DRP “moderate” alternative to divisive views of PPM, MDP: MP Mausoom

The government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has claimed it can offer the only “moderate” alternative to the country’s two largest political parties ahead of this year’s elections.

DRP Parliamentary Group Leader MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom said that between the increasingly “polarised views” of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), his party represented an alternative viewpoint for voters and politicians alike.

The comments were made amidst ongoing speculation over whether presidential candidates representing the country’s government-aligned parties will opt to stand alone in September’s elections, or seek to form a “broad” coalition ahead of polling.

Following the conclusion of the DRP’s fourth national congress on April 25, Dr Mausoom claimed that after the 30 year rule of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and the previous government of former President Mohamed Nasheed, there was a growing hunger among voters for “something else” in national politics.

He claimed that this growing desire for political alternatives in the Maldives had led to increased interest in supporting the DRP from across the country’s political spectrum.

Yet despite MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed opting to join the DRP from the MDP back in March, the party witnessed a high-profile defection of its own last month with the resignation of Parliamentary Speaker Abdulla Shahid.  Shahid resigned from the DRP on April 15, shortly before announcing he would be joining the MDP.

Mausoom this week maintained that a growing number of MPs, voters and rival parties members had already expressed interest in joining the party in the build up to the election.

“We are getting pledges from many people that they will join us and we believe they are analysing the current situation,” he said. “Some [rival party] MPs have expressed support for the direction in which we are moving.”

Mausoom said he believed that a growing number of MPs were showing interest in the party – particularly from the PPM, which was formed by former President Gayoom.

Having formed the DRP back in 2005, former President Gayoom left the party with a number of his supporters back in 2011 to found the PPM. The split followed an acrimonious war of words between Gayoom and the DRP’s current leader, Ahmed Thasmeen Ali.

However, on the back of divisions in the PPM following primary elections held back in March, Dr Mausoom said he believed there was disillusionment among the party’s members.  the primary saw MP Abdulla Yameen – Gayoom’s half brother – appointed as its presidential candidate in a two-way contest with Umar Naseer.

Mausoom alleged that MPs and former DRP supporters who joined the PPM on the back of “accusations” started by former President Gayoom, were now rethinking their allegiances.

“They have seen this was just a game by Gayoom to maintain power within his family,” he said. “We will see more people who moved to the PPM [from the DRP]  aware of this.”

Moving forward

Upon the conclusion of the DRP’s latest congress last month, Mausoom added that the party had filled several key posts within its council, as well as other senior roles such as appointing new deputy leaders including female MP Rozaina Adam.

Alongside implementing a new party structure, Mausoom said the other key purpose of what had been a “very productive” national congress was to draft a manifesto document outlining the party’s strategy for the upcoming presidential elections.

He added that discussions had already been held on a early draft of the party’s manifesto that had been well received by DRP members so far.

However, Mausoom said that no further details on the direction for the party would be shared at the present time.

“The plan now is to streamline the manifesto to the needs of islands communities. Once it is finalised, we will be sharing it with the media,” he said.

Having been drafted with input from members across the country, Dr Mausoom said that the manifesto would incorporate the interests of voters from islands in the outer atolls as well as those of municipal voters ahead of the election.

“We are now geared to move forward,” he said.

Coalition agreements

Among the DRP’s coalition partners currently serving within the government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed, both the religious conservative Adhaalath Party and the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) have agreed to formally stand in a coalition with the country’s current leader though his Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP).

The DQP and GIP are small political parties currently facing potential dissolution for lacking the minimum requirement of 10,000 members as stipulated in the recently passed Political Parties Act.

However, uncertainty remains whether other parties in the current coalition government would look to officially join with the president ahead of elections to stand against the MDP

Speaking to Minivan News this week, the government-aligned Jumhoree Party (JP) said it would not be looking to form a coalition with any party in the first round of voting.

JP Leader business tycoon and MP Gasim Ibrahim was last month reported in local media as telling supporters at a rally in Male’ that while he would consider forming a coalition with other political parties, but was not wiling to stand as the running mate of another candidate.

However, JP Spokesperson Moosa Ramiz claimed yesterday (May 1) that the party had decided to stand alone in the first round, adding that Gasim would take advice from the party council beyond that.

On the back of this commitment, Ramiz added that the party was this week working on finalising its own manifesto for the elections and would therefore be able give further details on its campaign strategy over the next week.

The PPM – the country’s second largest party in terms of parliamentary representation – has previously said it would not rule out forming a coalition with President Dr Mohamed Waheed or any other fellow government-aligned parties ahead of the presidential elections.

PPM MP Ahmed Nihan told Minivan News last month that the party had already engaged in talks over the possibility of forming a power sharing agreement with other parties in the government of President Waheed, although no final decision had yet been taken.

