Police conclude investigation of MP Alhan Fahmy’s stabbing

Police have forwarded a case against two suspects for prosecution after concluding its investigation into the stabbing of MP Alhan Fahmy at a restaurant in Malé on February 1.

Two suspects – Mohamed Sameeh of Shiny, Fuvahmulah, and Mohamed Naseem, of Ulfamanzil, Hithadhoo – were arrested shortly after the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party MP for Feydhoo was stabbed in the back at the Breakwater cafe’ in the artificial beach area of the capital.

The suspects have been kept in pre-trial detention since their arrest on the night of February 1.

Alhan returned to the Maldives earlier this month after undergoing treatment in Sri Lanka, walking with a crutch following initial fears that the wound received to his back may have caused permanent paralysis.


Civil Court rejects MP Alhan’s request for injunction suspending candidacy of MDP Feydhoo ticket winner

The Civil Court has ruled today that it does not have the jurisdiction to grant an injunction suspending the candidacy of the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) Feydhoo primary winner.

The decision (Dhivehi) came in a lawsuit filed by Feydhoo MP Alhan Fahmy against the MDP seeking annulment of the opposition party’s primary for the Feydhoo constituency in Addu City.

Alhan lost the MDP’s primary to Mohamed Nihad last month by a 162 vote margin and challenged the results on the grounds that the voter list was outdated and did not include 67 new members. He also alleged electoral fraud in the Feydhoo poll.

Alhan had asked the court to order the Elections Commission (EC) to suspend Nihad’s candidacy pending a judgment on the legitimacy of the primary contest.

Judge Ali Naseer however ruled that cases concerning the candidacy of persons standing for parliament was in the jurisdiction of the High Court under the Judicature Act and the General Elections Act.

Lawyers representing the MDP reportedly did not attend this morning’s hearing.

Judge Naseer said that the party will be given an opportunity to respond to the allegations of fraud at the next trial date.

At yesterday’s hearing, the party’s legal team raised a procedural issue contending that the court could not hear the case as Alhan had not completed the appeals process through the party’s internal mechanisms.

The judge however dismissed the procedural point and ruled that the court could proceed with the case. He noted that as the MP could no longer submit a complaint to the party’s appeals committee, dismissing the case would deprive Alhan of his constitutional right to a fair trial.

The MDP has since appealed the ruling at the High Court.

While Alhan had first filed his case at the High Court, the court’s registrar informed his lawyers that it could not hear cases involving internal elections conducted by political parties.

Alhan was stabbed in a restaurant in Male’ on February 1 and returned to the Maldives on Friday (March 1) after undergoing treatment in Sri Lanka.

The incumbent MP is contesting the upcoming parliamentary elections as an independent candidate.

Last August, Alhan was summoned by police in connection with the alleged blackmailing of Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed, using footage of the judge having sex with three prostitutes in a Sri Lankan hotel.

The MP tweeted a screenshot of a text message he claimed had been sent to his mobile phone by Superintendent of Police Mohamed Riyaz. The text read: “Alhan, will make sure you are fully famed (sic) for blackmailing Justice Ali Hameed. You don’t know who we are.’’


President Waheed rejects JP’s proposition to reinstate sacked Transport Minister

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan has refused to reinstate the sacked Minister of Transport Dr Ahmed Shamheed and has requested the Jumhoree Party (JP) to propose a candidate for the job.

President of the JP Dr Ibrahim Didi confirmed the decision to local media, stating that the party had received an official letter from the President’s Office informing of the decision to not to accept Shamheed for the post.

Didi added that it was now up to party leader MP Gasim Ibrahim to decide whether to propose a new name, since it was he who had proposed Shamheed to the position in the first place.

The sacked minister, who on local media claimed he had “several differences” with the President, was removed from cabinet last week following the announcement of the extension of his party leader’s Maamigili Airport lease for 99 years.

Maamigili Airport is the country’s first private airport, opened on October last year, and owned by the Villa Group whose chairman is also the leader of government-aligned JP, MP Gasim Ibrahim. The airport had initially been leased to the business tycoon for a period of 30 years.

The re-extension of the lease period of the private airport was met with severe criticism from both the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and some government-aligned political figures.

However, Shamheed – whose decision to extend the lease period cost him his cabinet position – maintained that the decision on the extension of the lease was approved by the government’s Economic Committee a week before.

“Documents to extend the lease of Maamigili Airport for 99 years were sent to the transport ministry by [former President Mohamed] Nasheed’s government. But the current government delayed the matter. The present government only endorsed the decision. It was decided by the NPC (National Planning Council) during the former government,” he said at the time.

