Elections Commission to publicise presidential election mandate for police

The Maldives Elections Commission (EC) is drafting a document to articulate what Maldives Police Service (MPS)’s mandate will be during the September 7 presidential elections.

“We are in the process of drawing up a small document that will outline what the police will and will not do during elections, which we will make public,” EC Vice President Ahmed Fayaz told Minivan News today (August 14).

He expects the document to be completed before the end of next week.

Fayaz explained that while the EC has requested the MPS play a supporting role to help ensure peaceful, free and fair elections take place, police officers cannot intervene without a specific EC request.

“Police can intervene only at the request of the Elections Commission staff,” said Fayaz.

“The police are playing a support role and support will be requested [by EC officials] in case anything happens that would prevent a smooth election,” he continued.

“Police must maintain a 100 foot radius distance from ballot boxes,” he added.

Fayaz explained that regarding elections, the MPS mandate is limited to enforcing law and order and monitoring the situation on each island.

“We have requested police provide assistance on every single island that will have ballot boxes,” Fayaz said.

Police teams consisting of a “very small number of people” will be deployed to each island where voting is taking place, according to Fayaz.

“The assumption is that police will not be confined to their office headquarters the day of presidential election,” Fayaz noted. “They will be present on each island [where voting is occurring] and free to move around the island that day.”

In July, the EC President Fuwad Thowfeek outlined some of the key regulations related to concerns regarding police interference with elections while speaking with Minivan News.

“Police cannot stand within a 100 foot radius of the ballot box,” Thowfeek confirmed.

“Police can enter the area only if the Head of Polling Station requests their assistance to control any criminal activity that goes beyond his control,” he continued.

“The role of the police will be to assist the Elections Commission in keeping peace and public safety,” he added.

If voting is halted, not solely a police failure: Police Commissioner

Meanwhile, in an interview given to local media outlet DhiTV Monday (August 12) Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz emphasised that the police are working to maintain peace and stability and that if the September 7 presidential election is halted it would not be solely a police failure.

“Though the Maldives Police Service was, is and will be preparing to maintain peace and stability during the election days, the public should also do their part to maintain order,” said Riyaz.

“If for whatever reason, the voting process comes to a halt, it should not be seen as a failure solely on the Maldives Police Service’s part,” he continued.

“The aim of the police is to prevent conflict before, during and after the elections on an operational level,” he added.

Riyaz noted the importance of all relevant authorities and political leaders work together to ensure peaceful presidential elections and that the MPS would provide the support requested of them by the EC.

“I believe that political figures, political parties and relevant institutions must work together to ensure that the election ends peacefully,” said Riyaz.

Riyaz also noted that a National Coordination Committee has been established with representatives from different political parties and relevant institutions so the committee can address any election issues that may arise “using diplomacy rather than out on the streets.”

In regard to Commissioner Riyaz’s DhiTV interview, Minivan News contacted Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef today to clarify specifically how the MPS will assist the EC on September 7, how law and order will be maintained, and how near to ballot boxes police teams will be stationed.

While Haneef had not responded to these enquiries at time of press, he noted that “The police are releasing all information regarding their role during elections through public mediums,” such as on the MPS website.

Furthermore, Haneef said the police have already “revealed the story of Riyaz” in regard to his DhiTV interview.

The MPS website states that the “Peaceful Conduct of the Presidential Election 2013” is an operational priority.

“Following the change of government in February 2012, the society is highly polarised and fragmented on political affiliations. Therefore, it is imperative for meticulously plan and prepare for the Presidential Election 2013,” as noted on the website.

The objective of this operational priority is to “Create an environment conducive for the conduction of Presidential Election 2013 and effectively manage any possible post-election conflicts,” states the website.


No police within 100 feet of ballot boxes, confirms elections commissioner

Additional reporting by Mohamed Naahii and Ahmed Naish

With two months remaining before the Maldives’ second multi-party presidential elections, former President Mohamed Nasheed, the current Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate, has alleged that police are plotting to ruin the polls under instruction from Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz.

Nasheed, who won the Maldives’ first democratic election in 2008, made the allegations during an MDP rally held in the Galolhu ward of Male’ on Sunday night (June 29).

Attempts to influence the polls by the Maldives Police Service (MPS) were one among “a few concerns”, said Nasheed.

During a press conference held today (July 1), Nasheed emphasised his concerns about police influencing September’s presidential election results.

