Vice President should not be a “spare part”: Waheed

President Dr Mohamed Waheed last night told state broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM) that a vice-president should not be treated like a “spare part”.

Speaking in the second of a series of TVM interviews with next month’s presidential candidates, the incumbent president stated his belief that the vice president ought to have more responsibility.

“I believe that changes are needed. A vice president should not be a spare part that replaces the president if he resigns or passes away. The people choose a vice president after careful consideration. They vote for two people, the president and the vice president, on the same ticket,” President Waheed said.

Waheed assumed office on February 7, 2012, after being elevated from his position as vice-president to Mohamed Nasheed. President Nasheed resigned amidst chaotic scenes as police mutinied following weeks of anti-government agitation.

Waheed told his interviewer, Leeza Laurella, that Nasheed had reneged on a prior agreement to hand the vice-president powers over foreign policy – giving preference to fellow Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members.

Soon after Waheed assumed the presidency, his frustration with his previous role was described by his then-special advisor Dr Hassan Saeed in a leaked audio recording.

“There was no major role for President Waheed in the previous government. Very many days [spent] bored in the office… When an educated man like him whiles the day away being like this, going on the Internet… really it is sad. This is how Waheed was,” said Dr Saeed.

Prior to his political career, Dr Waheed was notable for being the first Maldivian to gain a doctorate as well as being the first person to appear on Maldivian Television, anchoring TVM’s first broadcast in 1978.

After a short period as a member of the People’s Majlis, Waheed spent a number of years working for UNICEF, eventually becoming Deputy Regional Director for South Asia.

Role in February 7

Responding to the repeated accusations that he did not fulfil his responsibilities in supporting President Nasheed during the February 2012 crisis, Waheed told his interviewer that Nasheed had not asked for his counsel.

“President Nasheed did not call me. If he wanted to talk to me, he could have asked the SPG (Special Protection Group), the same group that protects us both. He could have handed me the phone through them, could he not?”

Maintaining that the events of February 7 marked the final stages of a conspiracy in which Waheed was complicit, the MDP have repeatedly accused Waheed of failing to fulfill his duties as second in command.

Mentioning a late night meeting with anti-Nasheed figures just days before the transfer of power, Waheed told TVM that Nasheed had been informed of the meeting and all normal procedures followed.

MDP MP Mariya Didi manwhile published a report in June 2012 arguing that Waheed’s failure to fully discuss this meeting with the rest of the cabinet represented a violation of his responsibilities as the vice-president.

Waheed had been open on a number of previous occasions regarding his marginalisation in the decision making process, in 2010 describing the Nasheed administration as a “one man show”.

Nasheed will stand against Waheed in September’s poll, having chosen Dr Musthafa Luthfy as his running mate. When making the announcement, the MDP stipulated that Luthfy would call an election immediately should Nasheed be “killed or incapacitated” rather than assuming the presidency himself.


Waheed yesterday explained that he had chosen his current running-mate, Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) leader Thasmeen Ali as he is “well-mannered and keeps his word”.

During the interview he also denied that he had described the Adhaalath Party as containing extremist elements – comments which prompted the religious party to leave Waheed’s ‘forward with the nation’ coalition in June, later allying with the Jumhoree Party (JP).

Yesterday’s interview, the second in a series featuring all the presidential hopefuls, followed Friday’s combative encounter with Jumhoree Coalition candidate Ibrahim Gasim.

Following Gasim’s discussion with Laurella, JP deputy leader Ilham Ahmed told local media that the JP would be considering a boycott of the station. Ilham argued that, contrary to the shows title – with ‘siyaasath’ meaning ‘policy’ – the presenter asked Gasim a series of personal questions in an attempt to damage his reputation.

“This was done with the intention of demeaning a person under a systematic plan. We don’t believe that this could have been done under press freedom,” he explained to reporters from Haveeru. “We have seen TVM going after Gasim.”

Ilham also insisted that the show had made repeated attempts to make Gasim appear “odd”.

The Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) defended its station, telling local media that Gasim’s TVM interview was conducted within its editorial policy.

It was announced in June that TVM would be scheduling a presidential debate featuring all four candidates for September 1.


Two police officers charged over attack on MDP MPs Mariya, ‘Reeko’ Moosa in February 2012

The Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) has pressed charges against two police officers for allegedly assaulting Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik and Mariya Ahmed Didi on February 8, 2012 during a brutal police crackdown.