Nihan said that rival political parties needed to reassess their views on power sharing after thousands of people attended a gathering held by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) on April 19 to announce the signing of Parliamentary Speaker Abdulla Shahid.

Meanwhile, MDP candidate former President Nasheed has meanwhile claimed his party had already ruled out joining a coalition during the elections, criticising the effectiveness of power sharing in Maldives politics.

Nasheed was brought to power during the second round of the country’s first multi-party democratic elections in 2008 through a coalition of numerous parties united against former President Gayoom. These coalition parties, many of whom now serve in the government of President Waheed, all later left Nasheed’s administration.


Police arrest 37 year-old man in connection with pregnant 11 year-old

Police have confirmed that a 37 year-old male is being held in custody in connection to an investigation into the case of an 11 year-old girl who gave birth to a premature baby on Thursday, November 1.

The confirmation was made as high-profile politicians, public figures and NGOs have launched a wider debate on child abuse and responsibility towards the welfare of young people in the Maldives.

Both government-aligned and opposition figures have called for authorities to properly investigate the pregnancy and alleged abuse of the girl, a stance backed by the Maldives’ Ministry of Islamic Affairs, which has labelled the matter a “very serious” and “dirty crime”.

The 11 year-old girl, who cannot be identified due to her age, gave birth to her child two months prematurely on Thursday.

Her child later died early morning on Friday (November 2), after being taken to Feydhoo regional hospital in Seenu Atoll for further treatment, with medical officials telling local media at the time that the girl had said she had been the victim of multiple cases of child abuse.

Police Spokesperson Sub Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News today that a 37-year old male was presently being held in custody in relation to the case, but could not confirm if the 11-year old girl herself was presently under observation by authorities or was back with her family.

Islamic Affairs Minister Sheikh Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed told Minivan News he was aware of the ongoing investigations into the matter, which he labelled “a very big crime,” adding that the young girl should not herself take any blame or punishment.

“Personally I can’t say any word to punish a small girl in grade six. This may be a rape or sexual abuse case,” he said.

“We must find the man who did this dirty crime and he must be punished. I believe this to be a very serious case and have this morning talked with the Human Right’s Minster and Attorney General regarding the [issue].”

The Minister for Gender, Family, and Human Rights is presently is mandated to deal with the matter.

Gender Minister Dhiyana Saeed referred Minivan News to Dr Aishath Rameela, State Minister for Gender, Family, and Human Rights.

Dr Rameela was not responding to calls at time of press.

Twitter debate

Debate over the case has raged on social media over the last few days.  Political figures including MP Rozaina Adam of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) stressed via Twitter that investigations conducted by both the police and the Maldives Gender Ministry of were proceeding at “top speed”.

Rozaina, who labelled the case as both “unacceptable” and “shocking”, demanded on social media that police make the case a high priority and find the person responsible for fathering the child.

“An 11 year-old doesn’t get pregnant by herself! This is child abuse we are talking about here n authorities need  to find out who is responsible,” she wrote on the social media service.

Rozaina was not responding to calls from Minivan News at the time of press.

Meanwhile, Ali Rameez, a famous singer who gave up music and now heads the Islamic NGO Jamiyyathul Salaf, tweeted on Friday: “All you people who claim to be Muslims! In Allah’s Shariah [law], a child grows up when he or she reaches puberty. Not when they turn 16, 18, 25.”

Rameez, who also hosts a religious program on private radio station SunFM, tweeted earlier that he was “not aware that children could get pregnant.”

The comments were criticised by some social media users including former Environment Minister Mohamed Aslam, who tweeted: “Where are the children’s right groups… Where is HRCM.. Horrified with the preaching of people like Ali Rameez.”

Outside of the political sphere, local NGO, Advocating the Rights of Children (ARC) yesterday issued a statement calling on the government, civil society organisations and the general public to step up efforts to combat child abuse in society.

“ARC strongly condemns the recent case of child abuse resulting in the pregnancy of an 11 year-old child. ARC calls upon the authorities to utilise all necessary resources to ensure the safety and protection of the child,” the statement read It is an obligation for us as responsible citizens to protect our children, and it is the Maldivian government’s obligation as a signatory to the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) that all international commitments to protect the rights of all children are adhered to fully.”

ARC also highlighted the importance of respecting the child’s privacy, while urging parliament, the government and the nation’s judiciary to take “action urgently” over the case.

“We also call on the relevant state institutions, civil society and other international entities in the country to take all precautionary measures to prevent violations of children’s rights, protect their safety and well-being, and to maximize their efforts to address comprehensively the issue of the violations of children’s rights in the Maldives,” the statement added.


MDP government should have continued after Nasheed’s resignation, says DRP MP

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Ali Azim has told local media that he believes the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) government should have continued following the resignation of former President Mohamed Nasheed on February 7.