“We are revealing these possible issues only with the hope that the elections commission would take adequate measures to resolve them. The [Elections] Commissioner should only allow police and military officers [in polling places] after discussing with the candidates’ agents and receiving their consent,” Nasheed stated.

“Police should not be able to enter the polling station without an informed decision made unanimously with the elections commission members and agents of the candidates present at the polling station,” he continued.

“MDP members will not allow police or military to go inside polling stations unlawfully,” he added.

Speaking at the rally entitled “People of Galolhu with President Nasheed” on Sunday, the former president stressed that he was strongly convinced that no one could tamper with the election results, and said to ensure elections are free and fair MDP will have more than 1,900 of its own observers at the polling stations.

“According to information I am getting, Abdulla Riyaz is instructing police officers to barge into polling stations upon his signal, after two individuals enter and create a scene. The remedy to this is that we will ensure no police officer can enter the polling station unless approved by the elections commission,” Nasheed declared.

“This is how it is practiced in other places around the world. Police cannot just enter polling stations. Only the voter and elections officials are allowed. That is why, even a Special Operations (SO) police officer cannot go into a voting station on a whim,” said Nasheed.

The second method by which the police will attempt to ruin the elections is intervening during the vote counting process, after claiming that difficulties are being experienced, such as the election being “rigged”, Nasheed alleged.

The former President  reiterated he was confident he would win the election from the first round, predicting that his party would secure 56-57 percent of the popular vote.

“Based on the figures received during the party’s door to door campaign, we are currently able to secure 56 to 57 percent of the voters. From Galolhu, figures indicate MDP getting 73 percent of the vote. We are getting full support from other wards of Male’ as well,” he said.

The Elections Commission outlined some of the key regulations related to concerns regarding police interference with elections.

“Police cannot stand within a 100 foot radius of the ballot box,” Elections Commission President Fuad Thaufeeq confirmed to Minivan News today.

“Police can enter the area only if the Head of Polling Station requests their assistance to control any criminal activity that goes beyond his control,” he continued.

“The role of the police will be to assist the Elections Commission in keeping peace and public safety,” he added.

SO begin MDP arrests on Thinadhoo

Meanwhile, SO police officers have arrested MDP supporters on Thinadhoo Island in Gaafu Dhaal Atoll for allegedly “creating unrest” during President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik’s visit to the island earlier in June, according to social media reports and photographs.

“They started arresting MDP supporters today, at least three people so far,” a source from Thinadhoo told Minivan News today on condition of anonymity.

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) decided to station officers of the Special Operations (SO) command on Thinadhoo last week. According to local media, the SO officers will work with the Thinadhoo police station to establish “peace and security”.

The Maldives Police Service had not responded to Minivan News enquiries at time of press.

Police reserve force

President Waheed inaugurated the police special constabulary reserve force at a ceremony today.

The MPS announced plans for recruitment of officers for the special constabulary in May this year, with the new officers to be paid 85 percent of the salary of a regular police officer of the same rank.

At the function, 43 recruits from the first batch were presented documents of employment by President Waheed, after which they were sworn-in as police officers at an oath-taking ceremony.

The oath was administered by Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed. According to police media, the judge advised the news officers on the importance of respecting oaths.

On June 23, police made an announcement seeking 75 “civil assistants” as non-uniformed personnel for administrative work.

Correction: The previous version of this article said Maldives Police Service officers cannot stand within a 100 metre radius ballot boxes, however it should have read 100 foot radius. Minivan News regrets the error.


Eleven suspects detained over Male’ store attack as police continue gang hunt

Police have said 11 suspects have been taken into custody for alleged involvement in a stabbing attack at the ‘Home X’ store in the capital on May 19 that hospitalised one male victim – with authorities pledging to continue a crack down on gang activity.

In a statement released today, police claimed that the 11 individuals, all male suspects between 17 and 27 years of age, were detained on the 9th floor of the Aroodhaage building in Male’ as part of investigations into the store assault.

“Out of the 11 individuals brought in, there were two 19 year old males, one 27 year old male, one 20 year old male, one 21 year old male, four 18 year old males and two 17 year old males,” police stated following the operation.

Local media reported at the time that the victim of the attack had fled into an electronics store in Male’ in order to shelter from a group that proceeded to assault him using a “sharp object”.

The store attack was among a series of stabbings reported across the capital this month –  prompting police to form a special task force designed to try and combat gang violence.

