PPM by-election campaign underway

The ruling coalition’s campaign for the upcoming parliamentary by-election for the Dhiggaru constituency is underway while the opposition alliance is yet to decide on fielding a single candidate.

A primary of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) among four candidates seeking the ruling party’s ticket is due to take place on Friday. Former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s eldest son, Ahmed Faris Maumoon, is among the contenders.

The by-election, triggered by the 25-year jail sentence handed down to former ruling party MP Ahmed Nazim, is scheduled to take place on June 6.

All candidates must inform the Elections Commission of their intent to contest the by-elections by the end of April.

The by-election is expected to be hotly contested amid heightened political tension following the jailing of former president Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim as well as the alleged unfair targeting of Jumhooree Party Leader Gasim Ibrahim’s business interests.

Faris is meanwhile in Dhiggaru on a campaign trip at present.

Other contenders in the PPM primary include Meemu atoll council president Moosa Naseer, deputy environment minister Mohamed Hanim and Dhiggaru island council president Imran Ismail.

The ‘Maldivians against brutality’ alliance, made up of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Adhaalath Party (AP) and senior members of the Jumhooree Party (JP), announced last week that discussions were underway on fielding a single candidate.

AP spokesperson Ali Zahir has since announced his intention of contesting in the by-election.

Meanwhile, former MDP chairperson MP Moosa Manik has criticised his old party for not holding a primary to select a candidate.

MDP Vice President Mohamed Shifaz told Minivan News today that the party has not yet decided whether to field a candidate.

But the MDP “will definitely hold primaries” if it chooses to contest the by-election.

“As a party we have to consider many factors including the independence of the independent institution and so on. The MDP has not yet decided to compete for the seat but if we do a candidate would be selected through primaries,” he said.

MP Moosa Manik, who was expelled from the MDP last year after repeatedly voting against the party’s whip-line, said the party must hold a primary if it is to respect its rules and founding principles.

“In the local council elections I decided not to hold primaries but the decision was opposed by a lot of members. So in the end we had to hold primaries,” he said.

“So if the MDP is not competing, not holding primaries in order to make way for the Adhaalath Party, it would be going against the party’s own norms as well as democratic values. Even though I have been removed from the party’s registry I have sacrificed a lot for MDP. I can’t let MDP drift away from democracy.”

In last year’s parliamentary polls, Nazim was elected with 60 percent of the vote from the Dhiggaru constituency after competing against an MDP candidate. The PPM also won a majority of the Meemu atoll council, which has four PPM members, one MDP member and one independent member.


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.


President sends letters to three MDP MPs requesting “clarification” of corruption allegations against government

President Mohamed Nasheed has sent letters to Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs Ahmed Rasheed, Mohamed Musthafa and Shifaq Mufeeq, requesting they clarify corruption allegations made recently against the government.

According to the President’s Office, the Nasheed requested the MPs send details and evidence related to the corruption allegations as soon as possible, and urged their cooperation.

Mustafa told Minivan News that he had received the letter sent by the President and that he would share all the information he had, as requested by the president.

‘’These corruption allegations have become a national issue and the President is obliged to investigate it,’’ Mustafa said. ‘’I believe that when the president makes a request, we are obliged to share whatever information he wishes. There are many corruption allegations against senior officials of MDP and some serious allegations that we cannot share with the media right now,’’ he claimed.

“We will be sharing this information later,” he said, adding that he would reply to the president’s letter.

Several MDP MPs have recently alleged in parliament that there were corruption allegations in the government and that these should be investigated and stopped.

On November 21 during a debate in parliament MDP MP Shifag accused MDP Chairperson and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik of corruption.

He claimed that excavators sent by Moosa’s Heavy Load Company to the SAARC Summit preparations were not usable, but that Moosa was paid millions of rufiya in lease payments for the excavators that he was not entitled to receive.

MDP MP Ahmed Rasheed claimed that same day in parliament that there was corruption in the government to a level that was ”concerning and dangerous.”

Ahmed Rasheed was not in town and was not available for a comment, while Shifag was in a committee meeting and was unavailable for a comment.

Moosa also said he was in a meeting and was unable to comment.

Last week Transparency International revealed that the Maldives had risen slightly to rank 134 in the organisation’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI).

The country scored 2.5 on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean), placing it alongside Lebanon, Pakistan and Sierra Leone.

The score however is a mild improvement on 2010, when the Maldives was ranked 143th and below Zimbabwe. The Maldives still rated as having higher perceived corruption than many regional neighbours, including Sri Lanka (86), Bangladesh (120) and India (95).

Project Director of Transparency Maldives, Aiman Rasheed, warned that the ranking could not be compared year-to-year, especially in the Maldives where there were only a three sources used to determine the index (India has six).