The concerned Economic Committee included Minister of Finance Abdulla Jihad and Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Ahmed Shafeeu, Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muizzu, Environment Minister Dr Mariyam Shakeela and Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb. However surprisingly, the committee did not include the Minister for Economic Development Ahmed Mohamed from the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).

Spokesperson for the Presidents Office, Abbas Adil Riza, confirmed the dismissal of Minister Shamheed on social media, where he tweeted: “Transport Minster Dr Shamheed has been relieved from his duties today. Defense Minister Nazim will be the care taker until replaced by JP.”

Riza who is also a member of JP, confirmed that the cabinet seat would be reserved for the JP, currently the third largest party in terms of membership in the ruling coalition. As per the coalition agreement, the party is allotted with two cabinet slots including that of the Ministry of Transport and also the Ministry of Gender and Human Rights.

The dismissal of ex-minister Shamheed was met by criticism from the JP, which described it as a “cowardly act”.

In a statement released following the dismissal, the JP said it would take “necessary action” following an inquiry, and expressed “serious concern” with statements in the media by officials from the President’s Office regarding the reasons for Shamheed’s dismissal.

Some local media outlets quoted Presidents Office Media Secretary, Masood Imad, as stating that Shamheed was dismissed following several inconsistencies, which included the extension of lease of the private airport.

However, the Presidents Office Spokesperson Riza at the time declined to reveal the reason behind the dismissal of the minister.

An unnamed JP official alleged to Villa TV (VTV) – a media station owned by the Villa Group  – that Dr Shamheed was sacked because of his opposition to the recently concluded sale of a 30 percent stake in the Addu International Airport Company Ltd (AIA) to another tourism tycoon, ‘Champa’ Hussain Afeef.

The JP leader had alleged corruption in the deal and claimed the valuation of the 30 percent stake was too low.

The JP senior official meanwhile told VTV that Shamheed was removed to allow Champa Afeef to control the airport project, claiming that the “cowardly” act of sacking the minister was intended to divert media and public attention from the Addu airport controversy.

JP’s future in the coalition in question

The recent dismissal of the JP endorsed minister has sparked speculation as to the future of the JP in the current government coalition. JP MP Alhan Fahmy told Minivan News on Wednesday that he believed Shamheed should be reinstated if “Dr Waheed wants to sustain the national unity government.”

“I don’t believe [Waheed] was unaware of the decision [to dismiss Dr Shamheed], and it is of his own irresponsibility if he says so,” Fahmy said “A minister shall not be dismissed under the existing political situation unless it is associated with proper reasoning.”

Speaking at the press conference on Tuesday, Fahmy said Waheed met Gasim on Monday night and what he had to say implied that the President was “not fully aware of how [the dismissal] happened.”

After looking into the dismissal, Fahmy said the JP believed it was done “without a legal basis” as the JP Minister had not breached any laws or official procedures but was sacked “as a result of what the minister did to implement a decision made by the government.”

“Therefore, as we believe that this happened because the President was somewhat confused or misinformed, and after making certain of all the processes that were followed with regard to [the dismissal], the Jumhoree Party has asked the President to reinstate Dr Shamheed to the cabinet before next Sunday,” Fahmy said.

The government’s actions in sacking the minister provided opportunity to level corruption allegations against the JP’s leader who has also been announced to be the party’s presidential candidate, and were “highly damaging” to the party, the MP for Feydhoo added.

“Trust and confidence affected” – JP MP Alhan Fahmy

Speaking to Minivan News following the dismissal, Fahmy said that the letter sent by the Presidents Office did not mention “any reasonable grounds” for the dismissal of the minister.

“The party has yet not decided on how it will proceed following the response given by the President’s Office. The party council will meet very soon to decide on the matter,” he said.

Asked if the President’s decision could mean the party leaving the government coalition, Fahmy stated that the dismissal was “unacceptable” and it had affected the “trust and confidence” between the government and the party.

“I would not definitely say that the party will leave the coalition and join the opposition. But there is a possibility as you would know that political affiliations between parties do not always remain permanent,” Fahmy said.

“The party has not officially penned a coalition agreement. However, after what happened on February 7, the incoming president announced that the new government would be a national unity government. So the coalition was formed on certain moral values and grounds, which this party would never allow to be compromised,” he added.

He also raised doubts over President Waheed’s commitment towards the “moral value and grounds” of a national unity government and instead alleged that the President had now begun working in the interests of “his own party and political future”.

“He won’t acknowledge his own mistakes” – GIP Deputy Leader Zaki hits back at Fahmy’s remarks

Speaking to Minivan News, Deputy Leader of President Waheed’s Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP), Ahmed ‘Nazaki’ Zaki, brushed off Fahmy’s comments describing him as being involved in “party-factionalism”.

