DRP condemns sacking of State Minister for Health Ali Shareef

The Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has condemned the sacking of State Minister for Health Ali Shareef yesterday (September 15), after the DRP council member voted in favour of endorsing the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate – former President Mohamed Nasheed – in the second round run-off of the presidential election.

The DRP said in a press release yesterday that the reason stated by the President’s Office for dismissing Shareef was his vote in the party’s council meeting last week and his participation in the MDP’s campaign.

“The party does not believe that the DRP’s participation in Dr [Mohamed] Waheed’s government is a reason for not being able to engage in activities to gain support for the [candidate] the party supports,” the press release stated.

“The party notes that officials of Dr Waheed’s government belonging to different parties were not fired from their jobs while they were [campaigning] behind different presidential candidates.”

Former Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, however, was also sacked from the cabinet by President Waheed two days after he was unveiled as the running mate of the Progressive Party of Maldives presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen in May.

Ali Shareef is currently campaigning for former President Nasheed in Haa Alif and Haa Dhaal atolls with Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid.

The DRP would not be intimidated by “constraints and threats,” the statement added, advising the current administration to “not step out of bounds during the short period left in government.”

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad was not responding at the time of press.

Meanwhile, at a press conference yesterday, DRP MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed – who defected to the government-aligned party from the MDP in March this year – slammed the decision to dismiss the state minister as “irresponsible” as Shareef was exercising his constitutional right to free expression and participation in political activities.

The MP for Haa Dhaal Nolhivaram noted that Education Minister Dr Asim Ahmed, also a DRP council member, was relieved of his duties as acting Foreign Minister on the day that the DRP council voted to endorse former President Nasheed.

“This is not something we can accept,” he said. “We will always have political differences of opinion. But we should be able to conduct affairs of the nation even with these differences of opinion.”

Sacked via SMS

The former state minister for health participated in the MDP rally on Friday night, which was attended by senior DRP members. MP Nasheed revealed that Shareef received a phone call from the President’s Office following his attendance at the rally and was “warned that he would be sacked if he participates in political activities.”

“But Ali Shareef is resolutely going forward. He was sacked via an SMS today [Sunday],” he said.

The DRP’s former coalition partner, Dr Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihaad Party (GIP), has reportedly decided to back PPM candidate Yameen in the second round run-off on September 28.

President Waheed, backed by the GIP-DRP coalition, finished last in the September 7 presidential election with 5.13 percent of the popular vote or 10,750 votes – a figure significantly lower than the DRP’s 21,411 registered members.

In the wake of the election defeat, the DRP council on Thursday (September 12) voted 12-3 – with seven abstentions – to back the MDP candidate in the second round run-off. In a brief statement to the press following the council meeting, DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali said the party came to the conclusion that re-electing former President Nasheed was in the best interest of the nation and ensuring peace and stability as he would not pursue “political vengeance.”

The MP for Baa Atoll Kendhoo also participated in a campaign event in Vili-Male’ on Saturday night with MDP vice presidential candidate Musthafa Lutfi.

Addressing Vili-Male’ residents, Thasmeen reportedly said that bringing back the rule of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom by electing his half-brother Yameen would weaken the nascent democratic system ushered in by the 2008 constitution.

In his first speech at an MDP podium on Friday night, Thasmeen said he had decided to back Nasheed “because I want to see peace in this country after these elections, [and] because I want to see the democratic system strengthened and sustained.”

“I believe that it would be an irresponsible and cowardly act to back away from doing what must be done to ensure that democracy is upheld in this country due to some words I might have said in the past. And therefore, tonight I assure all of you that DRP will do everything we possibly can to help Nasheed win these elections,” he declared.


MP ‘Colonel’ Nasheed blames Home Minister Jameel for evidence bill delay

Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed has claimed that Home Minister Mohamed Jameel’s failure to give a professional opinion on the pending Evidence Bill is the reason for the bill’s delay.

The remark by the Nolhivaram constituency MP comes at a time where both the Home Minister and Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz have expressed concern over parliament’s delaying of the essential bill.

During a debate in parliament last Wednesday, MP Nasheed claimed that the committee currently reviewing the bill had on numerous occasions requested a professional opinion from the Home Minister.

“We were forced to park the bill because [Jameel] could not spare us time. We are waiting for an opinion from him. Therefore, before opening his mouth to condemn parliament, he must look back at his own actions,” said MP Nasheed.

He contended that along with the evidence bill, other pivotal bills such as the criminal procedure code require professional opinions from the attorney general, the Supreme Court and other members of the judiciary, as well as the police and Home Ministry.

“They are not able to give time for any of this. Kulhudhufushi-South Constituency MP Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed has neatly carried out parliament’s end of the bargain. He initiated the drafting and other relevant work required from parliament. But, we have to face the truth that [the delay] is due to the Home Minister’s failure to give us his time,” he said.

“We have given time for him on four different occasions, but every time for some reason he calls us and cancels the appointment in the nick of time. How can the evidence bill be passed?” Nasheed questioned.

He reiterated that even though the country was run under a presidential system with separated powers of state, it does not mean that two of those powers could not collaborate in running the affairs of the state.

Police Commissioner’s concerns

Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz has said it was of utmost importance that a mechanism be set which would speed up the process of obtaining witness statements before the witness is “influenced”.

In a video released on the police website following the Criminal Court’s acquittal of six suspects arrested in connection with the stabbing murder of Ali Shifan, Commissioner Riyaz stated that many people are afraid to give witness to the courts because of threats they face afterwards.

“In several countries, there are mechanisms to protect witnesses. That can only be achieved through legislation. According to our information, a draft witness protection act is currently submitted to the parliament,” he said.

He said such key bills should become law as soon as possible in order for police to continue curbing criminal activities.

