MDP proposes imprisoned ex-president to represent party in talks

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has proposed imprisoned former President Mohamed Nasheed, chairperson Ali Waheed and MP Ibrahim “Ibu” Mohamed Solih as representatives for talks with the government.

The main opposition party’s national council adopted a resolution today to accept the government’s calls for dialogue to resolve the ongoing political crisis.

“The [MDP] believes that the anxiety and distress in the country can be resolved by all the opposition parties sitting down at the table for discussions with the government,” reads the resolution.

President Abdulla Yameen’s proposed agenda for talks focuses on three aspects: political reconciliation, strengthening the judiciary and legal system and political party participation in economic and social development

However, the government has ruled out negotiations over the release Nasheed and former defence minister Mohamed Nazim, insisting the president does not have the constitutional authority to release convicts before the appeal process is exhausted.

President’s office spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz was not responding to calls at the time of publication.

However, Muaz told Haveeru before the resolution was passed that the government will go ahead with the talks even if the MDP declines the president’s offer.

During the national council debate on the resolution, MP Eva Abdulla stressed the importance of talks involving all political parties, including the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

“MDP is the first party that called to solve the political crisis. So we are happy the government took the initiative to hold talks and we accept it. But we want to hold the discussions together, not separately as the government has suggested,” she said.

President Yameen had sent invitations to the three allied opposition parties separately and assigned two ministerial teams for the talks.

Eva also argued that the agenda for the talks should be up for discussion.

“We are not going to discussions to talk only about what the government wants. The discussions will include what the government wants, but also what we want. The agenda of the talks also should be set at the discussions,” she said.

Eva also suggested MDP should not join the discussions without the proposed delegation: “I don’t think there is anything we can solve without the delegation MDP proposed.”

Nasheed is currently serving a 13-year jail term at the high-security Maafushi prison following his conviction on terrorism charges in March.

The MDP has maintained that the trial was a politically motivated attempt to bar the party’s president and presumptive candidate from the 2018 presidential election.

Foreign governments and international bodies including the UN have criticized the trial for apparent lack of due process, while the EU parliament has called for Nasheed’s immediate release.

MDP chairperson Ali Waheed was meanwhile released from police custody this afternoon. He had been held in remand detention since his arrest in the wake of the mass anti-government demonstration on May 1.

Police have concluded an investigation on charges of inciting violence and forwarded a case against Waheed to the prosecutor general’s office. A seven-day extension of detention granted by the criminal court expired today.

While the Jumhooree Party (JP) has accepted the invitation for talks, the religious conservative Adhaalath Party proposed its detained president, Sheikh Imran Abdulla, among the party’s representatives.

Imran was also arrested on May 1 and remains in police custody.

Speaking at today’s emergency meeting of the national council, MP Ibu, MDP parliamentary group leader, noted that the acceptance of the government’s invitation does not mean the party trusts the government.

“We are going to sit down with the government not necessarily because we trust them. We should always learn from what has happened in the past. Recently we saw the Ukrainian government sitting down for talks with Russia despite the distrust,” he said.

Ibu said the planned mass protest for June 12 – organised by the MDP –  is also a call for discussions.

“The June 12 protest is also a symbol of negotiations and talks. So I call on the people of Maldives who support our cause to come and join us in discussions,” he said.

Other members of the national council questioned the “sincerity” of the government’s invitation for talks.

“The deputy leader of JP, Ameen Ibrahim, was set free by the High Court but the state once again appealed his case in the apex court to detain him again. So the intent of the government is questionable,” said MP Rozaina Adam.

Ameen is among the five-member team to represent the Jumhooree Party. Some opposition politicians contend the police’s attempt to detain Ameen is an attempt to prevent him from representing the JP.

The resolution was passed with the support of of 42 members with one vote against.

The dissenting member objected referring to Nasheed as the party’s president, arguing that the government might reject the resolution on the grounds that he no longer holds the post.

In late April, the pro-government majority voted through amendments to the Prison and Parole Act that prohibited inmates from holding high-level posts in political parties.

The revised law effectively stripped Nasheed of the MDP presidency.


MDP national council resolves to organise Labour Day demonstration

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) national council adopted a resolution today to organise a demonstration to mark Labour Day (May 1) and call for the protection of worker’s rights.