“I refuse to believe Fahmy’s remarks that there is a loss of trust and confidence. The JP is a valuable partner in our coalition. I just don’t get it when Fahmy speaks about loss of confidence because JP leader Gasim Ibrahim has explicitly told us that he wants to remain in the government coalition,” he said.

Zaki went onto describe Gasim as “one of the most prominent figures” in bringing democracy to Maldives, and said the government always considered him a “valuable asset” in the national unity government.

However, Zaki admitted that he did not understand why Gasim was trying so hard to reinstate Shamheed when there were “many other capable people” in his party.

Asked for the reason behind Shamheed’s dismissal, Zaki said there were “many reasons” but declined to go into details. He also responded to Fahmy’s claims that the dismissal was not based on “reasonable grounds” by saying it was human nature that “he would not acknowledge his own faults”.

The former High Commissioner to Malaysia went onto state that unlike former President Mohamed Nasheed’s government, President Waheed would not sack a person unless there were severe discrepancies, and Shamheed’s sacking was no different.


Addu airport stake sold to Champa Afeef’s Kasa Holdings

An agreement was signed last night to sell 30 percent of the Addu International Airport Company Pvt Ltd (AIA) to tourism pioneer ‘Champa’ Hussain Afeef’s Kasa Holdings to raise finances to develop the Gan airport in Addu City.

AIA is a joint venture formed by the Gan Airport Company Ltd (GACL), Maldives Airports Company Ltd (MACL) and the State Trading Organisation (STO).

The airport infrastructure and facilities in the uninhabited Gan island of the southernmost Seenu atoll was leased to the government-controlled consortium for 50 years with a mandate to develop and operate the asset as an international airport.

The agreement to sell a 30 percent stake in AIA for MVR 60 million (US$3.9 million) was meanwhile signed on behalf of the company by Managing Director Shahid Ali – also Managing Director of STO – and ‘Champa’ Mohamed Moosa on behalf of Kasa Holding.

The agreement was signed in spite of a public threat by Jumhoree Party (JP) Leader and MP for Alif Dhaal Maamigili, Gasim Ibrahim, that Shahid Ali would be sacked from his post if the sale went through.

Gasim, who had previously alleged corruption in the deal, told reporters on Sunday night that Shahid could not “stay in his post if he signs it,” according to newspaper Haveeru.

He also warned that the STO MD could “not live on this island” if the sale was finalised.

Shahid meanwhile reportedly said after the signing ceremony last night that the agreement was signed after the Finance Ministry and Public Enterprises  Monitoring and Evaluation Board (PEMEB) gave clearance for the sale.

Shahid noted that Afeef’s stake in the seaplane operator Trans-Maldivian Airways (TMA) would be an advantage in the development of the Gan airport.

Following the signing ceremony, Shahid told private broadcaster Raajje TV that the sale was made after a decision by the AIA board of directors, a public tender, evaluation of shortlisted candidates and “authorisation from the Finance Ministry”.

Proceeds from the sale would finance “a major project to develop Gan airport,” he said, including expanding the runway and repairing damages in the airport as well as establishing a new drainage system and a seaplane base.

“The estimate of the consultants for all this is US$40 million. So even if we obtain loan finance or contractor finance for this US$40 million project, we would need an equity injection,” he explained. “Therefore, we need an investment to get this equity injection – a party that would give this money to the company as an equity injection.”

The AIA board in consultation with the government decided to invite proposals from Maldivian companies, Shahid said, adding that Kasa Holdings was the only local company to submit a bid.

Shahid stressed that Kasa Holdings was sold a stake in the management company AIA and not the Gan airport.

On the allegations of corruption by the government-aligned JP, Shahid insisted that the sale was made “through an open and transparent bidding process,” adding that AIA would “welcome” an investigation.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) revealed to local media today that it commenced an investigation into the sale of the AIA stake last month based on assertions in the press.

ACC Deputy Chair Muaviz Rasheed told newspaper Haveeru that the investigation would be completed this week.

Letter to the President

Speaking in parliament yesterday, JP MP Alhan Fahmy claimed that the “self-interest” of Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) was behind the sale of the AIA stake, alleging that DQP senior officials Imad Solih and the party’s leader and Special Advisor to the President Dr Hassan Saeed were complicit in corrupt dealing.

“The government should not sign this agreement. This case should be investigated at a national level,” he said, claiming that the 30 percent stake “could be sold tomorrow to an Israeli party.”

“Addu Atoll Gan is a military strategic location the whole world is watching,” he claimed, calling on the government to reconsider the decision.