The now-active task force consists of members from the Forensics Directorate, Intelligence and Covert Policing Command, Information and Communication Directorate, Central Operations Command and Technical Police from the Divisional Operations Command of the Maldives Police Service.

“Criminal at large”

Speaking to local media today, Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz said members of the taskforce were now searching for 50 “high-profile” suspects alleged to have had involvement with gang-related activities

“They are a threat to the society. We consider everyone, who had not been punished for a crime they had committed, as a criminal at large,” he was quoted by local newspaper Haveeru as saying.

Riyaz was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press regarding how the 50 suspects had been identified or if they belonged to specific groups.  The police media department was also not responding to calls at time of press.

Riya’s comments were made less than a week after he alleged politicians were most often responsible for encouraging gang-related activities in the capital island Male’.

The claims echoed the findings of a report into the country’s gang culture published last year by the Asia Foundation that found politicians and businessmen paid gangs to assault rivals, damage property, and in some cases have opponents killed.

Clear approach

Speaking to Minivan News earlier this month, former head of police intelligence Chief Superintendent Mohamed ‘MC’ Hameed claimed the stabbing incidents were “probably” retaliatory and inter-related based on media reports at the time.

Hameed also raised accused the country’s police service of presently lacking a clear approach in terms of reducing and dealing with violence crimes and criminals.

“Not being able to police Male’ – the most populated city in the country – due to the lack of an effective strategy and the disconnect between the key areas of criminal investigations, intelligence gathering, and front line policing is a big issue,” he added.

In addition to the lack of a “very effective policing approach” to combat violent crime, low level crimes had also not been addressed, according to Hameed.

“A lot of antisocial behavior goes unnoticed and unaddressed by the police, such as harassment and public nuisance. For example, girls of a very young age are harassed, even while walking with their families. Additionally, juveniles are seen under the influence of drugs and intoxicated in public,” he explained.

Hameed advocated that a strong, more integrated, holistic approach is needed that applies a broader strategy to effectively reduce crime.

“Increasing police officers physical presence, as well as effective targeting of high profile offenders and hotspots needs to be addressed,” he said.

“Collaboration between criminal investigations, intelligence gathering, and front line policing are three areas that have never worked that effectively,” he added at the time.


Police form gang task force, arrest three men for involvement in stabbing

Three men have been arrested for their alleged involvement in last Friday’s stabbing incident – the first in a succession of violent crimes in Male’ over several days –  prompting police to form a special task force for combating gang violence.

Police arrested Mohamed Kinaanath Ahmed, 28 years-old, of Lobby house in Male’s Henveiru neighborhood, Ahmed Shirhan Shameem, 21 years-old, from Kolhufushi Island in Meemu Atoll, and Assad Ibrahim Rasheed, 18, of Male’ Dhaftharu 7644, on “suspicion of stabbing Mohamed Shaifan” on Friday (May 17).

Kinaanath was previously released from jail under the ‘second chance’ program and is the older brother of Hussain Humaam. Humaam is currently being tried in the Criminal Court for his alleged connection to the murder of Ungoofaaru Constituency MP Dr Afrasheem Ali.

Shaifan was the first victim in a series of four stabbing incidents that occurred in Male’ over a 48 hour period, resulting in a total of five people injured as police continue to search for suspects.

The three suspects to have been arrested, as well as the five stabbing victims, all have police records “tying them” to theft, assault, and narcotics cases, a police spokesperson told Minivan News today (May 21).

Police have identified several additional suspects linked to the series of stabbings and are currently searching for the individuals, the official added.

“Gangs will be stopped”

Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz told local media that gang reprisals are believed to be behind the recent series of stabbing attacks.

“Gangs will be stopped. We will do whatever it takes to bring the gangs to justice. The police will not back down in their efforts,” said Commissioner Riyaz.

The Police Services announced Monday (May 20) that a special task force has been created, under the Specialist Crime Command, to combat gang activity in the Maldives.

“The task force will address various activities, criminal or otherwise, carried out by groups of individuals who identify themselves as gangs. Additionally, it aims to take every action possible to curb gang activity to an extent that ensures safety and peace in the community.”

To fulfill its mandate, the special task force will monitor gang activity, investigate any unlawful actions carried out therein, attempt to hasten prosecution on such matters.

The now-active task force consists of members from the Forensics Directorate, Intelligence and Covert Policing Command, Information and Communication Directorate, Central Operations Command and Technical Police from the Divisional Operations Command of the Maldives Police Service.

