EU resolution based on ‘fabrications, misconceptions, and misrepresentations’

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and the foreign ministry have slammed a European Union parliamentary resolution urging the government to release ex-president Mohamed Nasheed.

The resolution is based on “fabrications, misconceptions and misrepresentations”, the PPM contended while foreign minister Dunya Maumoon declared that “the human rights achievements of the Maldives is better than some European countries.”

The non-binding resolution adopted today urged member states to issue warnings on the Maldives’ human rights record on their travel advice websites over an increased tendencies towards authoritarian rule, including Nasheed’s imprisonment for 13 years on terror charges.

The EU parliament noted a crackdown on political opponents including the imprisonment of two former defence ministers and a ruling party MP, the intimidation of media and civil society and the politicisation of the judiciary.

But Dunya said the Maldives’ “achievements since 2004 is exemplary for a small state.”

“We have a vibrant political system where people have space to express their political opinions without any hindrance. We do not shoot protesters. There is no looting in the name of political rallies.  Our custodial facilities do not torture those under state custody,” she said.

The PPM meanwhile said the EU had issued “equally grossly-misinformed releases” in the past, but “chose to turn a blind eye and stay silent on matters regarding the Maldives during the three year three month regime of former President Mohamed Nasheed, which was the single most brutal, dictatorial and violent period of rule in contemporary Maldivian history.”

The PPM suggested that the European parliament “risks tarnishing its own standing in global society, and it’s reputation among European citizens themselves by refusing, for shrouded political gains, to call a spade a spade.”

“The European Parliament must by now know that its failure to report the truth in matters regarding the Maldives has left its own reputation among the Maldivian public at serious risk of irreversible damage,” reads the PPM statement released today.

The ruling party went on to claim Nasheed’s government arbitrarily arrested political activists and MPs, sent out “knife-wielding thugs” against opposition protesters, unlawfully politicised state media, undermined independent institutions, and carried out corruption amounting to “hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The rise of extremism worsened under Nasheed’s administration, it continued, as its “schizophrenic policies on religious affairs in the country had contributed to the ideological confusion among young people, which has led to some Maldivians fleeing the country to join the ranks of foreign fighters in ISIS-led terrorist conflict zones.”

As Nasheed was found guilty of ordering the “enforced disappearance” of criminal court chief judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012 – “a gross Nazi-esque violation” of constitutional rights and international norms – the PPM asked whether the EU condoned the “kidnapping of judges”.

Neither the government nor the public will entertain calls for Nasheed’s release “through the very unlawful and unethical avenues that Nasheed himself employed”.

“This is not a banana republic nor is this a pawn of any regional bloc or external power,” the PPM said.

Hours before the resolution passed, president’s office minister Mohamed Hussain Shareef ‘Mundhu’ told the press he expected a “watered down” resolution, and said the government is “happy” with the resolution as it shows that the current administration is upholding the Maldivian constitution and sovereignty.

“Actionable” clauses such as imposing a travel ban and freezing assets of Maldivian government officials were removed before the resolution was put to a vote, he said.

According to Mundhu, the resolution  “praises” Nasheed and EU MEPs are demanding his release as the former president was “a proxy ruler” of Europeans. He alleged that the EU is condemning the Maldivian government for refusing to allow freedom of religion and same sex marriage.

The resolution was pushed through by the UK’s Conservative Party, which Mundhu said was a longstanding ally of Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), and the Christian Democratic Party.

Other parties in the European parliament “forced” the Conservative Party to remove the actionable clauses, he claimed.

Mundhu also said the EU refused to extend the duty-free status of fish imported from Maldives due to the country’s stance on freedom of religion and legalising gay marriage.

An EU delegation that visited the Maldives this week had told government officials yesterday that a non-binding resolution by the European parliament was inconsequential and akin to “a resolution adopted by the Baa atoll Thulhadhoo council,” Mundhu said.

President Abdulla Yameen has previously accused the EU of imposing restrictions on Maldivian imports for refusing to abandon Islamic principles.

The country has since sought other markets for fish exports and the EU was no longer  “that important economically, outside of tourism”.


Revised law strips Nasheed of MDP’s presidency

MPs of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives have passed a law which will effectively strip former president Mohamed Nasheed of the presidency of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

The amendment to the Prisons and Parole Act was passed today with 40 votes and prohibits inmates from holding high level posts in political parties.