The DRP Council Member and MP for mid-Heniveru constituency told local newspaper Haveeru that he did not believe that with the resignation of the former president Nasheed, succeeding president Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan could abolish Nasheed’s cabinet. There was, he said, “a problem” when the MDP was not allowed to complete its five year term which people had voted for in the last presidential elections.

“This government should consist of officials that can sell the ideologies that MDP believed in. I still believe the government should be run with MDP members.  They should be given the duration that they had been elected for. Otherwise, that is a problem,” Azim told Haveeru.

Azim further said that he opposed the idea of DRP joining with the coalition of political parties currently in support of President Waheed’s government. He said he had objected to the decision during his party’s council meeting, and that he was one of the three members of the council who had objected to the decision.

He said he had warned that joining the coalition in support of the new government would pave the way for internal conflicts within the coalition, and that such a coalition could not work in the best interest of the country.

Azim said that the DRP joined the coalition because the party council believed that if the party refused to join, then it would further stir up claims of a possible “political deal” between former President Mohamed Nasheed and DRP Leader MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali.

Azim added that despite his belief that it should still be an MDP government, he would assist the current government through the parliament and by other means.

Minivan News tried contacting Azim but he did not respond at time of press.

In response to Azim’s statements, fellow DRP MP Rozaina Adam told Sun Online that she believed the government was now belonged President Waheed and his Gaumee Iththihaadh (GI) – which has 2600 members.

“Whoever is in the position of the President, the government shall be of his party. President Waheed wanted a unity government, and therefore it is now the government of President Waheed. This government has the support of the DRP,” she told the newspaper.

However Adam added that even though her party supported the government, it would not support any actions of the government which it was dissatisfied with.

“If this government carries actions about which the DRP disapproves, we will not stand in support of such actions,” she added.

Minivan News contacted Rozaina however she said that she had already spoken to the media about the issue and that she did not wish to speak about it again.

Following the controversial resignation of Former President Mohamed Nasheed on February 7, then Vice President Mohamed Waheed Hassan was sworn in as President on the same day. Afterwards, Waheed dismissed Nasheed’s cabinet and announced the formation of a ‘national unity government’, which consisted of the political parties that had opposed Nasheed’s administration.


“No grounds” for “unacceptable dismissal” of DRP councillor: MP Rozaina

The main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has strongly condemned the dismissal of Baa Thulhadhoo Councillor Umaira Abubakr yesterday, accusing four councillors of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) of conducting emergency meetings in her absence in a deliberate attempt to remove her from the post.

Article 119(b) of the Decentralisation Act states that a councillor can be removed if he or she misses seven consecutive meetings “without offering a valid reason that is acceptable to the council.” Umaira did not attend ten meetings which took place while she was ostensibly participating in a workshop in Bandos Island Resort.

If the council’s decision to dismiss her stands, Umaira Abubakr, the sole representative of the DRP on the five-member council, will become the first councillor to be removed from her post since the election of local councils in February.

Speaking at a press conference today, DRP MP Rozaina Adam alleged that the four MDP councillors actively plotted to dismiss Umaira from the council.

“There are a number of things that prove that she was dismissed without any grounds and that this was planned by them,” she explained. “Up until May, the Thulhaadhoo council held 23 meetings. However during the period when Umaira went to the workshop, they held ten meetings, four of which were normal meetings but the other six were held as emergency meetings.”

She added that the emergency meetings were conducted to decide trivial matters. “For example, an emergency meeting was held for the sake of changing the days where normal meetings take place.”

Umaira missed the meetings as she was attending a workshop for councillors in Bandos, said Rozaina, claiming that the atoll council had informed the island council of her intent to participate while Chair Ahmed Rasheed had granted permission.

“Moreover, other councillors [who attended the workshop] did not inform their councils in writing before leaving nor did the chair ask Umaira to do so,” she said.

The DRP MP for Thulusdhoo claimed that Umaira was not given notice for meetings nor sent agendas two days in advance as stipulated by article 115(a).

Umaira has since lodged a complaint at the atoll council. Rozaina vowed that the DRP would appeal at the High Court if the atoll council upholds the decision.

Thulhaadhoo Council Chair Ahmed Rasheed told Minivan News today that the decision to dismiss Umaira was taken after consultation with the Local Government Authority (LGA) and based on legal counsel from the Attorney General’s Office.

“She did not inform in writing as she was required by law either before she left or during her holiday,” he insisted.

While confirming that six of the ten meetings in question were emergency sessions, Rasheed however denied the DRP allegation of a deliberate attempt to dismiss Umaira.

Rasheed further denied Rozaina’s claim that police were called in this morning when Umaira came in to the office: “I saw two police officers at the office but we didn’t call them or ask them to remove her.”

On the emergency meetings and their purpose, Rasheed said that he could not recall the agendas.

“It is not up to Rozaina to decide when we should hold meetings,” he said.