The resolution (Dhivehi) submitted by the party’s Youth Wing Leader Aminath Shauna states that the MDP should organise a public gathering to call for the introduction of a minimum wage as well as for the Maldives to sign the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention on Occupational Safety and Health.

The resolution noted that the MDP has been observing Labour Day since 2006 and that the Maldives became an ILO member state during the party’s three years in office.

Moreover, it added, Labour Day or May Day was made a public holiday and a Labour Tribunal to resolve employment disputes was established in December 2008.

Prior to the ousting of the MDP government on February 7, 2012, the resolution stated that a decision was made to introduce a minimum wage and a board was formed to monitor the policy shift.

However, “dictatorial habits” were returning with the current the administration allegedly violating the rights of workers and intimidating government employees, the resolution stated.

The resolution was passed unanimously by the 37 members in attendance. Today’s meeting of the national council was chaired by former President Mohamed Nasheed, who was appointed acting president at the last meeting on April 1.

During the debate on the proposal for marking Labour Day with a gathering, national council members expressed concern with the government allegedly discriminating against and intimidating MDP members working in the government.

Members elected to various posts of the party were unable to participate in MDP activities out of fear of losing their jobs, national council members said.

MP Rozaina Adam observed that the Maldives was the only country that provides social security benefits that were higher than some wages for full-time jobs.

Noting that janitors at schools were paid MVR2,500 or MVR3,000 a month, Rozaina contended that a minimum wage would discourage hiring migrant workers as more Maldivians would be willing to take jobs currently occupied by foreign labourers.

The introduction of a minimum wage would consequently bring down unemployment, she suggested.

MP Ibrahim Rasheed meanwhile referred to the death of two port workers earlier this month when a crane’s wire snapped while unloading a container.

Rasheed accused the government of negligence in the ports incident and contended that Maldivian workers across the country were treated as “slaves”.

The outgoing MP for Maafanu South urged the party to follow through on issues of concern after holding demonstrations.

Concluding today’s meeting, Nasheed announced that the national council will meet once a month.


MDP seeking public opinion over party reform

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has invited its members and the general public to submit suggestions and ideas for reforming and restructuring the party in the wake of electoral defeats in the presidential and parliamentary elections.

The party’s national council last week voted to form a three-member committee to study a reform paper (Dhivehi) submitted by a group of members and collect opinions and ideas for reform.

At a press conference on Thursday, the committee – comprised of MDP Youth Wing Leader Aminath Shauna along with Ali Niyaz and Ahmed Mujthaba – announced that it would be accepting suggestions for a two-week period.

Party members were invited to submit a form (Dhivehi) either to the party office or [email protected].

Alternately, members could use the #tellmdp hashtag of social media or visit the secretariat office in Malé between 11:00pm and 1:00pm and 3:00pm and 4:00pm on weekdays to share their views in person.

Speaking at Thursday’s press conference, Youth Wing Leader Shauna assured members that the committee would not censor or amend any suggestions.

At the end of the two-week period, she said, the committee would compile a report and submit it to the national council.

Shauna noted that the committee also welcomed opinions and ideas from members of the general public who were not registered MDP members.

Niyaz explained that while some suggestions could be approved by the national council by adopting resolutions, other reforms would have to be passed at the next national congress.

The national council decided last week to hold the party’s congress on June 6 and 7. The last congress took place in October 2010.

Among the ideas shared on social media so far, supporters have suggested clearly delineating the role of the chairperson and president or abolishing one of the posts, strengthening the administration of internal elections and primaries to ensure fairness and transparency, improving engagement with the media and increasing involvement of youth.


Nasheed appointed acting president of MDP as ‘Reeko’ Moosa resigns chairmanship

MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik announced his resignation as chairperson of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) at a meeting of the party’s national council today, which also saw former President Mohamed Nasheed appointed MDP’s acting president.

At the conclusion of today’s meeting, the outgoing chairperson said he decided to resign because he believed in democratic principles, urging other members in the party’s leadership to follow his example.

He added that former President Nasheed was in charge of the MDP’s election campaigns, which were conducted based on “his instructions and under his supervision.”