“We have made great strides into the investigation of the recent violence. But we need a lot of assistance from the public to catch these perpetrators. So it is our sincere request for people to come forward with photographs or videos of the crimes,” Commissioner Riyaz added.

Dynamic local gangs

“The recent series of stabbings are quite worrying because there has been an absence of violent crime like this for some time,” former head of police intelligence Chief Superintendent Mohamed ‘MC’ Hameed told Minivan News today.

“Now that we’ve seen five stabbing victims of violent crime, we might see one or two more incidents,” said Hameed.

“There are many locally known crime gangs of varying size and capacity. The way local crime gangs operate is quite dynamic,” he continued. “They individually carry out crimes in accordance with ‘others’ orders, instructions, and payments.”

“Gang rivalries have existed for a long time, it’s an everyday thing. The fact that these recent stabbings occurred during the daytime is not new [practice],” he added.

Hameed explained that previously, the police would know that a particular stabbing was carried out by a certain group, even if evidence was lacking, and the persons involved would be identified between 24 to 72 hours after an incident occurred.

Regarding the recent stabbings, Hameed said the incidents are probably retaliatory and inter-related based on what local media has reported. He also alleged that the three men that have been arrested are part of a gang based in Male’.

“I don’t understand the link between these three and Shaifan, but it’s quite possible,” he said.

“No effective policing approach”

“It’s also very worrying thing that policing, in Male’ especially, is not sustained well. There is not a clear approach to reduce and deal with violent crimes and criminals,” stated Hameed.

“Not being able to police Male’ – the most populated city in the country – due to the lack of an effective strategy and the disconnect between the key areas of criminal investigations, intelligence gathering, and front line policing is a big issue,” he added.

In addition to the lack of a “very effective policing approach” to combat violent crime, low level crimes have not been addressed, according to Hameed.

“A lot of antisocial behavior goes unnoticed and unaddressed by the police, such as harassment and public nuisance. For example, girls of a very young age are harassed, even while walking with their families. Additionally, juveniles are seen under the influence of drugs and intoxicated in public,” he explained.

Hameed advocated that a strong, more integrated, holistic approach is needed that applies a broader strategy to effectively reduce crime.

“Increasing police officers physical presence, as well as effective targeting of high profile offenders and hotspots needs to be addressed,” Hameed said.

“Collaboration between criminal investigations, intelligence gathering, and front line policing are three areas that have never worked that effectively,” he added.

These departments lack a common understanding of one another as well as streamlined “organisational engineering”, and are reluctant to collaborate, according to Hameed.

“To be more effective, key personnel from these departments must come together regularly, at the start of duty shifts, once daily, and weekly, to target, prioritise, and discuss arrangements to ensure a safe environment [for the public],” he suggested.

During former Police Commissioner Ahmed Faseeh’s time a gang task force was established, while former Police Deputy Commissioner Mohamed Rishwan developed a severe and organised crime strategy to proactively combat these issues, Hameed explained.

“We had a dedicated team, work space, facilities, and arrangements focused on gang criminals to reduce and prevent such violent crimes,” said Hameed.

“It was a more proactive approach, and we saw some success, but was not sustained [by the current government],” he continued.

“There are approximately 16 locations we identified as high risk hotspots [for gang activity] but those areas might have increased in the last year. If police regularly attend these locations, we might not see violent crimes,” he added.

While Hameed believes targeting high profile criminals is an effective strategy, he “can understand the police cannot always focus on these offenders given the current government situation involving protesters and the police getting called for ‘public order policing’,” he said.

“With the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming elections, police need to stick to their basic mission of keeping the peace. They need a very clear mandate, because it is also their duty to make sure violent crimes don’t affect the election environment making it unsafe to be out on the streets,” Hameed emphasised.

“After this government’s formation in 2012, the President’s Office came up with a crime prevention committee, which included all law enforcement [agencies] and [relevant] ministries, however we have yet to see results,” claims Hameed.

Four attacks and five victims in 48 hours

Shaifan was stabbed near Star Cinema in Male’s Maafanu neighbourhood, which was reported to police around 6:30pm Friday (May 17).

Police have confirmed that the attackers arrived on motorcycles and attacked Shaifan “in the company of others”. The 20 year-old victim suffered “deep injuries” about three inches wide and two inches deep in two locations on his back, near his lungs and backbone, according to police. Shifan underwent surgery and is still receiving medical treatment at an unspecified hospital, according to police.