Local media identified the accused as Mohamed Waheed from the island of Thinadhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll and Ibrahim Faisal from Machangolhi Rausha of Male’.

Mohamed Waheed was charged with hitting ‘Reeko’ Moosa in the head with a metal canister while Ibrahim Faisal was accused of assaulting MP Mariya Didi while she was inside a shop in Male’.

Faisal is also accused of hitting Mariya Didi in the face while police officers dragged her from the shop.

On February 8, thousands of MDP supporters took to the streets after former President Mohamed Nasheed declared that his resignation the previous day was made “under duress” in a “coup d’etat” instigated by mutinying Special Operations (SO) police officers.

On August 22, 2012, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) released an investigative report (Dhivehi) which concluded that the police crackdown on the MDP march, which left dozens of demonstrators injured, was “brutal” and “without prior warning.”

Thirty-two people filed complaints with the HRCM concerning the varying degrees of injuries they sustained in the crackdown, while 20 people also submitted medical documents pertaining to the treatment of those wounds.

Among the injuries caused by the police baton charge, the HRCM report noted that several people were bruised and battered, one person had a fractured leg bone, another person’s arm was broken, and six people sustained head wounds.

February 8Two fingers on the left hand of one demonstrator were crushed, the report also noted, and the victim had to undergo a corrective operation.

Meanwhile, the former ruling party informed the HRCM that their march across Male’ was spontaneous and that the party had not planned to stage any protests on February 8.

The crackdown

While riot police baton-charged the front line of protestors on February 8, Minivan News observed riot police also charging the crowd from a narrow alley leading to the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) area.

The SO police officers used obscene language, pointed to and chased after individual MDP activists and severely beat unarmed civilians.

Al Jazeera news filmed parts of the attack from the rear and reported that on February 8 “police and military charged, beating demonstrators as they ran – women, the elderly, [with] dozens left nursing their wounds.”

Amid the clashes, a group of opposition demonstrators infiltrated the crowds, attacking MDP supporters, according to witnesses.

Former President Nasheed was reported among the injured, having received head injuries during the clashes. He was briefly taken under police custody before being released back into the crowd.

Minivan News also observed several youth with head injuries queuing up for x-rays in the waiting area outside the reception area of Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH).

One young woman who went IGMH with her sister was being treated for a head wound. The gauze wrapped around her head was spotted with blood, and she claimed the wound was still bleeding as she went in for an X-ray.

“The police were just standing there and suddenly we were being beaten with batons and pepper spray was thrown in our face. They threw us to the ground and kept beating us,” she said.

The BBC meanwhile reported “a baton charge by police on crowds gathered outside one of the main hospitals.”

“People scattered as officers sprinted towards them silhouetted against the lights of passing traffic,” the BBC’s Andrew North reported from Male’.

An injured protester

“Inside the hospital, dozens of Mr Nasheed’s supporters are still being treated for injuries, following earlier scuffles in the main square. Among them is Reeko Moosa Maniku, chairman of Mr Nasheed’s Maldives Democratic Party – who was with the former president when the clashes broke out. With a large head bandage and his shirt bloodied, he regained consciousness as we arrived. The police said they would kill me, he told us, as they beat me. Another MP was still unconscious in another ward.”


“A Human Rights Crisis in the Maldives”: Amnesty International

Amnesty International has today released a report titled “The Other side of Paradise: A Human Rights Crisis in the Maldives”, chronicling human rights abuses in the country since the transfer of presidential power on February 7.

“Without an end to – and accountability for – these human rights violations, any attempt at political reconciliation in the Maldives will be meaningless,” said Amnesty’s researcher in the Maldives, Abbas Faiz.

Amnesty said that several of its human rights recommendations are reflected in the Commission of National Inquiry’s (CNI) report which was released on August 30.

The report details a number of incidents of police brutality on February 8, including attacks on Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs Eva Abdulla and Mariya Didi.

“The overall objective of these violent attacks has been to silence peaceful government critics and stifle public debate about the current political situation,” said the report.

“Based on Amnesty International’s interviews with survivors of these violent attacks, it appears that many were targeted by security forces because they were MDP ministers, parliamentarians or supporters,” it read.

The report recommended that the Maldivian government “ensure prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigations into allegations of violence by officials.”

