MDP will use majority to cut allowances granted to former President Gayoom, says Moosa

Maldivian Democratic Party (MD) Parliamentary Group Leader and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik has said that an MDP majority will cut allowances granted Maumoon Abdul Gayoom while the former president remains active in politics.

Moosa claimed that the opposition had used their majority to obstruct the government.

”All they did with their majority was increase the expenditure of the government to try an destabilise the economy, while granting allowances for Maumoon.” he said. ”The day that MDP has the full majority of 39 MPs in parliament, will be a day the judges and independent commissions will remember,” he said.

He recalled the day cabinet ministers were dismissed by the parliament after the opposition used its majority to refuse to approve the President’s ministerial appointments.

“That day MMA (Maldives Monetary Authority) Governor Fazeel Najeeb was far away clapping his hands, but I tell you now, when the parliament commences work it will the cabinet ministers who applaud.”

Moosa referred to the corruption allegations against the Deputy Speaker of Parliament and opposition coalition People’s Alliance (PA) MP Ahmed Nazim, claiming that ”Nazim cannot hide from the courts and sit in his chair anymore.”

Moosa said the MDP would give priority to passing the Criminal Procedure Bill, keeping the controversial Sunset Bill aside, and amend the Finance Bill.

Gayoom-faction MP Ahmed Nihan told Minivan News that MDP’s decision to cut the allowances of the former President it would not only harm Gayoom, but President Mohamed Nasheed as well.

”The allowances are granted according to Article 128 of the constitution, so protection and allowances for former Presidents should be granted,” Nihan said. ”That is something given for the hard work Presidents have done for the country and citizens during their time, and we also hope that President Nasheed will remain in the country to serve the people after his administration is over.”

Nihan speculated that the MDP was luring opposition MPs to join the party, seeking a parliamentary majority.

”All Maldivians know that Moosa has personal grudges against Maumoon,” he said. ”It is really an illness that he has, and he needs to find a cure.”

He alleged that Moosa had illegally obtained Rf21 million through a contract with the Thilafushi Corporation – a matter currently being investigated by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) – and questioned why “nobody talks about it today.”

”Moosa was once arrested and found guilty of corruption and imprisoned during Maumoon’s administration, but he wasn’t arrested for praying or reciting salawat, he was arrested on corruption charges for attempting to bribe MPs,” Nihan claimed.


Moosa misleading public over court’s ruling on Isthafa’s arrest, alleges High Court

The High Court has issued a statement regarding condemning comments made by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Parliamentary Group Leader and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, concerning its decision to order the release of former chief prison warden ‘Isthafa’ Ibrahim Mohamed Manik following his arrest in a torture inquiry.

The High Court accused Moosa of falsely stating that the court had ruled that Manik was innocent, in an attempt to mislead the public.

High Court said it had only ruled on a case filed in the court claiming that the court warrant issued by Maafushi Court, in Kaafu Atoll Maafushi, to extend Manik’s detention was unlawful.

‘’He was released by the court as there was no witness or evidence presented to the court that the court could weight in favor of keeping him in detention, and the court finds that the warrant issued by Maafushi court was against the Supreme Court’s procedures followed in such situations,” said the High Court.

The High Court also stated that the court wanted to make it clear to the public that the trial was not conducted to determine whether Manik was guilty of a crime or not, and asked for the public to respect its rulings.

Moosa made his remarks during a special rally held last night, where former opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Abdulla Abdu-Raheem signed with the MDP.

Speaking at the rally, Moosa said the day that MDP won a majority in parliament would be a day “that members of the independent commission members and judiciary should bear in mind.”

The High Court bench, consisting five judges, was appointed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) in March this year.

The five judges included the lawyer of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Abbas Shareef, former Juvenile Court Chief Judge Shuaib Hussein Zakariya, former Law Commission member Dr Azmiralda Zahir, Former Civil Court registrar Abdu Rauf Ibrahim, and Former Civil Court Chief Judge Ali Sameer.


Opposition misleading international media to sabotage economy, claims government

The government has continued to criticise opposition politicians, including representatives of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, for “misleading” international media over the scale of protests in Male’ last week.

The protests were today labelled by the Washington Post as one of the 29 largest crackdowns of the last decade, eclipsing the riots following the death of Evan Naseem.

After seven days of demonstrations across Male’ last week, purportedly in protest against the government’s decision to implement a managed float of the rufiyaa – police on Wednesday (May 4) announced that any protests not held in the open artificial beach or tsunami monument areas would be immediately dispersed.

The opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has insisted the protests are ‘youth-led’ despite the apparent leadership of its MPs, and tried to replicate the ‘Arab Spring’ protests across the Middle East by branding President Nasheed as a despot to the international media and dubbing a busy Male’ intersection ‘Youth Square’.

