Youth minister dismissed

President Abdulla Yameen has dismissed today minister of youth and sports Mohamed Maleeh Jamal in a cabinet shuffle.

Recently appointed health minister Ahmed Zuhoor was handed the youth portfolio and deputy gender minister Iruthisham Adam was appointed as the health minister.

The reason for Maleeh’s dismissal is unclear. Neither Maleeh nor president’s office spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali were responding to calls at the time of going to press.

Maleeh appeared with other cabinet minister at a ceremony held this morning to inaugurate a scientific feasibility study for a planned bridge between capital Malé and airport island Hulhulé.

The dismissal was announced at noon.

Maleeh is the cousin of vice-president Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, who the president has reportedly sidelined. The vice-president who was very active during the presidential campaign rarely appears in public now.

Maleeh is alleged to have close ties with ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim, who is currently serving an 11-year jail term on weapons smuggling charges.

According to the pro-government newspaper Vaguthu, documents police found in a pen drive at Nazim’s apartment show the Yameen administration is divided into factions respectively led by the president and Nazim.

Nazim’s “team” included Dr Jameel, home minister Umar Naseer, former Police Commissioner and current JP MP Abdulla Riyaz, Maldives Ambassador to Malaysia Mohamed Fayaz ‘FA,’ former State Trading Organisation (STO) Managing Director Adam Azim (Nazim’s brother), PPM MP Hussain Manik Dhon Manik, PPM MP Ahmed Nazim, Maleeh, and president’s office minister Abdulla Ameen.

Police claimed the documents suggest Nazim was planning to assassinate the president, tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb and police commissioner Hussein Waheed.

Nazim says the pen drive along with a pistol and bullets were planted at his home by rogue police officers on Adeeb’s orders.

Maleeh’s dismissal comes amidst a political crisis triggered by the jailing of Nazim and ex-president Mohamed Nasheed.

Minister for Islamic affairs Dr Mohamed Shaeem resigned on May 5, after the arrest of religious conservative Adhaalath Party president Sheikh Imran Abdulla from an opposition protest.

President also reassigned state minister of Islamic affairs Dr Mohamed Ali to the housing ministry, and appointed state minister for housing Athifa Shakoor to the gender ministry.


President Yameen appoints three more ministers to his cabinet

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has appointed three more ministers to his cabinet during a ceremony held on today (November 21) morning at the President’s Office.

The three new cabinet ministers are Dr Aishath Shiham as the Minister of Education, Dr Mariyam Shakeela as the Minister of Health and Gender and Mohamed Maleeh Jamaal as the Minister of Youth and Sports.

Earlier this week, President Yameen made 11 ministerial appointments that included his niece Dunya Maumoon as Minister of Foreign Affairs along with along with other members of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the coalition of political parties that backed him during the presidential elections.

Who’s who?

Among the newest appointments to President Yameen’s cabinet, Dr Aishath Shiham and Dr Mariyam Shakeela previously served in the cabinets of former governments.

Dr Aishath Shiham was the Minister of Youth and Sports during the final days of Maldives former autocratic ruler for 30 years, Yameen’s half-brother Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Dr Mariyam Shakeela formerly served in the previous government of former President Mohamed Waheed Hassan, as the Minister of Environment and Energy.

Following the death of then Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdul Samad Abdulla last September, Shakeela was appointed as the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs by Waheed.

Mohamed Maleeh Jamaal was the former Deputy Minster of Tourism during Waheed’s government.

Following his refusal to back his party Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP)’s decision to support Waheed’s re-election bid, Jamaal was sacked from the position and at the request of DQP and swiftly replaced by another DQP member.

DQP however later withdrew their support to Waheed and backed resort tycoon and Jumhoree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim, but Jamaal opted to join the PPM.

President Yameen today also appointed Abdulla Ameen –the former State Minister of Ministry of Economic Affairs during Waheed’s administration – as a Minister for the President’s Office.

Apart from Ameen, Waheed’s Minister of Youth and Sports Mohamed ‘Mundhu’ Hussain Shareef was also appointed as a Minister for the Presidents Office earlier.

People expect things to be done – President Yameen

While addressing the new appointees today, President Yameen stated that he wanted a cabinet who would disburse their maximum time and effort in providing services required by the people and who would work within a progressive timeline of development projects.

“As you would know, we have been put in charge [of the government] with a huge support from the people at such chaotic time. We have been given this opportunity to manage the affairs of the people because they want things done. They expect things to be done. They also believe things have to be done. Therefore we should not step back and we cannot fail in that,” President Yameen said.

Highlighting that the country is in desperate need for development, President Yameen noted that his manifesto had a special focus on the youths of the country and appealed to young people of the country to support the government’s efforts to develop the country.

“By the will of Allah, even today we assure the people that this is a government that will bring results,” the President added.

With 14 cabinet appointments as of now, the President is yet to appoint an Attorney General.

President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz told Minivan News that President Yameen would soon appoint a person for the position of Attorney General but did not mention a specific date.


Parliament rejects two of three cabinet ministers submitted for approval

Parliament has narrowly voted to reject the appointments of two of President Waheed’s cabinet ministers submitted to the chamber for approval.

Transport Minister Ameen Ibrahim was approved by 33 votes in favour to 32 against, with one MP abstaining.

However Human Rights, Family and Gender Minster Azima Shukoor was rejected 33 votes against to 31 in favour, with no abstention, while her replacement as Attorney General, Aishath Bisham, was rejected 32-32, with Speaker Abdulla Shahid casting the deciding vote not to approve her appointment.

Waheed subsequently re-appointed Shukoor as Attorney General.

Ministers appointed by the President are required to be formally approved by parliament, However unlike no-confidence motions, parliament’s failure to approve cabinet ministers has not always led to their departure from office.

During the first few years of former President Nasheed’s administration, the then-opposition dominated parliament repeatedly voted to dismiss cabinet ministers submitted for approval.

On several occasions Nasheed immediately reappointed these ministers and again submitted their names for approval, with those individuals continuing in their posts undisrupted.

In mid-2010, following a tense political standoff between the Nasheed administration and members of the former dictatorship whom he had attempted to arrest on charges of corruption, Nasheed’s ministers resigned en-masse in a protest against what they contended were the “scorched earth politics” of the opposition-dominated parliament.

At the time parliament had levelled successive no-confidence motions against Nasheed’s ministers, and Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had accused these members of the opposition of attempting to buy the votes of six of its MPs to secure the two-thirds majority needed to impeach the new president.

With parliamentary regulation preventing the arrest of MPs while no-confidence motions against ministers were pending, Nasheed’s ministers suddenly resigned en-masse in protest over what they contended were the “scorched earth politics” of the opposition-dominated parliament.

The half-brother of former President Gayoom – Abdulla Yameen, currently the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM)’s presidential candidate – and Jumhoree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim – also a current presidential candidate – were arrested and detained by police on charges of bribery, treason, and “attempting to topple the government illegally”.

Yameen was defended in court by Azima Shukoor – whose appointment was today rejected – while Gasim was defended by Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) leader and current Special Advisor to President Waheed, Dr Hassan Saeed.

The Criminal Court, which had opened in the early hours of the morning to hear the cases shortly after Yameen and Gasim were detained, declared their arrests unlawful and ordered their release.

Later in 2010, after three weeks of political stalemate, parliament called an approval vote for all Nasheed’s ministers who had resigned in protest against its disruption of government.

Seven of Nasheed’s 12 ministers – Finance Minister Ali Hashim, Education Minister Dr Musthafa Luthfy, Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed, Fisheries Minister Dr Ibrahim Didi, Home Minister Mohamed Shihab, Defence Minister Ameen Faisal and Attorney General Dr Ahmed Ali Sawad – were dismissed after the MDP boycotted the vote in protest.


Three former ministers and wives attacked

Three of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s ministers and their wives were attacked yesterday midnight around midnight, reports Haveeru. A council member of the Progressive Party of the Maldives, Ahmed ‘Maaz’ Saleem, was also attacked an hour earlier.

According to Haveeru, those attacked included Hassan Latheef, the former minister of human resources, youth and sports, Hassan Afeef, the former minister of home affairs and Mohamed Shihab, the former minister of home affairs, and later Nasheed’s political advisor.

The attack happened at  around 12:30am near the KAM hotel, while the ministers were on their way home after the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) rally held at Artificial Beach. Hassan Latheef and Mohamed Shihab were with their wives on separate motorcycle, while Hassan Afeef was riding another motorcycle when the attack happened.

In an interview with local media, Shihab said that all the ministers and their wives suffered minor injuries. He also alleged that the attackers included members of Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

President Waheed expressed his disappointment with the attacks on the ministers on his official twitter account.


President appoints two deputy ministers

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan appointed two deputy ministers on Tuesday to serve the tourism and transport ministries respectively.

