Former President Waheed Departs for UN General Assembly to New York

Former President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan departs for New York today to represent Maldives at the UN General Assembly.

Speaking to Haveeru, President’s Office spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz said that Waheed would be addressing the assembly on behalf of his successor President Abdulla Yameen.

“Waheed will be speaking on the 30th of this month and in his talk he would highlight some of the government’s policies and concerns,” said Muaz.

Accompanying Waheed will be a special envoy consisting of high government officials including Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon.

President Yameen was not able to take part in the General Assembly because he is due to leave for the Hajj pilgrimage on the 25th of this month.

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Defiant Attorney General Azima Shakoor voted out of office

A parliamentary no-confidence motion against Attorney General Azima Shakoor has passed with 41 votes today (October 29).

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) filed the motion, claiming Azima had demeaned the constitution, parliamentary powers and the integrity of the Attorney General’s post by advocating against the Elections Commission (EC) in September’s vote annulment case.

The party also accused her of attempting to benefit her political party in presidential elections, and advising government officials against attending parliamentary committees.

According to Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid, Azima did not attend today’s Majlis sitting and did not respond in speech or writing to any of the allegations made against her.

However, in an emotional statement addressed to the Speaker and shared with local media, Azima stressed that she had acted within the law and accused the MDP of pursuing a “personalized vendetta.”

“It is not the Majlis that I will be held accountable to on the day after tomorrow. It is to Allah. On that day, I will be accountable without any fear. All of you know I will not stray from the path of justice for worldly gains or for a job. You will know I will not make a deal,” she said.

Speaking in the AG’s defense, MPs of the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) stressed that Azima had not committed any unlawful acts, and as such the no confidence motion was unjust.

The PPM boycotted the vote, but PPM MP Ahmed Mahloof voted for the no-confidence motion. In addition to the MDP, the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) supported the motion. Five MPs voted against.

No confidence

The MDP submitted the no confidence motion against Azima on September 25 with the signatures of 26 MPs.

In the motion, the MDP noted that as Attorney General, Azima had advocated against an independent state institution – the EC – that she was mandated to defend.

Following the first round of elections on September 7, third placed Jumhooree Party sought to annul the vote, alleging widespread electoral fraud. Azima intervened in the case, presented a police intelligence document and asked for an investigation.

A copy of the document was leaked on social media. It alleged 18,486 irregularities on the voter registry. The Supreme Court annulled the election on October 7 and ordered a re-vote.

In her intervention she “advocated against the Elections Commission, discredited the institution, prioritized political party interests, and worked against the constitutional principles, state and public interest,” said the MDP.

The party suggested that the AG had abused her position to influence elections and in doing so had obstructed the election of a new government.

It also accused Azima of infringing upon the parliamentary powers by advising government officials and the security forces not to attend a Majlis committee set up to investigate the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012.

“Taken together, these actions clearly demonstrate that the Attorney General has destroyed constitutional norms and democratic laws,” the motion read.

“The Attorney General has demeaned the Constitution and the integrity of the post of Attorney General and betrayed the Attorney General’s responsibilities and the Maldivian nation,” it added.

“Head held high”

In a statement shared with local media, Azima criticized MDP presidential candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed.

“If I am dismissed from my job because certain individuals believe I am obstructing such a man [Nasheed] from coming to power, and if I lose my job, and if I lose my job because of this reason, and because I did not join them like you [Shahid] did, I see it as my sacrifice for this country. I will leave my job proud, with my head held high,” she told Haveeru.

If Nasheed took over the presidency, he would weaken the state and the country’s sovereignty, and weaken Maldives’ Islamic faith Azima alleged.

“I am saying so because I know so. However, I have not committed any act that violates the law. And I have not participated in any political activities. In my term, in matters relating to him [Nasheed] I acted fairly, within the law,” she said.

She alleged that, as president, Nasheed had sold part of the Maldives’ territory to another country – information which she had shared with the Majlis’ National Security Committee. Furthermore, Nasheed had attempted to include Jewish cultural education in the national curriculum, she claimed.

“I do not accept defying Islam and the Prophet. I believe the country has maintained its sovereignty because Maldivians have maintained the Islamic faith. I do not believe any other religion but Islam should exist in this country. This is my belief,” she said.

