MNDF to provide security for former Police Commissioner Riyaz

The Maldives National Defence Force has said it will provide security for MP Abdulla Riyaz after the former police commissioner requested protection last week.

“People are following me everywhere I go. I feel somewhat threatened. I have requested for security but MNDF are yet to grant me security,” Riyaz told Minivan News.

MNDF Spokesman Major Adnan Mohamed said only that a request from Riyaz had been received and that the process of arranging the protection was ongoing.

The spokesman has also been quoted as saying that limited resources could delay provision of security to the Kinbidhoo constituency MP.

After serving as police commissioner between 2012 and 2013, Riyaz moved into politics, joining the then-government aligned Jumhooree Party (JP’s) before winning a seat in the Majlis last year.

Since the JP’s split from the government, and the arrest of former defence minister Mohamed Nazim, Riyaz has suggested the police are now being used to further political agendas – claims rejected by police as attempts to “deceive the public”.

His comments came after Nazim’s legal team suggested that dangerous weapons found in his home were planted by the police, who have since stated that the former minister had been plotting to overthrow the government.

Riyaz has also suggested that police are attempting to plant narcotics in his office, his home, or his car. He told Minivan News today that he had sent pictures of those following him to police.

Writing to the newly appointed Minister of Defence and National Security – Nazim’s replacement – Major General (retired) Moosa Ali Jaleel last week, Riyaz said he feared his life was in danger.

“I need security as I fear there might be an attempt on my life based on the political atmosphere set now,” he wrote.

Article 105 (b) of the Constitution requires the state security services to provide “protection and safety” to all members of the People’s Majlis.

Riyaz also sent a similar letter to Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer, asking if any person has been charged in the case of an MP’s motorcycle being set on fire, as well as an incident in which oil was thrown at him last December.

Security concerns in the country also caused the current Police Commissioner Hussein Waheed to take on additional personal security late last month.

Concerns for the security of MPs in October prompted the MNDF to warn Majlis members to stay in their homes after dark, saying that personal security would be made available to any MP who requested it, though the protection was withdrawn soon after.

This move had followed a significant number of threats made against MPs last year, with the Inter Parliamentary Union saying the government’s reaction would be a test of its democratic credentials.

Attacks on elected officials have become more common in recent years, most notably the brutal murder of Progressive Party of Maldives MP Dr Afrasheem Ali in October 2012.

In February last year, MDP MP Alhan Fahmy was nearly paralysed after being stabbed in the back in a busy restaurant in the capital Malé.

Related to this story

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MPs urged to stay in at night as MNDF offers personal security


Nazim dismissed as defence minister, replaced by Moosa Ali Jaleel

Minister of Defence and acting health minister Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim has been dismissed.

Spokesman Ibrahim Muaz tweeted that Nazim has been “expelled from his post due to an ongoing investigation”.

Moments later, Muaz announced that Major General (retired) Moosa Ali Jaleel had been appointed as the new minister of defence and national security.

Nazim’s removal comes just days after his home was searched by special operations officers, who reportedly removed documents after a 3am raid on January 18.

Speaking to the media this afternoon, Nazim said that recent events had shown that no Maldivian was assured of safety and security.

“This gives an alarming signal that entering any house, at any time and to do anything is possible. The defence minister is the most senior official standing beside the president,” he said during a press conference held at the studios of DhiTV.

“It is how things are in all parts of the world. If the situation is so that the minister’s house can be raided at any time, no Maldivian citizen will have safety and security”.

Both Nazim and the President’s Office had played down the incident earlier this week, with Nazim reporting that he was “unfazed”, while the President’s Office expressed continuing confidence in the minister.

“The government and the president has not taken steps against any cabinet minister,” Muaz told Haveeru on Sunday.

However, this afternoon, Nazim expressed his belief that President Abdulla Yameen had been complicit in the investigation.

“I do not believe that such a thing could have been carried out without the head of the state, the president, knowing about it,” said Nazim. “His excellency the president told me that he did know that police entered my home when it happened.”

Muaz told Minivan News today that the president had made the decision as a result of the investigation, but that his approval was not needed in order for police to initiate proceedings against cabinet members.

Investigations into tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb were reported to have been behind the president’s decision to curtail the powers of home minister Umar Naseer in August last year, removing the minister’s ability to issue direct orders to police.