Alhan told Raajje TV last night that JP would submit the case to the ACC and parliamentary committees, repeating the corruption allegations and questioning the valuation of the 30 percent stake.

Alhan claimed that Dr Saeed had asked JP Leader Gasim not to oppose the deal at a meeting at the President’s Office yesterday.

In a letter to President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik last week, Gasim contended that MVR60 million for 30 percent of AIA’s share was “a very small amount” as the value of the airport would exceed MVR 3 billion (US$200 million).

Moreover, while US$44 million had been estimated as the cost of developing the airport, the JP MP claimed that the project could be completed with US$24 million.

An “open tender just in China alone” for the project would suffice to prove his assertion, Gasim wrote in his letter to Dr Waheed.

Gasim warned that Kasa Holdings would be positioned to acquire 70 percent of AIA by moving to sell 40 percent to a buyer of its choice.

“If a member representing the government does not attend a board meeting held to sell this 40 percent, Kasa Holdings will have the power to sell 40 percent of shares to whoever it pleases at whatever price it wants,” Gasim wrote. “In light of my experience on how these [deals] are completed, I have to say that the ultimate result would be the remaining unsold 40 percent being sold to a buyer of Kasa’s choice and the opening up of the opportunity for Kasa Holdings to control 70 percent, and within this opportunity, for [Kasa] to sell 51 or more percent of AIA to another foreign party.”

Gasim further contended that the move would pose a risk to national security, as the government would have no legal powers over the company.

Cancelling the agreement would mean paying the foreign party a “huge amount in compensation,” he claimed.

Gasim insisted that the Gan aiport should be developed by MACL and offered in his letter to reclaim land for the project free of charge “using my own dredger, employees and machinery with the government only providing oil.”


Deposed VP of MDP Alhan Fahmy launches ‘free MDP’ protest; claims Nasheed behind the party coup

Deposed Vice President of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), MP Alhan Fahmy, today announced that he would be launching a campaign to “free” the party from former President Mohamed Nasheed, and to advocate reform of the party.

Speaking at a press conference this morning, Fahmy alleged that Nasheed was behind his ousting, and the ousting of Party President Dr Ibrahim Didi.

On Monday MDP’s National Council declared a lack of confidence in the party’s leadership and removed Didi and Fahmy from their positions, in a near-unanimous vote: 69 of 73 votes cast (almost 95 percent) were in support of the no-confidence motion for both Didi and Fahmy’s leadership. Four members abstained from voting for either motion.

The motion was proposed by MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, who alleged that Dr Didi and Fahmy had made public statements contradicting the party’s official position on the illegitimacy of the new government and Dr Waheed’s presidency, a position passed in a resolution on February 8.

Fahmy today stressed that the motion of no confidence taken against him was in contrary with the party constitution, and referred the move as a “coup” within the party.

“This [motion of no confidence] was a pre-planned attempt to defame certain figures of the party instigated by former President Nasheed and those who blindly follow him,” Fahmy told the press. “Nasheed is behind all this,” he claimed.

Fahmy criticised Nasheed claiming that the MDP could not be saved or liberated if members of the party allowed Nasheed to ‘rule’ the party according to his wishes, and sit back applauding him.

He also alleged that Nasheed had not once entered the party office since his fall from the presidency, and that he had been driving the entire party from his own residence at Kenereege.

“When you start running the party inside Kenereege, that is not democracy. No single person can take the fruit from the hard work of many like that,” Fahmy claimed.

Fahmy further alleged that Nasheed had given statements to the international media which were contrary to Islam and Sharia law, and that allowing Nasheed to become the party’s presidential candidate would “destroy the party”.

He further claimed that he would have challenged Nasheed in the presidential primary party if he had been old enough to compete.

He also claimed that Nasheed was the only MDP member permitted to meet President Mohamed Waheed Hassan or the Vice President, Waheed Deen: “When a certain person wants to he can, but if we do so, it becomes a huge problem,” Fahmy claimed.

However, Fahmy acknowledged that Nasheed had contributed a lot to the democracy of the country during his tenure as President.

Fahmy’s campaign began this afternoon at 4:00pm in the Raalhugandu Area near the tsunami monument. A small group of 15-20 of the MP’s supporters were quickly outnumbered and heckled by a large group of MDP members, as they made their way to Majeedee Magu.

One of Fahmy’s supporters told Minivan News that the campaign would call for the party to be “freed” from forces that had “hijacked” it.

“The MDP is the largest political party in the country, and it is also funded by the state like all other parties. No one person or a group can hijack a party like that. We are coming out to call for the party to be freed, and reformed,” the official told Minivan News.