“Those suspected of offences involving such violations, irrespective of rank or status, must be prosecuted in proceedings which meet international standards of fairness.”

It also urged the government to “remove any bias in the police force, so they act as officers of law without prejudice, and do not take sides politically.”

Tension between the police has continued unabated since the release of the CNI report, with continued MDP demonstrations being met with large numbers of arrests.

The police service last week confirmed that they would be arresting people for using the term ‘baghee’ (a Dhivehi word meaning a traitor who brought about or participated in a coup).

The report is based largely on the testimony of individuals interviews conducted during a three week Amnesty visit in February and early March this year.

Commissioner of Police  Abdulla Riyaz, who was unavailable for comment at the time of press, told Minivan News in April that he had been disappointed by Amnesty’s failure to ask the police for its comments before releasing a report based on its findings.

“I don’t see that there has been any investigations done, none of our officers was questioned, interviewed – neither by them nor by the Police Integrity Commission (PIC), nor by the Human Rights Commission (HRCM). I don’t think that’s fair,” said Riyaz.

Strong pressure on weak institutions

As well as concluding that President Mohamed Nasheed was not removed from office unconstitutionally, the CNI report acknowledged that his resignation was accompanied by acts of police brutality which it said must be investigated.

“With respect to the administration of justice, in particular concerning allegations of police brutality and acts of intimidation, there is an urgent need for investigations to proceed and to be brought to public knowledge with perpetrators held to account and appropriately sanctioned,” read the report.

Shortly after the report’s release, the Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed told a press conference that the government did not intend to take action against anyone other than the former President in relation to the CNI’s conclusions.

Jameel stated the responsibility for the investigation of police misconduct would fall upon the Police Integrity Commission (PIC).

This has prompted renewed focus on the apparent weakness of such independent institutions in the Maldives.

“One of the reasons for the 7 February and the associated crisis is weak institutions, and the democratic institutions in Maldives must shoulder at least some of the blame for not being pro-active enough in working to address urgent issues,” said Aiman Rasheed of local NGO Transparency Maldives.

“Providing room for institutions to grow organically, and address institutional issues in an environment free from fear and intimidation from the political overlords is more important for Maldives at the moment,” Aiman continued.

“The independent institutions need to step up their game by standing for and protecting the values for which they were constituted,” he said.

Following Jameels announcement, Chair of the PIC Shahinda Ismail said that she was “very sceptical of the burden we will have to carry”, citing concerns over the lack of clarity in the CNI report and loopholes which prevent the implementation of its recommendations.

Shahinda alleged that certain clauses in the Police Act had already resulted in the Home Minister ignoring recommendations forwarded to him concerning incidents from February 8.

Similarly, a Supreme Court ruling concerning the activities of the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) earlier this week appeared to the leave this institution in a state of limbo.

“In other countries, Anti Corruption Commissions have the powers of investigation, prevention and creating awareness. If an institution responsible for fighting corruption does not have these powers then it is useless,” said ACC President Hassan Luthfee.

Weak institutions have often been described by prominent members of the current government as rendering the country unready for early elections despite months of political stultification.

“Tighter legislation that addresses ambiguities and close legal loopholes will help. However, the political will to truly reform key institutions is lacking, especially the judiciary and the parliament,” said Aiman.

The final recommendation of Amnesty’s report was directed at the international community, requesting that it provide human rights training to the Maldives’judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officials.

In April, the United States pledged US$500,000 (Rf7.7 million) to assist Maldivian institutions in ensuring a free and fair presidential election.

The American Embassy in Colombo also conducted an information session on democratic rule of law for senior officers and management of the police service in May.


CMAG expresses hopes that no action be taken to “negatively affect” inquiry commission

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group’s (CMAG) has released a statement emphasising its hope that “no action should be taken by any party or authority that would negatively affect the functioning of the Commission of National Inquiry or the ability of individuals to provide testimony to the Commission,” following its teleconference yesterday.

The Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) was established by President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan to investigae the events surrounding the controversial  transfer of power in February.

The statement follows a week in which the fallout from alternative reports of these events – two from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and one from the original CNI – saw the arrest of the Chief of Police Intelligence Mohamed Hameed for his alleged involvement in the compilation of the MDP report.

The Criminal Court decided to release Hameed this week after extending his initial detention period by five days.