In the Washington Post piece, photos were published of 29 protests that have occurred around the world and were deemed to be among the biggest demonstrations and crackdowns of the decade – including the recent unrest in the Maldives.

“Syria, Libya and other Middle Eastern regimes aren’t the only ones to use force against protesters. Here are some of the major crackdowns since 2000,” wrote the paper in a picture story on its website.

The Maldives is listed at 28th, placed between the riots in Uganda last month over rising fuel costs – where protesters were shot at by police – and Egypt’s anti-government uprisings that ended the thirty year reign of President Hosni Mubarak in February.

“In recent weeks, hundreds of anti-government protesters took to the streets of Maldives to demonstrate against soaring prices and demand the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed,” the article wrote, alongside a photograph of a local protester who appeared to have been knocked down by Maldivian police carrying batons.

Responding to the Washington Post article, Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair said he was suspicious that international journalists from established publications like the Washington Post were speaking to representatives of the former president or opposition politicians, who in some cases had provided false information in an attempt to “tarnish” the government’s image.

“We have received alleged reports that former President Gayoom’s spokesperson – Mohamed Hussain ‘Mundhu’ Shareef – has been contacted by international media and has perhaps given the impression he remains as the spokesperson for the current President Mohamed Nasheed,” said Zuhair.

“There appears to be misconception that there has been a higher turnout at these protests than were actually there,” he said.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, who is currently on an official visit to China, has also accused Gayoom’s spokesperson of giving interviews to Chinese journalists who were under the impression he was the spokesperson for the current administration.

‘’Most of the foreign papers have his [Shareef’s] number as the spokesperson of the President, so when they contact him he says he is [the President’s] spokesperson,’’ Moosa claimed on the MDP’s website. “He has told foreign papers that there is severe civil unrest in Male’ and that it is not safe to send tourists here.’’

Moosa alleged that Shareef was “intentionally” seeking to destroy the tourism industry of the Maldives and “to mislead the international community.”

Minivan News contacted Shareef to refute the allegations, but he refused to comment on the matter.

Zuhair said that the week of protests had represented the involvement of only a small part of a voting population that in Male’ alone numbered tens of thousands of people.

“This is the case of the picture telling the story,” Zuhair said. “After the first few nights of protests the numbers [of participants] began to dwindle to just a few hundred people on the final night [Friday, May 6],” he claimed.

Zuhair claimed that he believed that there had been a deliberate attempt to try and tarnish the image of President Nasheed internationally through the supply of information to foreign media that he said had led to travel warnings being issued to Asian travel markets like Hong Kong.

The government reported today that the President’s Special Envoy, Ibrahim Hussain Zaki, had been sent to China in the wake of several travel warnings issued in the region that are feared to have begun harming one of the fastest growing tourist arrivals markets presently coming to the Maldives.

Speaking last week following criticisms by Foreign Minister Ahmed Naseem of the manner in which some politicians had been courting international media attention, leader DRP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali hit out at suggestions of media manipulation.

Thasmeen said at the time that he was “utterly surprised” that a member of the current government, which has vocally supported freedom of speech and democratic reforms, would find protests “unreasonable” on the basis of protecting tourism.

“We have seen them try to stifle protest through using excessive police force,” he claimed. “We are peaceful protestors and are not impacting tourism in Male’.”

Thasmeen added that he believed the government had not made attempts to initiate a dialogue on the issue of living costs, although the opposition said they were willing to negotiate on the matter even though they did not agree to the current devaluation strategy being pursued.

“Obviously there are a lot of protesters here, but the government does not want to listen,” he said. “Lots of people are suffering.”

Thasmeen said that accusations that the country’s political opposition had been “misleading” international media was an “oversimplification” of the issues behind the protests.

“The international media are professionals, many of who will already know the facts of the protests, I don’t see it will be possible to manipulate them,” he said.

Thasmeen claimed that reports of excessive force against protesters had been accurate, adding that MDP supporters led by their parliamentary leadership had been “violently charging” protest crowds while police were attempting to disperse peaceful protesters.

The Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) has meanwhile issued a statement to international media and groups such as the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF), alleging “infuriating and agitating conflict by the police”, urging authorities to “bring to a halt the atrocities targeted towards journalists.”


Moosa criticises government for leaving Gayoom at large

Parliamentary Group Leader and MP Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)  last night criticised the government at a rally where President Mohamed Nasheed was present, for not arresting former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Speaking at the rally held to celebrate Social Liberal Party (SLP) President Ibrahim Ismail rejoining MDP, Moosa said that blame for failure to provide justice for those allegedly tortured by Gayoom’s administration did not only lie with the judiciary.

Moosa spoke little, but before he left the rally he said he would go to Gayoom’s residence “and disturb him no matter if I have to go to jail.”

President Mohamed Nasheed also spoke at the rally and responded to Moosa, saying that there was “no one who understands Moosa’s feelings more than I do.”

