MDP selects representatives for all-party talks

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has formulated the team which will represent the party in all-party talks planned to discuss steps to defend the Constitution.

In a tweet by MDP chairperson Ali Waheed it was revealed that the team will consist of himself, Parliamentary Group leader MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, former Majlis Speaker MP Abdulla Shahid, former party Chairperson MP Mariya Didi, and Malé City Mayor Mohamed Shihab.

MDP leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed has urged President Abdulla Yameen to abandon strict and arbitrary policies and actions against other political figures and to conduct official talks with all political parties.

“As soon as possible, even if possible tonight, I urge President Yameen to commence talks with all political parties, especially with the inclusion of President Maumoon [Abdul Gayoom] in the talks,” he said.

Similarly,the Jumhooree Party has also has called on all political parties to discuss the steps that need to be taken to defend the Constitution, stating that it was willing to work with any party for that cause, in spite of potential threats and intimidation from the government.

The MDP have listed the removal of two Supreme Court judges and the replacement of the auditor general late last year as examples of the government’s unconstitutional actions.


Harbour construction on-going in 48 islands, says housing minister

Harbour construction is on-going in 48 islands while work is expected to begin in a further 10 islands during the year, Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Dr Mohamed Muiz informed parliament yesterday.

Appearing for minister’s question time, Muiz said projects for six islands have been sent to the tender board last week.

“Our hope is to solve the problem in the next year or so for all islands facing embarking and disembarking difficulties. God willing, we will achieve this,” he said.

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mariya Ahmed Didi had asked Muiz how many harbours have been constructed since the current administration took office in November.

The former MDP chairperson said 58 harbours were constructed during the three years of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration.

Kuribee and Nellaidhoo harbours

Muiz was summoned to respond to a question tabled by MDP MP for Vaikaradhoo, Mohamed Nazim, concerning harbour construction on two islands in his constituency.

Nazim noted that President Abdulla Yameen had pledged to expand the Kuribee harbour and that work had stalled on the Nellaidhoo harbour.

Muiz explained that construction began in Kuribee in 2011 for a 300-feet long and 150-feet wide harbour while the harbour in Nellaidhoo was to be 400-feet long and 150-feet wide.

Both projects were awarded to the Works Corporation Ltd (WCL) under contractor finance rules with the government-owned corporation providing equipment and material, he said, which then subcontracted Heavy Force Pvt Ltd for MVR21.5million (US$1.3 million).

However, construction stalled over difficulties faced by WCL in providing reinforcement boulders and the subcontractor stopped work on July 2012 after dredging and quay wall construction.

Of the 34 projects awarded to WCL in 2010 and 2011, an audit found that the government canceled 24 after the corporation failed to commence work. WCL had completed only one infrastructure project.

In late 2012, former President Dr Mohamed Waheed dissolved WCL and formed an office called public works under the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure.

The public works division subcontracted Heavy Force to carry out the remaining work, Muiz continued, and agreed to provide equipment and material through the State Trading Organisation (STO).

“However, STO also faced difficulties providing reinforcement boulders and the work stalled for about 14 months with Heavy Force unable to continue,” he said.

Project changes

The present administration subsequently changed the project to a normal material and labour contract – “as is done in other islands” – and subcontracted Heavy Force for a cost of MVR36.3 million (US$2.3 million) in February this year, he revealed.

Muiz stressed that the decision was made based on the “counsel and advice” from elders and councillors from both islands.

As Kuribee islanders had requested widening the harbour to 200-feet and President Yameen had pledged to do so during a campaign trip, Muiz said the old quay wall had to be rebuilt with an additional 50-feet dug into the island.

Muiz said further “variations” would be undesirable as the project has been costly.

Public finance regulations stipulate a 10 percent limit for variations to projects, he explained, adding that the tender board only allowed exceptions on rare occasions.

On the stalled project in Nellaidhoo, Muiz said the both the contractor and supervising staff from the ministry had said that construction was proving difficult due to strong ocean currents.

The ministry and the contractor decided to build the outer seawall first, Muiz revealed, which is expected to begin in a month.

“Our target is to finish the harbours on both islands during this year,” he said.

In a follow-up question, however, MP Nazim said Kuribee islanders wanted the length of the harbour increased as well.

In response, Muiz said additional changes could be made in another phase after completing the project and “seeing how it is being used.”

Muiz also offered updates to a number of other MPs about harbour construction for islands in their constituencies. While harbour construction usually takes 12 months, he explained that delays were often caused by shortage of material.


MDP will not obstruct government through parliament, says Nasheed

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) will not obstruct or hinder the government should the party win a parliamentary majority in the upcoming general elections, former President Mohamed Nasheed said last night.

Speaking at the campaign launching ceremony for the MDP’s candidate for Manchangoalhi North, MP Mariya Ahmed Didi, Nasheed said obstruction of development projects or government programmes was not the opposition party’s intention.

“Our philosophy is not obstruction. We do not wish to stop undertakings of President [Abdulla] Yameen’s government. We wish for it go ahead on the right path,” he said.

The role of an opposition party in a country with a presidential system was ensuring that campaign pledges are fulfilled, Nasheed added.