On Tuesday, MDP MP Mariyam Didi was also brought before police for questioning in relation to events to the unrest that followed the police’s May 29 search of the Usfasgandu protest camp.

The MDP released a statement alleging that Didi’s questioning was related to the release of her own report which had argued President Waheed should face prosecution for his involvement in the events of February 7.

“The MDP strongly believes this is a cowardly act to intimidate people who are willing to come forward and provide reliable information to the newly composed CoNI,” said the MDP statement.

The police told local media that the timing of the questioning had been planned for the Thursday before but had been rescheduled at Didi’s request.

Former President Nasheed had also suggested to local media that the delays to the CNI’s reform was a sign of the government’s reluctance to do so.

The original deadline for the changes had been May 31, although the MDP and the government failed to agree on the final member of the commission until June 4.

President Office spokesman Abbas Adil Riza told Minivan News today that he did not believe the CMAG statement was referring to such incidents.

“The police are independent and have not been conducting any unlawful activities,” said Abbas.

Abbas said that the government welcomed CMAG’s words of encouragement regarding the CNI, adding that it was pleased the Commonwealth had “finally accepted the roadmap talks.”

The talks appeared to have been scuttled following a three day retreat at Bandos, at which parties in the ruling coalition presented the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) with a list of 30 demands to “resolve the problem of public disturbances”.

They included demands that the MDP “stop practicing black magic and sorcery”, “stop the use of sexual and erotic tools”, and “not walk in groups of more than 10”.

CMAG’s statement today said that it “welcomed and encouraged efforts underway to establish a Maldivian-led dialogue process among key political leaders, which could promote high-level discussions on issues of national concern, including those identified in the Political Party Talks agenda.”

CMAG also welcomed the reformation of the CNI, instigated at the behest of both the international community, the MDP and civil society groups.

The statement outlined the reasons for the formation of the group before expressing its hope that the CNI was now in a position to fulfil its objectives.

“The Commission of National Inquiry was established to undertake an investigation into the circumstances that led to the transfer of power in Maldives on 7 February 2012. This was to enable an independent and impartial investigation to be conducted that would be credible, rigorous and provide confidence to the Maldivian people.”

“The Group noted that the reformed Commission had been formally established on 17 June 2012 and was now operational. It expressed hope that the Commission would be fully able to carry out its work in its own best judgement, and urged all concerned to extend their full co-operation to the Commission.”

The reformed commission includes the three original members – Ismail Shafeeu, Dr Ibrahim Yasir, and Dr Ali Fawaz Shareef – with the addition of retired Singaporean Supreme Court Judge G.P. Selvam and Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed who was nominated by former President Mohamed Nasheed.

The CNI yesterday announced that anyone wishing to give information to the commission can do so up until June 30. It also welcomed evidence from those who had spoken to the commission before the reforms were enacted.

The commission stated that the evidence and identities of witnesses would be protected.

At a press conference this morning, the CNI told local media that the government would allocate the four Maldivian members “some sort of allowance”, having worked without remuneration up to this date.

The expenses of Selvam, it was revealed, will be borne by the Commonwealth.


MDP Chairperson calls for halt to election campaigns as party mulls dissolving leadership posts

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik has called on candidates running for the MDP Presidency and Vice Presidency to halt their campaigns, after the MDP National Council has questioned whether the positions were necessary.

The MDP said in a statement that members of the council had questioned the responsibilities of the President and Vice President, and some proposed the positions be removed.

‘’Because of the way the MDP Charter states the responsibilities of the President and Vice President of the party, during the last meeting of the National Council members questioned whether the positions were necessary,’’ Moosa said. ‘’Some members of the National Council proposed a meeting to remove the two positions from the party, while others called to amend the inconsistencies in the party’s charter that makes the responsibilities of the two positions conflict with the responsibilities of other positions in the party.’’

Elections for the party’s President and Vice President are due to be held on August 31, and several senior members of the party running for the posts have already started campaigning.

Former Chairperson of MDP and MP Mariya Didi has recently told local newspapers that she was interested in running for the party’s presidency.

Mariya said she would work to enhance the democracy of MDP and to take the party out of the current situation that it is now in.

The positions were declared vacant last month after the MDP National Council almost unanimously voted (95 percent) to oust President Dr Ibrahim Didi and Vice President and MP Alhan Fahmy in a no-confidence motion.