However, Nasheed said it would be impossible to provide  justice before upgrading the judicial system, a process he said would take a long time.

Nasheed said he had in the meantime given high priority for other necessary things such as providing sewerage systems and shelter for people.

In the special rally last night, first President of MDP Ibrahim Ismail ‘Ibra’, who resigned in 2006, rejoined the party along with other political figures who had belonged to the SLP including Youth Minister Dr Hassan Latheef.

Speaking at the rally, Ibra said that he decided to leave SLP and rejoin MDP because he wanted to take part in the reform movement begun by the party.

Today the MDP website said Moosa had left the rally early because he had to fly to China on official business.

According to the MDP website Moosa said he had no issues with the party itself, but had criticise state institutions for failing to investigate the torture allegations.

Meanwhile, former Deputy Leader of the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and now close ally of Gayoom claimed that Gayoom had not tortured Moosa, but ”Moosa injures himself by getting drunk and thinking Gayoom did it.”

Naseer also claimed that Nasheed was not interested in establishing justice and must have been mistaken.

”He’s still in the 1940s. It;s for the judiciary to create justice, why does not he go to the courts?” asked Umar. ”We know why. It’s because he does not have any evidence. How can there be evidence for something that was not done?”


PG rejects case concerning alcohol bottles found in MP Moosa’s car

The Prosecutor General’s office has rejected a case sent by police concerning 168 alcohol bottles discovered inside the car of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Parliamentary Group leader MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said the case was sent back by the Prosecutor General requesting the inclusion of missing information concerning the investigation.

”After including this information we will send it back to the Prosecutor General’s Office,” Shiyam said. ”We can’t disclose what information the Prosecutor General is requiring us to include.”

The bottles were found in Moosa’s car in February 2010 while he was out of the country. Moosa has claimed his driver was bribed to put the bottles of “cheap alcohol” into his car in an attempt to frame him for the crime.

That same week police arrested four expatriate men loading 168 bottles of whiskey and menthol gin into the car registered to Moosa, on the same day controversial liquor licensing regulations were unveiled by the Ministry of Economic Development.

Last year October police said the investigation in to the case was concluded and had beensent to Prosecutor General.

At the time the police refused to say whether Moosa would stand trial in the case.

Prosecutor General Ahmed Muiz did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.


MDP requests parliament dismiss Dr Afrasheem from JSC

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Parliamentary Group has sent a letter to the parliament requesting the removal of DRP MP Dr Afrasheem Ali from the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

The letter was signed by the leader of MDP Parliamentary Group MP Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik.

In the letter, Moosa alleged that Dr Afrasheem had violated Judicial Service Commission’s Act, Act number 10/2008 Section 20[a] and [b] which states that a meeting of the JSC could be held only if more than half of the total number of members were present and 20[b] which requires 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 Civil Service Commission (CSC) to ask whether he was fine with Dr Afrasheem speaking in the Supreme Court on behalf of the JSC in the trial conducted after Criminal Court Judge filed a case against the JSC’s appointment of Judges to the High Court.

”Records of the JSC shows that Dr Afrasheem Ali has made that decision against the policy that the law state,” Moosa said in the letter. ”Although Article 164 of the constitution very clearly states that persons appointed to the JSC who is not a member of the 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, [we] hereby present this complaint according to article 165 of the constitution and request his dismissal,” Moosa said in the letter.

Minivan News understands that parliament is currently conducting a closed door investigation of the JSC, however no information on the progress or outcome has been provided.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) recently published a report on the JSC critical of the commission’s independence, among other observations. The JSC has not tabled the report.

Dr Afrasheem was not responding to calls at time of press. JSC interim Secretary General, Abdul Faththah, also the JSC’s legal representative, referred Minivan News to the JSC’s media spokesperson, Hassan Zaheen. Zaheen said the JSC had no comment on the matter, but noted that “the parliament decides which MP represents it on the commission.”

Faththah has previously told Minivan News that while there “should be quorum”, in time-sensitive matters such as court summons members sometimes had to make decisions outside formal meetings, with the approval of other members.

“This is not a matter so important to take a decision with the discussion of the members,” he said at the time.

JSC members had also previously decided who should attend court hearings, during a meeting of full attendance, he added, “[but] that day the Chair was not in Male’, so members decided instead that the Deputy [Afrasheem] should attend [court],” acknowledging that “they may not have had quorum that time.”

“These kind of things happen with things like court attendance issues, but no other decisions,” he said.


Supreme Court has “no authority to dismiss ministers”, claims Reeko Moosa

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) parliamentary group leader and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik has claimed that the Supreme Court has no authority to dismiss ministers from their positions.

“MPs have the power to dismiss Supreme Court judges, and the Supreme Court will understand that the panel consists of judges we appointed,” Moosa said. ”Parliament does not know how to remove ministers from their position,” he claimed.