On the state’s decision to intervene in the Supreme Court’s vote annulment case, Azima said it was her duty to act as she had received credible evidence of electoral fraud. However, she said the state had not advocated for or against a vote annulment.

“I had to take action when I received credible evidence of repeated voting and votes cast by thousands of dead people, individuals who have not yet been born, and individuals who had not made ID cards through the Department of National Registration. Similarly, the state must be concerned when people made passports using those [fake] ID cards.

“These are matters that I would be questioned on if I did not take any action. Since these are matters that can be proven if a proper investigation is done, I did so with courage,” she said.

She also criticized Speaker Abdulla Shahid for helping MPs evade the courts, for supporting MPs who were in contempt of court and those who had committed criminal acts. Moreover, she said the Majlis had not followed the legal norms in dismissing a cabinet member.

“Today you are the judges and you have written your verdict without allowing the accused a right of response,” she said.

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Waheed and Nasheed hold first meeting since power transfer

Former President Mohamed Nasheed met with his successor Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan yesterday evening for the first time since the former’s controversial resignation in February last year.

Meeting at the president’s official residence – Muleeage – at 9pm, the encounter lasted around fifteen minutes before Nasheed left without speaking to the press.

A subsequent Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) statement said that the discussion had included Nasheed’s concern at the delayed run-off election following the Supreme Court rulings ordering the cessation of preparations – by force if necessary.

The court is reported to be working around the clock to reach a conclusion in the Jumhooree Party’s (JP) case, which has requested an annulment due to what it allegs were systemic failings during the first poll.

Despite President Waheed’s hopes that the court reach a decision as soon as possible, none has been forthcoming since the concluding statements were heard one week ago.

A President’s Office statement today noted Waheed’s desire to see a smooth transfer of power to the eventual winner of the election.

Addressing the nation earlier in the day, Waheed said that verification of election related complaints was vital.

“Presidential candidates, political parties, individual citizens, foreign organisations and nations are all waiting to see the election being held as quickly as possible and to see the new president take oath on November 11,” said President Waheed.

The constitution mandates that a new president take office by November 11, a schedule the Elections Commissioner has said cannot now be met.

Both MDP and President’s Office statements claimed that the meeting had been requested by the other attendee.

Waheed assumed office within hours of Nasheed’s unexpected resignation, in what Waheed has insisted was a constitutionally prescribed procedure.

Nasheed would soon claim that his resignation had come under duress, publicly labelling Waheed as a conspirator in his demise and a ‘baghee’ (‘traitor’).

Whilst Nasheed topped the first round of polling on September 7 with 45.45% of the vote, Waheed’s ‘Forward with the Nation’ coalition gained just 5%.

The final result was due to be followed by a run-off on September 28 between Nasheed’s MDP and second-placed candidate Abdulla Yameen of the Progressive Party of Maldives before third-placed candidate Gasim Ibrahim’s JP took his complaints to the Supreme Court.

Gasim – who himself met with Nasheed two weeks ago to discuss the maintenance of national interest and maintaining stability and public order – missed out on the run-off by less than three thousand votes.

Supporters of Nasheed have protested for six consecutive nights following the decision to indefinitely delay the run-off.

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Maldives election another chance at unity: Associated Press

“The Maldives — more than 1,100 islands scattered across the Indian Ocean — are sharply divided along political lines. The first democratically elected president insists his former deputy helped force him out in a coup d’etat,” writes Krishnan Francis for the Associated Press.

“And the brother of the longtime dictator of the country, where widespread unemployment exists alongside some of the world’s most expensive beach resorts, now wants to be president himself.

Few hope that Saturday’s presidential elections will soothe the divisions that have inflamed the archipelago since last year, when former President Mohamed Nasheed resigned amid a standoff with security forces and widespread protests.

‘‘Even families are divided and some are not on talking terms,’’ said Mohamed Visham, editor of local English daily Haveeru. He said the new leader will have to shift attention away from the political divide and toward issues like economic development and infrastructure.

The Maldives had its first democratic presidential elections just five years ago, after 30 years of dictatorship under Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Most of its public institutions, from the police to the public service commission and the courts, are widely seen as political partisan, and it is believed that most government workers continue to support Gayoom.”