The MDP stated that the motion was triggered after both Dr Didi and Fahmy made public statements contradicting the party’s position as established by a resolution passed on February 8, recognising that former President Mohamed Nasheed and his cabinet were ousted illegitimately in a coup d’état.

Meanwhile, a statement issued by the MDP Feydhoo Wing in Addu said that it fully supported the decision made by the National Council to oust Dr Didi and Fahmy, both of whom are Adduan. Feydhoo is also Alhan’s constituency.

Alhan and Didi claimed that their dismissal was unlawful and reported the matter to the Elections Commission (EC), however the EC dropped the case. The pair subsequently filed the case in court, and the trial has not commenced yet.

The issue of dissolving the role of President and Vice President was submitted to the National Council several years ago, after then-President of the MDP Ibrahim Ismail ‘Ibra’ left the party, however the National Council at the time voted against the decision.


Police request statement from Nasheed as MDP petitions for elections

The Maldives Police Service today requested former president Mohamed Nasheed give police a statement regarding an ongoing investigation, police media official Ahmed Shiyam has confirmed.

“The Maldives police service has requested former president Mohamed Nasheed to give a statement regarding an ongoing investigation. We have told him that we would go to any place which Nasheed wishes at a time convenient to him.”

Shiyam denied the allegation made by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) parliamentary group leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on local media that the police had requested Nasheed to be summoned. “The allegation made by the MDP is not true. We didn’t request Nasheed be summoned to the police station. That is a lie,” he said.

Lawyer and former MDP chairperson MP Mariya Ahmed Didi was also quoted in the local media as stating that Nasheed does not have to give a statement to the police. “There is no statement that President Nasheed has to give to the police,” she said. “Even what we have to say publicly- if they [the police] claim that, and want to prosecute, then they should do so. There are no courts that we recognise.”

Didi further stated that police had requested the statement from Nasheed and his secretary via SMS.

MDP member Omar Razak, Chairman of Works Corporation Limited, said Nasheed had refused to go to the station but had also refused to allow the police to meet him at his house, saying “‘my house is not a police station.'”

It is unclear whether the police will pursue the statement.

The police had earlier been issued an order to arrest Nasheed by the Criminal Court’s Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed, was was detained in January on government orders.

After saying he wished to investigate the warrant’s legality, newly appointed Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz decided against the arrest. He told local media his decision was based on concerns that the arrest would carry negative consequence for the public.

Meanwhile, MDP members gathered today to open the party camp (Haruge), which was trashed by police and opposition members on February 7 and has been closed since that time.

Opening the lock to cheers of “Long live Nasheed!”, Nasheed led the crowd into Haruge, stood up on a riser to wave the MDP flag, and then announced a party walk around Male’.

Last Wednesday party supporters were attacked by police near the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA), a common protest area, during what was also intended as a peaceful walk around Male’. Today’s walk only circled the island’s southern half, avoiding the MMA and attracting no security forces to the sidelines.

As thousands joined in and filled central Majeedhee Magu, people chanted a call raised during a previous protest mocking police as corrupt servants of the opposition leaders, waiving dollars and rufiya as they passed police buildings. Previously, the crowd gathered outside Haruge had verbally hassled two police officers driving by on their motorbikes, calling “Lari Lari! Yes sir!”

A lari is the smallest unit of the Maldivian currency – there are 100 in a rufiya (one US dollar is 15.42 rufiya).

The crowd also called for Dr Waheed to step down. One participant compared the setting to 2008, when Nasheed won the presidential elections against ruler of 30 years Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

“Then, they were throwing eggs at Gayoom’s car. People would come out and eat in the streets, like a celebration. Now, this is a march for the ex-president,” he said.

Following the walk, Nasheed signed a petition which was circulated at last evening’s rally and has been signed by several thousand individuals, party members claim. Identifying the power transfer as “actions against Maldivian law”, the petition declares the current government illegal and requests “a lawful government to save the Maldives from destruction and bring it safely ashore.”

Addressed to Parliament Speaker Abdulla Shahid, the petition requests the speaker and all members to:

1) Punish those fews individual who led the coup and formed the current government on February 7, 2012;

2) Launch a proper investigation into the coup, put those responsible for the coup before a proper justice system, and to properly punish those guilty of involvement in the coup;

3) Exercise the power invested in the Speaker and Parliament to hold elections as soon as possible.