Nasheed noted that President Yameen made a number of pledges during last year’s presidential campaign, including raising old age pensions to MVR5,000 a month, providing MVR10,000 to fishermen during lean months, assuring “unlimited” health insurance, and assigning a general practitioner to each family.

“MDP’s legal responsibility today is to encourage holding the government answerable for fulfilling its pledges, if the pledge is not contrary to our philosophy and principles,” he said.

Nasheed suggested that a supplementary budget should be submitted to parliament with funds allocated for fulfilling the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives’ (PPM) campaign promises, which was not the case with the 2014 state budget approved by parliament.

As an additional MVR34 million (US$2.2 million) would be needed to raise the elderly benefits, Nasheed said the required amount could be saved from the budget by halving the salary and allowances of ministers, deputy ministers and state ministers.

He added that the MDP would seek amending the relevant laws to reduce wages of political appointees.

“We need a majority of the People’s Majlis to bring about this change through the law,” he said.

Meanwhile, campaigning in Noonu Velidhoo last night, President Yameen urged voters to choose candidates representing the governing ‘Progressive Coalition’ in order to ensure that the executive receives the necessary cooperation from the legislature.

Yameen argued that parliament was “in need of change” and needed to earn the public’s respect.

He added that it was the parliament that would “put the final stamp” on the government’s efforts to fulfil its campaign pledges.

“If the general rule that they follow is to try to stop everything that is beneficial for the people, that’s not responsible,” the president was quoted as saying by Sun Online.

Yameen also reportedly indicated that the government could submit a supplementary budget this year. The president has previously accused parliament of delaying approval of loans through the public finance committee.

“I need some cash”

In his speech, Nasheed meanwhile referred to a leaked phone conversation in July 2010 between business magnate MP Gasim Ibrahim and then-Independent MP Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed, who recently joined the PPM, in which the latter asks the business magnate for “some cash”.

In a second leaked conversation, Nasheed read out a draft outlining the then-opposition’s plans to block taxation legislation and amend the Public Finance Act to require parliamentary approval for signing agreements such as the airport privatisation deal with GMR.

The amendments were cited as the main reason for the en masse cabinet resignation in June 2010 with Nasheed announcing at the time that the new laws would make it “impossible for the government to function.”

While then-President Nasheed ratified the amendments after parliament overrode his veto, the government filed a case at the Supreme Court in December 2010 contesting the constitutionality of some provisions.

Nasheed contended last night that opposition politicians obstructed the MDP government because they feared the party would win reelection if it was allowed to implement its policies.


Police officer testifies to police brutality against former MDP Chairperson Mariya Didi

A police officer has testified against a fellow officer, Ibrahim Faisal, who is currently being charged for attacking former opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson and MP Mariya Ahmed Didi on February 8, 2012.

On February 7, 2012, the continuous anti-government protest led by then-opposition political parties and religious scholars following the controversial detention of Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed gave way to a mutiny by a segment from both the police and military officers against Nasheed, resulting in his premature resignation from office.

The following day, Nasheed along with the MDP and thousands of people, took to the streets in protest claiming that Nasheed was ousted in a bloodless coup d’état. However the en masse demonstration met by a brutal crackdown from both police and military officers during which several MDP MPs and politicians backing the MDP suffered injuries.

Testifying against Faisal, Lance Corporal Mohamed Saarim told the court that he was with Faisal in the ranks of police during the time the protests were dismantled.

Saarim testified that Faisal was among the police officers who went inside a shop to arrest senior MDP figures, including current Party Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, Mariya Didi and former President Nasheed, who took refuge inside after the police led the heavy crackdown on protesters.

During this incident, Saarim claimed that he saw Faisal attacking Mariya Didi, punching her in the abdomen. According to Saarim, Faisal dragged Mariya Didi out of the shop, before handing her over to another officer.

The Lance Corporal also claimed that he had told Faisal not to act so aggressively, but he had disregarded his call. Saarim also recalled that Faisal was not in his uniform and was clothed as a civilian, and had used his bare hands to attack the MP.

During the hearings, Saarim also acknowledged the statement he gave to Police Integrity Commission (PIC) which was presented to the court. Saarim stated that the statement was a true statement given based on what he witnessed on the day.

When the sitting Judge Muhuthaaz Fahmy questioned Faisal about the statements by Saarim, he denied the claim saying that he did not harm anyone. He further told the court that he was not present with the group of police officers who entered into the shop, but was instead having a coffee.

Faisal made the same statement to the PIC, which was also heard in court.

Concluding the hearing, the judge stated that the only witness presented to the court by the prosecution was Saarim. He did not mention a date for the next hearing.

Along with Faisal, police officer Mohamed Waheed from the island of Thinadhoo in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll is also facing criminal charges for assaulting MDP Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa, hitting him on the head with a metal canister.

Mariya recalls the attack

Mariya Didi described the moment when the officers barged into the shop as an “attempt on our lives”.

“On February 8, after the police dispersed those who marched to protest their government being over thrown by police and military, President Nasheed and Ahmed ‘Dhonbilai’ Haleem saw me fall and gasp for breath, almost falling tinto the sea as the police and military used the yellow gas they used at such close range,” she said.