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“Posing as scholars, they sold out Islam to bring about a coup d’etat”: former President

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed has said February 7, 2012’s controversial transfer of power was by politicians posing as religious scholars “selling out on the religion of Islam.”

Nasheed made the comments while addressing a rally held in the island of Bilehdhoo in Faafu Atoll on Sunday night, where a number of new members signed to the party including the island’s council president.

Only aim of small parties is promoting self-interest

Addressing the crowds, Nasheed stated that the country was seeing the formation of a number of small political parties.

“These parties are not formed with any intention of promoting any specific ideology or philosophy. The objective of forming these parties are to increase the power of their private businesses through these parties,” he stated.

“When they have a political party they sit down for business discussions, and the government is forced to relent. This is the reason why these people create political parties,” Nasheed said.

“After forming such parties, they then contest in elections and say that if they are given cabinet posts, islands, judges and warehouses, then they will into a coalition. The people have no part in such a coalition, it’s only these leaders who enter it,” Nasheed continued.

He further added that although small party leaders did not consider the interests of the general members or citizens when entering coalitions, he regretted that such parties were initially formed by acquiring signatures from those among the public.

“These forms were filled  illegitimately using money as an incentive. We are seeing this for certain beyond any doubt. And once the party is formed, they then sell off the party to this coalition,” he alleged.

“One of the biggest things that this coalition has done is toppling the government which was legitimately elected in 2008.”

“This country has a ‘haram’ government”

“There is no greater sin in Islam than to orchestrate a coup,” Nasheed stated.

“Wearing hats of sheikhs and religious scholars, they have committed a huge sin, an act which is absolutely haram. Today, this country has a haram government. Being a 100 percent Muslim country, we must not let them continue carrying out this haram act in front of our eyes. God willing, we will win this presidential election in one round.”

“God willing, the righteous will always win. Human experience has never shown that a people who have committed a haram act, and remain in that state of sin, can succeed in what they are doing. We have never seen this happen in the past, and except for a few of our countrymen, no one believes they will gain that success even in future.”

During his speech, Nasheed spoke of the rhetoric used by political parties had against his administration prior to the contentious transfer of power in February 2012.

“In their ploy to topple our government, they spoke of two things. One is that it was for the sake of religion. In this context, one issue they raised was that the management of Ghiyasudheen School [in Male’] included foreigners. Meanwhile, we can clearly see that even here the principal is a foreigner, the teachers are foreigners.”

“After having preached this against Ghiyasudheen School, today it is the children of these religious scholars who are enrolled to study in that school. [Adhaalath Party MP] Muhthalib’s child goes to that school. The Supreme Court Judges’ children also go to that school. All the religious scholars have their children enrolled in this school, and this is because it is a school where the educational standards are very high,” Nasheed said.

“They toppled our government because we were establishing that school, and yet today their children are enrolled there,” he claimed.

“When they were overthrowing our government, they spoke about massage parlours. We are not seeing these places being closed down today. They spoke of the sale of alcohol, and yet the amount of alcohol being sold has not gone down.”

“I am absolutely certain that you will not see any issue that they have raised that has been stopped today,” Nasheed said, addressing many of the accusations that had been made against him by the then opposition coalition.

“By donning the caps of religious scholars and deceiving citizens in the name of religion, they gained power in a government and are now in the midst of the biggest worldly sin,” Nasheed alleged.

“The religion of Islam is a religion which has been given respect and honour in our hearts. They can always play with our hearts when they speak in the name of religion, especially when they do so in the guise of being Islamic scholars,” he said.

“We Maldivians are waking up to this now. We can no longer believe the things they say in the name of being religious scholars.”

“The Adhaalath Party did contest in the parliamentary elections, as well as the local council elections. They did not win a single seat in the first, and only two or three or seats on Fainu in the local council elections, out of a total of over 1700 seats,” Nasheed stated.

“Maldivians have never accepted that religious scholars should get entangled in worldly political matters. They are pious, righteous people who should be advising people like us on religious matters. It will not do when today they themselves are coming out and drafting laws to govern massage parlours,” Nasheed said.

