Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP-elect for Thaa Thimarafushi, Mohamed Musthafa, along with independent MP-elect for Haa Alif Dhidhoo, Abdul Latheef Mohamed, have joined the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).
The new signings brings the number of PPM MPs in the 18th People’s Majlis to 37, and the number of Progressive Coalition MPs to 57 with five from the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) and 15 from the Jumhooree Party (JP).
Abdul Latheef Mohamed defeated incumbent JP MP Ahmed Sameer in the March 22 polls with 40 percent of the vote while Musthafa won against incumbent PPM MP Ahmed Shareef Adam with a margin of nine votes.
Musthafa and Abdul Latheef signed their membership forms in the presence of PPM leader, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, at a ceremony this afternoon in Nasandhuraa Palace Hotel.
Gayoom later tweeted: “PPM now has 37 seats in Majlis n our Coalition 57- a two-thirds majority. What an impressive achievement!”
President Abdulla Yameen, Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb, and Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim were also in attendance.
Musthafa told the press at the ceremony that he believed the government could develop the nation in the current climate of peace and stability.
Musthafa tweeted yesterday that he could not remain in parliament “making idle chatter” to the detriment of his constituents.
His first priority as an MP was the nation, followed by the constituency, and then political party, Musthafa tweeted.
“I’m MP elected to represent Thimarafushi [and] Veymando constituents. I will fight for them disregarding the politics they stand for,” he tweeted on March 24.
Meanwhile, of the five independent MPs-elect, three have now signed for the ruling PPM – including Naifaru MP-elect Ahmed Shiyam and Mahibadhoo MP-elect Mohamed Thoriq ‘Tom’.
Other disgruntled JP candidates accused the PPM of attempting to “destroy” its coalition partner, suggesting that PPM members masquerading as independents actively campaigned against Gasim’s party.
With the addition of two more MPs-elect, the PPM and coalition partner MDA are presently just one vote short of the 43 simple majority without the JP.
Aside from the two remaining independents and the Adhaalath Party MP-elect for Haa Dhaal Makunudhoo, Anara Naeem, the opposition MDP has 25 MPs-elect.
Speaking to Minivan News today, MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said that the coalition was “obviously split on the question of the speaker.”
“They are not making a secret out of it,” he observed.
Hamid said Musthafa’s defection was “widely anticipated by a lot of MDP members”.
“We are currently in a settling down period. Obviously there will be candidates whose independence is compromised. What happens in this country is that their [candidates] capability to stand independently is compromised and they bow to coercion and pressure” he said.
“Another one bites the bite,” he added.
Hamid also suggested that the MDP’s primaries to select parliamentary candidates were “obviously flawed.”
“This doesn’t lend much credibility to the process. There was a lot of ‘branch stacking’ – a process where parties get candidates to sign for another party to influence their primary votes,” he explained.
Musthafa won the MDP primary for the Thimarafushi constituency against lawyer Abdulla Shairu, a member of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s legal team.
Musthafa was elected to the 17th People’s Majlis on an MDP ticket after beating Gassan Maumoon, son of former President Gayoom.
The High Court however annulled the results of two ballot boxes and ordered a revote after Gassan alleged widespread intimidation and irregularities in the poll.
The presiding judge in the three-judge High Court panel was Judge Ali Hameed, who was subsequently appointed to the Supreme Court bench.
Upon winning the revote, Musthafa described Gayoom as “the most brutal leader in the past 100 years.” He went on to severely criticise the former president in parliamentary debates.
In July 2010, Musthafa was arrested together with Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim for allegedly bribing MPs and a Civil Court judge.
Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed however ordered police to release the pair, ruling that there were no reasonable grounds to grant an extension of pre-trial detention.
The pair were accused of offering US$6,000 as well as a return ticket for an overseas trip to a civil court judge to allegedly influence an ongoing case.
Provisional results from today’s two parliamentary by-elections indicate that the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Ahmed Shareef and the Jumhoory Party’s (JP) Abdullah Jabir have won seats in the People’s Majlis.