Revealing few details of the raid, police told media on Sunday that they had been unaware the house searched was Nazim’s when obtaining the warrant. Media reports yesterday said that President Yameen had paid a surprise personal visit to Police Commissioner Hussein Waheed at police headquarters.

Nazim told the press that he had complied with all the police’s requests – providing statements, fingerprints, and DNA – and that he would continue to do so.

He is also facing a contest for his position as the president’s appointee to the Local Government Association as fellow board members approved a no-confidence motion against him last week.

The newly appointed defence minister Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel was formerly the chief of defence forces. Jaleel signed for the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives one year ago, saying that he believed the current government’s policies would ensure development and “save the country”.

After 32 years of service, Jaleel retired from the military in the wake of the controversial transfer of presidential power in February 2012.

In January 2013, Jaleel told parliament’s government oversight committee that he believed former President Mohamed Nasheed had “resigned under duress”.

Jaleel is among the senior military officers facing charges over the detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in the weeks prior to Nasheed’s resignation.

Nazim had been minister of defence since the transfer of power – one of the first appointments made by Dr Mohamed Waheed who assumed the position following the unrest of February 7.

Video footage on that day showed Nazim addressing mutinous police and military units gathered in Republican Square, saying he had delivered an ultimatum on their behalf demanding Nasheed’s unconditional resignation.

Related to this story

Police raid Defence Minister Nazim’s home in early hours

Former defence chief and two MPs among high-profile switches to pro-government parties


President appoints high commissioners to Sri Lanka and Pakistan

President Abdulla Yameen has filled the posts of Maldivian High Commissioner in both Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

The president appointed Zahiya Zareer of Galolhu Zafna to the post of High Commissioner to Sri Lanka while Major General (Retired) Moosa Ali Jaleel was appointed to the vacant post in Pakistan.

Zahiya Zareer served as education minister during former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s administration.

Major General (Retired) Moosa Ali Jaleel acted as chief of the defence force during the administration of former President Mohamed Nasheed.


Parliament approves ambassador for Sri Lanka as president withdraws nominee for EU post

The Majlis today unanimously approved Zahiya Zareer as the Malidves’ ambassador to Sri Lanka with 49 votes.

Zareer previously served as the Minister of Education in President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s administration and ran for parliament.

President Abulla Yameen’s nomination for the ambassador for Pakistan, Major General (Rt) Moosa Ali Jaleel was also sent for review by the National Security Committee as per parliament regulations.

Jaleel was the Chief of Defence Force under President Mohamed Nasheed and is revered as a national hero for his services during the attempted coup by Tamil mercenaries in 1988.

However , president Yameen today withdrew the name of Hassan Sobir whom he earlier nominated as the new ambassador to Belgium and the European Union. No official reason was given for the withdrawal.

Sobir served as the tourism minister and fisheries minister in President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom’s administration. He also served as the ambassador for Singapore and the UK.


Former defence chief and two MPs among high-profile switches to pro-government parties

Former Chief of Defence Forces Major General (Retired) Moosa Ali Jaleel and Malé City Councillor Lufshan Shakeeb ‘Loope’ – formerly of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – signed for the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) yesterday.

Independent MP for Kulhudhufushi South, Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed, also signed for the PPM today and announced that he would seek re-election on the party’s ticket. Nasheed served in the cabinet of former President Gayoom as information and legal reform minister.

Meanwhile, MDP MP Ahmed Rasheed joined the government-aligned Jumhooree Party (JP).

Speaking at a ceremony attended by former president and PPM leader, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Jaleel said he joined “to serve the public through PPM,” adding that he believed the current government’s policies would ensure development and “save the country”.

After 32 years of service, the chief of defence forces under former President Mohamed Nasheed retired from the military in the wake of the controversial transfer of presidential power in February 2012.

In January 2013, Jaleel told parliament’s Government Oversight Committee that he believed former President Nasheed had “resigned under duress.”

Shakeeb – city councillor for mid-Henveiru – meanwhile said he decided to join PPM based on the focus and opportunities for youth in the party’s manifesto. The film actor quit the MDP in the wake of the party’s electoral defeat in November 2013.

In addition to Jaleel and Shakeeb, senior members of the Maziya Supporters club as well as television presenter Aminath Namza also signed for PPM at yesterday’s ceremony.

Warm welcome to Moosa Jaleel, Lufshan Shakeeb, Aminath Namza n other prominent figures who joined PPM in my presence last night,” Gayoom tweeted to announce the new members.