Fahmy was elected as a Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) MP, but switched sides in early 2010 after facing the DRP’s disciplinary committee for voting against the party line in a vote of no confidence against then-foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed. The DRP had accused Dr Shaheed of fraternising with Israel.

MDP response

Speaking to Minivan News, the party’s international spokesperson, MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, said he was “disappointed” by the Fahmy’s comments.

Responding to the claim that Nasheed was behind his ousting from the deputy leadership, Ghafoor said that MDP was “full of people who can think for themselves” and Fahmy’s comment was “outright disregard”.

” The MDP is full of people who can think for themselves, in fact I am the sponsor of the motion and I can assure you that I forwarded it in my own capacity and nobody had any influence on me,” said Ghafoor.

In response to claims that Nasheed was driving the party from his personal residency, Ghafoor stated that the party secretariat still worked in the party office and that for security reasons, when there was an issue that had to be discussed with Nasheed, members came to his residence.

Ghafoor also added that MDP was run by committees and some committees met at venues other than the party secretariat office, because it lacked space.

Regarding Fahmy’s claims that Nasheed made ‘unislamic’ statements to foreign media, Ghafoor claimed that this was “just the usual rhetoric” to discredit political opponents on religious grounds “when one switches ship.”

“It seems like Alhan [Fahmy] has taken an Islamist position. It is not something new to the Maldives. The rhetoric of religion and foreign influence has always been played down in the Maldives for political reasons. It is not something we worry too much about,” Ghafoor said.

“Let’s see the political weight of that event. It is rather ironic for someone to believe that they have room within the party to call for room after they’ve been voted out with such large majority,” Ghafoor told Minivan News.

” MDP is always in process of reforming and will continue to do so. All I’ve got to say to Alhan [Fahmy] is ‘good luck’,” added Ghafoor.

The MDP has maintained that as the transfer of power on February 7 was illegal, former President Nasheed and his cabinet should continue to sit in the National Council as senior members of government.

The motion was forwarded by Ghafoor, citing that the issue was “political” rather than “personal”.

The ousting of the party’s leadership was “a solemn occasion and I took no pleasure in it,” Ghafoor said. “But it was a good day for the party and a good day for democracy. We have shown that the largest party in this country can act democratically,” said Ghafoor.


MDP to take no confidence votes against Party President and Vice President as internal rift grows

The national council of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) will take no confidence votes against the party’s President Dr Ibrahim Didi and Vice President MP Alhan Fahmy, at the council’s 104th meeting scheduled for today.

The no-confidence motion is the second to be forwarded against the party’s leadership this month.

According to a statement from the party, the motion was put forward by the newly-elected Secretary General of the Party’s Parliamentary Group and International Spokesperson, Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, and was seconded by Mohamed ‘Ziyattey’ Ziyaadh, the former Executive Services Secretary of the President’s Office.

The MDP stated that the motion had been raised because both Didi and Fahmy had been making public statements contrary to a resolution passed on February 8, recognising that former President Mohamed Nasheed and his cabinet were ousted by illegitimate means through a coup d’état. The MDP  maintained that as the transfer of power was illegal, former President Nasheed and his cabinet should continue to sit in the National Council as senior members of government.

Facing pressure following its controversial ousting from power on February 7, the MDP’s founding leadership has come up against its ambitious new leadership, elected during the party’s internal elections in May 2011.

Ghafoor alleged that some senior figures were trying to bring about a coup within the party.

“I forwarded the resolution because [Alhan and Didi] have been making malicious statements intended to incite chaos and conflict among ordinary members of the party and the party activists. Making such statements at such a fragile time is damaging to the party,” Ghafoor told Minivan News.

A similar motion was forwarded earlier this month by the party’s Chair of Elections Committee and former head of National Social Protection Agency (NSPA), Ibrahim Waheed, calling for a “confidence assessment” of the party’s current senior leadership.

“I submitted the resolution in accordance with the MDP Constitution. The reason for the submission was that some of the party’s leaders have been issuing statements and interviews against the MDP’s Constitution, after the coup on February 7,” Waheed told Minivan News at the time.

However, the National Council at the last minute decided not to proceed with the vote.

Didi’s response

Speaking to Minivan News, MDP President Dr Ibrahim Didi stated that he did not believe such a motion could be taken. He questioned the authenticity of the scheduled National Council meeting, claiming that it was in conflict with previously set precedents.

“As a principle, the National Council is usually held in consultation with the party leadership. The reason for holding a council meeting and its agenda has to be discussed with the Party President or Vice President. Especially at such a fragile time, they did not do so,” he said.