Nasheed, who co-founded the MDP, will lose his party presidency because of a terrorism conviction last month relating to the detention of a judge during his period in power.

He was jailed for 13 years after the Criminal Court found him guilty of terrorism in a case his party says represented a politically-led campaign against him by the government of President Abdulla Yameen.

The bill was previously passed by the People’s Majlis on March 30. However, president Yameen vetoed it as the original proposal prohibited all prisoners from holding membership in political parties and non governmental organisations.

The Attorney General’s Office has reportedly said the original amendment infringes on the constitutional right to freedom of association.

The law was passed amid protests by opposition MPs, who had draped a large yellow banner behind the speaker’s desk calling for Nasheed’s release.

MDP MP Eva Abdulla told Minivan News today that the new law is proof the “government is using its majority in parliament to amend laws specifically targeting President Nasheed.” 

“They have done all but name him in this new amendment. It shows just how personal and political the arrest and sentencing of President Nasheed is,” she said.

Ruling coalition MPs also revised the Majlis regulations yesterday, preventing any MPs who protest inside the Majlis from receiving a MVR20,000 (US$1,290) allowance.

Opposition MPs have been disrupting parliamentary sittings since the Majlis reconvened this year on March 2 over Nasheed’s arrest and alleged constitutional breaches by the government.


Prominent historian Shafeeq passes away

A prominent historian and writer, Ahmed Shafeeq, passed away on Friday after battling a long illness.

Shafeeq was 87-years-old and leaves behind 12 children. He wrote numerous books, earned national literary awards, and had served as atoll chief and member of parliament.

In his last book titled ‘A day in the life of Ahmed Shafeeq,’ he alleged that 111 people had been killed during ex-president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s 30-year reign.

Gayoom successfully sued Shafeeq for defamation and the civil court in July 2012 ordered the writer to pay MVR5,000 as compensation.

Shafeeq was held in solitary confinement for 83 days in 1995 together with three other writers, including Hassan Ahmed Maniku, Ali Moosa Didi and Mohamed Latheef.

Shafeeq contended that 50 of his diaries containing evidence relating to the deaths of the 111 Maldivians were confiscated during a raid by 15 armed men. He was ultimately released by Gayoom without charge, and was told by the investigating officer to write a letter of appreciation to the then-president for the pardon.

After Gayoom declared that he will sue Shafeeq in late 2010, then-president Mohamed Nasheed said police will investigate the claims of 111 custodial deaths.

Nasheed had said that Gayoom alone could not be blamed for all the human rights abuses that occurred under his watch.

“It was not done by him alone. It was a whole system that did it. It was Dhivehi tradition that did it. It was Dhivehi culture that did it,” he said.


Comment: International community must not ignore the plight of ‘Mandela of the Maldives’

The following op-ed was written by Anders Henriksen and Lykke Friss from the University of Copenhagen and first appeared on The Conversation. Republished with permission.  

This year has been anything but tranquil in paradise. In March, after a prolonged period of tension in the Maldives – the Indian Ocean island nation better known as a honeymoon paradise – a panel of judges found the former president, Mohamed Nasheed, guilty of terrorism and sentenced him to 13 years imprisonment.

The international community has condemned Nasheed’s trial as a farce. The charges against him were highly dubious, he was denied the right to legal counsel, given just a few days to prepare his defence – and two of the presiding judges even testified on behalf of the prosecution. Amnesty International labelled the trial as “a travesty of justice”.

As numerous UN reports have shown, the Maldivian judiciary is highly corrupt. It is a judiciary that is loyal not to the rule of law, but to the regime that has been in charge since a coup d’état in 2012. Nasheed is now back in the same jail where he spent years as a prisoner of conscience during the former Maldives dictatorship.

Shattered dreams

At the end of 2008, when democracy swept aside 30 years of dictatorship, it all looked so promising. The Maldivian people chose Nasheed as president in their first democratic elections and, for a brief moment, freedom blossomed.

During Nasheed’s presidency, Maldivians could speak freely for the first time, enjoy new found political freedoms, and express themselves through art and culture. Internationally, the charismatic new leader gained fame for his remarkable efforts to persuade the world to combat climate change, which threatens low-lying Maldives. Nasheed toured the world as a political rock-star, receiving accolades from the White House to Windsor Castle.