“All of this is clear to us Maldivians now: a coup d’etat was brought about in the Maldives, and this coup was orchestrated by selling out the religion of Islam.”

“’Me, me, mine’ is the motto of small parties”

“The other issue that they spoke of when toppling our government is that we were putting up national assets for sale. They claimed we sold the airport on Hulhule’, which still remains there. No one has left taking the airport with them,” Nasheed stated.

“After the coup, the very people who claimed loudly that airport had been sold and partook in the coup, took the airport themselves. This they did not see as a national asset. The airport that we rent out for development was said to be a national asset, though. It is as if they become assets when they are in the hands of a certain people. As if it is not a national asset as long as it remains in their hands,” he said.

“The whole objective of a small political party is ‘for me, me, mine’; to see what is in it for them and to continue forming coalitions so as to increase the lot they will personally gain from it,” Nasheed continued.

“No development work was carried out in the Maldives in 2012 – the country was at a standstill. These people’s motto is to remain in a standstill. The government is at a standstill. They do nothing besides quarrelling among themselves,” Nasheed said.

“I think that if they make a large coalition, there is no relief for us Maldivians. It will be then be all about their coalition, their interests, their wealth, their businesses and their rule.”

“Children are not to be handled like tuna”

President Mohamed Waheed has meanwhile expressing “deep sadness” after a parent had stopped a child from shaking hands with the him during a trip to Meemu Atoll last weekend.

“The child won’t even know who I am even, but the father has taught the child a very bad lesson. To refuse to shake hands with anyone who approaches is not something Muslims do, not something Maldivians do,” Waheed was quoted as saying in local media.

Nasheed referred to this incident in his speech in Bilehdhoo.

“When ‘Baaghee’ (traitor) Mohamed Waheed went to an island and tried to harass a child, and the parents stopped him from doing so, he released a media statement expressing sadness about this,” Nasheed said.

“I have said even the other day, that parents will of course get angry when you try to hoist a child up like they hoist up tuna onto a fishing boat. I have said even then that we look at this child, carry this child, because their life is our party’s future, this nation’s future. This party has a policy which has to do with everything from their toe to their tip of their hair. This party is the child’s party. This party exists for the sake of the child’s future, for our future. To make their hopes and dreams a reality. And so, parents will not get angry when we approach their children and carry them,” Nasheed stated.

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PPM MP Mahloof calls on Waheed to give up Kaashidhoo seat to Jabir

MP and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Spokesperson Ahmed Mahloof has called on Mohamed Waheed, the party’s candidate for the Kaashidhoo seat in parliament, to remove himself from an upcoming by-election.

Mahloof told Haveeru yesterday that Waheed had been asked to remove his name from the election in order to leave the seat to the Jumhoory Party’s (JP) Abdulla Jabir.

The JP and PPM are in a coalition along with five other parties in the current government coalition and both parties have reportedly disagreed over who is to run for the vacant Kaashidhoo seat in parliament.

Mahlouf has told the press that Jabir was more likely to win the by-election because Jabir has been working on the development of the Kaashidhoo area for a while and that if Waheed was to contend with him in the election, it could be an advantage for the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

He also said all the members of the PPM Council, except for six individuals, do not want Waheed to run in this by-election.

Meanwhile, PPM Council member Dr Mohamed Saudh has resigned from the party after its leadership said that they did not support Waheed.

Saudh has told local newspaper ‘Sun’ that it was against the party’s spirit and charter to discourage a party member running for an election while expressing support for another organisation.

Waheed is a prominent lawyer who has represented former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on several collections.  He work has included helping the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and PPM in almost all of the court cases filed in the court relating to their affairs whilst they were in opposition.

Last year, the Criminal Court sentenced Independent MP for Kaashidhoo, Ismail Abdul Hameed, to one year and six months banishment after he was found guilty of abusing his authority for financial gain to a third party.

Under article 73(c)(3) of the constitution, MPs found guilty of a criminal offence “and sentenced to a term of more than twelve months” would be stripped of their seat.

Waheed did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.

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Government misled by NDMC’s management of Moreway money

Senior members of Moreway Construction Company and the National Disaster Management Center (NDMC) have been implicated by employees of NDMC and the French Red Cross (FRC) for their alleged corrupt involvement in a 2005 Laamu Gan tsunami housing project.