Under these provisional results, Shareef will become the MP for Thimarafushi, while Jabir will answer to the constituents of Kaashidhoo. Thimarafushi seat was previously held by Maldivian Democratic Party MP Mohamed Musthafa who was disqualified by the Supreme court over a decreed debt.
Polling for parliamentary by-elections on the islands of Kaashidhoo and Thimarafushi closed today at 4:05pm, with counting getting under way soon after following a day of largely peaceful electioneering. Official provisional will be announced by the Elections Commission at 8:30pm this evening.
Provisional results announced from the polling stations show that PPM’s Shareef won the seat for the constituency of Thimarafushi with 1755 votes. Musthafa came in second with 1327 votes – a 428 vote difference.
A total of 3616 voters are registered for Thimarafushi constituency which include; Guraidhoo island (1408 voters), Gaadhifushi island (434 voters) and Thimarafushi (1774 voters).
Musthafa took the lead in almost all islands, except Guraidhoo – known to be a PPM strong-hold.
Meanwhile, Jabir triumphed in Kaashidhoo by-election with 1107 votes. MDP candidate followed him by 784 votes while PPM candidate Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim came third with 141 votes.
Eligible voters for Kashidhoo constituency stands at 2231. The constituency represent 1422 voters from Kashidhoo island and 809 voters from Gaafaru.
Though Waheed contested on PPM ticket, the party had officially endorsed JP candidate Jabir and requested Waheed to withdraw his candidacy, but he declined.
The polls, which were contested for two separate seats in the Majlis, are the first such elections to be conducted since the controversial transfer of power that saw President Mohamed Waheed Hassan take office in February.
Polls opened peacefully at 8:00am this morning on Kaashidhoo and Thimarafushi, whilst elections for vacant seats in both the Thaa Atoll Gaadhiffushi Island council and Haa Dhaal Atoll Kumundhoo island council were also contested today.
Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News that no significant arrests were believed to have been made over the last two days in relation to the hotly contested Kaashidhoo and Thimarafushi polls.
“So far, even in Male’, things have gone very quietly and peacefully,” he said.
Local newspaper Haveeru reported that 21 complaints had been received by the Elections Commission (EC) yesterday evening over concerns about the conduct of the parliamentary by-elections during the weekend. According to the report, 16 complaints by yesterday had been filed relating to campaigning in Kaashidoo and four complaints were raised concerning Thiamarafushi.
Election Commissioner Fuad Thaufeeq could not be contacted by Minivan News at the time of going to press regarding the nature of these complaints. Local media has reported that the complaints concern the obstruction of campaign activities on the islands, as well as acts of violence. Sub-Inspector Haneef said this morning that police were continuing to work closely with the EC.
On Friday, Commissioner Thaufeeq described campaigning for the Thimarafushi seat as “heavy”, though said he remained confident today’s polls would be successful.
The claims were made the same day that Mohamed Musthafa, the disqualified Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) member seeking re-election in the Thimarafushi, questioned the actions of the police alleging they had been working to intimidate locals regarding today’s voting.
Musthafa warned that the police presence on the island had intimidated locals, particularly after recent arrests, which he argued were without good cause. He alleged that one of the young men arrested on Tuesday received a head wound after a police officer pushed his head into a wall.
Haneef countered that police have made their preparations for the poll and have deployed the necessary officers. When asked about the precise numbers he said that it would depend on the intelligence received from the island.
09:28 – Rain is falling in Thimarafushi, where the MDP’s Mohamed Musthafa is competing against PPM’s candidate Ahmed Shareef, to regain his seat after he was disqualified in by the Supreme Court over a decreed debt.
Shareef was the Atoll Chief of Thaa Atoll from 2006-2008, the last few years of Gayoom’s administration.
“It will be a tough vote between Shareef and Musthafa, because both of them are from this island”, a 27 year old man from Thimarafushi observed when interviewed by Minivan News. “Last time Musthafa won, it was against Gayoom’s son. Now if he wins against a person from same island, it will be significant,” he added.
In 2009 parliamentary elections, Musthafa won Thimarafushi constituency seat, but had to go for a revote following vote rigging case filed by Ghassan Maumoon, then-DRP’s candidate. However, Musthafa won the second round as well.