But it did not take long for the old regime to move against the young democratic government. On February 7 2012, Nasheed was forced to resign and the presidency was handed to Mohamed Waheed, a puppet of the former regime. The Maldivessoon reverted to type: journalists were targeted, protesters beaten up, and opposition politicians threatened and murdered.

The subsequent presidential elections 2013 were marred by widespread allegations of vote-rigging. The former dictator’s half brother, Abdulla Yameen, won – despite an overwhelming expectation that Nasheed would be returned.

Democracy trampled

Nasheed’s incarceration should be cause for concern to anyone who cares about democracy, liberty or the rights of women. In the Maldives, the moderate, freedom-oriented version of Islam that Nasheed espoused is under threat from a regime that colludes with Islamic extremists.

Unless the current trajectory is turned, the liberal forces in the countries will lose the on-going battle with fundamentalist Islam. In the last year alone, Islamic State supporters have rallied in the streets of Male, the Maldivian capital, and a growing number of Maldivians – some with experience of terrorist training camps in Pakistan – have gone to Syria to fight for Islamic State. Only Nasheed and his Maldivian Democratic Party have been willing to tackle the growing problems of Islamic radicalism.

There are few statesmen of Nasheed’s stature. Many foreign journalists, with good reason, refer to him as the “Mandela of the Maldives”. In the interests of democracy and stability, the international community must take a clear stand. Unless Nasheed is swiftly released from prison, the European Union and other nations should impose targeted sanctions against those in power.

These sanctions should include travel bans and foreign asset freezes. The sanctions should target President Yameen, his cabinet ministers, including the minister of tourism, and the corrupt judges who imprisoned Nasheed, and members of the security forces responsible for attacks on peaceful protesters.

Furthermore, since the survival of the regime depends on the annual arrival of the more than a million foreign tourists, individual countries should also supplement sanctions with a tourism boycott. Just like potential tourists should think twice before spending their money on the atolls. Yameen’s regime is baring its teeth. It is time for the international community to respond in kind.

Anders Henriksen is an associate professor of public international law and Lykke Friis is the prorector for education at the University of Copenhagen.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


Nasheed conviction “grossly unfair,” highlights “judicial politicisation,” says ICJ

The conviction of former President Mohamed Nasheed on terrorism charges was “grossly unfair” and highlighted “judicial politicisation,” the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) have said in a press release today.

The opposition leader was sentenced to 13 years in prison on March 13 over the “kidnapping or abduction” by the military of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

“The Maldivian judiciary’s independence has been compromised for years by serious pressure from the government, and this grossly unfair conviction highlights the numerous problems with the politicization of the judiciary in the country,” said Sam Zarifi, the ICJ’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.

“It is crucial for Maldivian authorities to allow Mr. Nasheed to appeal his case effectively, with transparency and monitoring by Maldivian and international observers.”

ICJ contended that trial was marred by “gross violations of international standards of fair trial, including Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Maldives acceded in 2006.”

Among the violations listed by the ICJ included two of the three judges presiding over the trial having testified in the 2012 investigation, denial of legal representation for Nasheed during the first hearing on February 23, and the denial to the defence team of both full access to evidence and state witnesses and the opportunity to consult with Nasheed.

Moreover, ICJ noted that the court denied Nasheed the opportunity to seek new representation after his lawyers quit in protest of the court’s refusal to grant sufficient time to mount a defence.

“The defence was also denied the opportunity to call its own witnesses,” the press release added.

Following Nasheed’s conviction, President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali told Minivan News that the president could not “interfere in judicial proceedings and is not to blame for court proceedings,”

“If you study this case, from the beginning to the end, it is clear the charges are not politically motivated,” Muaz insisted.

President Abdulla Yameen meanwhile called on all parties to respect the verdict and noted that the opposition leader has “a constitutionally guaranteed right of appeal.”

“The government calls on its international partners to engage constructively, based on mutual respect and dialogue in consolidating and strengthening democratic values and institutions in the country,” read a statement issued by the President’s Office.


ICJ contended that Nasheed’s “right to appeal has been infringed by the unprecedented amendment of the statutory period for appeal from 90 days to 10 days, via Supreme Court circular six weeks prior to the trial.”