Speaking to press at the party office yesterday, Gayoom contended that the new government “could not provide the services it wants to the public without winning the [upcoming local council and parliamentary] elections.”

“A PPM majority will pave the way to go ahead with the PPM manifesto,” he said.

MDP Male’ City Councillor ‘Jambu’ Hassan Afeef also joined the PPM at today’s ceremony. In addition to Nasheed and Afeef, Maldives Broadcasting Corporation Chairman Ibrahim Umar Manik signed for the party this afternoon.

With the new signings, the PPM currently has two councillors on the 11-member Male’ City Council.

Ahmed Rasheed to JP

MDP MP for Hoarafushi Ahmed Rasheed signed for the JP at a ceremony in the party’s headquarters Maafanu Kunooz yesterday.

JP leader Gasim Ibrahim told reporters that Rasheed had offered to join the party “a long time ago” while he was JP’s sole representative in parliament.

“But I said stay there, in MDP, for now. I believe Ahmed Rasheed is a person who worked very hard and transparently for democracy in the Maldives while in MDP,” the business tycoon said.

Rasheed said he decided to join the JP because the public chose the government coalition in last year’s presidential election.

Praising Gasim for his services to the public, Rasheed said he would seek re-election in the Hoarafushi constituency, adding that parliamentary seats were “more important to the government coalition” than the opposition.

Gasim said that Rasheed would be given the JP ticket without a primary by virtue of being a sitting MP, adding that he believed JP MPs should be able to contest on behalf of the coalition for their constituencies.

The Hoarafushi MP was among six MDP MPs who voted against the oppposition party’s whip line to approve President Abdulla Yameen’s ministerial appointees last month.


No speedboat available near Huraa after drowning incident, say police

No speedboat was available near Huraa following the drowning of four students and principal of Hiriya School, Police Chief Inspector Abdulla Nawaz told media today.

Police were informed of the incident at 9:48am in the morning and the police duty officer immediately called the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), and was informed that MNDF officers were on it, Nawaz said.

The four female students and the principal of ‘Hiriya’ drowned while on a fisheries science study trip. Police and MNDF were called immediately but were criticised for being unable to reach the island until long after the incident.

About an hour after the drownings, the bodies of the students and principal were brought to Male’ on a speedboat from nearby Four Season Kuda Hura resort.

Speaking in a press conference, Nawaz said that information of the incident was passed to the police station on the island of Himmafushi, approximately 3 km from Hura.

Nawaz said that Himmafushi Police Station’s Head tried to hire a speedboat from the island but because it was Friday morning, no speedboats were available.

He said police then called the Island Council of Hura and requested they make a request to Four Seasons Kuda Hura resort, the council had already done so.

Nawaz said that although the police could not arrive to the island on time, it was to be noted that police went to the jetty in Male’ and received the bodies, and carried them to the hospital.

Nawaz also said that police were still investigating the incident and had not been able to question any students who witnessed the incident, as they were traumatised and not ready to talk about it.

Meanwhile, today the parliament’s ”241′ Security Services Committee summoned Police Commissioner Ahmed Faseeh and Chief of Defence Force Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel to question them about the lateness in providing service of the forces when called for help.

Newly-formed Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP and Media Coordinator Ahmed Nihan told Minivan News that Faseeh and Moosa were summoned to the committee to clarify the truth of the various accusations that the forces had neglected their duty.

“Nawaz failed to tell the media how long it took the police to reach the island, and he has not answered queries made by the journalists,” he said. “That’s why it was important to sit down with them and clarify the media reports and other allegations on police.”

Nihan said that this was a national issue but “the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs disrupted the meeting today and the meeting had to be cancelled.”

He alleged that the government had poorly treated the family of the only girl who survived in the incident, Hawwa Ali, by asking them to pay her medical bills for the first two days.

“But the girl happens to be in my constituency and I called government senior officials and requested them to do it a better way, and now I think it is arranged and the government is assisting the family with everything,” he claimed.

Nihan said that the girl’s family had requested the government to move her to another ward because she was currently in the children’s ward at IGMH and the sound of children cry was making her recall the incident.

“She was the only person who saw everything, she heard the children crying for help, she saw the girls drowning right in front of her,” Nihan said.

Hawwa was a friend of Aishath Shaniha, who died in the incident. Hawwa almost drowned but was rescued by the school principal and was holding a rope while the principal attempted to rescue the other students that were drowning.

Nihan claimed that police “would have had 20 speedboats in the islands” during the former government.