The petition will be submitted to Parliament in the coming week.


“I told them to surrender; otherwise Nasheed might lose his life”, Umar Naseer tells PPM rally

The Deputy Leader of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Umar Naseer has claimed that he warned the close aides of Former President Mohamed Nasheed during the unrest of February 7 that Nasheed “might lose his life” if he did not comply with the calls for his resignation.

“I kept telling them to surrender or else you might even lose your life. I kept telling them repeatedly,” he said, adding that Nasheed had asked for security guarantees for his family.

There are also videos of the ex-colonel and former assistant police commissioners going into the MNDF headquarters, coming out and addressing the crowd, informing them that Nasheed has been told to “immediately and unconditionally resign” and then escorting him to the President’s Office under military guard.

Umar made the remarks while addressing nearly 1,000 supporters of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s PPM party, gathered at Artificial Beach on Sunday night, in its first rally since Nasheed was ousted from office and appointment of Gayoom’s hardline supporters into the new cabinet formed by President Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.

According to Umar, he was at the “commanding center” and mediating with Nasheed’s close aides, while political unrest escalated on Male’ during the late hours of February 6, as rogue elements of police  and  military joined the opposition protesters culminating into what the MDP claims was a coup.

“While the operation [protest] was going on that night, I was at the commanding center. I was talking to Nasheed’s close aides. I told them to surrender; otherwise [he] might lose life. I told them that repeatedly. But, firstly, they responded arrogantly saying they do not have to surrender [because] such a circumstance has arrived,” Umar claimed.

But around 8:30 the next morning, Umar claimed that Nasheed called him saying that he wanted to resign. Nasheed said that he would not participate in any political activities hereafter, Umar added.

“Nasheed called and said that he is prepared to resign. He requested arrangements to be made for him and his family to leave for somewhere else. I told him that it will be arranged and to prepare for resignation,” Umar claimed.

Following media coverage of those remarks, Umar released a statement today pointing out that he did not imply that President Nasheed’s life was threatened by police and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).

During the unrest, Umar said that he spoke to Former Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu and told that their lives were in danger because of the large number of protestors on Republic Square.

“I said his life could be in danger because of the large number of people gathered there [Republican Square] and it seemed that police, MNDF did not have the capacity to control the crowd – not even us,” Umar said.

Umar said that “we feared from our hearts” that if the civilians [protesters] had entered the MNDF headquarters by using any means, Nashed, Tholhath and MNDF and police inside the building [at the time] would have been at danger.”

Nasheed and his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have however denounced the legitimacy of the new government, and accused Dr Waheed of participating in the coup.

Meanwhile last night, some MDP supporters also took to the streets near parliament, where some MPs were staging a sit-in calling for the release of MDP MP Mohamed Rasheed, who was among those arrested from Addu for vandalising and setting fire to police and public property on February 8.

“Six of our MPs were taken away last night, I was badly beaten myself,” said MP Mariya Didi last evening, describing the aggression done to her by police forces. “I’ve got bruises all over. I’ve still got a black eye.”

Didi referenced her colleague MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, who was flown to Sri Lanka following a police attack on a peaceful march around Male’ last week. “We’ve all been beaten up for many days in a room” by police and security forces, Didi summarised.

Although charges are being issued they appear to have no base. Didi compared the allegations made against her to those made during Gayoom’s administration. “The same politicians, the same members, are doing the same thing all over again. They think they can charge us with terror charges. If this is the case then we will get huge sentences of 12 years or more,” she said.

MP Hamid Abdul Gafoor seconded Mariya’s statements, adding, “This is a coup, there is no doubt about it, and we [MDP MPs] are feeling the brunt of it.

Gafoor claimed that many MDP MPs are blacklisted and unable to leave the Maldives, although officials have denied the existence of such a list.

Protesters last night put down their signs reading “You cannot terrorise our MPs” around 9:00pm and took up the cry “Lari Lari! Yes Sir!”, mocking the police as corrupt servants of opposition party leaders.

The protests continued without turning violent until 1:00am.

Rasheed was moved to house arrest today, along with three Addu city council members detained by the police.