“Moreway is a scapegoat for forgeries and fabrications committed by the Arif brothers Ahmed and Abdullah, and Mohamed ‘Dhigali’ Waheed,” alleged one member of the business community familiar with the individuals, who wishes to remain anonymous.

Dhigali is a former shareholder and current executive manager of Moreway Construction. Ahmed Arif owns Apollo Holdings Company, which has been linked to Moreway, while Abdullah Arif, formerly director of Moreway Arun Excello, today holds shares in Lotus Company.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) recently entered NDMC with police forensics experts to review files relating to a Rf18 million (US$1.16 million) payment issued to Moreway by the government in May. The ACC stopped a second payment of Rf15 million (US$973,000) in August on suspicion of corruption.

In 2005, the FRC tendered a US$7 million post-tsunami housing project for Laamu Gan, accepting bids from several companies, including Moreway, in a joint venture with Indian company Arun Excello and local company Aima. Although the project initially proposed 460 houses, complaints of insufficient conditions and finances prompted the FRC to reduce that number to 240.

NDMC Senior Project Manager Mohamed Waheed said Moreway’s complaints of insufficient financing and obstacles to construction prevented the company from fulfilling its contract, although at the time, claimed Waheed, imported materials were duty-free. A former employee of the French Red Cross, Adam, added that Red Cross site inspections and budget plans were nearly fool-proof. But “they were always demanding money from FRC, they had all kinds of excuses,” said Waheed.

Meanwhile, Arun Excello had abandoned the project mid-way due to frustrations with Moreway, incurring a loss of US$300,000.

Representatives at Arun Excello had not responded to inquiries at time of press.

After building 80 houses, Moreway’s contract was terminated by the FRC and the project handed over to Maldives Transport and Contracting Company (MTCC) under the government’s remit.

Moreway was subsequently sued by NDMC on behalf of the Maldivian government for losses incurred by the unfinished project. In November 2007, the Civil Court delivered a verdict requiring Moreway to pay US$2.3 million to the government and granting NDMC the right to sell Moreway property at their construction site if the money was not paid within one month.

Sources say the money, due four years ago, has not yet been paid.

“Misleading” letters

Although payments were released to Moreway this year by the Finance Ministry, Waheed claimed that the government has been misinformed.

On April 19, 2011, Deputy Minister of Housing and Environment Ahmed Zaki sent a letter to Finance Minister Ahmed Inaz stating that a sixth invoice submitted by Moreway in March 2007 had yet to be paid, and requested that the ministry release the funds.

In response, Inaz said budget constraints prevented the money being allocated to NDMC, “so, money is to be paid from the NDMC budget.”

Further letters obtained by Waheed illustrate government confusion around the issue. In what Waheed called “misleading letters” between the Finance Ministry and NDMC, NDMC personnel requested the government to pay expired contractor invoices for a project which it had not tendered. At Zaki’s suggestion, the Finance Ministry reallocated money for current housing projects in Dhuvaafaru and Vilufushi to facilitate these payments, which were made using the current dollar-rufiyaa exchange rate.

Although the first payment voucher, processed in May, required Mohamed Waheed’s authorisation, his name had been crossed out and replaced by Deputy Minister Adam Saaed’s, who authorised the voucher along with Zaki.

Asked why this had been done, Waheed speculated that “they thought I wouldn’t sign it, and since Saeed is a friend of Zaki’s they had him sign it. I don’t think he even knew about it, maybe he signed it without thinking much.”

Meanwhile, documents used to obtain these payments are in dubious standing. Waheed points out that only copies were submitted to the Finance Ministry. “Who will accept invoice copies these days? Not even a small child!”

FRC officials also pointed out that the invoices had long been considered invalid.

Emails exchanged between Waheed, FRC senior project manager Brett Campbell and FRC construction coordinator Xavier Chanraud confirmed that all legitimate invoices from Moreway had been paid in full by the time FRC closed its housing projects and left the Maldives.