09:32 – President Waheed was himself in Thimarafushi on Friday afternoon, where he endorsed PPM candidate Ahmed Shareef just a few hours before campaigning ended, Minivan News’ Hawwa Lubna reports.
Speaking to the inhabitants, Dr.Waheed claimed that the government has a great majority in the parliament and added that electing Shareef would help expedite the government’s performance.
He also promised that the Thimarafushi airport development will begin soon. Meanwhile, several islanders claiming to oppose the present government walked out of the island in retaliation to Waheed’s visit.
“Around 200-300 people including men women and elderly went to nearby uninhabited island called Hiriyanfushi. They did not want to be here when coup president arrive,” a Thimarafushi councilor told Minivan News.
MDP supporters allege that Waheed is visiting Thaa atoll while the elections are underway, to promote PPM candidate and influence vote. “School wall was even painted in pink when Waheed visited there yesterday”, MDP supporter claimed.
09:43 – Meanwhile, over on Kaashidhoo, the rain has now stopped. Minivan News reporters have observed that 115 votes have so far been processed, with polling having been conducted peacefully.
Abdullah Jabir, candidate from Jumhoory Party (JP) and MDP candidate Ahmed Haleem is competing over the Kaashidoo seat. JP candidate Jabir has been endorsed by Dr. Waheed and Gayoom’s PPM party.
10:08 – The Elections Commission (EC) has said that it has not so far received any additional complaints regarding the conduct of polls today. Local media yesterday reported that 21 complaints relating to the manner in which campaigning for today’s elections was being conducted were bought to the EC.
However, an EC spokesperson told Minivan News this morning that it was happy with the way voting was being conducted and had not received any fresh complaints so far today.
“Right now, there are no other complaints that we have received and we do not believe there are any significant problems for voters,” the commission spokesperson added. “we are quite happy that things are going smoothly and people are being encouraged to vote.”
When asked regarding the potential impact that yesterday’s complaints may have had on voters, the Elections Commission said it was monitoring polling stations and police conduct very closely.
“We are quite happy so far,” the spokesperson said.
10:28 – Voting in Guraidhoo island of Thaa atoll was briefly halted around 9:30am, according to reports from the island. However, EC Director General Mohamed Tholal confirmed that voting did not stop and it is continuing.
“An elderly man claiming to be incapable wanted another person to help in casting the vote. But we cannot allow that. The problem is solved now. Voting is continuing.” Tholal said.
10:55 – Five people have been arrested on Guraidhoo island for breaking an entry into the island council office and smashing the window, police official has confirmed.
According to a source on the island, arguments broke out between two candidates supporters after a registered observer of MDP candidate Musthafa went to the island. “We don’t know yet who attacked the island council office,” the source noted.
11:57 – MDP Observers are gathered in two of the guraidhoo ballot boxes, EC Director General confirmed in a tweet.
12:00 – Confirmed voting details for the by-elections at 11:30 am.
12:15 – Ibrahim Hassan Fulhu, aged 57 said that he is happy voting is going smoothly. “I did not expect elections to go peacefully like this. I thought people would hijack vote boxes and create chaos. But lets see. Things may go wrong later,” Hassan Fulhu added.
12:45 – On Kaashidhoo, Minivan News reporter Zaheena Rasheed has said voting has continued smoothly into the afternoon, with contesting parties both running exit poll booths outside the ballot area. Both booths are serving drinks to their own supporters.
Jumhoory Party candidate (JP) Abdulla Jabir who is near the polling station has said he is certain of victory in today’s election.
12:57 – Both candidates standing in the Kaashidhoo election have called on supporters to show maximum restraint, while alleging that their opponents are trying to incite violence at the polls.
13:00 – There is three hours left before the polls close in Kaashidhoo. MDP representatives have claimed all is proceeding smoothly, whilst exit poll monitoring is being used to try and ascertain number of voters turning out so far.
13:07 – Minivan News’ Zaheena Rasheed has noted there is a sizeable police presence on Kaashidhoo. Two police officers are said to be manning each voting booth, whilst patrols are also taking place.