Hussein Lirar (Gaaf Dhaal Hoadhedhoo, Finifenmaage) was appointed to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, while Abdul Latheef Mohamed (Hulhumalé 10213) was appointed to the Ministry of Transport and Communication.

The new appointments come after President’s spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza told local media in early March that no new appointments would be made.

Waheed now has 14 ministers, 16 state ministers and 20 deputy ministers.


“Senior activists and coup leaders” among President’s 18 new deputy ministers: MDP

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan  appointed 18 new deputy ministers to 11 ministries on Tuesday.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) criticised the appointments as rewards for participation in the alleged coup d’état of February 7, that saw Mohamed Nasheed resign “under duress”.

“All of these people were senior activists in leading the coup d’état. Many of them were present at the Republican Square on February 7. They are unqualified and inexperienced,” MDP spokesperson and Maafannu Uthuru MP Imthiyaz Fahmy contended.

However, President Waheed’s spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza said the positions were awarded based on political party affiliation and qualifications, not based on “political activity or their presence at a certain place.”

He also said the appointments reflected President Waheed’s desire to “formulate a national unity government”.

“The law gives him the choice to choose his cabinet. He wanted his cabinet to represent all political parties, and he invited all parties to join the government. And these are the people who joined him,” Riza said.

According to Riza, the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), the former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), the Dhivei Qaumee Party (DQP), and the Jumhooree Party (JP) were given three deputy ministerial positions each, while the religious Adhaalath Party was given four seats. President Waheed’s Gaumee Ithihad (GI) received two seats, and the Maldives Reform Movement (MRM) received one seat. The MDP declined to participate.

Waheed also appointed his brother Ali Waheed Hassan Manik as the CEO of National Center for Arts. Managing Director Adam Shareef of the now defunct Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC)’s alleged Ali Waheed had led the take over of MNBC on behalf of Dr Waheed before Nasheed resigned.

Dr Waheed’s new appointments include former prominent opposition activists, DRP media coordinator Ali Solih, Abdulla Rifau and Naaif Shawkath who led a series of opposition-sponsored youth protests in May 2011, Gayoom’s former presidential appointee now DRP registrar Mohamed Saleem (Hoarafushi), Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa TV reporter Shiham Mohamed Waheed, and Adhaalath Party’s Asadhulla Shafee, who was seen in a leaked video clip at the police headquarters with opposition leaders before Nasheed announced his resignation.

MDP MP Fahmy said the public had voted for an MDP administration, but that Waheed’s appointments represented the interests of former president Gayoom – who had been voted out.

“Waheed has been forced to grant jobs to these activists. He is a mere puppet. He is controlled by Gayoom, his brother Yameen and the businessmen who led the coup,” he said. Fahmy said he believed Gayoom was backing  Waheed in a bid to avoid early elections, which the MDP is confident of winning.

In response, Riza said the 2008 vote had been for a coalition government that included the Jumhooree Party, Dhivehi Qaumee Party and Adhaalath Party. “Calling it an MDP administration simply has no political weight,” he said.

President Waheed appointed Ahmed Shafeeu as Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture on Monday, filling up the last post in his cabinet. He also appointed eight state ministers on Tuesday, among them retired Deputy Commissioner of Police Mohamed Fayaz (Home Affairs), and December 23 protest organiser and spokesperson Abdulla Mohamed (Home Affairs).

Waheed had also appointed Gayoom’s children, Dhunya Maumoon and Ghassan Maumoon to state minister for foreign affairs and state minister for human resources respectively.

Waheed now has 14 ministers, 16 state ministers and 18 deputy ministers. Riza subsequently told local media Haveeru that there would be no further ministerial appointments.

Download a ‘Who’s Who’ spreadsheet of the Dr Waheed’s ministerial appointees (English)


Visiting Danish Ministers announce climate mitigation assistance

Denmark will fund climate mitigation programs in Kenya, Indonesia and the Maldives as part of its US$40 million ‘fast-track’ climate change initiative.

Danish Minister for Development Cooperation Søren Pind and Minister for Climate Change and Energy Dr Lykke Friis held a joint press conference with President Mohamed Nasheed this morning in the President’s Office, and announced assistance for infrastructure and capacity-building projects in the Maldives.

“In global climate talks there is sometimes the tendency to say ‘If we don’t agree now, we’ll just agree next year.’ But if anyone suffers from that illusion they should come to the Maldives, because here you get an education that action is needed now,” said Dr Friis.

“There has been so much debate about [assistance] being just around the corner – what we wanted to do with this visit was get around that corner. We did not come empty handed – we came with some very concrete initiatives with which we will continue to deepen the cooperation between our two countries,” she added.