“Laws should be made in such a fashion that they guarantee the safety and protection of the people. Importance should be given to that. We hope that the necessary bills are passed as soon as possible which will remove a lot of barriers we are currently facing. It would be a huge assistance,” he said.

The commissioner of police added that it was important to know the extent to which the court would go to accept circumstantial evidences and forensic evidences such as DNA.

He stressed that the constitution clearly mentioned that investigations be carried on the basis of evidence collected, but said there was no evidence act currently in place.

“DNA is one of the most authentic forms of evidence. Another is the fingerprint. Similarly, video evidence id very authentic too. We are talking about the fact that there is no legislation that dictates as to how such evidences will be accepted by the court.”

Following claims that the initial evidence bill proposed in 2009 “made no sense at all”, a new draft of the bill was proposed to Parliament’s Independent Institutions Oversight Committee on October 2012.

The bill was drafted by former Minister of Legal Reform during President Gayoom’s presidency, the current MP for Kulhudhuffushi- South, MP Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed.

Home Minister Jameel was not responding to calls at time of press.


MP Colonel Nasheed defects to DRP, claiming MDP “undisciplined”

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP for Nolhivarum constituency Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed has opted to join the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).

The DRP was founded by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and now led by his former vice presidential nominee, MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, after a split in 2011 that saw Gayoom and his supporters leave the party to form the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

During a small ceremony held at the DRP head office, Nasheed signed to the party in front of party leader Thasmeen.

The defection comes the day following his defeat in the MDP’s parliamentary group elections, in which he contested for the position of one of the two deputy leaders.

MP Nasheed placed last after receiving five votes out of the 30 members. However, he said during the ceremony that the defeat in the party election had nothing to do with his defection to DRP.

Speaking during the ceremony after joining the party, the MP said that even though former President Mohamed Nasheed had a vision to reform the country, his aides never had the same thinking.

He also claimed that he joined DRP because he wholeheartedly believed the DRP was consistent in upholding its policies, and had“civilised” policies to offer for the nation.

“MDP is a party that I love. To sell MDP’s ideology, I took it on my own shoulders and carried it to the international stage. I spent days in imprisonment to uphold that ideology. But the truth is that our former presidents can do little to help this country. We cannot remain tied with the past,” he said.

Nasheed argued that whenever there was a conflict of opinion among a group of members the matter should not be settled “in the wrestling ring”.

He also said that both the parliament and the courts deserved privileges and respect.

“All boys who get ‘A reports’ are in DRP”

“In my view, we should never disrepute the state organs. At the same time I do admit to the fact that both the country’s legislature and judiciary have their problems. I believe the DRP is the only disciplined party that can solve the problems in a civilised manner,” he said.

Nasheed also criticised the recent anti government protests led by the MDP, contending that freedom of assembly should be exercised within the law.

“I do not believe that it is freedom of assembly when protesters overturn a passing van,” he said. “I believe in the right to freedom of assembly. But it is not freedom of assembly when you shatter the windows of a car and injure two school boys in it.”

Nasheed, who spoke highly in favor of his new party, said that DRP was a formidable vehicle that only needs to be activated by a few young people.

The MP claimed the party “has the most able and competent individuals in the country”, which is reflected from the performance of DRP cabinet ministers.

“All those boys who get ‘A reports’ are in DRP and all those who gets ‘B reports’ are with the MDP. What we are seeing today is that the country is being run by boys who end up with ‘C reports’ while those who get ‘A reports’ and ‘B reports’ are kept sidelined. This is something that public should clearly think about,” MP Nasheed said.

MP Eva Abdulla and Ilyas Labeeb calling the shots in deciding party whip line: Colonel Nasheed

Nasheed also alleged that MP Eva Abdulla and MP Ilyas Labeeb were calling the shots in deciding the party whip line in parliamentary votes, and claimed that there was no discussion between the remaining members of the parliamentary group.

“[MDP’s] whip line comes depending on what Eva Abdulla and Ilyas Labeeb feel about the matter. That is not how I want to follow the party whip line. When you vote in parliament, the first priority is the nation. The nation is bigger that any of our individual interests,” Nasheed said, expressing his frustration.

“The DRP is a party that upholds principles. Those principles are followed by the members of the DRP parliamentary group. When we don’t vote on a matter, we have reasons and justifications to our actions,” he said.

Following the addition of a member to his party’s parliamentary group, an ecstatic Ahmed Thasmeen Ali said that Nasheed and he had common views and principles.

The DRP leader described MP Nasheed as a person of both conviction and principle.

“The way he acts in parliament will prove whether he is a person who sticks to principle,” Thasmeen said.

Meanwhile DRP Deputy Parliamentary Group Leader Abdulla Mausoom tweeted welcoming Nasheed’s decision to join the party.

“Happy Day! Welcome [MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed] to DRP, the responsible political party of Maldives,” he tweeted.

MDP response

Speaking to Minivan News about the defection, MDP Spokesperson MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said that MP Nasheed and the rest of the parliamentary group members did not share common thinking.

Although he said he did not know the exact reason for the defection, Ghafoor suggested that the move could be for the reason that Nasheed wanted to assure his re-election to parliament.

“Maybe it was an attempt to secure his re-election. But we see that re-election possibilities are high within our own party. We also noticed that he was working very hard to get a position in the parliamentary group which did not bear much fruit,” he said.

MP Colonel Nasheed began his parliamentary career in 2007 following a by-election victory for the Male’ seat of the constitutional assembly that drafted the current constitution. He won the seat on an MDP ticket with a support base of 7,000 votes, but left the MDP to join the Social Liberal Party (SLP) following disputes.

Nasheed again rejoined the MDP ahead of the 2009 parliamentary elections and won the seat of Nolhivaram constituency on an MDP ticket.