Appointment of ‘Mundu’ Shareef as Youth Minister unconstitutional, says Jumhooree Party

Jumhooree Party (JP) spokesperson Ahmed Sameer has suggested that the appointment of Mohamed ‘Mundu’ Shareef as the temporary Minister of Youth and Sports is unconstitutional.

Sameer said that Shareef – who also serves as one of two ministers at the President’s Office – cannot be  appointed to the position as he “cannot be held accountable to the parliament”.

“According the parliament’s rule of procedure, only the president, vice president, and ministers approved by the parliament can be brought into the parliamentary chamber for questioning, while all other individuals have to be questioned by parliamentary committees,” said Sameer.

Shareef confirmed to Minivan News today that he has been appointed to the post while Mohamed Maleeh Jamal is on vacation.

He denied Sameer’s allegations, saying that he is a sitting member in the cabinet as well as pointing out that he has previously been appointed temporary head of various other ministries including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

After receiving three cabinet posts following its election alliance with the Progressive Party of Maldives, the JP’s split with its coalition partner soon saw the dismissal of transport minister Ameen Ibrahim before Thoriq Ibrahim and Mohamed Saeed left the JP for its former ally.

The JP spokesperson today claimed that Shareef could not be brought to the parliament for questioning as he is not a minister of a government body approved by the parliament, but rather a ministerial level staff member at the President’s Office.

“Even admin staff at the President’s Office are allowed at the cabinet meetings,” said Sameer. “Photographers are allowed into the meetings. It does not mean they are members of the cabinet.”

According to Article 129 of the Constitution, other than the vice president, all members in the cabinet must be approved by the parliament. The People’s Majlis Secretariat confirmed that no parliamentary vote was held regarding Shareef’s appointment.

The Constitution contains no provisions for the temporary appointment of cabinet members.

Yesterday (January 6) saw tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb temporarily appointed as the minister of defense during Colonel (retired) Mohamed Nazim’s absence. Additionally, Minister of Islamic Affairs Dr Mohamed Shaheem has this week been appointed as temporary health minister – a post which has been empty since August.

Spokesperson at the President’s Office Ibrahim Muaz denied yesterday rumors of rifts within the cabinet, telling local media that the temporary appointments were merely arrangements to fill empty posts during ministers’ leave.

Related to this story

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Jumhooree Party cabinet member and two more MPs join President Yameen’s PPM


Reporters Without Borders condemns stabbing of Hilath Rasheed: “All the hallmarks of a targeted murder attempt”

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned the stabbing of well-known Maldivian journalist and blogger Ismail ‘Hilath’ Rasheed.

Rasheed had his throat slashed outside his house in Male’ around 8:15pm on Monday night, and was rushed to ADK Hospital for emergency surgery. Sources at the hospital said that the attack severed his trachea (windpipe), missing a vital artery “by millimetres”, and initially gave him a five percent chance of survival.

Hospital staff stabilised Rasheed’s condition around 2:30am on Tuesday, and as of Wednesday evening his condition was said to be improving. An informed source told Minivan News that Rasheed was unable to speak due to his injuries, but had communicated with his parents in writing.

“This knife attack has all the hallmarks of a targeted murder attempt,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.

“Rasheed has made many enemies through his outspoken blogging. The authorities in charge of the investigation should not rule out the possibility that this was linked to his journalistic activity. He is a well-known journalist who has repeatedly been censored, arrested and threatened.

“The police must, as a matter of urgency, put a stop to the harassment of Rasheed and take the issue of his safety seriously. Any lack of response on their part will constitute a criminal failure to assist a person in danger,” RSF stated.

The organisation noted that Rasheed had previously been attacked on December 10, 2011, suffering a fractured skull “while attending a peaceful demonstration in support of religious tolerance.”

“The police then arrested him for taking part in the demonstration and held him until 9 January,” RSF added, noting that Rasheed’s blog,, had also been blocked on the orders of Ministry of Islamic Affairs on 19 November 2011 on the grounds that it contained “anti-Islamic” material.

“If it is confirmed that the attack was prompted by his journalism and blogging, Rasheed would be the first journalist to have been the target of a murder attempt in Maldives,” RSF observed.

The Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) has also condemned the attack on Rasheed.

“The violent attack on Hilath was an attempt to kill him. The association calls on the authorities to find those who had involved in this crime and bring them to justice,” the MJA stated.
“We call on the police and political figures of this country to stop quarrelling for power and make the country – especially the capital Male’ – a place where families and children can live without fear.”

The MJA added that if the trend of violent murders across the country continued, the resulting impact on the country’s tourism-based economy would be “irrevocable”.