While the Maldives is graduating from UN Less-Developed Country (LDC) status to middle income in January, something that may lead many donors to perceive the country as less needy’, Dr Friis explained that the Maldives had the ability to “make the case” for climate change action.

“Sometimes climate change is abstract and theoretical – you need concrete case studies like the Maldives,” she said. “Anybody following climate change has been inspired by the President Nasheed’s underwater cabinet meeting.”

“What we take back home is that it is not enough just to talk about climate change, but you have to walk the walk.”

Pind added that travelling to the Maldives and seeing the impact of environment erosion first hand “makes an impression.”

“It is one thing to hear about it, but very different to see it in reality,’ he said.

Pind also added that the Danish delegation had held talks with President Nasheed on other challenges facing the country, such as growing radicalisation.

“I had the opportunity to discuss this with the President,” he said. “I have recently travelled to, Kenya, Somaliland and Ethiopia, and I can tell you that [radicalisation] is not only a challenge faced in the Maldives. We discussed the importance of open societies to be able to combat these challenges.”

During the press conference, President Nasheed also revealed the government’s intention to leave the G77, a coalition of 131 developing nations formed in 1964 to promote their collective economic interests in the United Nations.

“The G77 was formed during the Cold War – now it’s obsolete and unnecessary. I pointed this out in Copenhagen as a well. They do not work on our behalf, and they do not understand our present issues,” Nasheed said. “We do not intend to remain in G77, we do not think this is an organisation that is relevant or necessary anymore. We also think there are many countries within the G77 group that will go along with us.”


Deadlock deepens as Supreme Court grants government injunction over ministerial reappointments

Parliament has deadlocked after the Supreme Court granted the government a temporary injunction last night, blocking the endorsing of cabinet ministers until a ruling on the process can be issued.

The injunction derailed parliament on Tuesday morning, after opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MPs raised points of order claiming that the sittings could not continue until the cabinet appointments were resolved.

The sitting was called off this morning by Speaker Abdulla Shahid.

In June this year, the entire cabinet of the Maldives resigned in protest against “scorched earth politics” of the opposition-majority parliament, leaving only President Mohamed Nasheed and Vice President Mohamed Waheed Hassan in charge of the country.

The cabinet ministers complained that parliament was blocking them from performing their constitutional duties, leading to protests and deadlock.

Nasheed reappointed the ministers several weeks later, however parliament has yet to formally endorse their appointments due to a disagreement between the government and the opposition and over whether ministers will be endorsed individually or collectively.

Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair said that endorsing ministers individually would amount to a series of no-confidence motions.

Last week there were unconfirmed reports that the DRP has a list of six members of the 14 member cabinet that it does not intend to approve.

“There is already a process in place for a no-confidence motion when a minister is deemed untrustworthy,” Zuhair said, arguing that individual appointments would bypass this procedure and allow the opposition to use its “brute-force parliamentary majority” to pick off ministers who had displeased it.

Parliament’s endorsement of cabinet was intended “to be ceremonial”, he stated.

“There is precedent. When the laws were being enacted by the Special Majlis drafting the current constitution, if you look at the debate, [former] Attorney General Husnu Suood proposes two ways of approving ministers, both of which are defeated in favour of asking for approval collectively.”

Writing in his personal blog, Independent MP Mohamed Nasheed, former legal reform minister, characterised the government’s appeal to the Supreme Court as “very harsh” and “pointless”.

The Attorney General’s (AG’s) office has contested the constitutionality of article 171(i) of the parliamentary rules of procedure, which states that presidential nominees must be questioned by a parliamentary committee to determine qualification, educational background and competence.

However, as ministers refused to appear before committee and the issue has now been proposed to the parliament floor, MP Nasheed argues that the Supreme Court ruling would not have any bearing on the matter.

“At most, wouldn’t the Supreme Court rule that article 171(i) is null and void?” he writes. “The Supreme Court would not instruct Majlis how to proceed with the approval issue. Wouldn’t that be determined by the Majlis?”

Article 98(a) of the constitution requires cabinet ministers to attend proceedings of parliament when requested, answer any questions put to them by parliament, and produce relevant documentation.

However the government has been reluctant to allow ministers to attend committee meetings ever since the head of the national security committee, leader of DRP coalition partner the People’s Alliance MP Abdulla Yameen, was released from detention pending an investigation into charges of treason and bribery.