“They picked me up and as they knew I was suffering from the injuries of the previous day (February 7,2012), I looked in a state with all the bruises to my face and body, and also a black eye from a beating the previous day,” she said.

“They wanted to put me to safety in the shop as they knew these officers wanted us all dead,” she added.

“Moosa, Nasheed and myself entered the shop. As I was standing inside the shop, the police came and took Moosa first,” she recalled.

“In a moment, some other police came and pulled me up. They handcuffed me at the back with bands they had and kept pulling my hair. They kept beating me all over. They sprayed my whole body with pepper spray, especially in the black eye from the previous day, and into my nostrils. I recently had a sinus operation in Bangkok and just returned. These police officers were all over beating me, my whole body was black and blue,” she explained.

“It was rather shameful that people in uniform thought it fit that they beat up a woman who was already handcuffed tightly behind her back. The scars are still there on my wrists,” she said.

“I hope our men in uniform learn to behave with discipline and professionalism and not let their political views overtake their oath and duty to this country,” she said.

“Jazbaath (‘being emotional’) is no excuse,” she stressed.

Human Rights Commission inquiry

On August 22, 2012, the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM) released an investigative report (Dhivehi) which concluded that the police crackdown on the MDP march, which left dozens of demonstrators injured, was “brutal” and “without prior warning.”

Thirty-two people filed complaints with the HRCM concerning the varying degrees of injuries they sustained in the crackdown, while 20 people also submitted medical documents pertaining to the treatment of those wounds.

Among the injuries caused by the police baton charge, the HRCM report noted that several people were bruised and battered, one person had a fractured leg bone, another person’s arm was broken, and six people sustained head wounds.

Two fingers on the left hand of one demonstrator were crushed, the report also noted, and the victim had to undergo a corrective operation.

Meanwhile, the former ruling party informed the HRCM that their march across Male’ was spontaneous and that the party had not planned to stage any protests on February 8.

The crackdown

While riot police baton-charged the front line of protesters on February 8, Minivan News observed riot police also charging the crowd from a narrow alley leading to the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) area.

The SO police officers used obscene language, pointed to and chased after individual MDP activists and severely beat unarmed civilians.

Al Jazeera news filmed parts of the attack from the rear and reported that on February 8 “police and military charged, beating demonstrators as they ran – women, the elderly, [with] dozens left nursing their wounds,”

Amid the clashes, a group of opposition demonstrators infiltrated the crowds, attacking MDP supporters, according to witnesses.

Former President Nasheed was reported among the injured, having received head injuries during the clashes.

Minivan News also observed several youth with head injuries queuing up for x-rays in the waiting area outside the reception area of Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH).

One young woman who went into IGMH with her sister was being treated for a head wound. The gauze wrapped around her head was spotted with blood, and she claimed the wound was still bleeding as she went in for an X-ray.

“The police were just standing there and suddenly we were being beaten with batons and pepper spray was thrown in our face. They threw us to the ground and kept beating us,” she said.


JSC contests High Court jurisdiction to rule on legitimacy of Hulhumale’ court bench

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on Thursday (Apirl 11) asked the High Court to dismiss a case filed by former President Mohamed Nasheed contesting the legitimacy of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court’s bench controversially constituted by the commission.

At Thursday’s hearing, the JSC contended that the High Court did not have jurisdiction to rule on the case as the panel of judges presiding over Nasheed’s trial – on charges of illegally detaining Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012 – was appointed based on counsel from the Supreme Court.

“It is strange that the JSC’s legal counsel contested jurisdiction of the High Court to hear the case on the grounds that they had sought the advice of the Supreme Court in determining the bench,” Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mariya Ahmed Didi, spokeswoman of the former president said after the hearing.

“Recently, when eight judges of the High Court bench filed a complaint at the JSC claiming that the High Court had not followed procedure in accepting President Nasheed’s appeal and granting stay to Hulhumale’ Magistrates’ Court proceedings, the JSC had rejected it on what we understood the grounds to be as the matter should be heard in court. We did ask for an adjournment to prepare our response to their procedural issue. The court said they would give us time to prepare for our response and adjourned the hearing.”

Raising the procedural issue at Thursday’s hearing, the JSC lawyer reportedly informed the High Court that the Supreme Court provided counsel on September 4, 2012 on appointing judges to the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court bench.

The JSC lawyer argued that decisions by the apex court could not be challenged at the High Court.

In response, Hisaan Hussain from the former president’s legal team noted that counsel provided by the Supreme Court in a letter did not carry the same legal weight as a court ruling.

Chief Judge Ahmed Shareef Ali then adjourned the hearing after granting time for Nasheed’s legal team to study and respond to the procedural issue. In addition to the chief judge, the three-judge High Court panel included Judge Abbas Shareef and Judge Abdul Raoof Ibrahim.

Hulhumale’ court bench

In a recent trial observation report, the UK’s Bar Human Rights Committee (BHRC) expressed “serious concern” over the appointment of judges by the JSC to the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court bench.

Accounts of the appointment process, “if accurate, suggest egregious unconstitutional behaviour by the JSC in selecting the judicial bench to hear Mr Nasheed’s case,” stated BHRC Executive Committee member Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh.