The Criminal Court recently acquitted Shaifan, and five other suspects, for the stabbing murder of Ali Shifan that occurred on April 1, 2012, outside the Westpark restaurant on Boduthakurufaanu Magu, the outer ring road of Male’. The court acknowledged that Ali Shifan’s DNA was found under Shaifan’s fingernail, and accepted that this was “strong forensic evidence”, however ruled that there was not enough evidence to convict.

The second attack, which also took place Friday, occurred near Machangolhi Cemetery in Male’s Machangolhi neighbourhood and was reported to police around 7:00pm. The victim, Hussain Ziyad, 19 years-old, from Hithadhoo Island in Seenu Atoll, suffered two stab wounds to the shoulder and one in the back, but has since been released from the hospital.

Police have revealed that their investigation has indicated the attack was premeditated.

On Saturday (May 18), two young men, 18 year-old Naseeb Saeed from Feydhoo Island in Seenu Atoll and 21 year-old Mohamed Azhan Ismail from Male’s Maafanu neighborhood, were stabbed near Azmi-Naeem Medical & Diagnostic Centre (AMDC) in Maafanu at approximately 3:30pm, a police media official told Minivan News at the time.

A group of people on motorcycles attacked the pair with a “sharp object”, stabbing Saeed five times causing injuries to his abdomen, shoulder near his chest, and back, while Ismail suffered two “deep lacerations” to the back.

Both victims remain in serious condition at Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH), Deputy Head Chief Superintendent of Police Mohammed Riyaz of the Specialist Crime Command told local media Riyaz. No arrests have been made at this time, however police have identified two suspects during the course of their investigation.

The fourth stabbing incident occurred Sunday (May 19) in Male’s Maafanu neighborhood at approximately 6:20pm.

The victim, 19 year-old Usman Shareef from Male’s Maafanu neighborhood, fled into an electronics store, where he tried to shelter from his attackers. However, an eyewitness told local media that although the victim ran into the shop and hid behind the counter, the group followed him into the shop, stabbed him in two places, and then fled the scene.

The victim was taken to ADK Hospital via motorcycle by the store’s employees. He is currently being treated for neck and arm injuries.

Riyaz stated that police have found evidence linking some suspected individuals to the case and are investigating further.


MDP willing to discuss interim government with PPM: Nasheed

Former President Mohamed Nasheed announced the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) willingness to discuss enacting an interim government with the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), which the party believes is essential for free and fair elections to occur.

The MDP has desired the establishment of an interim government since the controversial transfer of power of February 7, 2012 and is open to holding discussions with the PPM to establish a transitional government prior to September’s Presidential elections, Nasheed stated during a press conference held at the Mookai Hotel in Male’ today (May 16).

“If PPM wants to bring in an interim government, we are ready to hold discussions. MDP wants an interim government. We at MDP have always wanted an interim government. But we need support from other parties to do that in parliament. If PPM is so inclined, we are ready to hold discussions with PPM to achieve this,” Nasheed said.

“For free and fair elections [to take place], we are encouraged that PPM has pledged to stop Waheed from campaigning on state funds,” he added.

The MDP is continuing its call for the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) recommendations to be implemented, with the supervision of the international community. Nasheed stated he was disappointed CoNI recommendations have yet to be enacted – especially regarding holding to account those who mutinied against the government and committed various brutal acts, including destroying the MDP’s headquarters.

Nasheed said that the MDP did not believe free and fair elections were possible with Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz and Defence Minister Colonel (Rtd) Mohamed Nazim in their current positions, and has asked they be “transferred” from their current posts.

He distinguished between ‘rank and file’ Police Service and Maldives National Defence Force (MDNF) and their leadership. Nasheed said action should be taken against the highest ranking officers for their role on February 7.

MDP Spokesperson Mohamed Zuhair told Minivan News today that local media reports of Nasheed calling for Riyaz and Nazim to be “forcibly removed” are inaccurate, however the former President has called for their removal and transfer “as far away from their current positions as possible”.

“They are already enacting measures of intimidation under the guise of ‘coordination’ by requesting political parties give the name of a person to work with the police. The Elections Commission should be enacting such a policy, not the police. It’s very strange and highly suspicious,” said Zuhair.

Should PPM be of the same view that an interim government is necessary for credible elections to be held, MDP would work through the parliament to discuss with PPM, Zuhair explained.