Chanraud recently stated that, “The FRC has closed all of its housing projects in the Maldives years ago and has already paid 100 percent of its contracts value through NDMC, which includes all defect liability retentions to the contractors. I do not think those invoices are still eligible, especially if rejected four years ago by the NDMC for technical reasons.”

Campbell added that the Civil Court’s verdict against Moreway indicated that “not further payments were due to Moreway.”

In reference to requests for additional payments for access road construction, Campbell said those claims were “discussed at length” and “deemed to be a contractor’s cost.”

Then NDMC Chief Coordinator Abdulla Shahid allegedly rejected the invoices at the time on similar grounds.

“It is questionable how these invoices made headway into NDMC budget section [in 2011],” Waheed wrote in a statement. “These are not outstanding payments to Moreway as one would think and FRC does not recognise these invoices as pending.”

When the invoice for a second payment was authorised by Zaki and NDMC chief coordinator Sheikh Ilyas Hussain and submitted to the Finance Ministry, Inaz questioned its validity against Moreway’s pending debt to the government.

Zaki then took the invoice with comments from NDMC Finance Director Mohamed Shiyam’s desk and passed a new copy to someone else for processing, Waheed alleged. Copies of both invoices with clear discrepancies were shown to Minivan News in private interviews.

The Maldives’ current Red Cross affiliate office, the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC), was unable to comment on the case.

A blind spot

Sources at NDMC and formerly the FRC agreed the previous regime’s corrupt reputation has left the current government with a blind spot.

“At the time, the government was too corrupt to get money for projects,” said Waheed. “So the FRC was funding the project, but after Moreway could not complete the project FRC left and the government stepped in.”

Government bias may have pervaded the project from the start, however. Moreway’s original bid was rejected over a fake bank guarantee, Waheed pointed out, and the company had to go to court to clear its name before re-submitting its bid.

“This is how things were done then, I don’t know why Moreway was selected but that was Gayoom’s regime,” he said.

Internal complications at the Red Cross were also rumored, although a source familiar with the operation could not confirm the reports.

For Adam, the central issue in the Moreway case is ignorance. “GoM does not understand the discrepancies in payments and procedures, and has not been properly informed of the project, so it is being charged for variations that were not approved by FRC,” he said.

According to Adam, the “local procedure” leaves project tendering and awarding to the Ministry and does not include consultants. It is “the only procedure Maldivians know,” and supports a “culture of embezzling state funds” whereby invoices are frequently submitted, rarely checked, and often paid.

FRC’s procedure is more meticulous and independent, Adam explained. Consultants are included in the bid review process, and officials at local and international FRC offices review projects alongside NDMC officials and consultants.

Had the government been more aware of FRC’s procedures, Adam said it would have noticed that the recently-paid invoice had not been signed by a consultant or passed through the review process at FRC.

The trickle-down effect

Distribution of the Rf18 million (US$110,000) is unclear. One source said it was obvious to anyone familiar with the business community that Dhigali “has profited personally, that he is a crooked businessman is known across the whole Maldives.”

A source familiar with the business community implicated Dhigali in a check fraud case involving companies Apollo and Lotus. The Arif brothers are currently shareholders in Lotus, and were allegedly issued a bad check by Apollo, in which Dhigali is a shareholder.

Other sources believe that anyone involved in processing the payments has also received a share.

The Arif brothers, said to have split associations with Dhigali earlier this year, were reportedly unaware that the payments were made. Ahmed Arif avoided scheduled interviews with Minivan News, and Dhigali did not respond to phone calls.

To date, Moreway’s debt of US$2.3 million has not been paid.

Breaking the Silence

“This is a big fraud and corruption case involving senior members at the government and at NDMC,” said Waheed, who said he suspects political tensions could make the ACC’s investigation difficult. “I’ve told Ilyas and Zaki not to do this. But Ilyas said he is helpless because he is not part of the ruling party. Zaki is MDP, though, and I think the two don’t want to have a conflict.”

While Waheed believes the ACC “is now more professional than before, and we should attach some faith to their investigation,” he chose not to report his findings to the commission.

Instead, he wrote to the President. “Because this involves so many government members I thought it was best to go to the government first, before reporting anything to an outside body. But when I spoke with them they were nervous, they didn’t want this thing to be talked about.”