“In addition, the court has still not released to Mr. Nasheed’s defense team the full court record required to prepare and present an effective appeal within this accelerated timeframe,” the press release added.

It noted that the organisation has previously documented both the “politicisation of the judiciary” and the “polarised political climate in the Maldives, calling attention to a justice system characterised by vested interests and political allegiances rooted in the country’s authoritarian past.”

“Recent events reflect a justice system that still remains deeply politicised along the same lines of entrenched political loyalties that pre-date the transition period,” said Zarifi.

“The Maldivian judiciary must allow a proper appeal in this case if it is to establish itself as a separate and equal branch of the government dedicated to supporting the rule of law.”

The ICJ called on the government to ensure full acess and adequate opportunity for Nasheed’s lawyers to prepare an appeal, “and to ensure that the appeal proceeding is conducted fairly and transparently, with full access to media and domestic and international observers, in compliance with fair trial and due process standards under both Maldivian and international law.”

“The Maldives must also take effective measures to ensure that such violations do not reoccur in this or future cases,” the ICJ said.

Related to this story:

Nasheed to wait on appeal until Criminal Court provides full case report

Nasheed’s terrorism trial “a mockery” of Constitution, verdict “may have been pre-determined,” says Knaul

UN human rights chief expresses strong concern over “hasty and apparently unfair” Nasheed trial

US, EU, and UK concerned over lack of due process in Nasheed trial

Respect Criminal Court verdict, says President Yameen

Former President Nasheed found guilty of terrorism, sentenced to 13 years in prison

ICJ says Majlis has “decapitated the country’s judiciary”

Runaway judiciary leaves the Maldives “at a dangerous junction,” says Velezinee



Defence ministry coordinator quits in protest of government’s “brutality”

Defence Ministry Coordinator Mohamed Mushrif has resigned in protest of the government’s “brutality,” stating he fears to remain in the post.

In a letter addressed to President Abdulla Yameen – shared on social media – Mushrif contended that the prosecution of former President Mohamed Nasheed and former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim was unfair and politically motivated.

“As I do not believe that the trial of former president was a fair trial free of undue influence, and as I believe that remaining in a post under this government is frightening, I intend to resign from my post,” he wrote.

Nasheed was found guilty of terrorism charges on Friday night (March 13) and sentenced to 13 years in jail over the military’s detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

Nazim is meanwhile accused of conspiring to attack President Abdulla Yameen, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb and Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed. The retired colonel was sacked from the cabinet after police allegedly discovered a pistol and three bullets in his apartment during a midnight raid on January 18.

“The police broke down the door of Nazim’s house in the middle of the night and scared his wife and children as if it was a terrorist attack,” Mushrif’s letter stated.

“And that is not all. A bogus charge was filed against Nasheed through the Prosecutor General and he was sentenced illegally.”

Mushrif had also served under former President Dr Mohamed Waheed and was appointed the defence ministry’s coordinator by President Yameen as a political appointee.

Mushrif also objected to the dismissal of Supreme Court Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain and former Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim last year.

The pair were dismissed by the pro-government majority in parliament through amendments, respectively, to the Judicature Act and Auditor General’s Act, which reduced the Supreme Court bench from seven to five justices and required the president to appoint a new auditor general.

Moreover, the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed – whose sex tapes with three prostitutes in a Sri Lankan hotel room were leaked online in 2013 – as chair of the Judicial Service Commission showed the president’s view of fairness and justice, Mushrif wrote.

Meanwhile, Ibrahim Luthfy, human rights envoy of the Maldives government to the United Nations permanent mission to the Geneva, also resigned recently citing similar reasons.

Luthfy has since claimed to have knowledge of the government’s alleged close connection with criminal gangs in the country. He has also accused senior government officials of corruption.

“Having personally witnessed the leadership’s strong connections with violent criminals and gangs, long back I decided to distance myself,” Luthfy tweeted.

“HEP Yameen, sir, I kindly request you to return to the constitution and pursue peace for the general welfare of all without distinction,” read another tweet.