“It is difficult to see how proceedings presided over by a judicial bench, cherrypicked for their likelihood to convict by a highly politicised JSC, which includes a number of Mr Nasheed’s direct political rivals, could in any way be deemed to comply with constitutional and international fair trial rights, including the right to an ‘independent court established by law’,” stated Ghrálaigh, in her concluding remarks.

The MDP maintains that the charges against Nasheed  represent a politically-motivated attempt to bar its presidential candidate from upcoming presidential elections scheduled for September 7, 2013.

Legal wrangle

Nasheed’s trial at the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court was suspended after the High Court issued a stay order on April 1.

The trial had resumed in March after the Supreme Court declared the magistrate court legitimate in a controversial 4-3 ruling.

At the least hearing of the trial at the Hulhumale’ court, the state prosecutor said that the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) did not have any objections to granting a request by the former president’s legal team to defer the trial until after September’s presidential election.

The Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court however refused to delay the trial and scheduled its next hearing for April 4.

Nasheed’s legal team subsequently appealed the magistrate court’s decision not to grant a deferral while also filing a case challenging the legitimacy of the bench.

The second case followed testimony from members of the JSC at parliament’s Independent Institutions Oversight Committee suggesting that the commission exceeded its mandate in appointing judges to the magistrate court bench.

Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman, member of the general public on the JSC, testified that the commission arbitrarily appointed three magistrates from courts across the Maldives to Nasheed’s case after dismissing the three names first submitted by the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.

“Moosa Naseem (chief magistrate of the Hulhumale’ Court) initially submitted names of three magistrates, including himself. This means that he had taken responsibility for overseeing this case. Now once a judge assumes responsibility for a case, the JSC does not have the power to remove him from the case,” Sheikh Rahman explained. “However, the JSC did remove him from the case, and appointed three other magistrates of their choice.”

Rahman further stated that the judicial watchdog body was highly politicised, and openly attempting to eliminate former President Nasheed from contesting the presidential elections.

Meanwhile, Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid – also a member of the JSC – told the oversight committee that he believed the JSC acted unconstitutionally in assigning magistrates to oversee Nasheed’s trial.

“In deciding upon the bench, the JSC did follow its rules of procedures. That is, it was voted upon in an official meeting and six of the seven members in attendance voted on the matter. The seventh member being the chair, does not vote in matters,” Shahid explained.

“However, whether it is within the commission’s mandate to appoint a panel of judges in this manner is an issue which raised doubt in the minds of more than one of my fellow members,” he added.

During a visit to the Maldives in February, United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul also criticised the appointment of judges to the magistrate court bench..

“Being totally technical, it seems to me that the set-up, the appointment of judges to the case, has been set up in an arbitrary manner outside the parameters laid out in the laws,” Knaul told press after delivering her statement.


MDP MP Mariya Ahmed Didi calls for debate on sale of alcohol to tourists in local guest houses

Former Chairperson of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), MP Mariya Ahmed Didi, has called for debate over the sale of alcohol to tourists in local guest houses, in a bid to promote mid-market travel to local islands.

Didi made the remarks during the debate in parliament over the proposed bill calling for the blanket prohibition of pork and alcohol imports to the country, sponsored by fellow MDP MP Nazim Rashad.

During the debate, Didi raised several questions on the issue including whether alcohol should only be sold by wealthy business tycoons, such as leader of Jumhoree Party (JP) MP Gasim Ibrahim and Hussain ‘Champa’ Afeef.

“When we travel to several islands to prepare our election manifesto, and when we discuss about opening guest houses, the subject of allowing sale of alcohol in guest houses with provisions excluding sale to locals has to be discussed,” she said.

She further stated that before giving such a permit, views of the religious scholars in the country must also be sought. Didi added that it was important to know from religious perspective whether such sale could be carried out in the Maldives or whether the Maldives could consume the profits made by through sale of alcohol while remaining an Islamic country.

Didi called on parliament to accept the bill proposed by MP Nazim Rashad and have it sent to a parliamentary committee, to then seek the views of religious scholars.

Unlike many other Islamic nations such as Qatar, Dubai and Abu Dhabi where the sale of alcohol is licensed to hotels and foreign workers, the Maldives classifies alcohol as a restricted substance and bans its use and sale on ‘inhabited’ islands.

The resort islands are classified as ‘uninhabited’ under Maldivian law, although technically under the Constitution no law can be enacted against a tenet of Islam, which potentially affects those relevant to the import, sale and service of haram products such as pork and alcohol.

“Clarified and addressed”

Speaking to Minivan News, Didi said that the issue of alcohol needed to be “clarified” and “addressed”.

“If this is a religious issue, that is if Islam bans sale of alcohol, it should not be sold in the Maldives as we are a 100 percent Islamic nation. If the sale is allowed, then the question to ask is whether alcohol is needed for the tourist trade to flourish,” she said.

She added that if alcohol proved to be a vital element in the tourism sector, then the sale of alcohol should be allowed for “registered places” to which a permit is given to accommodate tourists including resorts, safari boats and guest houses.