Upon release, the committee promptly summoned the Police Commissioner Ahmed Faseeh and Chief of Defence Force Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel for questioning in committee hearing, outraging many MDP MPs.

In August, the cabinet approved new regulations limiting ministers’ interactions with parliament to the chamber itself, and then only with 14 days prior notice.

DRP Deputy Leader and MP Ali Waheed claimed the approved procedures were “against the spirit of the constitution” and would be void.

‘’Actually, parliament has yet to approve a cabinet. When a cabinet is established we will summon them to committee meetings as well – ministers must appear before committees in the interest of the people – the constitution is very clear. Without doubt these new procedures are void – nobody can narrow the summoning of cabinet ministers to parliament.’’

Writing on his website, leader of the opposition DRP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali said that the failure of ministers to attend committee meetings meant that “parliament is unable to effectively provide the checks and balances necessary for the system to work democratically and ensure that the executive branch is accountable for the exercise of its powers.”

On many occasions, “repeated calls from the parliament to these officials have gone unanswered,” Thasmeen said.

“In a democracy, it is through effective oversight that the parliament can ensure a balance of power and assert its role as the defender of the people’s interests. The government’s action is disrupting the functioning of the parliament.”

Zuhair today claimed that the government’s interpretation of the law was that ministers could only be summoned and questioned on the floor of parliament “before all members.”

“Nowhere does it say ministers must attend committee meetings, unless the whole house is a committee,” Zuhair said. “[The opposition] points to another clause that requires any Maldivian citizen to attend summons to respond to questions in committee hearings, but cabinet ministers do not attend in their capacity as private individuals.”

Meanwhile at yesterday’s sitting, DRP MP Mohamed Mujthaz proposed a resolution to seek the Supreme Court’s legal counsel on the refusal of the Chief of Defence Forces and the Commissioner of Police to appear before the national security committee.

Mujthaz proposed the resolution during a debate on a report by the committee, which was presented to the Majlis floor by the committee chair, DRP Deputy Leader Ali Waheed.

The report states that the committee has been unable to conduct any inquiries due to the refusal of the security chiefs to appear before the committee.

Both officials have argued that the committee should summon either the Defence Minister or Home Minister, as the army and police answer to the cabinet.

Hulhu-Henveiru MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, MDP parliamentary group leader, accused opposition MPs of attempting to summon the police and army chiefs for politically-motivated reasons.

He added that the report did not specify which issue of national importance had been left unattended by the committee due to the refusal of the chiefs to appear.

Referring to the practice in the United States, Yameen said that senior pentagon officials were routinely summoned before senate committees.


Parliament is corrupt, alleges government

Former Attorney General Husnu Suood, who resigned yesterday together with the rest of President Nasheed’s cabinet in protest against the supposed “scorched earth” politics of opposition MPs, has confirmed that the government has arrested two MPs on charges of corruption relating to vote buying in parliament.

When asked if the government has solid evidence to substantiate these allegations, Suood replied that “there are reasons to believe that some corrupt activities have taken place.”

Suood said “there are statements given by certain individuals that these activities have taken place. Based on those statements, and complaints, there are reasons to believe that corrupt activities have taken place. On that basis the government is proceeding.”

Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim, also the MP of Maamigili, and leader of the People’s Alliance (PA) Abdulla Yaameen, the MP for Mulaku, were arrested last night.

“If there is an allegation [of bribery] it could lead to loss of confidence in a state institution,” Suood said on TVM last night. “Selling votes for money is something the president has to investigate. Otherwise there will be no respect for the Majlis (parliament),” he said.

Suood said he was confident the government’s evidence would stand up to scrutiny: “I think the evidence will stand,” he said.

Gasim and Yameen appeared at the high court today following a police appeal against the conditions of the warrant issued last night by the criminal court.

Speaking at a press conference this morning at the President’s Office, Suood expressed strong concern at the amendments to the Financial Bill proposed by the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), highlighting article 7: “Any state asset should be given, sold or leased or any subsidy or aid to any person only under legislation approved by the parliament”, and article 10(a): “any aid given by the state to any persons or to a specific person should only be given under legislation approved by the parliament.”

If the Financial Bill was ratified and parliament gained the authority to dictate aid and subsidies, “it will [jeopardise] all sorts of subsidies and aid the government provides to people, except for the elderly allowance,” Suood claimed.

Former Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture Dr Ibrahim Didi said that the bill would also jeapordise subsidies for fisherman, which was ”unacceptable.”

”We do not want salaries from the people if we cannot provide the services we want to provide them.” said Dr Didi.