A spokesperson for the police could not confirm the exact number of police at the island at present, adding that numbers would change throughout the day depending on the atmosphere. However, the mood on the island is presently said to be festive with approximately half of registered voters now believed to have cast their votes.
13:30 – Voting continues peacefully over in Thimarafushi. Police have tightened the security near the voting stations at Thimarafushi school and youth center. Roadbloack have been placed on the nearby roads to prevent traffic.
13:35 – Heated arguments and mild clashes erupted between supporters of Dr.Waheed and his opponents, according to reports from the island of Vilufushi. No arrests have been made so far. But the police have tightened the security around the school where President is meeting Vilufushi islanders.
14:30 – Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef has said that by-elections have continued to run smoothly despite an earlier incident of unrest in the island of Guraidhoo, Thaa Atoll.
Haneef confirmed five people had been arrested earlier today in connection with the incident that occurred in Guraidhoo, where a group of men were said to have vandalised the local Island Council Office.
He said that the windows of the Island Council Office had been smashed by the group.
14:41 – The MDP has praised what it has called a “peaceful and calm” voting environment during today’s by-elections, whilst appealing for its supporters to remain calm and show “maximum restraint” as the day progresses.
In a statement, MDP spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said that the party remained fully confident in the Elections Commission’s ability to ensure free and fair elections amidst calls for a new nationwide presidential poll after former President Mohamed Nasheed alleged he had been forced to resign in a “coup d’etat”.
“The MDP has consistently called for early presidential elections in the Maldives to resolve the political deadlock that exists since the unlawful transfer of power on February 7 following police and military backed coup in the Maldives,” Ghafoor claimed.
“Elections today are held at a time when [former President Maumoon Abdul] Gayyoom has publicly stated early Presidential elections would not be held in the Maldives citing conditions for elections are not right and also that Elections Commission does not have the capacity to hold early elections in the Maldives.”
15:55 In a press conference Elections Commission Vice President Ahmed Fayaaz noted that voting has continued peacefully with no obstructions. Queues near the voting stations have reduced and voting is scheduled to close at 4pm. However, Fayaaz says those who join the queue before four will be given the chance to vote. He added that provisional results will be announced between 8pm-9pm tonight.
16:05 Voting at two ballot ballot boxes stationed on Thimarafushi and two boxes placed in Kaashidhoo have been closed at 4pm as no one was in the queue. Vote counting is expected to begin within half an hour.
16:10 Voting details as of 3:15pm show 90 percent of the eligible voters have voted, according to EC.
16:35 Elections Commission President Fuad Thaufeeq has said in a press conference that the commission received only a single complaint regarding the voter’s registry. Most complaints relate to elderly people or people with special needs who need assistance in voting. “Elections officials at the ballot box will decide whether to give permission for assisted voting. But some people were dissatisfied with officials decision and complained.” he explained.
16:42 All the 12 ballot boxes placed in for the four by-elections have now been closed and vote counting has started.
18:11 Provisional results announced so far from the polling stations suggests:
1. Thimarafushi constituency: PPM candidate Ahmed Shareef is leading with 1428 votes. MDP Musthafa has received 1241 votes. Only one out of the seven ballot boxes remaining.
2. Kaashidhoo constituency: JP candidate Jabir is leading with 717 votes while MDP candidate Haleem stands second with 669 votes. PPM candidate Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim is on third with only eight votes. Though Waheed is contesting on PPM ticket, the party has officially endorsed Jabir and pledged their full support to him. Two out of the total five boxes remaining.
The Prosecutor General’s (PG) office has asked the police to provide details of its response to the protest held by ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) outside the Supreme Court on Thursday, which later spread to the residence of the former President.
Prosecutor General Ahmed Muiz told Minivan he was unable to comment on the matter at this time.
However Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said this was the first time the PG had made such a request.
“They are requesting details of what happened,” Shiyam confirmed, but said the PG had not notified police of a potential course of action or what it was looking for.
Shiyam pointed out that demonstrations in certain areas, including courts and army gates, are prohibited by the Regulation on Assembly.
“Members of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) have both gathered in these areas though, even though we have requested them not to. Some of them have gone to the army gates and the President’s gate as well, so occasionally we have to address the issue,” he said.