“We have not forgotten your 30 years”: MDP to Gayoom

Leaders of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) launched vitriolic attacks against former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom at a rally Tuesday night, following his departure from the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) to lead the newly-formed Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

In a series of fiery speeches, MDP MPs and party leaders dubbed PPM “the property inheritance party” created to “set up a family dynasty” and condemned the former President’s return to active politics.

“We thought the person who ruled this country for 30 years was finished, but we’re now seeing the formation of the Private Property of Maumoon,” said MP Ali Waheed, former deputy leader of the DRP who defected to the ruling party in May. “We stayed quiet but it was Maumoon who picked off one teeth after another from DRP and now he’s saying DRP is toothless and forming PPM with people who need false teeth.”

The MP for Thohdoo added that he “came to the MDP to put a stop to this”.

“I want to call on [DRP Leader] Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and [Speaker of Parliament] Abdulla Shahid today, if you’re toothless, come to a party that has teeth and bite Maumoon,” he said.

Ali Waheed claimed that in the wake of MP Alhan Fahmy’s dismissal from DRP in late 2009, Gayoom sent a text message to DRP MP Ahmed Nihan’s phone from Singapore asking Waheed to call Fahmy “a rat.”

On Gayoom’s stated reasons for forming a new party, Ali Waheed said that the Maldivian constitution protected Islam and national sovereignty, neither of which required the the former President’s protection.

Ali Waheed accused Gayoom of undercutting young leaders of the DRP, predicting that “at the last minute” the former President would ask Umar Naseer and Abdulla Yameen – potential contenders for the PPM presidential ticket – to step aside to make way for his presidential bid.

Meanwhile after verifying the required 50 application forms, the Elections Commission (EC) approved the PPM’s request to register the new party today with Gayoom’s son Farish Maumoon as the party’s temporary liaison. Gayoom’s four children, along with half-brother MP Abdulla Yameen and nephew MP Hamdhoon Abdulla Hameed, were also members of the Z-DRP council formed after the ‘Zaeem’ faction’s split from the DRP.

“We have not forgotten”

In her remarks, outgoing MDP Chairwoman Mariya Ahmed Didi criticised Gayoom for refusing to rule out an attempt to return to power after inviting “educated youth” to join his party.

Mocking Gayoom’s request to reporters at Monday’s press conference to ask only one question at a time “because I might forget,” Mariya said that “[Gayoom] might have forgotten how [he] ruled for 30 years, the Maldivian people experienced those 30 years and remember it well.”

President Mohamed Nasheed told her that if the government arrested Gayoom or sought retribution or revenge, said Mariya, it would discourage the emergence of strong opposition parties.

Nasheed explained that “we have come out for a bigger picture and must be patient and lower our hearts,” Mariya said, expressing gratitude to MDP member for “the patience you have shown.”

“We are seeing that when the public has been very patient, some people mistakenly thought that people have forgotten the experience of 30 years,” she continued. “I want to tell President Maumoon, we do remember. We remember the brutality, we remember Evan Naseem and those who were killed with him.

“We remember what happened to our ballot boxes, how island chiefs sat on it and replaced ballot papers to get 98 percent [in previous presidential referendums] so that you could say ‘I’m the President.’ I want to tell Maumoon we have not forgotten how you destroyed our young generation with drugs so that they will not oppose you. We remember the level of corruption in this country in the past.”

“Access Denied”

AlhanMP Alhan Fahmy – who was dismissed from the DRP for voting against the party line in a no-confidence motion against Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed – meanwhile argued that the fledgling democratic system in the Maldives would not allow Gayoom to stage a come-back.

“There is only one way an autocratic ruler can come back,” he explained. “That is, the ruler can return to an autocratic government. Today our system is a democratic system. That means when Maumoon tries to enter the system, it will flash in big letters: ‘Access Denied’.”

Alhan said the “message MDP wants to send Gayoom” was that – as recent events in the Middle East have borne out – deposed autocratic regimes could not return to power.

“I have a two year-old child and whenever anyone asks him ‘what happened to Maumoon?’ he will immediately reply ‘he fell’,” Alhan continued, adding that presidents in democratic countries are not toppled from power but leave after completing their terms in office. “When you fall, you can’t climb back again. You have to stay on the spot where you fell.”

Meanwhile in his speech, President Nasheed asserted that there was no possibility of Gayoom returning to power.

