MDP suspends MPs Zahir and Abdul Raheem

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has suspended MPs Zahir Adam and Abdulla Abdul Raheem’s from the party until the end of the parliamentary elections, scheduled for March.

The party’s disciplinary committee decided to suspend the two MPs for contravening a three-whip line on December 30 and voting for President Abdulla Yameen’s cabinet.

Zahir and Abdul Raheem have been ordered to apologise to the party membership before January 30, and will not be allowed to contest any internal party elections – including primaries – for the next three years.

The two MPs did not stand in the MDP’s ongoing parliamentary primaries.

Chair of the disciplinary committee and MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said Zahir and Abdul Raheem’s membership had been suspended to ensure the two MPs do not contest March’s parliamentary elections as independents while retaining MDP membership.

Speaking to Sun Online, Zahir said he did not accept the MDP’s disciplinary actions.

“I won this seat as an independent. I do not think there is any action that can be taken against me for any decision I make while in this seat,” he said.

In addition to Zahir and Abdul Raheem, MPs Mohamed Rasheed (Matrix Mode), Ahmed Rasheed, Abdulla Jabir, Ali Riza, and Ahmed Easa voted against the party’s whip line on December 30.

Mohamed Rasheed and Ahmed Rasheed have left the party and joined the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and Jumhooree Party (JP) respectively. If the two MPs intend to join MDP again, they must apologise to the party’s membership and 50 members each.

Jabir, Riza, and Easa stood uncontested for reselection, and had already been placed on the party ticket when they voted against the whip.

The MDP has stripped Jabir of his position as deputy leader of the parliamentary group, ordered him to issue an apology by January 30, and decided to hold a referendum in his Kaashidhoo constituency to determine whether the MDP membership approve of granting Jabir the party ticket.

Speaking to local media, Jabir has said he will stand for the referendum and said he had informed the party of his decision to vote for Yameen’s cabinet.

“The MDP had officially accepted the government. [We have to] keep the national interest in mind. I will not leave MDP. I will stay with the party,” he told Haveeru.

Riza has been reprimanded and asked to issue an apology by January 30.

Meanwhile, the party has decided not to take any action against Easa, stating that his actions on December 30 only constituted a first offense.


Parliament cancelled after MDP MPs protest non-inclusion of police brutality debate

Today’s sitting of parliament was cancelled after MPs of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) vociferously protested the non-inclusion in the agenda of a motion without notice to debate police brutality.

Shortly after the sitting began, Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim – presiding in the absence of Speaker Abdulla Shahid – declared that the counselor-general had advised, in reference to section 140(c) of the parliamentary rules of procedure, that MDP’s motion “by its nature was not one that must be debated after setting aside the Majlis’ work.”

Under the rules of procedure, acceptance of a motion without notice opens the parliament floor for a one-hour debate.

Counselor-General Fathmath Filza later posted a message on Facebook explaining  that, “The primary object of an urgent motion is to draw the attention of the Majlis to a recent matter of public importance having serious consequences and in regard to which a motion with proper notice will be too late.

“The Standing Orders of the Majlis require the matter proposed to be of such a character that something very grave which affects the whole country and its security has happened, and the Majlis is required to pay its attention immediately by interrupting its normal business. It is therefore, an extraordinary procedure which, if admitted leads to setting aside the normal business of the House for discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance.”

Following Nazim’s announcement, MDP MPs raised consecutive points of order objecting to the non-inclusion in the agenda. Nazim however ruled that points of order could not be raised on the issue, causing an uproar and forcing the Deputy Speaker to adjourn the sitting until 11:00am.

In his point of order, MDP MP Mohamed Riyaz argued that the issues raised in the motion were of urgent concern, as police in uniform were entering private residences to rob expatriates, and police as well as the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) had not investigated police brutality against MPs, councillors and civilians on February 7 and 8.

Soon after the sitting resumed, Nazim invoked his authority as the Majlis chair to evict MDP MPs Mohamed Rasheed and Ibrahim Rasheed from the chamber after both MPs continued angrily to raise clamorous points of order.

Nazim adjourned the sitting again at 12:00pm after the MDP MPs refused to leave the chamber.

The Deputy Speaker eventually announced the cancellation of today’s sitting at 1:00pm after only nine MPs were in attendance despite ringing the quorum bell for five minutes. Last week’s sittings were also adjourned numerous times over loss of quorum.

“I have to say with much regret that today’s sitting is over without getting any work done,” Nazim said, adding that “obstruction” of parliament sittings by one of the main parties was “very regrettable.”

Motion without notice

Following the second adjournment today, MDP MP Eva Abdulla tweeted: “Majlis refuses debate on MPS [Maldives Police Service] brutality but starts Freedom of Assembly Bill which ironically defines how much force police can use in a gathering.”

The motion without notice, submitted by MP Imthiyaz Fahmy ‘Inthi’, states that police brutality against civilians since the contentious transfer of power on February 7 had become “systematic.”

Moreover, the motion referred to two police officers in uniform along with a group of plain-clothed police and army officers “intimidating and robbing” expatriates on June 8.

The motion noted that police officers in uniform forcibly entered the premises of the expatriate workers to rob them of their cash and mobile phones, adding that a member of the police investigation team and a Special Operations (S.O) officer were implicated in the robbery.

Inthi’s motion also expressed concern with the arrest of senior police officers on charges of contributing to a report released by two prominent MDP members on the alleged “coup d’etat” that forced the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed “under duress.”