“PPM’s President and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has said their party would ‘go it alone’ and not form a coalition, because that would not allow policies to be implemented effectively. Then the natural next step [for the PPM] would be to gain parliamentary support from the only player able to give support, MDP,” said Zuhair.

PPM Spokesperson and MP Ahmed Nihan today rejected the likelihood of the government-aligned party working with the opposition MDP to remove President Waheed from office ahead of elections in September.

“I do not believe this is a possibility. If it was possible, we would have done this already I believe,” he said.

Nihan claimed that the PPM’s main concern at present was for free and fair elections to take place. However, he added that with the Commonwealth-backed CoNI concluding that President Waheed’s coalition government – which includes the PPM – had come to power legitimately, it would not back the MDP’s calls for the present administration to be removed.

Nihan added that, while continuing to support the present coalition government, many PPM supporters believed that the party presently represented one of only two political ideologies in the country. These philosophies he said were those of PPM founder former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and former President Nasheed and the MDP.

Nihan claimed that the majority of the country’s smaller parties, including those choosing to side with President Waheed in a pre-election coalition, were all rooted to former President Gayoom and his “political wisdom”.

“Strange bedfellows”

Nasheed also addressed the recent addition of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) to the President Mohamed Hassan Manik’s coalition – which includes his Gaumee Ittihad Party (GIP) and the Adhaalath Party (AP) – and it’s incompatibility with a democratic presidential system of governance.

Nasheed expressed his happiness about Gayoom’s statement that coalitions do not work because they are not in line with a presidential governing system and are instead more reflective of a parliamentary system.

“I am very happy that President Gayoom – [who is] no doubt is the most experienced political leader [in the nation] – has been very clear about how inefficient for democratic policies the formation of coalitions are in a presidential system,” said Nasheed.

Nasheed noted that the Adhaalath Party and Sheiks’ extremist views will pose difficulties for the GIP-led coalition. Although the DRP are billing themselves as a moderate party, they will not establish the national ‘bastion of tolerance’ they claim to be purporting, Nasheed said.

The former President believes the coalition is a “hodgepodge” mix of ideologies, not politics and these “strange bedfellows” cannot achieve anything.

DRP disintegration

Nasheed stated that the alliance between GIP and DRP is only agreement between the two individual and not reflective of grassroots DRP supporters. He believes that DRP leader Thasmeen Ali and Waheed had no other choice and formed the coalition out of sheer necessity.

He also stated that the recent coalition has not produced a “third ideology” and that only two ideologies exist in the Maldives.

During door to door campaigning, the MDP has noticed that DRP grassroots support is disintegrating. They are either merging with PPM or joining MDP, according to MDP Press Director Mohamed Zuhair.

Additionally, Zuhair discussed the distinction President Nasheed made between other parties and MDP. He highlighted that MDP policies are formulated by consulting every household to asses the Maldivian people’s needs. This is followed by holding consultative seminars, with the feedback passed to the party’s ‘organs’ for discussion, then to policy committees, with the process culminating in an announcement.

“None of the other parties have this method,” said Zuhair.

“So far three policies have been announced, and the fourth – agrobusiness – will be announced tomorrow,” he continued.

“MDP is focusing on policy issues, having to ‘go out on the road’ and stage protests to ensure free and fair elections will change the entire dynamics of the campaign. We are hoping it doesn’t come to that,” said Zuhair.


Court commences police chief’s ‘baaghee’ defamation case against former president

The Civil Court yesterday ( April 8 ) began hearing statements in a defamation case filed by Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz against former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Riyaz is seeking MVR3.75 million (US$243,506) in damages from Nasheed, who is accused of labelling the commissioner a ‘baaghee’ (traitor) following the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012, which saw sections of the police and military mutiny against the former government.

Nasheed is accused of continuing to call the commissioner a ‘baaghee’ even after a Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) later concluded the government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed came to power constitutionally.

A Civil Court spokesperson confirmed to Minivan News that lawyers representing both Riyaz and Nasheed were present yesterday during the first of five hearings anticipated to determine the charges against the former president.

During the hearing, the presiding judge asked the defence to answer the allegations against Nasheed. The next hearing of the case is expected to allow Nadheed’s representatives to present a statement in his defence, according to a spokesperson for the Civil Court.

No date was set for the next hearing, the court claimed.

Riyaz’s defamation case had been scheduled to begin last year, but was later postponed upon request of the commissioner himself.

MDP MP and lawyer Mariya Ahmed Didi said the party has previously issued a statement following the postponement of the hearings, claiming that Nasheed was “anxious to proceed with the case”.