Didi claimed said that the courts of the country had recognised him as the legitimate leader of the MDP and referred to a recent court case in which the MDP’s legal team sued the government for dismantling its protest camp at Raalhugandu in Male’.

Civil Court Judge Aisha Shujoon dismissed the case stating that it had been filed at the court by the Interim Chairperson of the party, MP Moosa Manik, who she contended did not have authority to sign on behalf of MDP according to the party’s constitution.

The case was subsequently resubmitted under Didi’s signature, and is proceeding.

“Even the courts have recognised the authority of the party leadership and I do not believe the National Council can vote me out because I am elected from a direct vote,” he said.

Didi also said that he would not participate in today’s scheduled meeting even though he was able to sit in the council as a member of former President Nasheed’s cabinet.

“I do not believe that the cabinet is legitimate because the party constitution states that the Party President has to form the party cabinet,” Didi added.

Ghafoor argued that he had proposed the motion in accordance to the party’s constitution, article 30 clause (f) which states that the National Council is able “to debate and assess the confidence of the President of the Party or the Vice President of the Party or the Chairperson or a Deputy Chairperson, if the members of the party submits a complaint disapproving their actions.”

Despite Didi’s claims, Minivan News observed that Didi was present and participated in the national council meeting held on February 8 in which the party passed a resolution recognising former President Nasheed and his cabinet.

Internal rifts

Following the controversial transfer of power on February 7, the pressures of sudden opposition have deepened existing internal rifts between senior figures of the party.

The MDP has already decided to take action against its MP, Shifaaq ‘Histo’ Mufeed, after he voted against party whip-line in the parliament session held to approve the new cabinet and vice-presidential nominee Waheed Deen.

The MDP had earlier decided to boycott the session arguing that the session was illegitimate, since the party did not recognise the legitimacy of the government of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan, and repeating the party’s allegations that Waheed came to power in a coup d’état. The party argued that the session could not be legal because it was held to approve a government that came to power by illegal means.

However, despite the party’s whip-line on its MPs to not to take part in the session, MP Mufeed participated in the session and voted in favor of approving both the cabinet of President Waheed and Vice Presidential appointee Waheed Deen.

President Waheed’s cabinet and the vice presidential appointee Waheed Deen were approved by the remainder of sitting MPs unanimously by 45 votes of the usually 77-strong chamber, including MP Mufeed’s vote.

MDP Parliamentary Group Leader, MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih told local media that the parliamentary group would take action against MPs who went against the party whip-line.

Speaking to Minivan News, Ghafoor said that action will be taken against Mufeed in accordance with rules set up to take action against those who break the party whip-line.

“I assure that the party’s parliamentary group (PG) will look into the matter and ensure that necessary action be taken against [Mufeed] in accordance with the party constitution, if he is found to have broken the party whip-line,” he said.

“Shifaaq [Mufeed] has been a subject of controversy, even before the February 7 coup. He has been repeatedly gone against the party line,” Ghafoor alleged.

“For instance, while we were in government, during the meetings of Social Services Committee of the Parliament where he and I both sit as MDP MPs, he had supported the centralising of Thalassaemia treatment while the party had earlier approved a bill decentralising it,” he added.

While Ghafoor did not reveal what kind of action the party would be taken against the MP representing mid-Fuvahmulah constituency, he stated that if Mufeed wanted to “switch parties” he should stop “acting like a child” and “be man enough to say that the party policies no longer appeal to him”.

However, Mufeed maintained that he did not intend to switch parties but he was trying to highlight the flaws within the party leadership, and was quoted in the local media as saying that the party’s leadership was “in a coma”.

Along with MP Mufeed, other senior party figures such as MP for Nolhivaram Constituency Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed along has become vocal in criticising the party leadership, stating that the party should let go of its “militant tactics”.

Spiritual leadership?

Along with Mufeed and others, party vice president Alhan Fahmy has implied that former President Nasheed was a “spiritual leader”, and that he would not support such a leader within the party.

However, Ghafoor told Minivan News that there was no way Nasheed could be labelled a “spiritual leader”, as the National Council of the party had agreed that he was brought down illegally and was technically still the elected president.

“I don’t believe that Nasheed is a spiritual leader. Structurally he still is the elected president, and the party has agreed that he was brought down by illegal means under a resolution passed on February 8. The party’s national council has agreed that he is still technically the elected president, through the people’s vote,” said Ghafoor.

Minivan News tried contacting MP Alhan Fahmy for his comments but he had not responded at the time of press.

The National Council was scheduled to meet today 4:00pm at Dharubaaruge. Minivan News understands the no confidence motion is to be opened for debate.