“If the objection to the sale of alcohol is on [religious] grounds, it should not be sold in places where Maldivians reside. But Maldivians do reside on resorts as employees. If we deny Maldivians the employment opportunities in the resorts, then the income from resorts will be restricted to those who own resorts, that would give way to increase in expatriate workers and foreign currency drainage,” she explained.

Didi stressed that the bill must be admitted to a parliamentary committee and “clarify” from religious scholars the position of Islam that concerns the issue at hand.

“Every island I have travelled to, most locals who I come across want tourist guest houses on their islands and employment opportunities where they can work and still go back home to spend time with their families,” She added.

The bill calling to ban the sale of pork and alcohol was proposed in October.

Presenting the bill, Nazim argued that the import of these products violates article 10(b) of the constitution which states that “no law contrary to any tenet of Islam shall be enacted in the Maldives.”

“We often hear rumours that people have alcohol at home in their fridge, available any time. We’ve heard that kids take alcohol to school to drink during their break. The issue is more serious than we think, it should not be ignored,” Nazim told the house.

Consumption of intoxicants or pork products is prohibited under Islamic law.

Previous attempts

When in charge, the MDP government announced that it was considering banning pork and alcohol products in response to the December 23 coalition’s campaign to protect Islam.

Then Press Secretary for the President, Mohamed Zuhair at the time said that trade of alcohol was not a business conducted by the government. He added that the government receives a relatively large amount of money through this trade from Goods and Services Tax (GST).

“The businessman running the trade of alcohol receives a huge amount of profit through this business as well,’’ he said. ‘’The government is now considering banning trade of alcohol and pork throughout the Maldives.’’

The decision was followed after a mass protest against the government held by the December 23 coalition, consisting of several religious NGOs and opposition political parties, called on the government to ban the sale of pork and alcohol among other demands.

After being asked in January for a consultative opinion over whether the Maldives could import pork and alcohol without violating the nation’s Shariah-based constitution, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the case on the grounds that the matter did not need to be addressed at the Supreme Court level.

The Court did note, however, that pork and alcohol have been imported under provisions of the Contraband Act and that there is a regulation in favor of the trade. As no law has declared the regulation unlawful, the import of pork and alcohol is indeed legal, the court claimed.

Meanwhile, Article 10 of the Constitution states that “No law contrary to any tenet of Islam shall be enacted in the Maldives.”

The Constitution also states that any law not struck down by the courts is valid.

Since resorts first opened in the Maldives in the 1970s, tourism has been the core of the island nation’s economy. To accommodate the industry as well as the national Islamic faith, in 1975 the Ministry of Economic Development regulated the sale of pork and alcohol to tourist establishments (Act 4/75).

While there is no regulation or set of guidelines specific to spa operations in resorts, Article 15(a2) of the Goods and Services Tax Act stipulates that spas are legally accepted in the Maldives as tourism goods, and therefore may be operated in compliance with tourism regulations.

After its formation in 2009 the Parliament had nine months to reject any legislation which did not conform with the Constitution.

Parliament did not reject the regulation on the sale of pork and alcohol in 2009, thus allowing it to stand by default.


MDP MP Mariya Ahmed Didi summoned for questioning over allegations of inciting violence against police

Former Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson MP Mariya Ahmed Didi is to be summoned to the police for questioning today regarding confrontations that took place after police entered the MDP protest camp at Usfasgandu on May 29.

Police said Didi was supposed to attend police headquarters on Thursday, however said the time had been changed to 2:30pm today upon Didi’s request.

Initially the police did not reveal the reasons for summoning Didi to police, and the chit sent to Didi read that it was “regarding a matter that the police are investigating.”

Rumours were circulating within the party last night that Didi was being summoned for allegedly for plotting to attack police officers. Didi – the country’s first female lawyer – yesterday also published a report outlining the criminal charges she said President Mohamed Waheed Hassan should face following the events of February 7.

Police later issued a statement denying these claims and stated that Didi was being summoned regarding the confrontations that took place when police entered the ‘Usfasgandu’ camp on May 29.

“The Maldives Police Service has sent a summoning chit to Mariya to investigate the violent confrontations that took place between the police and opposition protesters on May 29, 2012 and May 30, 2012. We suspect that Mariya and some others were behind the attacks, and had hired gangs to attack police officers and police property, and that Mariya had encouraged attacks on police,” read the statement.

Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef was not responding to calls at time of press.

“Systematically threatening political opponents”- MDP

MDP Spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy told Minivan News that Didi was to be summoned for allegedly plotting an attack on police officers.

Fahmy alleged police were reverting to an old practice under former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s time of “systematically threatening political opponents”, in retaliation for Didi’s release of the report outlining a legal case for criminal charges against President Waheed.

“They are trying to harass and threaten Mariya after the report she released which exposed Waheed’s participation in the coup,” he said.

“The government is now trying to systematically threaten political opponents. Mariya’s report was academic and professional context – it was not even political,” Fahmy contended.

Didi, who is an LLM graduate from the Aberystwyth University and the country’s first female lawyer, this week  released a report claiming President Mohamed Waheed should face criminal charges for violating Article 30 of the Penal Code, for his alleged participation in unlawfully toppling the government of the Maldives.