“It is not something we should be concerned about in the least,” he said. “We know the history of this country and what happens to former rulers. [But] because what we want to see from this country is a different reality, we still keep saying ‘lower your hearts in victory’ and this is what we will keep doing in the future.”

Gayoom should be offered “the respect and honour due to a former President,” said Nasheed, assuring supporters at the rally that Gayoom’s political activities would not cause them “any harm whatsover.”

“That is not something that will happen in this country anymore,” he insisted. “Before concluding I do however want to tell you what happened to Ali Rasgefaan [Sultan killed in battle with an invading Portuguese garrison in 1558]. When he reached Maafanu [ward of Male’] and looked back, there were only two people behind him. He was buried there with those two. The Prime Minister of Andhiri Andhiri [Portuguese overseer] was Thufasha, who was Ali Rasgefan’s Prime Minister. Nothing new will happen in our country. This is a very ancient island. We are living with a thousand of years of history. Do not be worried at all.”


MPs vote against referring to Supreme Court on provinces issue

Yesterday MPs rejected the resolution presented by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to refer to the Supreme Court on the controversial provinces issue.

35 MPs voted for the resolution while 38 MPs voted against the resolution.

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party Vice President and MP Ali Waheed said that he doubted the accuracy of the resolution, claiming that it was presented “to mislead the people.”

”MP Ahmed Sameer (who presented the resolution) has told so many lies standing near the podium,” Waheed said. ”Maybe he wanted to make a record for the first ever issue taken to the Supreme Court.”

The provinces section was removed from the decentralisation bill on the vote of the DRP, Dhivehi Qaumy Party (DQP), Peoples Alliance (PA), Jumhoory Party and several Independent MPs.

”I never knew that people voted to divide the country into seven provinces,” he said.

Waheed said even if the issue was taken to the Supreme Court, they were also unable to divide the country.

”It can only be done by the vote of 77 MPs,” he said.

Independent MP Ibrahim Muthalib said he was concerned that if the issue was taken to the Supreme Court, it would set a precedent and many decisions would be made by the Supreme Court.

”We are losing our dignity on our own,” he said.

MDP MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed said that the issue was not a constitutional issue, and was rather a political issue.

”Dividing the country into provinces were in both the MDP and DRP manifestos,” Nasheed said. ”To fulfill the pledges of MDP, it’s one path we have to go down.”

He said that it would be more beneficial if there were seven ‘Males’, instead of one.

”What is really going on is that some DRP MPs and vice presidents had told me that if the issue was taken to the Supreme Court, it would rule that it is lawful,” he said. ”They asked me how they will save face in front of the people if that was the case.”

He called on the DRP MPs to take the issue to the Supreme Court if they were confident on the matter.

”If the Supreme Court rules it is unconstitutional we will also be supporting DRP MPs,” he said.

DRP MP Ahmed Mahloof said the purpose of MDP presenting the resolution was to mislead the people.

‘The ‘DRP manifesto do not say it the party will divide the country into provinces,” he said, ”it says it would make four cities like Male’.”

Jumhooree Party MP Gasim ‘Buruma’ Ibrahim said it was not necessary to pass the resolution and take it to the Supreme Court.

”We should take this out of the parliament floor and continue our work making laws,” he said.

DRP MP Ahmed Nihan said that before taking the issue to the Supreme Court people should define the meaning of MDP’s pledges they made to the people.

”They pledged to provide houses for people made homeless by the Tsunami within one year,” he said. ”We should ask them what they meant by ‘one year’ and ‘providing houses’.”

MDP Parliamentary group leader Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik recently said that the MDP parliamentary group would put forward a no-confidence motion against the speaker of the parliament.

However, newspaper ‘Miadhu’ reported that DRP MP Rozaina Adam had claimed there were MDP MPs who would not vote for the no-confidence motion.

Rozaina told Minivan News that she did not wish to speak about the matter.

Reeko said that the parliamentary group would be deciding the matter after the decentralisation bill.

”We do not want to speak about it yet,” he said.

MDP Secretary General Ahmed Shah, Spokesperson Ahmed Haleem and Chairperson Mariya Didi did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.

DRP Vice President Umar Naseer said Reeko had promised to draft the no-confidence motion against the speaker not with the intention of doing it, ”but just to charge their activists.”

MDP can only get 27 votes even if the no-confidence motion was forwarded, he said: ”MDP can’t shoot goals in parliament.”