MDP to take confidence votes on leadership in “coup attempt”, claims MP

A resolution has been submitted to the Gaumee Majlis (National Council) of the Maldivian Democratic Party, demanding confidence votes in the party’s leadership.

The apparent factionalisation follows an attempt by Party President and former Fisheries Minister Dr Ibrahim Didi to introduce a shadow cabinet to the party.

The resolution called for a “confidence assessment” of all the members in the senior leadership of the party, and was forwarded by the party’s Chair of Elections Committee and former head of National Social Protection Agency (NSPA), Ibrahim Waheed.

The resolution submitted proposes that the national council take a confidence vote in the leadership of the party President Dr Ibrahim Didi, Vice President MP Alhan Fahmy, Interim Chairperson MP Moosa Manik and Deputy Chairperson (Finance) Ahmed Mausoom.

In a separate resolution, a motion of no confidence was forwarded against the party’s Secretary General Hassan Shah.

MP Alhan Fahmy has described the resolution as a “coup attempt” to depose him from his position as the party’s vice president following his reform attempts, he  told local newspaper Haveeru.

Fahmy stated that the resolution had been forwarded contrary to the MDP’s constitution.

He also said that he had been elected to the position with a higher number votes than the number of votes that the Party President, Dr Didi, and said he did not believe that such a motion could be forwarded to the national council.

According to article 30, clause (f) of the MDP’s constitution available on its website, the chapter describing the powers of the national council states it is able “to debate and assess the confidence of the President of the Party or the Vice President of the Party or the Chairperson or a Deputy Chairperson, if the members of the party submits a complaint in disapproving their actions.”

Fahmy was not responding to calls at time of press. However the sponsor of the resolution, Mohamed Waheed, said that he had submitted the resolution under the right given from the MDP Constitution.

“I submitted the resolution in accordance with the MDP Constitution. The reason for the submission was that some of the party’s leaders have been issuing statements and interviews against the MDP’s Constitution, after the coup on February 7,” he said.

Responding to MP Fahmy’s claims, Waheed said that Fahmy “should read the MDP constitution thoroughly. The party constitution gives me the right under the article 30. Reforms should be brought in accordance with the party constitution,” he said.

Party constitution manipulated?

Waheed alleged that some officials of the party leadership had manipulated the party’s constitution after it was passed at the party’s congress on October 2010.

“There was a committee selected to draft the party constitution. I was the chair of the committee. The other members were MP Mohamed Aslam, MP Mohamed Rasheed and former state minister of Youth Ministry Mohamed Hussain Rasheed ‘Bigey’,” Waheed said.

Waheed alleged that the version of the party’s constitution on in the party’s website was a ‘manipulated’ version.

“The current version [of the party constitution] that is available on website is not the original version that was passed in the congress.”

“I remember very clearly that the version that was originally passed in the congress did not include a party cabinet, and did not include the phrase that the party president was the highest authority when the party is in opposition,” he continued.

“During the congress the powers of the Party President and Vice President were delegated to the Chairperson and the Parliamentary Group leader. But the amendment to remove the post of party president and vice president did not pass, therefore the two positions remained as ceremonial positions since their powers had been delegated.

“But, the party constitution has now been manipulated and now includes stipulations that were not originally included in the party constitution. For instance, see the powers that are included for the party president in the version available on the party website. It contradictswith the powers of the chairperson,” Waheed added.

MDP President Dr Didi was not responding at time of press.

The MDP National Council is held a meeting at 5:00pm on Tuesday, however Minivan News understands that Waheed’s resolution was not on the agenda.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed is currently in the United States to promote the Island President, and meet with State Department officials. Other senior party figures such as Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail are in India meeting authorities to clarify the events of February 7 and seek support.


Pillay controversy a missed opportunity to demonstrate nobility of Sharia: President

The Maldives missed an opportunity to demonstrate “the nobility of Islamic Sharia” to the world by reacting in “a Jihadi spirit” to controversial statements made by visiting UN human rights chief last month, President Mohamed Nasheed said at a rally Friday night.

A call for a moratorium and public debate on flogging as a punishment for fornication by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in an address to parliament on November 24 was unequivocally condemned by the Islamic Ministry, religious groups and political parties as an unconstitutional challenge to a Quranic precept.

“That the punishments and rulings of Islamic Sharia are not inhumane is very clear to us,” Nasheed said. “We have the opportunity to show the whole world how noble and civilised Sharia is. That is because we are the only Islamic nation with a democratically-elected government.”

“Wasting that opportunity in a Jihadi spirit” with the claim of “defending Islam” was unacceptable, Nasheed told supporters at the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) rally at Dharubaaruge, which saw the launching of a ‘Plus One’ campaign to double party membership ahead of the 2013 presidential election.

