Lieutenant Colonel Zubair “forced” to retire from MNDF

A high ranking Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) officer has said he was forced to retire from service yesterday.

Lieutenant Colonel Zubair Ahmed who had served in the military for 34 years told opposition aligned private broadcaster Raajje TV he had been “given no choice” but to resign.

An army officer summoned Zubair and told him if he did not resign of his own volition he would be dismissed, Zubair said.

Last week the MNDF dismissed nine senior officers in an ongoing firing spree claiming the nine had violated MNDF’s regulations and sowed discord within the military

According to Zubair, the army officer further said the military was reducing staff and Zubair was among the soldiers the military wanted to dismiss. Zubair said he wanted to remain in service, but believed the best option was to retire with the ensuing benefits.

MNDF Spokesperson Major Hussain Ali rejected Zubair’s claims, telling local media that Zubair had submitted a letter of resignation of his own volition.

Zubair is uncle to ousted President Mohamed Nasheed.

Colonel Ahmed Jihad who had served in the military for 31 years also retired with honors yesterday. Jihad is husband of Nasheed’s Education Minister Shifa Mohamed.

The military on Tuesday also announced a recruitment drive for an unspecified number of soldiers.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense had threatened to take action against any media outlets that criticized its “routine” disciplinary actions against soldiers who violate the law.

The Maldives Media Council (MMC) and Maldives Broadcasting Commission have expressed concern over the Defense Ministry’s statement and said it is the MMC and MBC who are authorized to investigate and penalize the media.

Dissent within the military ranks grew in the last days of former President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s government, with the Supreme Court’s annulment of  and order to delay presidential polls.

A letter signed by 17 high-ranking officers – which expressed concern over possible repercussions in the absence of a president elect by the end of the presidential term on November 11 – was leaked on social media.

Several officers were suspended, demoted and transferred following the letter and the MNDF amended its regulations to punish any soldier who “incited upheaval and chaos.”

In mid-November, 73 mid-ranking officers circulated an appeal calling on fellow soldiers not to obey any “unlawful” orders issued by President Waheed or his political appointees.

Former Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam has told local media that his dismissal was “irresponsible and prejudiced” and said he will appeal the case through the courts.

The opportunity to establish democracy as per the 2008 constitution was “fraying and unraveling,” Nilam said.

Reappointed Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim has unveiled a new strategic action plan, pledging to strengthen the national security framework, establish a welfare system that does not rely on the state budget, develop infrastructure to enhance soldier’s living and working conditions and expand education and training facilities to further professionalise the army.

President Abdulla Yameen has reappointed State Minister of Defense Mohamed Muizz Adnan to his post today.