The matter saw parliament proceedings derailed for three weeks on points of order. Eventually the MDP boycotted the endorsement process during the vote last Monday, and seven ministers were ‘disapproved’.

The government meanwhile contends that the only way to remove a minister from their position is through a no-confidence motion.

However, the opposition believes that the procedure of cabinet appointments remains incomplete without the consent of parliament, and that ministers should not remain in office after the parliament disapproves them.

After disputes last week, the opposition filed the case in the Supreme Court.

Referring to the opposition’s refusal on Finance minister presenting the budget, Moosa said that if the opposition MPs obstructed Finance Minister Ali Hashim from entering the parliament ”he will enter the parliament with the citizens of the nation.”

Moosa also alleged that DRP MPs planned “to attack” Hashim if he entered the parliament to present the budget.

”If DRP committed any such actions, no ministers will remain silent. I – Moosa Manik – and MDP activists will go to their houses.”

However, DRP MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom said that Hashim was a ‘former’ minister and former ministers cannot present the state’s budget in parliament.

”A person becomes a minister only after the person successfully passes the three procedures: presidential appointment, parliamentary consent and taking the oath,” Mausoom said. ”[Moosa] Hecannot say that the courts have no authority – courts have full authority to make the best decision to resolve every issue.”

Mausoom said Moosa’s remarks reveals how much the government disregards the constitution and laws.

”This issue should have long been resolved if some people did not have these issues of stubbornness,” he said.

He also said that parliament speaks the citizen’s words and ”participation of citizens is required in sincere good governance.”


Private channels are run with “ill-gotten” money, claims Moosa

Parliamentary Group Leader of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik, has claimed that private broadcasting channels in the Maldives are operated with “ill-gotten” money.

“These TV channels misuse freedom of media to assassinate the characters of political figures whose minds do not coincide with theirs,’’ alleged Moosa.

Moosa criticised the country’s private channels for “never speaking about anything done right by the current government.”

“Everything we do: these TV channels will talk about it wrongly as if it was bad for the people,’’ Moosa claimed.

“Even though we construct a mosque on an island, they will speak about it as if it was not good for the people,” he said.

Moosa accused Villa TV (VTV), owned by leader of the minority opposition Jumhoree Party (JP) Gasim ‘Buruma’ Ibrahim, and DhiTV, owned by Hassan ‘Champa’ Afeef, of misleading people by hiding all the development projects conducted by the government. The announcers of the channels “who cooperate with these organisations should be ashamed to do so,” he claimed.

“Freedom of expression is not only for the benefit of the media – if the media is falling from the right path, people have the right to express opinions against the media,’’ Moosa said.

Editor of DhiTV, Midhath Adam, said that Moosa’s remarks were obviously aimed at the owners of VTV and DhiTV.

‘’If Moosa was referring to the DhiTV news, that technically means he is attempting to narrow freedom of expression,” Midhath said.

“Whether Moosa likes it or not, we have to broadcast the different opinions and ideas of different people,’’ he said. “Anyway, this is just Moosa’s point of view. We can digest criticism and we are not outraged because of these comments,’’ he said.

In a press statement last week, the Maldives Journalists Association “strongly condemned” remarks made by Moosa on August 17, when the MP publicly threatened “action” against VTV for “repeatedly misleading and broadcasting news in a way that smears respect for MDP”.

“MJA also sad to note that a senior official of MDP – a party known for voicing free media – has repeatedly slated the media… and incited public hatred against journalism,” the MJA said.

In a retaliatory statement, Moosa claimed “some TV stations were established with the intention to cause civil unrest among the citizens, smear the respect of political figures in the country, and bother their personal life.”

“I am astonished that the MJA is silent about this matter,” he said, adding that the fact media were airing such claims was evidence that media freedom existed.


MDP calls on the resignation of Yameen from National Security Committee

Parliamentary Group Leader of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik has called on leader of the People’s Alliance  (PA) Abdulla Yameen to resign from parliament’s National Security Committee.

Moosa accused Yameen, who is the speaker of the National Security Committee, of using his position on the committee to seek revenge against police and the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) after his arrest and detention by the government in July.

‘’After Yameen was arrested on charges of corruption, he has been continuously trying to smear the name of police and the MNDF,’’ said Moosa. “He will never succeed by chasing after the police and MNDF to get revenge.’’

Moosa alleged that Yameen was trying to summon superiors of armed forces to appear before the committee in “a cunning plan” to denigrate the institutions.

“This is a plan to take revenge on police and armed forces,’’ Moosa claimed.

Media Coordinator of PA Ahmed Faisal said Moosa’s comments were “a personal attack” on Yameen.

Yameen and Secretary General of PA Ahmed Shareef were abroad and unavailable for comment at time of press.