“Opposition parties will always attack us by using religion as a weapon,” he said. “[But] believe that this country is the only Islamic nation where Islamic Sharia has been practiced uninterrupted for 700 years.”

Islamic chief justices and principles of Sharia law had “a sacred place” in the Maldives’ long history, Nasheed observed, which “will not be shaken.”

“Maldivians are not a people who will allow the slightest harm to Islam,” he said. “We know how civilised the religion of Islam is.”

MDP understood that Islam “brought the world out of jahiliyya [ignorance] onto the path of civilisation,” he continued, adding that the party was committed to protecting the culture and traditions of the country.

In the past three years, he noted, the government spent Rf1.2 billion on “the protection of Islamic faith” (page 200 of the MDP manifesto), including the construction of 40 new mosques across the country.

Nasheed said he had been writing about the decay of the Gemmiskiy in Fuvahmulah, an ancient coral stone mosque, since 1990.

Meanwhile in a press conference on Thursday, seven opposition parties announced it would be joining the coalition of NGOs for a nationwide mass protest planned for December 23 “to protect Islam” against the MDP government’s alleged “anti-Islamic agenda.”

Speaking at the Friday night rally, MDP Vice-President and MP for Feydhoo, Alhan Fahmy, strongly criticised opposition parties and religious groups for objecting to the Pakistani SAARC monument, which contained pagan symbols of the Indus Valley civilisation and a bust of the country’s founder Mohamed Ali Jinah topped by the Islamic crescent symbol.

“The time when people worshiped idols, when people worshiped people and the public worshiped rulers in this country is over and done with,” he said.

Alhan accused religious groups and scholars of the Adhaalath Party for employing “religion as a shield” for political purposes.

“Instead of bringing people from Egypt for Ramadan revival programmes, we gave the opportunity for Maldivian scholars to speak and deliver sermons,” he said, in contrast to the former regime “jailing them and shaving their beards with chili sauce.”

Alhan also argued that accusing senior officials of the MDP government as well as the party’s members of kufr (disbelief) went against Islamic principles in a Muslim society.

He urged the Adhaalath Party to cease “sowing discord” with accusations against fellow Muslims and suggested the religious conservative party “talk about something else if you want to come to power.”

President Nasheed meanwhile suggested that “the people today are too aware and enlightened” to believe the charges laid against the government.

“We know what the people of the Maldives want. We don’t have to watch TV stations to find it out,” he said, referring to the opposition-aligned privately-owned broadcasters DhiTV and VTV.

Nasheed observed that the MDP received 53 percent of the total votes cast in the by-elections for vacant council seats in Alif Alif Himandhoo, Faafu Bilehdhoo and Gnaviyani Fuvahmulah on November 19.

“In 2013, I have not the slightest doubt in my mind that we will take 60 percent of the vote in the first round,” he asserted, claiming that there was “no other party in the country yet” that could meaningfully compete with the MDP.


Government withdraws amendment to abolish Foreign Investment Act

The government today withdrew at the preliminary stage a bill to abolish the Foreign Investment Act of 1979, one of 18 pieces of legislation proposed under its economic reform package currently before parliament.

Presenting the draft legislation in August, MP Alhan Fahmy of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) said the purpose of the bill was to remove restrictions and open the country to unhindered investment by foreign companies.

Alhan announced today that the ruling party decided to pull out the bill in light of parliament rejecting the proposed company law last week.

“It is not that our thinking and economic policy has changed at all,” he said, adding that all components of the reform package was necessary to achieve the government’s objectives.

Foreign direct investments were to be regulated under the proposed company law, which would have replaced the existing Companies Act enacted in 1996.

In a booklet issued to the media by the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) outlining concerns with the economic reforms, the main opposition party opposed the abolition of the Foreign Investment Act on the grounds that it protected domestic industries and small businesses.

The party noted that the proposed company law did not contain protectionist measures or special benefits for local businesses.

“Instead of abolishing the foreign investment law, it would be better to amend and modernise it to pave the way for foreign investments in the country,” it reads.

Moreover, the DRP “could not agree to sell the country’s remaining assets to the MDP’s friends” after “[losing control of] the country’s main gate, the international airport, the national telecom service, and Maldivian seas and shallows.”

During the preliminary debate in August, Kelaa MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom, recently appointed DRP parliamentary group deputy leader, accused the government of trying to turn the Maldives into the “money-laundering machine of the world” by deregulating or removing restrictions to foreign investments.

Other opposition MPs claimed that the bill was part of an agenda to “sell off state assets” and undermine national interests and sovereignty.