Mariya alleged that Commissioner Riyaz was hesitant to proceed with the defamation case for fear that he would not be able to prove that his standing in society or his wider reputation had suffered as a result of the former president’s comments.

“There are hundreds of witnesses just waiting to give their evidence in court. In addition, senior police and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officers including [former] commissioner of Police Faseeh and Defence Force chief Moosa Jaleel have testified to the relevant committee of parliament that the events of February 7 and February 8 were indeed a coup,” she claimed. “We are confident that if we get a free and fair trial we will get a judgement in our favour.”

“Undermining” commisioner’s esteem

Riyaz’s lawyers have previously accused Nasheed of undermining the esteem and respect of the police commissioner by labelling him as a “traitor.”

The legal team also argued at the time that Nasheed’s words had compromised the safety of Riyaz, requiring security at his residence to be strengthened.

Commissioner Riyaz and Police Spokesperson Chief Inspetor Hassan Haneef were not responding to calls at time of press.

Meanwhile, MVR3.75 million in damages are being sought from Nasheed by serving Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, who has also accused the former president of damaging his reputation by labelling a traitor during a public address last year.

Newspaper ‘Haveeru’ reported at the time that following a speech by Nasheed attacking the defence minister, a group of protesters came outside Nazim’s house, “leaving Nazim’s family in fear”.

Former Youth Minister Dr Hassan Latheef, who defended Nasheed at a Civil Court hearing held in October 2012, told the presiding judge at the time that the former president denied the charges against him.

Nasheed’s legal team has previously contended that Riyaz had filed the defamation case in the civil court at a time when the police were continuously arresting people for calling them ‘baaghee’ on the streets. The same representatives also accused the country’s criminal court of continuing to provide extensions of detention periods for people arrested under the charges.

Further charges

Nasheed is also currently in the process of being tried on charges that  he illegally detained a senior judge during the end of his presidency.

However, all trials concerning the judge’s detention were suspended earlier this month pending a High Court ruling on the legitimacy of the bench of the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court conducting Nasheed’s case.


New footage of Feb 7 shows Yameen, Gasim inciting demonstrators, police

Private broadcaster Raajje TV on Friday aired previously unseen footage from February 7, 2012, before the controversial resignation of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Nasheed claimed that he resigned “under duress” after elements of the police and army joined opposition protesters and attacked the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) headquarters following a police mutiny in Republic Square.

The new footage shows government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Abdulla Yameen and Jumhooree Party (JP) MP Gasim Ibrahim – both presidential hopefuls – address the protesting police, army officers and opposition supporters.

“The Indian government is with the Maldivian people,” Yameen announced to the assembled police and anti-government demonstrators. He was however cut short by police appealing for cooperation from the crowd.

After MNDF officers were pegged back and forced inside military headquarters following a confrontation with the mutinying police, the Republic Square – or the “green zone” where gatherings are prohibited – was overrun by opposition supporters and police officers.

The PPM parliamentary group leader reportedly arrived at the Republic Square after a meeting at the Indian High Commission.

Business tycoon and JP presidential candidate Gasim meanwhile praised mutinying police and army officers for their “sacrifice” and “jihad for the nation.”

In March 2012, Raajje TV aired video footage of political party leaders inside police headquarters before the resignation of President Nasheed. Upon receiving news of President Nasheed’s decision to resign, Gasim is heard to say that it was “fortunate that this ended without going to military rule.”

Gasim is a member of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), which has appointed the three-member panel of judges overhearing Nasheed’s trial in the Hulhumale Magistrate Court.

Meanwhile, in the more recent footage televised by Raajje TV, a police officer announces that “ [state broadcaster] MNBC has been brought under control” and that the security forces were in the process of “arresting those we have to take into custody.”

Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim and Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz are also seen active in the area outside military headquarters, with one of the clips showing the latter carrying President Nasheed’s resignation letter.

Both ex-servicemen under former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom were civilians at the time of the transfer of power.

In other videos that emerged at the time, Nazim is seen announcing to the mutinying police and army officers that President Nasheed had been told to resign “unconditionally”.

Nazim also announced that he was “in charge of the army” and would soon appoint senior officers.

One of the previously unseen videos aired by Raajje TV further showed President Nasheed exiting the military headquarters in a car surrounded by MNDF officers and being driven the short distance to the President’s Office.