Moosa assured council members that there was no “negligence” on his part that was to blame for the MDP’s losses.

Today’s meeting was called to discuss restructuring and reforms following electoral defeats in the presidential and parliamentary polls, and to decide a date for the party’s next congress.

MP Moosa Manik announced his resignation at the start of the council meeting in Dharubaaruge this afternoon.

In the wake of the party’s poor performance in the Majlis elections, Nasheed told the press that the leadership should bear responsibility and called for new leaders to take the party’s helm.

The main opposition party fielded 85 candidates and won 26 seats in the March 22 elections, while the ruling Progressive Coalition secured a comfortable majority.

The coalition’s numbers in parliament grew to a two-thirds majority with yesterday’s defection of MDP MP-elect Mohamed Musthafa to the Progressive Party of Maldives.

A resolution to appoint Nasheed acting president was adopted with the support of 47 members out of the 54 in attendance at today’s council meeting.

The post of the MDP’s president has been vacant since the national council removed former party president Dr Ibrahim Didi with a no-confidence vote in April 2012.

The MDP national council today also decided to hold the party’s congress on June 6 and 7.

Among other decisions approved today, the national council voted to form a three-member committee to study reforms (Dhivehi) suggested by a group of party members. The committee consists of Youth Wing President Aminath Shauna, Ali Niyaz, and Ahmed Mujthaba.

A proposal by MP Ahmed Hamza to appoint members to vacant leadership posts within the next six months and a proposal by former National Social Protection Agency Chairman Ibrahim Waheed to make former presidents elected to office on the party’s ticket permanent members of the council were also passed.


MDP Chairperson calls for halt to election campaigns as party mulls dissolving leadership posts

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson and MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik has called on candidates running for the MDP Presidency and Vice Presidency to halt their campaigns, after the MDP National Council has questioned whether the positions were necessary.

The MDP said in a statement that members of the council had questioned the responsibilities of the President and Vice President, and some proposed the positions be removed.

‘’Because of the way the MDP Charter states the responsibilities of the President and Vice President of the party, during the last meeting of the National Council members questioned whether the positions were necessary,’’ Moosa said. ‘’Some members of the National Council proposed a meeting to remove the two positions from the party, while others called to amend the inconsistencies in the party’s charter that makes the responsibilities of the two positions conflict with the responsibilities of other positions in the party.’’

Elections for the party’s President and Vice President are due to be held on August 31, and several senior members of the party running for the posts have already started campaigning.

Former Chairperson of MDP and MP Mariya Didi has recently told local newspapers that she was interested in running for the party’s presidency.

Mariya said she would work to enhance the democracy of MDP and to take the party out of the current situation that it is now in.

The positions were declared vacant last month after the MDP National Council almost unanimously voted (95 percent) to oust President Dr Ibrahim Didi and Vice President and MP Alhan Fahmy in a no-confidence motion.

The MDP stated that the motion was triggered after both Dr Didi and Fahmy made public statements contradicting the party’s position as established by a resolution passed on February 8, recognising that former President Mohamed Nasheed and his cabinet were ousted illegitimately in a coup d’état.

Meanwhile, a statement issued by the MDP Feydhoo Wing in Addu said that it fully supported the decision made by the National Council to oust Dr Didi and Fahmy, both of whom are Adduan. Feydhoo is also Alhan’s constituency.

Alhan and Didi claimed that their dismissal was unlawful and reported the matter to the Elections Commission (EC), however the EC dropped the case. The pair subsequently filed the case in court, and the trial has not commenced yet.

The issue of dissolving the role of President and Vice President was submitted to the National Council several years ago, after then-President of the MDP Ibrahim Ismail ‘Ibra’ left the party, however the National Council at the time voted against the decision.


MDP National Council votes resoundingly for change in leadership

The Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) National Council has declared a lack of confidence in the leadership of the party’s President, former Fisheries Minister Dr Ibrahim Didi, and its Vice-President, former Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) MP Alhan Fahmy.

At a meeting this afternoon at Dharubaaruge, 69 of 73 votes cast (almost 95 percent) were in support of the no-confidence motion for both Didi and Fahmy’s leadership. Four members abstained from voting for either motion.

Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, the newly-elected Secretary General of the Party’s Parliamentary Group and International Spokesperson who submitted the motion, said the issue was “political” rather than “personal”.

“This was a solemn occasion and I took no pleasure in it. But it was a good day for the party and a good day for democracy. We have shown that the largest party in this country can act democratically,” said Ghafoor.

The MDP stated that the motion was triggered after both Dr Didi and Fahmy made public statements contradicting the party’s position established following a resolution passed on February 8, recognising that former President Mohamed Nasheed and his cabinet were ousted by illegitimate means through a coup d’état.

The MDP maintained that as the transfer of power was illegal, former President Nasheed and his cabinet should continue to sit in the National Council as senior members of government.

A similar vote had been proposed earlier in the month, with the National Council deciding to conduct further investigations into the supposed manipulation of the party’s constitution on this occasion.

The party member responsible for this earlier motion, Chair of Elections Committee Ibrahim Waheed, said at the time: “The reason for the submission was that some of the party’s leaders have been issuing statements and interviews against the MDP’s Constitution.”

Ghafoor reported that Fahmy had spoken at the meeting, requesting more information on his alleged misdemeanours.

“He claimed the charges were untrue and asked me for a more detailed explanation. I said that we should leave the decision to the membership,” reported Ghafoor.

“I proposed the motion but I did it for the security and protection of the party,” he said.

Dr Didi was not present at the meeting this afternoon. Neither Didi nor Alhan were available for comment, although Alhan posted on Twitter that is was “a bad day for democracy”, shortly after the close of the meeting.

Dr Didi told Minivan News earlier today that the nature of the motion went against established precedents, arguing that the holding on such meetings must first be discussed with the President or Vice-President of the party.

“I will not participate in today’s meeting even though I can as a former cabinet member, because I do not believe that the cabinet is legitimate. The party constitution states that the Party President has to form the party cabinet,” he said.

Ghafoor had cited  article 30, clause (f), of the MDP’s constitution which states that the National Council is able “to debate and assess the confidence of the President of the Party or the Vice President of the Party or the Chairperson or a Deputy Chairperson, if the members of the party submits a complaint disapproving their actions.”

After today’s meeting, Ghafoor claimed that he had received appeals for a change in leadership from all over the country, as well as from within the national council.

The party’s constitution now stipulates that new elections will now be held, Ghafoor said.


MDP National Council appoints ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik as acting chairperson

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has appointed the party’s Parliamentary Group leader MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik as the party’s acting chairperson for a year, replacing Mariya Ahhmed Didi.

Mariya had previously resigned from the role in anticipation of being appointed Parliament’s representative on the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), however she was last week beaten to the post by Jumhoree Party (JP) leader and local business tycoon, Gasim Ibrahim.

The MDP said that 97 out of 99 council members present voted in favor of appointing Moosa as the acting chairperson, during the party’s 91st national council meeting held at Bandos Island Resort.

The council meeting started yesterday and was initially chaired by the party’s newly-elected Deputy Leader and MP Alhan Fahmy, until the decision to appoint Moosa as the acting Chairperson was made.

Following the decision of the national council, Moosa announced his resignation from his position as the leader of the parliamentary group.

The MDP council discussed the payment of a salary for the party’s deputy chairperson, but resolved not to pay any person at an elected post.

Full details of the national council meeting were not provided and no media outlet was invited to attend the meeting.

Deputy Leader of MDP and MP Alhan Fahmy told Minivan News that the national council meeting “concluded successfully”.

‘’All went accordingly to the party’s charter and rules,’’ Alhan said. ‘’There are no internal issues within the party or the leadership regarding any decisions made.’’

Local media have reported that MDP leader, former fisheries minister Dr Ibrahim Didi, was unhappy with the decision made by the national council to appoint Moosa as the acting Chairperson for one year.

Online newspaper Sun Online reported Didi as claiming that the decision violated the party’s charter and regulations and that he would seek legal advice to clarify whether it was possible.

Alhan however said that he has no information about the remarks made by Dr Didi, and MDP Parliamentary Group’s Media Coordinator MP Mohamed Shifaz did not respond to Minivan News.

President Mohamed Nasheed also attended the national council meeting.