The police have been asked to provide the information before Wednesday this week.
The protesters gathered at the Supreme Court before marching towards the former President’s building Endherimaage, where violent clashes erupted between MDP activists and a few Gayoom supporters blocking the entrance to his residence.
Minivan News journalists at the scene also observed gravel, rocks, hot water and sharp metal raining down on protesters from the top floors or terrace of Endherimaage.
Several activists claimed they saw Gassan Maumoon, former President Gayoom’s son, throw stones and pour boiling hot water on the protesters. MDP activists meanwhile threw large stones at Endhirmaage and attempted to break down the door. Some windows of the house were smashed while a car parked outside was damaged.
A 17-year-old, identified as Hussein Hassan, was rushed to the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) with critical injuries after a block of wood apparently thrown from the building hit his head. IGMH later confirmed that the boy was conscious and his condition stable.
Police summoned Gassan Maumoon, son of the former President, for questioning on Saturday after a number of MDP members alleged they had seen him throw the block of wood from the balcony. Police subsequently arrested Gassan and took him to the prison island of Dhoonidhoo, and presented him at court this afternoon. The hearing is currently ongoing.
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.”
An amendment proposed to the Protection and Privileges for former Presidents Act by MP Mohamed Musthafa of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) was rejected 37-32 at today’s sitting of parliament.
In his closing statement after the debate on the parliament floor, Musthafa said that he did not have “anything more to say about this bill.”
“What I want is for those who have ruled this country to receive benefits and for them to stay silent at home under protection,” he said. “[I want] to give them benefits and for them not to come out to the street and act like children.”
Musthafa explains in the leaked audio that while he did not believe that former President Gayoom deserved financial benefits after returning to active politics, he had considered withdrawing the bill but was dissuaded from doing so by Thasmeen.
Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP for Thimarafushi in Thaa Atoll, Mohamed Mustafa, has spoken against one of the amendments to the Tourism Act in Parliament this week, amendments proposed by his party.
Today he offered assurances that he “would still vote with MDP on the issue.”
Mustafa said he is mainly opposed to the extension of leases for resorts, which will lease islands to resort operators for a minimum of 50 years. This was proposed to make the Maldives a “more investor-friendly environment,” according to former Minister of Tourism Abdulla Mausoom, who spoke to Minivan News yesterday.
Mustafa believes reducing costs for the investor means “one man is getting rich, while the poor are getting poorer.”
“We don’t need to extend a lease to 50 years,” he said, “rather, the government can implement the Taxation Bill.”
He said he does not see how the amendment is beneficial to the people of the Maldives: “Why are we giving the benefits to rich people and not the general public?”
Although he expressed his concerns over the proposed amendments, he said he wanted to “confirm to Minivan News that I will not vote against my party. It’s one of the best parties.”
“I have my own opinion,” he said, but he still believes “the MDP are [working] for the benefit of Maldivians.”
Mustafa also spoke about his “intimidation” by certain MDP members, but said it was not a recent issue and had nothing to do with the Tourism Act.
He said his comments concerning intimidation by his party were “regarding a previous case that went to criminal court” a year and a half ago over a payment issue.
Mustafa said he was acting as a mediator for a payment that needed to be made to someone, whom he claims is “a known money launderer and strong supporter of the DRP”, and this person tried to cash in the same cheque twice.
“He had no right to take the payment the second time,” he said.
Mustafa claimed the case was then taken to court and he was not informed about it. He said “some senior MDP members were behind the case, but they are not MPs.”
He said his comments were taken out of context by the media, “which is putting their own style into things they don’t know. They are poisoning the minds of the public.”
Concerning the recent rumours that he was planning on leaving the MDP and moving to the People’s Alliance (PA), he said “I will never move to the PA, that is totally false.”
“I have nothing against my party, we are on very good terms,” Mustafa noted, adding that “MDP is a democratic party. It’s the most democratic party in the Maldives, and we are working to perform our pledges.”
“We work very well, cooperate, do our best for our party,” he said, “we are very strong, we walk as one. I will never leave my party, I would rather resign [politics],” he added.