Following Nazim’s appeal to those gathered to refrain from violence, former Deputy Commissioner of Police Mohamed Rishwan is also seen addressing the crowd atop a military vehicle and appealing for cooperation and nonviolence.

Rishwan had reportedly denied any involvement in the events of February 7, 2012.

Meanwhile, in an interview with government-aligned radio station DhiFM on February 8 this year, Defence Minister Nazim claimed that President Nasheed would have been mobbed and killed if he was not escorted to the President’s Office under military protection.

“I would say in truth, given the level of hatred from the public, President Nasheed would not be in this world today if we had not taken him out and to the President’s Office under our protection. [Former President] Mohamed Ameen comes to mind. The people would have mobbed [Nasheed] just like that,” Nazim was quoted as saying in local media.

He added that video clips from the day would show “the extreme level of hatred from the public”.

Similar remarks were made by PPM Deputy Leader Umar Naseer days after the transfer of power. Naseer claimed at a PPM rally that Nasheed’s only options were to either “resign after bloodshed or resign peacefully”.

On August 30, 2012, the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) formed by President Dr Mohamed Waheed however concluded that there was “no coup, no mutiny and no duress” in President Nasheed’s resignation.

February 8

Raajje TV has also aired a video clip from the day after the transfer of presidential power following a brutal police crackdown on a walk across Male’ by supporters of the formerly ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

In the wake of the crackdown near the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA) building near Republic Square, President Nasheed along with MPs Mariya Ahmed Didi and ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik took refuge in a shop and were dragged out by riot police.

The new footage shows President Nasheed surrounded and manhandled by the Specialist Operations (SO) officers before he manages to wriggle free and run. According to media reports on February 8, Nasheed rejoined supporters at the area and was taken to safety.

MP Yameen addressing crowd

MP Gasim addressing crowd

“MNBC has been taken under control”

President Nasheed exits MNDF headquarters

President Nasheed walks to Muleeage after resignation

Riyaz carrying resignation letter

Mutinying police and army officers calling for president’s resignation

Nasheed escapes SO officers on February 8, 2012

Nasheed rejoins supporters

Nazim demands “unconditional resignation” of President Nasheed


Cases against MDP MPs Jabir and Ghafoor to be forwarded to PG’s Office this week

Cases against MDP MPs Abdulla Jabir and Hamid Abdul Ghafoor are to be forwarded the Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office this week, Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz has said.

The commissioner told local media the cases to be forwarded to the PG’s Office are in regard to both Jabir and Ghafoor’s refusal to provide a urine sample after they were arrested under suspicion of drinking alcohol in November 2012.

Police Commissioner Riyaz was quoted as saying that the case against Ghafoor is also in relation to a previous occasion whereby he refused to provide urine sample after being arrested for obstructing police duty at a protest.

The Drug Act states that the punishment for a person who refuses to provide urine sample when requested by the police is imprisonment for one year, local media reported.

Jabir and Ghafoor were arrested on suspicion of alcohol consumption during a special operation carried out on the island of Hodaidhoo in Haa Dhaal Atoll. Both MPs were subsequently released by Kulhudhuffushi Magistrate Court.


Police commissioner expresses concerns over 2012 cyber crime surge

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) has said it has received 61 reports of suspected cyber crime so far in 2012 – a second consecutive annual increase in such crimes since 2010.

Unveiling the statistics today at a ceremony to inaugurate the “IT Legislation in the Maldives” seminar held at Bandos Island Resort and Spa, Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz was quoted in local media as expressing concern at a continued rise in reported cyber crime in the Maldives.

According to Commissioner Riyaz, 15 reports of cyber crime were received by authorities back in 2010, a figure that was said to have increased to 41 cases over the course of 2011.

Local newspaper Haveeru reported Riyaz as claiming that there was not presently any methods for regulating suspected cases of cyber crime through existing laws in the Maldives, unlike certain other neighbouring countries.

The seminar, which is conducted in cooperation with the National Centre for Information Technology (NCIT) and the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF), was also attended today by Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, according to local media.

Back in September the Maldives Police Service announced the formation of a special Cyber Policing Department to look into cyber crime.

Police stated at the time that three units will be operating under the new department, including the  cyber crime investigation unit, cyber forensics unit and cyber security unit.

Police media official Sub-inspector Hassan Haneef added at the time that the formation of new department would help ease the current difficulties in investigating cyber crimes and will allow police to file more cases at the Prosecutor General’s office.

Cyber crimes were previously investigated by a small unit operating under fraud and financial department.