Minister for Human Resources and spokesperson for former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Mohamed ‘Mundhu’ Shareef, told AFP that while the government condemned the attack, “Hilath must have known that he had become a target of a few extremists.”

“We are not a secular country. When you talk about religion there will always be a few people who do not agree,” Shareef said.

Police Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef meanwhile said that while no arrests had been made, police had obtained CCTV footage of the area and were in the process of analysing it.

Police were also investigating the stabbing of a Bangladeshi man at 11pm on the same evening, Haneef said. The victim suffered minor injuries and was discharged from hospital on Tuesday.

The Maldives was ranked 73rd out of 179 countries in the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. The country jumped from 148th in 2005 to 51st in 2009, following the introduction of multiparty democracy and freedom of expression.


Tour operators cancelling bookings after protest coverage

The impact of four nights of violent protests in Male’ has been felt by Maldivian tourism representatives attending the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, the region’s largest such expo.

“Travel operators in Taiwan have said they are postponing and cancelling group bookins because of negative perceptions [of safety] in the Maldives,” a tourism source attending the expo told Minivan News.

“We just had another two confirmed bookings cancelled today because of reports of riots and instability. We worked hard to get these bookings and the potential domino effect is really worrying – people panic.”

The source noted that the average spend of couple holidaying to the Maldives was US$7000.

Reports in major newswires Associated Press (AP) and AFP on the Maldives’ protests were widely syndicated in world media, drawing largely from comments made by spokesperson Gayoom’s spokesperson Mohamed Hussain ‘Mundhu’ Shareef.

“Police are chasing protesters. Some of those injured have been rushed to hospital,” Shareef told AFP by telephone after last night’s protests, adding that scores of people had been arrested, “including parliamentarians Ali Arif and Ahmed Mahloof.”

“Arif and Mahloof were later released, but we have no news of Naseer’s whereabouts. Our legal team is trying to trace him,” Mundhu said.

Police said that Naseer was released at 1:30am, an hour after he was arrested. Minivan News spoke to Naseer today.

The previous evening, Shareef informed AP that 5000 people were demonstrating in the capital and dozens had been “crushed brutally”, including women.

“The opposition also blames Nasheed for failing to manage the economy – worth over a billion dollars – by recently devaluing the currency, while food prices have risen by as much as 30 percent,” AFP reported.

“Shareef said the protests aimed to emulate those across the Middle East and North Africa, pushing for political reforms in dictatorial regimes.”

Hong Kong yesterday became the first country to put out a travel warning on the Maldives, raising the country’s threat level to ‘amber’ alongside Israel, Iran, Indonesia, Russia and Pakistan.

China’s Xinhua news agency reported a government spokesperson as saying that “Those who plan to visit the Maldives or are already there should monitor the situation and exercise caution.”

Chinese visitors to the Maldives now constitute the greatest number of tourism arrivals, and are a major emerging market. A sharp increase in recent years offset a decline in European arrivals caused by the global recession in 2008.

The Maldives Association of Travel Industry (MATI) has meanwhile issued a statement claiming that reports on the situation were “exaggerated and ill-informed.”

“The series of demonstrations and public unrest by political groups opposed to the government of the Maldives have, over the last few days, led to some reports in the international press of civil unrest in the country.

“The Maldives is safe for visitors and remains peaceful and stable. The police and other authorities have the political situation well under control,” MATI stated.

Further protests – which the opposition maintains are ‘youth-led’ despite the active organisation of opposition MPs – are planned for the weekend, with reports of islanders travelling to Male’ to participate.


Foreign reserve US$250 million on Gayoom’s departure, Mundhu tells Asian Tribune

Spokesperson for former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Mohamed Hussein ‘Mundhu’ Shareef, has been quoted in the Asian Tribune as saying that the Maldives had a foreign reserve of US$250 million when the former President left office.

“When the IMF recommended cutting down on public servants, President Nasheed went ahead with slashing the number of civil servants. At the same time Nasheed continued appointing endless political appointees and state ministers. If Nasheed thinks it will be all hunky dory in three months time just because he implemented a managed float of the rufiyaa, he is mistaken. He does not understand the dynamics of economics,” Mundhu told journalist Poorna Rodrigoo.

He blamed the dollar shortage on “businessmen holding large amounts of money abroad”, and noted that the economic uncertainty had led to “many Sri Lankan businessmen having second thoughts over investing here and Lanka appears a better investment than the Maldives for foreign investors.”

Ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ilyas Labeeb, on parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, meanwhile recently contested that figures from the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) showed that US$104.6 million was transferred out of the Maldives in 2008, the year of the election, compared to US$30-40 million in 2005-2007.

“Most dollar transfers made overseas was done during the period between October-November 2008. It was between the time that [Gayoom] faced defeat in the presidential election and the time that President Nasheed took the oath of office,” Ilyas said at an MDP rally earlier this month, according to newspaper Haveeru.

Opposition split

Speaking on the internal split currently troubling the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Mundhu said that while leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali retained “legal authority”, Gayoom, the party’s ‘Honorary Leader’, still retained the party’s “moral authority” and majority support.

“Of the DRP’s 32 member council, Thasmeen has the support of 18 members and he controls party’s disciplinary arm too. So there is no doubt that as the leader he has the party’s legal authority. But it is former Leader Gayoom who commands the moral authority of the party and the majority support of nearly 46,000 party membership. If one happen to see the number of supporters attending Thasmeen’s rallies and Gayoom’s rallies, it is easy to assess who has the greater support,” Mundhu was reported as saying.

“Above all, Thasmeen is presently in a financial crisis personally and that has made matters worse for him. As of now we will stay in the party and will do our best to change the leadership.”

The Gayoom faction is pinning much hope on the 2012 congress to change the party charter and hold primaries to elect a new presidential candidate.

On whether Gayoom’s faction in the DRP would create a new party, Mundhu said: “We worked hard and formed the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party. It has taken lot of our time and energy. We gave our lives to the party. We are the real DRP. We do not want to let go of it. Why should we leave the DRP. Also it is a administratively a nightmare to form a new party in the Maldives given the fact that it involves lot of traveling to each and every island. It is a landlocked country and we do not have resources to do that.”

Read the full interview


Shareef claims leaked audio was doctored

Opposition Deputy Leader and Spokesperson Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef has confirmed that while the voice in an audio clip leaked yesterday was his, parts of the conversation had been edited.

During the conversation Shareef questions the support for former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in Addu, and suggested that were Gayoom’s faction to campaign there, “we will beat them up and drag them away [from Addu].”

That led to a crowd gathering outside the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) headquarters calling for the resignation of Shareef and Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali. When Shareef confronted the crowd he was attacked, and escorted to safety by police.

The source of the leaked phone call, which was aired on MNBC and DhiFM, has not been identified. However Shareef told Haveeru that the recording was engineered by mixing parts of a conversation he had with several different people, after dismissed Deputy Leader Umar Naseer “created conflicts by attending our function.”

“We were have conversations with several people. A group of people recorded such a conversation and leaked it,” he told Haveeru. “The part of the leaked audio, in which I was saying ‘Gayoom cannot go to Addu to campaign’, was edited. I never said it directly.”

Shareef and Thasmeen were not responding to calls at time of press.

Spokesperson for Gayoom Hussein ‘Mundhu’ Shareef was quoted in Haveeru as saying that Mavota Shareef owed an apology to the former President: “Maumoon holds the most honorary position in the DRP and is linked to many people’s spirit. So no-one can make a comment in order to tarnish the reputation of Maumoon,” Haveeru reported Mundhu as saying.


Former president Gayoom departs to Saudi Arabia

The Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has departed for Saudi Arabia this morning to attend a special conference to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rabitat Al-Alam Al-Islami (the Muslim World League).

Gayoom will address the  Opening Session of the conference in Mecca.

President Gayoom is accompanied by his son Mohamed Ghassan Maumoon, Former Chief Justice and President of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs Mohamed Rasheed Ibrahim, and Principal Secretary at the Secretariat of the Former President Adam Naeem.

At their departure this morning the former president had a visa issue and the airline declined to take him, however with the assistance of President Mohamed Nasheed, the delegates were able to leave on the flight.

Spokesperson for the former president, Mohamed ‘Mundhu’ Shareef did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.


DRP claims MDP influencing Elections Commission

The Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has accused the Elections Commission (EC) of failing to register members who have shifted to the DRP from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Mohamed Hussain ‘Mundhu’ Shareef, spokesman for the former president and DRP member in charge of the Noonu atoll branch, said he noticed the problem when 66 newly-joined DRP members from the island of Miladhoo in Noonu Atoll failed to appear on a list from the EC.

”As soon as we figured out these people were missing from the EC list, we scanned it to see whether people from other atolls were missing as well,” he said.

That recount revealed many more DRP members from Haa Alifu Atoll and Gaafu Aalifu Atoll missing from the list, Mundhu claimed.

