people are assuming we are attacking the government, but we are just voicing the concerns of the people,” Hamid said.

Currently there is a Rf45 subsidy per head per day to help with the cost of electricity for households with monthly incomes of less than Rf9450 ($US735).

“We have to get rid of this mentality that if a house hold electricity bill is high, they are well off,” urged MDP MP Eva Abdulla. “We have to assume that it might just be 12 people living in that household, chipping in for the bill – this is the reality.”

The president’s office issued a statement claiming the government was listening to the concerned MPs.

“We can’t provide additional financial assistance to STELCO – if we did that we would have to start printing money, and this would devalue the ruffiyya,” said the president’s press secretary, Mohamed Zuhair.

Hamid agreed that the solution was not to print more money.

“If we were to print an additional Rf50 million, it would only raise inflation and we would have no control over prices,” he said.

“The MDP wants to increase the subsidy, but there are many issues we need to rethink,” he said. “The figures we are currently using to calculate eligibility for the subsidy is very outdated, so there is research underway to get a ground figure.”

Mariya noted that many eligible households were failing to claim the subsidy.

“We have conducted house-to-house research and found that many people do not have sufficient information about the subsidy and thus have not been filling out their subsidy forms,” she said.


The government could only boost subsidies if it reduced its current spending, Eva claimed, renewing the government’s controversial calls to slim the administration by reducing the spend on civil servant salaries.

“The government needs to reduce the civil service – offices should only have the required number of employees for optimal performance. Only then will government spending be reduced,” she said.

Civil service spending must be kept “on hold” until the government’s income surpassed Rf7 billion, Hamid said.