Related to this story:

Former President Nasheed found guilty of terrorism, sentenced to 13 years in prison

Fingerprint on confiscated pistol did not match Nazim’s, lawyers reveal

No hope for fair trial, says former defense minister’s family


Rule of law, human rights “severely damaged” by Nasheed conviction, says MDN

The rule of law and human rights in the Maldives have been “severely damaged” by the Criminal Court’s sentencing of former President Mohamed Nasheed to 13 years in prison on terrorism charges, NGO Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) has said.

In a press release yesterday, MDN Executive Director Shahindha Ismail noted that Nasheed was denied legal representation despite repeated requests in every since hearing since March 9 when his legal team quit in protest of the court’s refusal to grant sufficient time to study the prosecution’s evidence and mount a defence.

“Should Nasheed appeal this decision, we strongly urge the higher courts to ensure that the blatant contraventions of human rights and fair trial standards by the Criminal Court are not condoned or accepted,” said Shahindha.

“We urge the Judiciary, together with other relevant institutions, including the Human Rights Commission of Maldives and the Parliament, to act immediately to stop the backslide in the rule of law and human rights in Maldives, which has been severely damaged by yesterday’s verdict.”

She also pointed to several instances when judges answered for the prosecution and state witnesses during cross examination.

Moreover, MDN noted that the three-judge Criminal Court panel ruled that two of the judges did not have a conflict of interest in presiding over the case despite having provided witness statements during the investigation.

Nasheed was accused of ordering the military to arrest Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012.

Shahindha meanwhole noted that two of the judges who refused to recuse themselves were “allegedly involved in the incident for which Nasheed was charged, and have been among the witnesses requested by Nasheed,” adding that Nasheed was also denied admission of witnesses to counter the prosecution’s case.

“The right to freedom of expression and media freedom, as well as the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, have also been suppressed in the context of the persecution of Nasheed,” MDN noted.

“On 8 March 2015, Rajje TV journalists were arrested and forced to delete the video footage after they videotaped an alleged meeting at a café in Malé between a presiding judge in the trial and the Prosecutor General. Key media outlets were also denied access to the courtroom during Nasheed’s trial. Over 50 Nasheed’s supporters have been arrested for protesting against the arrest and trial of Nasheed since his arrest on 22 February 2015. Many of them were released by the court on the condition that they do not attend a protest or rally for 60 days.”


Democracy Network alerts Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges on Nasheed’s sham trial

Human Rights group Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) has urged the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers to investigate the jailing of former President Mohamed Nasheed on terrorism charges.

The “independence of the judiciary has been lost,” MDN said in a letter to Gabriela Knaul, stating President Abdulla Yameen was using the judiciary as a tool to “oppress the opposition.”

“We fear that without timely intervention, the country will complete its slide back to autocracy. We strongly urge you to investigate the matter further and issue a public statement denouncing this flagrant abuse of rights being perpetuated through the Maldives’ judiciary,” the letter read.

MDN called upon the international community to take serious measures to prevent further human rights violations at the “helm of a corrupt judiciary.”

The former president was convicted of terrorism and sentenced to 13 years in prison last night (March 13) over the January 2012 military detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed.

Nasheed’s administration detained Judge Abdulla after deeming him a national security threat. Then- Home Minister Hassan Afeef accused the judge of political bias, obstructing police, stalling cases, links with organised crime and “taking the entire criminal justice system in his fist” to protect key figures of the former dictatorship from human rights and corruption cases.

Delivering the guilty verdict last night, Judge Abdulla Didi said the prosecution’s evidence proved beyond reasonable doubt that Nasheed ordered the chief judge’s arrest or “forceful abduction.”

The NGO described the trial as a “political tool designed to disqualify him from contesting future elections and silence his voice of political opposition,” noting that the trial took place at an “uncharacteristically extreme speed.”

“The systematic procedural irregularities in the current proceedings demonstrate that the current charges against Nasheed are a continuation of the same campaign to disqualify him from political office and effectively silence his political dissent in the Maldives, using a corrupt and biased judicial system to realise this goal,” said MDN.

All four of Nasheed’s lawyers quit on March 9 in protest of the Criminal Court’s refusal to grant sufficient time to examine the prosecution’s evidence and mount a defence.

The presiding judges had denied the lawyers’ request for adequate time, stating the legal team has had the case documents for three years.

Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) said today Nasheed “was denied fundamental rights which guarantee a fair trial by the constitution, and some rights granted by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

HRCM noted that the Criminal Court denied requests made by the commission to observe trials.