“Corruption in the Maldives is grand corruption, unlike neighbouring countries where much of it is petty corruption,” Rasheed said. “In the Maldives there is corruption across the judiciary, parliament and members of the executive, all of it interlinked, and a systemic failure of the systems in place to address this. That why we score so low.”

Faced with such endemic and high-level corruption, it was “up to the people of the Maldives to demand better governance”, he said.


PPM to protest for ‘protection’ of judiciary

Weeks after the  ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said it would protest over the political compromising of judicial independence by members of the former government, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has said it protest “to protect” the judiciary.

PPM Council member Ahmed Saleem today told Minivan News that the PPM’s decision came following attempts made by the current government “to influence the judiciary.”

”The government recently has clearly said that they will not allow any trial to be conducted if it is not going the way they want,” Saleem alleged. ”There are many persons who have been sued in the current government and they do not want their cases to be trialed, that is the reason why they are trying to influence the judiciary.”

Saleem said PPM had decided “to be on standby” to come out and protest, although the party had not decided any on specific time or date.

”A case concerning a Criminal Court Judge is currently in the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and the government is attempting to influence it as well,” he claimed. ”We will not let it happen.”

Recently the JSC completed its investigation into the alleged misconduct of Chief Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

The case against Abdulla Mohamed was presented to the JSC in January 2010 by former President’s member of the JSC, Aishath Velezinee, after Abdulla Mohamed appeared on private TV station DhiTV and expressed “biased political views”.

In 2005, then Attorney General Dr Hassan Saeed forwarded to the President’s Office concerns about the conduct of Abdulla Mohamed after he requested that an underage victim of sexual abuse reenact her abuse for the court.

In 2009 following the election of the current government, those documents were sent to the JSC.

Last week MDP Chairperson and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik and other senior officials including former President of the party Ibrahim Ismail ‘Ibra’ held a press conference where Moosa said that no rulings made by Abdulla Mohamed should be implemented.

Speaking during the press conference, Ibra said that there were many cases pending in the JSC against Abdulla Mohamed, and that this was the first such case to be concluded.


Civil Court orders MDP Chairman Reeko Moosa to pay Rf2.9 million in three months

The Civil Court has today ordered Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik to settle an outstanding debt of Rf2.9 million to Caterpillar Financial Service’s Asia Branch within three months.

Caterpillar claimed that in 2007 Heavy Load Maldives – a family business of the Hulhu-Henveiru MP – took a loan of US$700,000 (Rf10.5 million at the current exchange rate) from Caterpillar, which was co-signed by Moosa.

Caterpillar said at the Civil Court that Heavy Load had not settled the debt and requested Moosa be ordered to pay the loan as the co-signatory.

Delivering the verdict, Judge Mariyam Nihayath said that in the agreement made between Moosa and Caterpillar, Moosa had also agreed to pay a compensation fee plus the amount paid to hire a lawyer without any obligations.

Judge Nihayath ordered Moosa to pay the total amount which is Rf2.9 million in three months.

However, following the court ruling Moosa expressed concern and criticized the judiciary saying that the judiciary was like a “mad lion.’’

MDP official website quoted him saying that the court should not order him to pay the money without ordering Heavy Load Company to pay the loan.

The former MDP parliamentary group leader told the ruling party’s website that today’s ruling gave him more courage to continue the work to free the judiciary and make it independent.

He also said that Civil Court was issuing such rulings because Moosa and his lawyer Hassan Afeef was publicly advocating judicial reform. .

According to the constitution, if a MP has a decreed debt and is not paying the debt according to the court ruling, he will be disqualified and lose his seat in parliament.


DQP MP Riyaz Rasheed attacked, party alleges

The Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) has alleged that DQP MP Riyaz Rasheed was attacked last night while he was on his way home after attending a meeting.

A crowd gathered around Riyaz’s car demanding he get out of it, and assaulted him when he did so, Haveeru reported.

DQP today issued a press release saying it “was possible” that Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik “was behind the attack”.

“The fact that the attack came a few days after former MDP Parliamentary group leader Moosa gave a warning to Riyaz, it is possible that the attack has some connection with the warning,” the DQP claimed.

DQP said that Riyaz Rasheed was the MP who had submitted “the most number of bills to the parliament,” an MP that had been “criticising the government publicly” and that there had been “many attempts made to silence his voice.”

“The government has repeatedly attempted to stop Riyaz from his work against corruption in this government, by trying to bribe him, threatening him and by torturing him,” the DQP alleged.

Meanwhile, MDP Chairperson and MP Moosa Manik said he believed that DQP Dr Hassan Saeed was behind the attack “if they are blaming it on me.”

“Dr Hassan Saeed and Riyaz have been disturbing me and my family for a long time,” Moosa said. “And because that does not satisfy them, they are now blaming me for this.”

Moosa said he had “never attacked anyone physically or mentally.”

“I call on the police to investigate and find out on what grounds they are making this accusations on me,” he said.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said the matter had been reported to police, who were investigating.