Suood added that the government could not resort to the Supreme Court to overturn parliamentary rulings, “because we filed two cases in the Supreme Court, and they ruled it was not the position of the government to file cases in the Supreme Court.”

”I do not believe that the Supreme Court can rule fairly.”

State institutions had failed, Suood said, senior officials of the judiciary were “irresponsible”, and the independent commissions were operating like “small governments.”

“All of this has brought the government to a standstill,” he said.

Parliament deadlocks over detained MPs

Meanwhile, parliament this morning was also brought to a standstill after DRP MPs insisted that parliament could not go ahead without the presence of the two arrested MPs, as legally mandated.

Speaker Abdullah Shahid read out a letter to parliament from Police Commissioner Ahmed Faseeh, which stated that the MPs could not be released for the sitting or to attend committee meetings as required by parliamentary rules due to “security concerns”.

DRP MP Ali Waheed said there was “no rule of law” remaining in the country after police refused to comply with the court order to bring the MPs before court.

That court order was issued after midnight after a request by former Attorney General Azima Shukoor, lawyer representing the two opposition leaders.

The Attorney General’s Office has appealed the court order at the High Court this morning.

Speaker Shahid was unable to finish reading the as the chamber erupted in acrimonious arguments between MPs of the opposing parties. He briefly appealed to Ali Waheed and DRP MP Ahmed Nihan to sit down, before calling the sitting to a halt.

The mood in parliament  today was “very nervous,” said Independent MP Mohamed Nasheed.

“I don’t think the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and DRP were even able to talk to each other. I was very frustrated that people we are normally quite jovial with – such as [MDP MPs] Mariya Didi and Eva Abdulla – are not even able to make eye contact.”

He said the letter from Commissioner Faseeh and a second from the Chief of Defense had angered the opposition MPs, who argued that the Chief of Defense “should not be dictating when parliament should be held – it is not his business and we are not under ministerial rule.”

On the subject of the vote-buying allegations against MPs Yameen and Gasim, Nasheed said he did not know “why the Attorney General is singling them out with allegations of vote buying.”

Nasheed said many parliamentarians were aware of past discussions concerning situations where “independent MPs had been approached by sources related to the government in a bid to increase their strength and try to gain a majority.”

He confirmed that parliament has a standing order preventing an MP from being arrested “while a no confidence motion is in place against the President, the Vice President, a cabinet member, head of an independent institution or the Speaker. But the arrests happened after cabinet has resigned, cancelling the no-confidence motion,” he explained.

“I think there is a political strategy behind all this – it is to direct attention away from GMR-Malaysia Airport Holdings [signing to manage] Male’ International Airport, an issue of serious national concern,” Nasheed suggested.

“I have also heard from a highly reliable source that the president has been considering a cabinet reshuffle and will use this opportunity to appoint new ministers, and remove non-MDP cabinet ministers in the new arrangement. That, and threats and intimidation.”

Nasheed said he hoped parliament would be able to resume next week when the matter of Gasim and Yameen’s detention had been resolved.

“Much will depend on whether the court rules for the detention [of Gasim and Yameen] be extended,” he said.

“I think this is a serious impasse caused by an overly dramatic and excessive reaction from the cabinet,” Nasheed said.

“It is a very sad development. If Nasheed felt so strongly about the Financial Bill, he could have returned it to parliament and his party could have prevented it from being passed. The President has the power to veto bills, and parliament could have tried to override his veto.

If that had happened, the President could have challenged it in a court of law. For cabinet to resign saying the bill is unconstitutional is unreasonable.

Coalition collapse

While Gasim and Yameen were taken before the criminal court last night, the MDP Council resolved to to terminate its coalition agreement with Gasim’s Jumhooree Party.

The MDP Council claimed that “Gasim Ibrahim, without cooperating with the government, has prioritised his personal agenda over national agenda and has collaborated with the opposition, and has appeared in the media [with the intention] of objecting to the implementation of the national agenda,” according to newspaper Miadhu.


Sporadic and small-scale protests against the detention of Gasim and Yameen broke out last night across the city, but rain, roadblocks and the World Cup kept the crowds thinned.

This morning police dispersed a group of protesters who had gathered in a secure zone outside parliament, clutching hastily-written signs with slogans such as ‘Save us from the robbers’.

This afternoon there were reports of MDP-led protests against parliament near the tourist street of Chandanee Magu, the crowd including a number of former ministers as MPs Eva Abdulla and ‘Reeko’ Moosa. The opposition is reportedly planning a protest later this evening.