“People who shifted from Adhaalath party and Qaumeee party were in the list, but those who came from MDP were not there,” he said, accusing the MDP of influencing the EC.

He said that the DRP had sent a letter to the EC two weeks ago to clarify why the people were missing from the list “but they have not responded.”

President of Elections Commission Fuad Thaufeeq said the claims made by the DRP that members were missing from the list were untrue.

He said that by law people could only be members of one political party, “and sometimes when people try to join a party without resigning from another registered party, we will not register them.”

Thaufeeq furthermore stressed that the commission was working independently ”and nobody can influence us.”

Spokesman for MDP Ahmed Haleem said the EC was an independent institution and accused the DRP “of inventing a new story about MDP everyday”

”They spread these type of rumours just to gain popularity,” he said. “They can’t get famous without saying something against us,” he said.

DRP MP Ahmed Mahloof said he had heard no information about the issue while MDP MP Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik claimed “nobody from MDP would resign to join DRP.”

”The EC works independently; it was elected by the parliament,” Moosa said. “They were elected not only by the vote of MDP MPs but DRP MPs voted for them as well.”


DRP denies rumours of internal dispute over primaries

Reports of internal disputes in the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party over whether to hold primaries in the run up to the party’s congress are incorrect, the party has claimed.

Despite a court case the between DRP leader elect Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and coalition partner People’s Alliance (PA) leader Abdulla Yameen, and earnest debate over whether the party will hold primaries rather than automatically put its leader forward as a presidential candidate, the DRP insists the party is united.

DRP spokesman Ibrahim Shareef said ongoing rumours over splits in the party were untrue.

”People think the party is dividing because these are the days before our elections, so we are competing with each other – that’s why some people think we are having internal disputes,” Shareef said.

Shareef said in reality there were no internal disputes in the party.

However former president of the Islamic Democratic Party (IDP) and DRP member Umar Naseer claimed that among the DRP MPs there are MDP supporters ”who wear blue T-shirts and pretend to be DRP supporters but actual fact are MDP supporters.”

Umar said it would be “very beneficial” for the party if the amendment of to hold a primary election was approved, as ”everyone must have the right to run for the presidential election.”

He said that he had not yet decided whether to do so himself.

Spokesman for the former president Ibrahim ‘Mundhu’ Sharef said rumours of internal strife within the DRP were being spread to encourage people to dislike the party.

Mundhu said ”the DRP is a democratic political party, and we solve all our problems peacefully.”

He claimed the DRP’s large membership base supported the party because of the love they have for former president Gayoom “and not for money or by force.”

In contrast, only 18 per cent of the population supported MDP “according to several polls we took.”

MDP spokesman Ahmed Haleem claimed that disputes were occurring within the opposition party naturally “as it changes into a democratic party. This happens in the early stage of any democracy,” he said.

“The DRP was largely based around former president Gayoom,” he said, “and their disputes over whether to elect a presidential candidate through a primary is due to the number of undemocratic people in the party.”

“Hopefully the DRP will become a democratic party very soon,” he added.


Journalist fined for defaming Ghassan

The former editor of weekly magazine Sandhaanu has been ordered to pay Rf5000 (US$389)for defaming Mohamed Ghassan Maumoon, the former president’s son.

Ghassan took Abdulla ‘Fahala’ Saeed to the civil court seeking Rf3.375 million (US$262,600) over an article Fahala had written in the 118th edition of Sandhaanu magazine.

Ghassan claimed he lost support in the parliamentary election because of rumours about him published in an article written by Fahala.

Fahala claimed that the Rf5000 fine was “an injustice” and announced he intended to take the case to high court.

”The judge did not even look at the article I wrote, I was sentenced based on what Ghassan had said,” Fahala claimed.

He insisted that he did not defame Ghassan “but ‘wrote it as it was a rumor spreading.”

”In that article I mentioned that it was a rumour. People were speaking about it everywhere in the Maldives,” he said.

Ghassan is currently in India and did not respond to Minivan News’ request for comment.

However spokesman for the former president, Mohamed Hussain ‘Mundhu’ Shareef, said the judgement was fair and Fahala was free to take the case to the high court.

“[The court] has proved the rumors people spread about former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and his family were lies,” Mundhu said.

People who committed “ugly crimes” while working for the government should be “kicked out”, Mundhu said, “if the government does not want to lose respect in front of the people.”

President of the Maldives Journalism Association (MJA) Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir said the case would not affect journalism in the Maldives.

”Fining for defamation is a punishment practiced everywhere in the world. Journalists should be careful about it,” Hiriga said.

Journalists had a responsibility “to write true information about people”, he said.