She argued in her report that President Waheed played a “pivotal” role in the “unlawful overthrow” of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration on February 7.

Spokesperson of the President’s Office, Abbas Adil Riza at the time told Minivan News that the government welcomed such a “professional” report.

“It is very good that people like Mariya have decided to abandon their ‘street justice’ and get into the boundaries of the country’s legal system,” he said.

“This may not mean that they have entered into the legal boundary but it is a positive thing. I think it is a step taken towards getting inside the law,” he added.

Riza stated that the report was Didi’s own opinion, however he said the government would respect any decision made by the courts.

MDP released a statement condemning the “continued intimidation and harassment by the Maldives Police Services against those who are openly discussing the coup d’etat, orchestrated by factions of the police and military that forced Maldives first democratically elected President to resign on 7 February 2012.”

The party stated that the summoning came only a day after Didi released a report the drew on government’s own “timeline of events” published by the former Commission of National Inquiry (CNI).

Didi’s summons followed the arrest of the Chief of Police Intelligence, Mohamed Hameed, who cooperated with the MDP’s Ameen-Aslam report into the circumstances surrounding the change of power. Several other officers were also subject to investigation. The MDP said the arrests implied “a clear and dangerous pattern of intimidation and harassment of peaceful, non-violent dissent by the sitting government and its security forces.”

Arrest of former police intelligence chief

Police last week arrested former head of police intelligence, Chief Superintendent Mohamed Hameed, following his contribution to the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s report into the controversial transfer of power on February 7.

Reports surfaced yesterday that police officers who had cooperated with the report were being rounded up and detained, and their houses searched. A group of protesters had gathered outside police headquarters this morning.

Police initially denied the allegations of a “witch hunt” and issued a statement accusing the media of “circulating baseless and false reports”. However court warrants for the arrest of Hameed and Staff Sergeant Ahmed Naseer were subsequently leaked.

Hameed was taken into custody this morning and transferred to the detention centre on Dhoonidhoo, ahead of a court hearing this afternoon. Naseer and a third, lower-ranking officer are also believed to be in Dhoonidhoo. Later Criminal Court extended Hameed’s detention to five days.

However, Criminal Court yesterday ordered the release of former head of police intelligence Chief Superintendent Mohamed Hameed from custody, just a few hours after the High Court upheld its decision to keep him detained.

The five-day detention warrant granted by the Criminal Court expired on Tuesday at 2:00pm, and Hameed was brought before the court by the police with a request for further extension.

In contrast to its first decision, the court sanctioned Hameed’s release by concluding that it “does not believe the detention should be extended any further.”

Police raid on Usfasgandu

Police raided the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) protest camp at Usfasgandu on May 29, after obtaining a search warrant from the Criminal Court and cordoning off the area from MDP demonstrators.

Didi was inside the cordon showing the warrant to a group of media representatives shortly after 8:00am, as dozens of police began to gather in the area.

Reasons for the search stated on the warrant included: “suspected criminal activity”, “damage to public property”, and “suspected black magic performed in the area”.

Under evidence, the warrant alleged that people in the Usfasgandu area verbally abused police officers and damaged a police vehicle on April 20, obstructed a Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) exercise of May 9, and on May 25 “MDP protesters threw a cursed rooster at MNDF officers.”

Civil Court later that night issued an order to halt the dismantling of the camp after MNDF and police officers began dismantling the camp.

The government later appealed to Civil Court decision to the High Court, but the court ruled in favor of the order.


MDP lawyer Mariya Didi outlines criminal charges against President Waheed

Former Chairperson of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and lawyer, MP Mariya Ahmed Didi, has released a report claiming President Mohamed Waheed should face criminal charges for violating Article 30 of the Penal Code, for his alleged participation in unlawfully toppling the government of the Maldives.

Didi, who is an LLM graduate from the Aberystwyth University and the country’s first female lawyer, argued in her report that President Waheed played a “pivotal” role in the “unlawful overthrow” of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration on February 7.

The report is the second released by the now-opposition MDP, following the Aslam-Ameen report which interviewed police and military sources, and alleged that Nasheed’s government was toppled in a premeditated coup d’état through deliberate sabotage of the chain of command.

Didi however stated that the evidence for her report was drawn from the ‘timeline’ released by the government’s own three-member Commission of National Inquiry (CNI), and information collected from political forums and individuals.

The MP for Machangoalhi North stressed that while she had drawn on evidence from the CNI timeline, she still believed that it was not impartial or credible, as the information had come from the government itself.

Facing pressure from the Commonwealth, the government had agreed to reconstitute the panel to include a representative of former President Nasheed, a retired foreign judge, and UN and Commonwealth monitors.


MP Mariya Didi’s report alleges that President Waheed was personally culpable in the unlawful toppling of the Maldives’ government, which is punishable by law under articles 30 and 33 of the Penal Code. The punishment for such an offence includes life imprisonment or banishment for life, including a period of “hard labour” as determined by the sentencing judge.