MP Rasheed committed to MDP despite support for Majlis speaker

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Rasheed said he remains committed to the party even if he is “punished” by its Parliamentary Group for not supporting a no-confidence motion forwarded against Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid.

Rasheed told Minivan News today that he expected to remain an elected member of the party, which he continued to support, despite standing by his position to back the parliamentary speaker against a reported three-line whip enforced by the MDP.

During a vote of no confidence taken against Shahid yesterday, 45 out of the 74 parliament members present in the sitting voted in favour of the speaker and 25 voted against him. Two members abstained. MDP MPs Hassan Adil and Ahmed Rasheed were said to have voted against their party line. MDP MPs Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed and MP Ali Riza abstained.

MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said that the MPs who voted against the no confidence motion would now be required to explain themselves to the party’s Parliamentary Group Leader, MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Hamid added that the MDP had not yet decided on what course of action may be taken to deal with the MPs who voted against the whip at a time when the party trails in parliamentary support to a coalition of government-aligned parties.  The MDP currently stands alone as an opposition party against the coalition government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, which it alleges was brought to power in a “coup d’etat”.

“I wouldn’t go as far as to say that we will do anything rash. Under these stressful circumstances we have to be disciplined as a party,” Ghafoor explained in regards to the possible measures that could be taken against MPs who had not supported the vote.

While the exact nature of action to be taken by the party against members who voted against the bill is presently unknown, MP Rasheed said he would not be looking to switch his political allegiance even when potentially facing being reprimanded or expelled.

“I believe in the MDP manifesto. There is no question to me that it is the only party that actually has a manifesto,” he claimed. “In my mind, there is also no one trying to force me out of the party.”

Last month, the MDP’s former President Dr Ibrahim Didi and former Vice President Alhan Fahmy switched allegiances to the Jumhoree Party (JP). The decision was taken after the MDP’s National Congress passed a majority vote to remove both men from their respective leadership posts after they stood accused of making statements contradictory to the party’s official line.

Despite pledging his allegiance to the party today, Rasheed maintained his support for Shahid in the no confidence motion, claiming that the present speaker, out of 77 parliamentary members, was the “only person right now” who should have the Majlis chair.

Despite Shahid representing the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Rasheed contend that the speaker – due to a perceived lack of power in the position of his party – would not directly support former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and his Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).  The PPM was formed last year after an increasingly bitter war of words between current DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and Gayoom, who had originally founded the party. The war of words saw the party split between supporters loyal to Gayoom and those in favour of Thasmeen’s tenure.


Questioned as to whether the MDP, through its Parliamentary Group, would be looking to discipline the MPs who failed to back the party line, Ghafoor would not be drawn into the possible repercussions until an internal review was complete.

“The issue is that these MPs went against the whipline. This has been noted by the Parliamentary group Leader.  He now wants to find out why,” he said. “If they go against the party line they must have a good explanation for doing so.”

Ghafoor claimed that as a party, the MDP had generally been “disciplined” in ensuring solidarity among its members during parliamentary voting – a decision he said had afforded it the best record among fellow parties.

“There have of course been mishaps from time to time where people have gone against the party line,” he said.

Ghafoor took the example of former Party President Dr Ibrahim Didi and Vice President Alhan Fahmy as a notable example of where its members had been reprimanded.

“At this delicate time, [voting against the party line] does serve to reduce confidence in the party,” he said.

“Major principles” were at stake in yesterday’s high-profile no-confidence motion, Ghafoor said, adding that there was particular pressure from grassroots supporters to ensure the no-confidence vote succeeded.

“This is nothing personal, but the party supporters are in no mood to tolerate such actions from their MPs,” he said.

Ghafoor claimed that whatever action the party may decide to take against MPs voting against the official MDP line, it would not act in a “rash” manner.

The MDP Parliamentary Group has maintained that it has held “serious reservations” for some time about the Parliamentary Speaker’s ability to pass policies into legislation – despite his capabilities and understanding of national politics.

Speaker support

Speaking during yesterday’s debate, DRP Leader Thasmeen stated that the no-confidence motion had been forwarded amid baseless accusations.  He defended his fellow party member, saying that he had been executing the responsibilities of the speaker in accordance with the parliament rules and procedures.

Thasmeen further claimed that the motion was an attempt by MDP to “break” the coalition after the party leadership’s recent “political failures.”

“Such a motion will not impact the ‘unity’ between the parties in the coalition supporting the government of President Waheed. So therefore I must say, yet again this is another wrong step taken by the MDP leadership,” Thasmeen added.

PPM spokesperson MP Ahmed Mahloof stated that despite his being an outspoken critic of Shahid who made several statements in the media and the parliament floor, he would stand by the speaker’s side today.

“Yesterday, the PPM Parliamentary Group (PG) came to a conclusion that this motion is a ‘trap’ set up by the MDP to ‘finish off’ the people and the ruling coalition,” he said.

“Today at a time where Abdulha Shahid is facing a grave matter at hand, I will stand by him. Abdulla Shahid will get all the votes from PPM. What we ask is that he act justly and equally,” he added.

MDP MP Ali Waheed during the debate alleged that the motion would reveal those MPs who spoke “in two mouths”, referring to the PPM MPs allegations of that Shahid and Thasmeen had cut deals with GMR and the government of former President Mohamed Nasheed to support the privatisation of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA).