Nazim and MDP MP Musthafa arrested for bribery, released by court

The Criminal Court today ordered the release of ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Musthafa and Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim of the opposition People’s Alliance, who were arrested in the early hours of the morning on suspicion of bribing MPs and a civil court judge.

Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed ruled that there were no reasonable grounds to grant an extension of the MPs’ detention based on the evidence presented by police.

“Both of them were arrested last night on charges of bribing a civil court judge. According to the information we have, they offered US$6,000 and a two-way ticket for a trip abroad, and exerted influence on a civil court case,” said the police lawyer in court today.

“If they were released from detention, it could potentially obstruct the investigation of the case and we therefore request [authorisation] to to keep them in police custody.”

Police obtained a recording of a conversation on July 18 that implicated both MPs in the alleged crime.

Dhiggaru MP Nazim, also the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, has been under house arrest after being charged with bribery, attempting to influence independent commissions and plotting to physically harm political opponents.

“It is just the onset of the investigation and there is a wide opportunity for them to destroy evidence if they were released, and we still have more to find out,” the police attorney continued. “We note that this is the third such case against Nazim.”

As the crime was “sinister” in nature, he added, the MPs’ release could “disrupt the peace and harmony of the nation” and pose dangers to the society.

Asked by Nazim’s defence attorney Mohamed Saleem for details of the allegations of bribery in parliament, the lawyer replied that the information could not be disclosed at the current stage of the investigation.

In his turn, Saleem accused police of “abusing” the rights of the MPs.

“Police showed no respect at Nazim’s residence, used force, tore down the door of Nazim’s house and broke using force and weapons and disrupted the peace,” he claimed.

Saleem presented the court CCTV footage of the arrest, which reportedly lasted over half an hour when Nazim refused to cooperate with police.

The judge asked police who granted them “authority to destroy people’s property”, the police lawyer replied that it was “only to reach Nazim”.

Reprimanding the police, Judge Abdullah Mohamed said the arrest warrant did not authorise police to destroy private property.

Police informed local media early on Monday morning that despite the arrest warrant issued after midnight last night, Nazim had refused to either answer his phone or reply to a text message requesting his cooperation.

Saleem said a recent Supreme Court verdict declaring the arrests of MPs Abdulla Yameen and Gasim Ibrahim illegal should be considered as precedent in this case.

Requesting a ruling to hold police in contempt of court for violating the constitution, he added that police were ignoring the Supreme Court verdict.

Media present at the court, including Minivan News, observed that Television Maldives (TVM) was denied access to the court chamber. On Saturday night the station aired damning claims by police officials that the criminal court was regularly obstructing their investigations of “large and serious” crimes, and evidence presented to judges was being leaked to defense lawyers.

Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed that Nazim and Musthafa had been released from custody, and stated that police would continue to investigate the two MPs over the corruption allegations and hoped “to finalise the investigation quickly.”


Addressing the judge, MP Mustafa claimed that police had violated numerous articles of the constitution as well as the chapter of rights and freedoms in his arrest.

The ruling party MP said the government had “sacrificed” him to justify its investigation of MPs to the international community.

“Don’t think that you also won’t be sacrificed one day,” said Mustafa, pointing at police. “I was one of the men who sacrificed their life to bring this government to power, but last night they sent police squads and abused me physically and psychologically.’’

Musthafa spoke vocally against corruption of the judiciary over a loudspeaker during the first gathering of the ongoing ‘People’s Court’ protests by the MDP, held earlier this week.

Parliament today

Both MPs were meanwhile escorted to today’s sitting of parliament, which was cancelled due to the controversial detention of Mulaku MP Abdulla Yameen, who remains under Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) ‘protective custody’.

Raising a point of order shortly after today’s sitting began, Musthafa demanded to know whether Speaker Abdulla Shahid was informed before he was “arrested and taken by a 25, 30-man military force that entered my house in their [military] boots last night at 2.45am.”

“The charges against me are that I conspired to bribe MPs and I am suspected of bribing judges of the court,” he continued. “And it’s also suspected that, asked by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, I tried to bribe the President, Speaker of Parliament and the Chief Justice, these three people. So I want to know: did I talk to the Honourable Speaker to offer you a bribe? Then I want to clarify with the President – did I plan to bribe him? Then I want to question Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, did you ask me to bribe the three powers?”

Shahid answered that the Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh informed him by telephone after midnight of the impending arrests, adding that he requested arrangements to be made to escort the detained MPs to parliament in the morning in accordance with articles 202 through 205 of the Majlis rules of procedure.

Responding to criticism that the Speaker should have instigated an internal investigation in the wake of the corruption allegations, Shahid said the parliament, as an institution where decisions are made politically, should not become involved in a criminal justice matter.

In subsequent outbursts, Musthafa claimed that police had put in solitary confinement and “physically and psychologically” harmed him.

“It is your [Speaker Shahid’s] responsibility to look into this,” he said. “I am under arrest and said to have bribed the three powers of state. It is your responsibility to clarify this. Abdullah Yameen isn’t the only person isn’t this Majlis. We can take solitary confinement, it is you who can’t endure it.”

Responding to Musthafa’s question as to why he was placed in solitary confinement while Yameen was taken to presidential retreat Aarah, Shahid said “it wasn’t the Speaker of Parliament who did that.”

On the detention of MPs, said Shahid, the Speaker was required to submit the case to the parliamentary privileges commitee within 24 hours of the arrest and seek the committee’s counsel.


The President’s Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair would not comment specifically on Musthafa’s case, adding that it was a police matter, but said the government would do “everything in its power to expose corruption” regardless of political alignments.

“The President said following the resignation of cabinet that he was prepared to even investigate members of his own family in his efforts to eliminate corruption,” Zuhair said.

“[Musthafa’s arrest] I believe highlights the government’s intention to investigate parliament and the judiciary regardless of party politics.”

MDP Chairperson Mariya Didi said she was “really surprised” to hear of Musthafa’s arrest, but promised that the party would be indiscriminate when it came to purging corruption.

However Mariya said she was concerned about the executive’s ability to see cases to their conclusion through the current judiciary.

“People have lost faith in the system – it is no longer just about parliament,” she said. “The public are very annoyed at the judges as well – it is not enough for justice to be done, justice must be seen to be done.”

The public’s lack of faith in the court’s ability to rule fairly in cases concerning wealthy, established and powerful individuals had led people to “feel hopeless” about any resolution to the current crisis.

Law and order has to be kept, but the whole place is a mess,” she said. “These are not political opponents [on trial], this is Gayoom’s younger brother (Yameen), and people who were ministers in Gayoom’s regime of 30 years.

“This one and a half years has been quite rough, but we have not arrested our political opponents as many urged us to do. [MDP] lost the parliamentary elections and became unpopular because of that,” she said.

“I don’t know how the international community must see it – they probably see it in terms of the same sorts of laws and practices as they used to in the West. The fact that most of the judges were appointed during and even before Gayoom’s 30 year regim is very difficult for them to understand,” she added.

“It took the Western world a very long time to reach where they are, and it’s unfortunate that they seem to expect us to get there overnight.”


MNDF refuses to present Yameen on court order

The Maldives National Defece Force (MNDF) has today declined to obey a court warrant issued by the Criminal Court to summon People’s Alliance (PA) Leader and MP Abdulla Yameen, who was taken to Aarah island this morning at dawn by the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) reportedly “for his own protection”.

Police were compelled to used force to restrain ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) activists outside Yameen’s house last night. Shortly afterwards, both police and protesters were showered with rocks an other projectiles by people from nearby buildings, injuring many. Police used tear gas while the MNDF deployed an armoured car to contain the incident.

Yameen was taken to the Presidential Retreat ‘Aarah’ to provide assistance and protection to him upon his request, according to the MNDF.

The MP and high-profile businessman was recently summoned for questioning by police concerning charges of bribery and treason. After a series of court hearings regarding the legality of his arrest and detention, along with Jumhoree Party (JP) MP Gasim Ibrahim, the Supreme Court ruled he be released from house arrest.

However the government yesterday indicated that it was unwilling to drop the matter, and was monitoring judges for signs of corruption.

Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair said the MNDF had refused to the court warrant to summon Yamin “because the MNDF does not believe it was a lawful order issued by the court.’’

‘’He requested the MNDF provide security and protection for him,’’ said Zuhair. “He told the MNDF that he wished to leave Male’ and stay on another island.’’

Zuhair said Yameen had attempted to stay on an island in Alifu Atoll but the MNDF took him to Aarah island “because MNDF knows where they can provide him best protection.”

‘’It was the [opposition] who sparked the riot last night,” Zuhair claimed. “At first it was just a peaceful assembly, but some people tried to attack the president. A group of people ran towards him to attack him, but his bodyguards confronted them.’’

Zuhair said MDP supporters gathered outside Yameen’s house following the attack, alleging he was the person behind the attack.

‘’When MDP supported gathered near Yameen’s house, people in the nearby buildings threw pavement blocks down at them. It proves that they were ready for violence,’’ he said.

PA Secretary General Ibrahim Shareef said everyone should follow an order of the court.

‘’We will not accept this,’’ Shareef said. ‘’If everyone uses their power anyway they want, there is no use for laws and regulations.’’

Shareef claimed that the MNDF took Yameen against his will, and not by request.

‘’They took him after the riot was controlled and when everything was over,’’ Shareef claimed.

Major Abdul Raheem said he did not have detailed information regarding the case, and recommended Minivan News contact Attorney General Husnu Suood.

Suood did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.


Opposition rally first step towards changing administration: Thasmeen

The Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Peoples Alliance party (PA), Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) and Jumhoory Party (JP) last night held a joint rally to deliver what they promised yesterday would be “a shocking message” to the government.

DRP leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali told the assembled crowd that this was the first step of the opposition to change the administration.

“The government has recently on different occasions attempted to smear [the name of] independent institutions and commissions of the state,” said Thasmeen. “The government fist attempted to influence and smear the Civil Service Commission (CSC) first, then the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), now parliament and the judiciary as well.”

Thasmeen accused the government of attempting to retain power by “misusing” the armed forces.

“The government has attempted to threaten and hold the media captive,” he alleged, “and has been trying to influence the state media.”

PA leader Abdulla Yameen, who along with JP leader Gasim Ibrahim was recently released from house arrest by the Supreme Court following allegations of corruption and treason against the two high-profile businessmen, said the government had “sold everything the country owns except the national flag located in Jumhoory Maidhaan.”

“Recently we have witnessed the government trying to assassinate opposition leaders and hold the constitution in contempt,” Yameen alleged. “The president has threatened the opposition leaders and people of the country.”

Yamin said the Supreme Court’s ruling “proves the independence and fairness of the judiciary.”

Gasim meanwhile apologized to the people for his work bringing the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to administration.

“Without the sacrifices made by the JP and DQP, this government would not have been able to win the last presidential election. Every Maldivian will understand that,” said Gasim. “I thought President Nasheed would be a sincere man, but it turned out that it was all sour poison.”

Gasim also said that he did not wish to run for the presidency anymore.

“But when the government is trying to sell the assets of the nation, I cannot wait patiently,” he said.

DQP leader Dr Hassan Saeed, who represented Gasim in court, was not present at the rally but Deputy leader of DQP Dr Ahmed Jameel spoke on behalf of the party.

The crowd dispersed peacefully following the rally, making the event rather more more muted than the ‘Red Notice’ protests DRP recently led against rising electricity prices. Police presence was light and the absence of MNDF personnel suggested the government had revised its predictions of clashes following the conclusion of the World Cup.


Police investigate leaked audio clips

The Maldives Police Services has begun investigating the leaked audio clips of suspected telephone call conversations believed to be the voices of Independent MP Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed, People’s Alliance party (PA) leader and MP Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom and Jumhoory Party (JP) leader and MP Gasim ‘Buruma’ Ibrahim, confirmed Press Secretary for the President, Mohamed Zuhair.

On July 4, three recordings of discussions between MPs referring to other MPs and officials, including a plan to cease work on the tax bill in the parliament, appeared on the internet and scandalised the Maldivian media.

Zuhair said he met with police officers this morning and that police informed him the investigation was progressing.

“The audio clips also raise issues of threats against the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC),” Zuhair added.

A corruption case presented to parliament against former Auditor General Ibrahim Naeem was instrumental in ousting the AG in vote of no-confidence, days after he publicly demanded a financial audit of all current and former ministers.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said that police received the audio clips through the media and that they would be analysed and investigated.

“Police do not record the telephone conversations of people,” he claimed, but declined to provide further information.

Aishath Azima Shukoor, former Attorney General and a member of the legal team defending the detained MPs, noted that article 24 of the constitution promised “respect to personal communications” and that recording a personal telephone call was “unlawful according to the constitution, and that any evidence collected unlawfully cannot be presented to court as an evidence.”

“The audio clips would be inadmissible,” said Shukoor. “I do not believe that media can broadcast the audio clips either.”

Groups of pro-government demonstrators have been playing the clips through loudspeakers outside the court proceedings.

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Ahmed Nihan recently told Minivan News that there was an MNDF officer who’s duty was to operate a telephone call recording machine.

“He records our telephone calls and handles it to (former) Defence minister Ameen Faisal,” said Nihan.

Dr Hassan Saeed, who is also a former Attorney General and member of the opposition leaders legal team, said he was busy and unable to comment to Minivan News at time of press.


Leaked voice clips may be ‘conversations between friends helping each other’: Yameen

Three recordings of discussions between Majlis members referring to other members and officials, including a plan to cease work on the Tax bills in the Majlis, have appeared on the Internet.

The People’s Alliances party (PA) leader Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom told Minivan news this afternoon that a voice in the sound clips might be his, but the conversations were ”not to borrow money to bribe MPs… [rather] As friends, we might help each other,” he said.

Yameen said the discussions ”would be a recording of a telephone call”, and were potentially taped by either the Police or by the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF). ”We have sent a letter to the telecommunications authority to clarify whether they gave permission to record any of their telephone calls,” he said. ”It is unlawful to record private phone calls.”

However, the Police denied Yameen’s claims. ”The Police will never record anyone’s phone calls,” said sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam. The police had no connection with the leaked voice recordings, he said.

The People’s Alliance party secretary-general Ibrahim Shareef said that he could not say whether the voice in the clips was Yameen’s. ”Personal calls should not be recorded,” Shareef said. ”We do not have anything to say regarding this. Yameen himself will be the best person to ask. This is a personal issue.”

Jumhooree party leader MP Gasim Ibrahim did not respond to Minivan News’ calls at the time of publication.

The second recording below is between the South Kulhudufushi MP Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed and MP Gasim Ibrahim, according to ‘Kutti’ Nasheed’s personal blog. Nasheed says that the request for cash from Gasim was made months ago. In his blog, Nasheed denies that the cash had anything to do with voting in the Majlis.

Recording:1 Transcript below | Audio in Dhivehi – mp3 file

Voice1: We have the original now.

Voice2: So if we put this through the ACC [Anti-Corruption Commission] tomorrow morning, how soon will the ACC release a statement?

Voice1: It should be released tomorrow. They are coming tonight. Two ACC commissioners are in Malaysia. The President [of ACC] is here. Our friend Hoara Waheed is there. I have directly given all warnings through him… in prelude to this… that this is a must. I have also passed the number to Gasim. Seems Gasim will maintain connection.

Voice2: Have we been able to get anything from Gasim yet?

Voice1: He said Rose matter is sealed. He worked very hard. He took Rose to Paradise yesterday evening at 6. And he came to that meeting at around 9.30 -10 and said “final”. That it’s done.

Voice2: So that means?

Voice1: It’s the one million matter. Isn’t it?

Voice2: Yeah.

Voice1: He tried a funny story with me. After Friday prayers yesterday, I went to Gasim’s house…

Voice2: So Rose is joining Jumhooree Party now?

Voice1: No it’s not that… It is just for these matters…

Voice2: In that case, Nazim, why don’t we take Rose, with this million?

Voice1: Yeah. Rose knows now. And I have asked Maniku to complete the deal. With one million given there is still two million… So what happens now is… I mentioned everything that there was doubt about. I wasn’t able to talk to Gasim later. He has said everything will be Ok…100% and not to worry.

Voice2: What are you telling Maniku?

Voice1: I went to Maniku… Gasim is going to see Hassan Saeed at 2.30.

Recording:2 Transcript below | Audio in Dhivehi –mp3 file

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: And again, it is three months since I have been trying to get myself out of that.

MP Gasim Ibrahim: Finishing it now.

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: Are you still in the office, … mean … in the Majlis?

MP Gasim Ibrahim: I came at six o’clock and since then, now finishing and leaving now. Continuing tomorrow.

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: Yeah, OK.

MP Gasim Ibrahim: What happened?

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: I contacted, this is just… how is your situation in relation to flow?

MP Gasim Ibrahim: Why?

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: I need some cash.

MP Gasim Ibrahim: Yeah, ok… How much?

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: I need it very much.

MP Gasim Ibrahim: Have you got someone to come over here?

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: Here, at this time, there’s no one.

MP Gasim Ibrahim: Yeah it is…

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: Yes, tomorrow morning will be fine. It’s not a problem.

MP Gasim Ibrahim: People will see it there, will be watched, won’t it?

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: OK, I will try and arrange someone from there to go to Villa, is that ok?

Recording:3 Transcript below | Audio in Dhivehi – mp3 file file

Voice2: Yes, what is it?

Voice1 (?): Dilute, Thasmeen is working to dilute… Nasheed, could you please tell that story.

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: Yes, I was contacted just then…. You have seen the first draft, haven’t you?

Voice2: I haven’t seen it yet, not yet.

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: OK, the first draft states specific actions that will be taken. I will, for your convenience, read it for you right now, those bits.

Voice2: OK read.

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: It was agreed that to prevent the government from doing what it is trying to do, to take a number of steps all at once.

These steps include meeting with those who submitted the [airport] bids, and clearly explaining to them the common Maldivian view on this, and the view of the political parties.

The Financial Act Amendments Bill, which is in the finishing stages, is to be pushed fast through the Majlis.

Submit a no-confidence motion to the Majlis for a decision regarding the Minister for Finance Ali Hashim and the Minister for Civil Aviation Mahmood Razee who is responsible for the privatisation.

And until all these things are done, to cease all work on the tax bills submitted by the government to the Majlis.


Criminal court order not unlawful, rules High Court

The Maldivian High Court has ruled that the criminal court order for People’s Alliance party leader and MP Yameen Abdul Gayyoom and Jumhoory Party leader and MP Gasim ‘Buruma’ Ibrahim to be brought before the court within one hour, was not unlawful.

The ruling was given in response to an appeal by the police against the criminal court order.

”Maldives Police Services understand that the criminal court order was contrary to the law,” said the prosecution lawyer Dheebanaz Fahmy yesterday.

The legislation states that police can keep a person in custody without a court appearance for 24 hours. The two MPs were arrested around 6.30 p.m. and around 9.30 p.m. Yameen’s lawyer Azima Shukoor requested the criminal court to determine on what grounds Yamin was arrested.

The order was issued around 12.15 a.m. that same night, less than six hours after the arrest. The police claimed the court order was unlawful and against judicial procedure.

Last night the criminal court ruled both MPs were to be placed under house arrest for three days while the investigation continues, and that they would be free to attend parliamentary sittings and committee meetings. The police also appealed to the High Court against this ruling.

DRP deputy leader and MP Ali Waheed meanwhile condemned the actions of the police for arresting the two MPs. “The government is trying to gain a majority in the Majlis by force,” said Ali Waheed. ”That’s why they are threatening the opposition MPs.”

Waheed claimed that the police were influenced by the government. ”I have been repeatedly trying to contact Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh to hold a meeting to discuss this issue,” Waheed said. ”He has not responded.”

Waheed also said that the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) was active in Male’ although there was no civil unrest.

“The government is trying to declare a state of emergency,” he said. ”Then the executive will gain a lot of powers.”

He claimed that the former minister of defence Ameen Faisal (who resigned two days ago along with the entire cabinet) was attending MNDF headquarters. Waheed said this was a threat to national security.

”After he resigned, he had no authority to enter MNDF headquarters,” Waheed said. ”He is a person who also had some connection with November 3rd attack.”

The judicial system of the Maldives is not impartial, says the secretary-general of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Ibrahim Shareef.

He said that the MDP might include that issue in their ongoing protests against opposition party actions in the Majlis which the MDP claims are an attempt to undermine the constitutional powers of the executive branch of government.


DRP proposes amendments to Religious Unity Act

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Dr Afrasheem Ali has proposed amendments to the religious unity act.

Presenting the bill, Dr Afrasheem said that social unity among Maldivians was weaker than it had been in the past.

”One reason for this [disruption] is issues of  religion, particularly disputes over worship and (scholars) criticising each other,” Dr Afrasheem.

He proposed that the Shafi sect be enshrined as the basis of Islam in the Maldives.

”I selected the Shafi sect because it is the sect most friendly, most accepted and most widely followed sect in Islam,” he said.

People’s Alliance (PA) Party MP Abdul Azeez Jamal Abubakuru said that the bill was necessary for the country.

”The Maldives used to be a country which was an example of social unity, but now we see cracks in that fort,” said Jamal.

Independent MP Ibrahim Muthalib also supported the bill.

”This is a very important bill,” said Muthalib, recommending several amendments to article 2(d) and article 2(e), after observing that the bill could potentially narrow the opportunity for foreign scholars to preach in the Maldives.

DRP MP Ahmed Mahloof also supported the bill.

”I recall during the last presidential elections, the Adhaalath party – which claimed to be promoting and protecting religion – tried to make (people believe) that former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was a Christian,” said Mahloof. ”This is the situation of our country today.”

He said that it was very important to resolve disputes among people.

Chairperson of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and MP Mariya Didi thanked Dr Afrasheem for presenting the bill to amend the Religious Unity Act, observing that “our forefathers have protected the religion for 800 years.”

In May the Islamic Ministry announced that it had completed the new religious unity act, and has sent it to the government’s gazette for publication.

However when the new regulations were completed many organisations expressed concern over the regulations and it was held by the president’s office for amendments.


PA dismisses “impossible” pact with MDP

A coalition agreement between the government and the opposition People’s Alliance party is “impossible”, Secretary General of Peoples Alliances Adam Ahmed Shareef has said.

”Our stand is very clear,” Shareef said. ”We work in the opposition and we do not support the current government’s policy and the way they are treating people. In the current situation it’s impossible to join with them.”

He added that the current administration was unable to “cope with” the other parties in the Maldivian Democratic Party-led (MDP) coalition.

Shareef dismissed rumours that the party was in talks with the government.

”I do not think Yameen [PA leader] would shift to a position where the president can dismiss him anytime,” he said. “People are spreading rumors just to gain political support and to harm PA.”

Saareef also denied rumours of a rift between PA and its coalition partner, the main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).

”What PA MP Ahmed Nazim said was that PA MPs should not have to follow the DRP whip line in parliament without prior consultation,” he said. “In such cases, hereafter PA MPs would vote according to their own views in a manner they think would be beneficial for the people,”

MDP Spokesman Ahmed Haleem told Minivan News earlier this week that the party had begun talks with PA to seek support in the confirmation process for a new economic minister.

“DRP are always against us and they have control of a lot of the media,” Haleem said. “But [PA leader] Abdulla Yameen has some commitment to the people – he was trade minister in 1998, he is an economist and he is well educated. I think he is OK.”

The Maldivian economy was sorely troubled “and a lot of people are suffering very badly and are very poor,” Haleem said. “[MDP and PA] have the same goal, we want to stabilise the economy and we are looking for support. Yameen’s seven members could support the parliamentary approval of a new minister.”


MDP MP Musthafa assures “I will never leave my party”

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP for Thimarafushi in Thaa Atoll, Mohamed Mustafa, has spoken against one of the amendments to the Tourism Act in Parliament this week, amendments proposed by his party.

Today he offered assurances that he “would still vote with MDP on the issue.”

Mustafa said he is mainly opposed to the extension of leases for resorts, which will lease islands to resort operators for a minimum of 50 years. This was proposed  to make the Maldives a “more investor-friendly environment,” according to former Minister of Tourism Abdulla Mausoom, who spoke to Minivan News yesterday.

Mustafa believes reducing costs for the investor means “one man is getting rich, while the poor are getting poorer.”

“We don’t need to extend a lease to 50 years,” he said, “rather, the government can implement the Taxation Bill.”

He said he does not see how the amendment is beneficial to the people of the Maldives: “Why are we giving the benefits to rich people and not the general public?”

Although he expressed his concerns over the proposed amendments, he said he wanted to “confirm to Minivan News that I will not vote against my party. It’s one of the best parties.”

“I have my own opinion,” he said, but he still believes “the MDP are [working] for the benefit of Maldivians.”

Mustafa also spoke about his “intimidation” by certain MDP members, but said it was not a recent issue and had nothing to do with the Tourism Act.

He said his comments concerning intimidation by his party were “regarding a previous case that went to criminal court” a year and a half ago over a payment issue.

Mustafa said he was acting as a mediator for a payment that needed to be made to someone, whom he claims is “a known money launderer and strong supporter of the DRP”, and this person tried to cash in the same cheque twice.

“He had no right to take the payment the second time,” he said.

Mustafa claimed the case was then taken to court and he was not informed about it. He said “some senior MDP members were behind the case, but they are not MPs.”

He said his comments were taken out of context by the media, “which is putting their own style into things they don’t know. They are poisoning the minds of the public.”

Concerning the recent rumours that he was planning on leaving the MDP and moving to the People’s Alliance (PA), he said “I will never move to the PA, that is totally false.”

“I have nothing against my party, we are on very good terms,” Mustafa noted, adding that “MDP is a democratic party. It’s the most democratic party in the Maldives, and we are working to perform our pledges.”

“We work very well, cooperate, do our best for our party,” he said, “we are very strong, we walk as one. I will never leave my party, I would rather resign [politics],” he added.