Article 30 of the Penal Code states: “The punishment for a person who plots to remove the president or topple the government by the use of unlawful weapon (weapons that could harm a person) is imprisonment for life or banishment for life and the Judge has the authority to decide a period for rigorous imprisonment while the person serves the sentence.”

Article 33 of the Penal Code states: “Articles 30, 31 and 32 includes all kinds of coup d’état and attempts of it.”

In her report, Didi stated that it was evident that former President Mohamed Nasheed was elected and sworn in as President, as both the head of state and the head of government on November, 11, 2008 for a term of five years under article 106(b) of the constitution and article 28(c) of the Penal Code.

The former MDP chairperson argued that there was no stipulation in the constitution dictating that the position of Vice President is an elected position, and that rather the VP is appointed by the elected President, both as his running mate and to the office if elected.

Didi further argued that as Waheed was appointed rather than elected, he was not eligible for presidential privileges under Article 127 of the constitution, which allow a criminal sentence to be delayed until the end of a president’s term if determined by a resolution passed by parliament.

Waheed had deviated from his mandate as Vice President while still in the position, Didi argued, as article 117(a) stipulates that, “The Vice President shall exercise such responsibilities and powers of the President as are delegated to him by the President.”


According to point 14 of the CNI’s timeline, on January 30 Waheed met the members of the opposition coalition at the Vice President’s official residence after midnight.

“The Vice President met with some leaders of the [opposition] coalition on the night of 30 January 2012 at Hilaaleege, his residence. He was asked at the meeting whether he was prepared to carry out his legal responsibilities. He said he was ready to do so. Coalition leaders held a press conference after the meeting to announce their endorsement of the Vice President [for President],” the CNI timeline stated.

Didi claimed that after the meeting on January 30, other members of the cabinet had asked Waheed about his meeting with opposition but he had refused to reveal any details.

She argued that this was against the spirit of the article 117(a) of the constitution since the Vice President’s duties were only those delegated to him by the president, and that he had no authority to hide any information which he had acquired in his capacity as the vice president.

In her report, Didi stated that given the midnight meeting and background of anti-government protests calling for the toppling of the government, she inferred the details of the forthcoming ‘coup’ were delivered to Waheed as he had succeeded to power on February 7 without any inquiry as to what had actually happened.

Waheed’s acknowledgement of the resignation amid the police and military mutiny, and formation of a ‘national unity government’ consisting largely of the accused opposition parties, was sufficient evidence that Waheed had accepted his role in the plot to topple Nasheed.

Five days later

Point 17 of the CNI timeline states: “Following Coalition discussions, protests began at Artificial Beach on 2 February 2012. At the protest, Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla calls for police to arrest President Nasheed within five days.”

Didi observed that five days after Imran called for the arrest of Nasheed, Nasheed had resigned and Waheed had been sworn into office.

She argued that the only way a president could be removed from office under the Maldivian constitution was through an election, death, voluntary resignation or parliamentary resolution under article 100(a) of the constitution, requiring a two-thirds majority of the chamber.

The article 100(a) states: “The People’s Majlis, by a resolution, may remove the President or the Vice President from office only on the grounds of:

1. Direct violation of a tenet of Islam, the Constitution or law;

2. Serious misconduct unsuited to the office of the President or Vice President;  or

3. Inability to perform the responsibilities of office of President or Vice President”

Didi submitted in her report a statement given by Waheed to Villa TV on February 7, between 2:00am and 3:00am, which was mentioned in point 90 of the CNI timeline.

Point 90 of the timeline states: “The Vice President speaking via the media at his residence in Hilaaleege called on the military and the police not to obey any illegal orders: ‘Yes! It is also my duty to say something at a time of such national crisis. I support the peaceful activities of the many to protect the country’s constitution and its faith. It is important at this time that all Maldivian institutions especially those of law enforcement to protect and maintain the Constitution and laws. I call upon everyone not to obey an illegal order. In this sorrowful time, I also call upon the Maldivian security services not to leave room for those seeking to dissolve our security and not to allow any harm to be caused to people and their property, especially the media. It saddens me very much that VTV and other places have been damaged tonight. I call upon those who cause such damage to refrain from doing so.  I also assure you that I will do everything I can as the Vice President of this country to free us from this dangerous and tragic time. May Allah return our country to a peaceful and secure state, Amen.’”

Didi claimed that the live TV statement was in violation of article 117 of the constitution, in which the Vice President’s duties included only those delegated to him, and that Waheed in the capacity of Vice President had no right to give such a statement encouraging anti-government activities.

She further argued that when Waheed said that he supported “the peaceful activities”, point 15 of the timeline revealed that a police officer had been set on fire during the protests.

Point 15 of the timeline states: “A policeman caught fire on 31 January 2012 when a fireball was thrown at the police during the protests near MMA.”

She also pointed out in her report that a journalist from the state broadcaster, Moosa Naushad, had his arm broken after a protester hit him with a wooden stick.

She further stated that the timeline acknowledged that police and protesters had damaged public property and vandalised the MDP ‘Haruge’, and also had also uprooted the city council’s date palms to use as weapons.

Didi stated that despite all these violent activities, Waheed had done nothing to prevent such actions or defuse the situation, but had instead supported the cause of the anti-government demonstrators. This, she contended, indicated that he was a part of the plot.