Minister Inaz had not responded to phone calls at time of press, and Ilyas refused to speak to Minivan News. Deputy Minister Zaki denied all allegations.

ACC’s investigation of NDMC is currently underway.

Correciton: Previously, this article stated “Zaki then took the invoice with comments from Inaz’s desk and passed a new copy to someone else for processing.”

It should have read, “Zaki then took the invoice with comments from NDMC Finance Director Mohamed Shiyam’s desk and passed a new copy to someone else for processing.”

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High Court overrules Civil Court injunction ordering JSC to halt appointment process

The High Court has overruled a Civil Court injunction issued on September 8 ordering the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to halt its appointment of judges to superior courts pending a ruling on the constitutionality of the process.

The temporary injunction was appealed by the JSC at the High Court, which ruled today that the Civil Court did not have jurisdiction to rule on the constitutionality of laws and regulations.

A group of lawyers had filed a case at the Civil Court contesting that regulations drafted by the JSC – containing evaluation criteria for selecting judges to superior courts – conflicted with both the constitution and the Judges Act. The lawyers requested the court abolish the regulations and declare the commission’s shortlist void.

The final interviews of 17 shortlisted candidates were due to place on September 10, two days before the injunction or staying order was delivered.

In its verdict today, the  three-judge panel unanimously ruled that the Civil Court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case, citing article 143 of the constitution as well as provisions of the Judicature Act.

Briefing press after filing the case at Civil Court, lawyers Ali Hussein and Ismail Visham argued that the evaluation criteria formulated by the JSC unfairly favoured graduates of the College of Islamic Education (Kulliya).

Ali Hussein explained that under the regulations drafted by the JSC, a candidate with a masters degree and a graduate of Kulliya both receive 25 marks for educational qualification.

“We are saying this is not fair,” he said. “We especially note that the Faculty of Sharia and Law teaches shariah subjects to the same extent as Kulliya [Islamic College], but graduates of the faculty receive 20 marks while students from Kulliya receive 25 marks.”

Kulliya graduates also received higher marks than graduates of the Islamic University of Malaysia, he said.

The lawyers also claimed that two shortlisted candidates had close ties – as a spouse and a business partner – with two members of the commission, suggesting a clear conflict of interest as neither had recused themselves from voting in the JSC panel.

Moreover, the lawyers observed that the JSC criteria also conflicted with the academic rankings of the Maldives Qualification Authority (MQA), formerly the accreditation board, which places Kulliya certificates below those of overseas institutions.

Following today’s ruling, the lawyers are preparing to file their case at the High Court.

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DRP MPs Ilham, Mahlouf and Gayoom’s lawyer Waheed to face disciplinary committee

The opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP)’s Council has decided to send DRP MPs Ahmed Mahlouf, DRP Deputy leader MP Ilham Ahmed and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s lawyer Mohamed Waheed to the party’s disciplinary committee.

The Council made its decision after accusing Ilham, Mahlouf and Waheed of misleading the public over the work of party’s leader MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and disregarding the party’s interest and attempting to create internal splits in the party.

DRP Deputy leader MP Ilham said that the party’s charter did not allow party’s leader to dismiss anyone who criticises the party leader.

”The charter states that a deputy leader can be dismissed only if a third of the party’s congress votes to dismiss him,” Ilham said. ”There will be internal disputes in political parties, but this is not how to solve it.”

The disciplinary committee may decide to dismiss those Thasmeen wants to be removed from the party because Thasmeen controls the majority in the committee, said Ilham.

”But that would be a void decision,” he added.

Furthermore, Ilham said the case of former Deputy Leader Umar Naseer, who was also dismissed by the Disciplinary Committee, was now in court.

Umar faced the disciplinary committee and was dismissed after he conducted a protest which unauthorised by the party’s leadership. His dismissal over the matter has led to a hostile split in the party between factions loyal to former President Gayoom – the party’s ‘honorary leader’ – and its leader Thasmeen.

”We will respect the decision of the court, I do not believe that the court will rule against the party’s charter,” Ilham said.

Ilham, Waheed and Mahlouf are supporters of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Z-DRP faction.

Thasmeen did not respond to Minivan News while Mahlouf was unavailable at time of press.

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