Moosa blames Gayoom for cancellations of parliament sessions

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik has claimed parliament sessions were disrupted deliberately by opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MPs, led by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, because they feared that an amendment presented to the Former Presidents Act would be passed.

Moosa gave an interview to the press today outside the parliament after Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim cancelled the session, after DRP MP Ali Azim refused to leave the chamber despite repeated instructions.

‘’The parliament has been disrupted following on the orders of former president Gayoom,’’ Moosa alleged to the press outside parliament.

Moosa said that tomorrow he would send a letter to the former President requesting to meet him and clarify “why exactly he is disrupting the parliament sessions and what he expects to gain from doing it.”

However, today DRP’s Z-faction MP Ahmed Nihan said faction’s main issue was that members for parliament committees were appointed during an “unlawful” sitting and that any decision made in an unlawful sitting would also be unlawful.

Nihan said that if Speaker of the Parliament Abdulla Shahid accepted that the sitting was unlawful and decided to hold the sitting once again, and reappoint members for the parliament committees, “the main issue will be solved.”

Successive parliament sittings have been cancelled after the Z-faction of DRP complained about the legality of a sitting in which the ruling MDP won majority control of the National Security Committee and Finance Committee, the most influential two committees in parliament.


No issues inside MDP leadership, says Dr Didi

Ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Leader Dr Ibrahim Didi has dismissed speculation that there were internal issues within the party, following a decision by the the party’s national council to appoint ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik as the acting Chairperson for one year.

Local media reported that Dr Didi had expressed concern that the appointment was inconsistent with the party’s charter.

The MDP’s website today quoted Dr Didi as saying that having different thoughts on a subject was not an issue, and it had been the MDP that introduced freedom of expression to the Maldives.

‘’The MDP is a party that knows how to tolerate different opinions and a party that knows how to work together even with different opinions,’’ Dr Didi said. ‘’We are in the spirit to work together, hopefully we will solve any problems we face.’’

He also thanked Moosa for accepting the position of acting Chairperson.

Speaking to different media outlets Dr Didi said that the party’s charter stated that if the post of chairperson becomes vacant, the post will temporarily be handed over to deputy chairperson.

He also told the media that he would seek legal advice over the matter and that it was questionable whether the national council could make such a decision when the charter stated otherwise.

‘’There are no issues between me and Dr Didi, the National Council and me or the National Council between Dr Didi,’’ said MDP acting Chairperson and former Parliamentary Group’s Leader and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik.

Moosa said that as the MDP was a democratic party its members were free to express their own opinions, and offered assurances that the MDP would never become factionalised.

The MDP was not a party that focused around one single person, he added.

The MDP has meanwhile announced interested candidates to send letters to the party’s secretariat, following the resignation of Moosa from his former post as Parliamentary Group Leader.


Parliament to debate dismissal of JSC member Dr Afrasheem Ali

Parliament has accepted a request from the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to discuss the removal of opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Afrasheem Ali from the Judicial Services Commission (JSC).

The MDP sent a letter to the parliament in March requesting the removal of Afrasheem, claiming he had disregarded JSC procedure, and showed insincerity towards the responsibilities of the commission.

In the letter signed by MDP’s Parliamentary Group Leader and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, the party alleged that Dr Afrasheem had violated articles 10/2008 Section 20[a] and [b] of the JSC’s Act, which states that a meeting of the JSC can be held only if more than half the total number of members were present, and which requires a majority vote of present JSC members to make any decision.

Moosa referred to the incident where Dr Afrasheem allegedly phoned JSC member Fahmy Hassan – also head of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) – to ask whether he was fine with Dr Afrasheem speaking in the Supreme Court on behalf of the JSC. The matter concerned a trial conducted after a Criminal Court Judge filed a case against the JSC’s appointment of judges to the High Court.

”Records of the JSC show that Dr Afrasheem Ali made that decision against the JSC’s policies,” Moosa said in the letter.

The JSC had sent a letter to the Supreme Court, with the same date, saying that “a majority decision had been taken by members who participated in the meeting on February 6” to appoint MP Afraasheem as JSC’s representative to the higher courts. This was despite taped phone conversations indicating that he had called members separately.

Furthermore, Moosa said, “although Article 164 of the constitution very clearly states that persons appointed to the JSC who are nots member of  parliament shall receive allowances and salary as decided by the parliament, records of the JSC shows that Dr Afrasheem Ali has been paid such allowances.”

Dr Afrasheem had played a role in the unlawful and unconstitutional activities the JSC had conducted, and he has been insincere in carrying out the responsibilities of the JSC, Moosa claimed.

”Therefore, [we] find Dr Afrasheem is not an appropriate person to represent the parliament in the JSC, and [we] hereby present this complaint according to article 165 of the constitution and request his dismissal,” Moosa said in the letter.

Dr Afrasheem did not respond to calls at time of press.