Advocacy group Transparency Maldives (TM) also expressed “grave concern” on the guilty verdict, stressing Nasheed was denied legal representation, right to appeal and adequate time to build a defence against new terror charges.

TM also noted that the “serious issues of conflict of interest were prevalent in the case” with two of the three judges presiding over the case having provided statements during the investigation.

“These procedural irregularities raise serious questions about the fairness, transparency and independence of the judicial process followed and the provision of the accused’s inalienable right to a fair trial,” read a TM statement today.

TM called upon state actors to “uphold democratic principles and international conventions”, while urging the public and law enforcement agencies to “exercise restraint and calm in order to mitigate further deterioration of the security situation in the Maldives.”

Knaul had previously expressed concern over lack of due process in a 2012 trial in which Nasheed had been charged with “arbitrarily detaining” Judge Abdulla at the Hulhumalé Magistrate Court.

Knaul questioned the constitutionality of the magistrate court and the appointment of the three-judge panel, “which seems to have been set up in arbitrary manner, without following procedures set by law.”

“It is indeed difficult to understand why one former President is being tired for an act he took outside his prerogative, while another has not had to answer for any of the alleged human rights violations documented over the years,” wrote Knaul, in her report to the UN Human Rights council following her mission in Maldives in February 2013.

Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin in February withdrew the lesser charges and re-prosecuted Nasheed on harsher terror charges.

The United States, United Kingdom and the European Union have expressed concern with the lack of due process, while Amnesty International said Nasheed’s sentencing “after a deeply flawed and politically motivated trial is a travesty of justice.”

Related to this story

Former President Nasheed found guilty of terrorism, sentenced to 13 years in prison

“This is not a court of law. This is injustice,” Nasheed tells the Criminal Court

US, EU, and UK concerned over lack of due process in Nasheed trial

Nasheed trial “not free or fair,” says Maldivian Democracy Network

Former President Nasheed appears in court with arm in makeshift sling


Fuvahmulah Airport handed to government after costing STO MVR170 million

The State Trading Organisation (STO) has been losing MVR12 million (US$ 780,000) per year since Fuvahmulah Airport opened in 2011, Managing Director Ahmed Azim told Haveeru.

“I requested the government to take over the airport because it has been causing that much damage to the company,” said Azim, noting that the state-owned company had lost in excess of MVR170 million (US$11 million) since the airport opened.

Speaking at the 50th anniversary of the STO last week, President Abdulla Yameen said that he does not believe the STO will ever earn profit from the airport.

“Even though STO had to suffer numerous losses and had to bleed because of it, it has constructed an airport at Fuvahmulah,” said President Yameen – who had previously served as Chairman of STO. “We have decided to take over the airport and re-compensate the company for its losses.”

Upon assuming the presidency in November 2013, Yameen declared the STO bankrupt before Azim announced a campaign to cut operational costs by MVR50 million (US$3,242,542) in 2014.

Last week Yameen warned that “managing directors of state owned companies will change if the companies cannot perform” to the required standard, shortly after the dismissal of Maldives Airports Company Ltd chairman Ibrahim ‘Bandhu’ Saleem.

Despite being constructed as part of the STO’s social responsibility, the airport was not economically viable, said Yameen, warning that the boardrooms of state owned companies should consider such investments more carefully in the future.

Yameen did, however, call upon the STO to widen its scope into international global markets. He spoke of diversifying the company into numerous fields such as shipping and oil tanker operation, while promising government support for such ventures.

Fuvahmulah Airport – which has a runway of 1200 km runway – was constructed and opened in 2011 by the STO during former President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration. It operates flights to Malé and Gan International Airport, to the south.

Nasheed tweeted today that the airport would yield profits if the originally envisioned tourism activity were to be developed. The single island atoll has no resorts, and only a single guest house registered with the tourism ministry.

During his presidential election campaign in 2013, Nasheed had pledged to transform the island via 70 separate development projects, as well as awarding it city status.

With 8,579 people, according to the 2014 census, Fuvahmulah has the fourth largest population of any island in the Maldives.

Related to this story

President Yameen urges STO to enter international markets

Nazim dismissed as defence minister, replaced by Moosa Ali Jaleel

State Trading Organisation bankrupt: President Yameen