Didi also alleged that Waheed was involved in the unlawful storming of the state broadcaster by police, military and opposition demonstrators prior to Nasheed’s resignation. She said it was “fishy” that Waheed was so concerned about VTV that he had specifically mentioned the television station’s name in his media statement, but had failed to take any action or make a statement following the raid on MNBC.

She further claimed that it was Waheed’s own brother, Ali Waheed, who had accompanied the rebelling police to take over the station.

Didi stated that Waheed did not try to contact Nasheed even as the situation in the country worsened. Police had openly called that they were ready to confront the military, and two civilians – Abdullah Riyaz (current Commissioner of Police) and Mohamed Nazim (current Defence Minister) – had entered the military barracks and demanded the unconditional resignation of President Nasheed, and ordered him to delegate his powers to the Vice President.

She claimed that such Waheed’s decision not to contact Nasheed at the time implied that he was in support of the unlawful activities.

Didi also claimed that Waheed’s failure to contact Nasheed about what had happened or ask why he had resigned before taking the oath of presidency at 15:25pm on February 7, added further weight to the suggestion that he was part of the plot.

She also alleged that the consistent failure of Waheed’s new government to take action against the rebelling police officers for criminal offences – including the distribution of police weaponry to civilian protesters – clearly denoted Waheed’s part in the coup.

In conclusion, she called on the judges and the Prosecutor General to look into the report and deliver justice to the people of the country.

Government response

Spokesperson of the President’s Office, Abbas Adil Riza told Minivan News that the government welcomed such a “professional” report.

While the government has described the Ameen-Aslam report as a “terrorist act”, Riza said that Didi’s report was a “professional opinion” while the former was “twisted and baseless accusations against police and military officers.”

“It is very good that people like Mariya have decided to abandon their ‘street justice’ and get into the boundaries of the country’s legal system,” he said.

“This may not mean that they have entered into the legal boundary but it is a positive thing. I think it is a step taken towards getting inside the law,” he added.

Riza further stated that the report was Didi’s own opinion, however he said the government would respect any decision made by the courts.


MDP calls for justice for 17-year-old injured outside Endherimaage

The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has condemned “the uncivilised, cowardly and inhumane attack” on 17-year-old Hussein Hassan, Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo Semy, who was struck on the head with a wooden plank allegedly thrown from Maafanu Endherimaage, residence of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

An MDP protest against the judiciary last Thursday turned violent outside Endherimaage after the 17-year-old was injured from the object, which eyewitnesses claimed was hurled from the second floor balcony of the building while the protesters led by MDP MPs and senior officials were passing below.

In a press statement released today by the MDP parliamentary group, the ruling party said the left side of the boy’s brain was not properly functioning and he could not recall past memories as a result of the injury.

“The Maldivian Democratic Party urges all relevant authorities of the state to bring everyone who took part in this lowly, inhumane act to justice,” it reads. “MDP will be watching how the investigation is progressing very closely and the party would like to assure the family of the injured boy as well as our members that we will take all necessary legal action in this case.”

Minivan News journalists at the scene on Thursday observed gravel, stones, hot water and sharp metals raining down on the protesters from Endherimaage.

The protest quickly turned violent after the boy was rushed to Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) by MDP MPs on a passing pickup near Athena cinema. MDP activists threw rocks at Endherimaage, smashed a window and attacked Gayoom supporters blocking the entrance.

Speaking at the MDP Haruge Friday night, former Chairwoman Mariya Ahmed Didi, who was in the front line of the protest march, said the wooden plank that injured the boy was with the police.

“They still haven’t apologised to the people for this,” she said. “This happened in broad daylight from that house [Endherimaage].”

Meanwhile, MDP MP Mohamed Musthafa called on Home Minister Hassan Afeef to resign from his post claiming the Home Ministry and law enforcement agencies were “failed institutions.”

“A wooden door was dropped from the building where former President was living, and Gassam Maumoon was summoned to the police headquarters and was allowed to walk away freely,” Musthafa said. “Letting him get away with it has showed us that the police and the Home Ministry has failed.”

Musthafa, who beat the former President’s son to win the Thimarafushi seat in a re-vote ordered by the High Court, alleged that Gassan was arrested in the UK for a hit-and-run accident where a British citizen died.

“There should be no protection or immunities for any son or daughter of former president because all of them are above 18,” Musthafa said. “Hassan Afeef was afraid of former President, he fears that he might lose his job or something.”

After Musthafa circulated a text message to MPs and Police Commissioner calling for Afeef’s “immediate resignation,”  he said Afeef later sent him a text saying “get lost.”

Afeef told Minivan News today that did not wish to comment on the issue.

Meanwhile, local daily Haveeru reports that according to the former President’s lawyer Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim ‘Wadde’, Gassan has been sent a summons chit to appear at the police headquarters at 10:00am tomorrow for further questioning.

Waheed claimed the wooden plank that injured the 17-year-old was thrown by an MDP protester.

After responding to the first summons, Gassan Maumoon told reporters outside police headquarters Saturday afternoon that he exercised the right to remain silent after “it appeared from some of their questions that they were accusing me.”