Umar Naseer contests dismissal from PPM in Civil Court

Umar Naseer, who lost the presidential primaries of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) to Abdulla Yameen, has submitted a case to the Civil Court seeking a ruling that he was dismissed from the party against the party’s regulations.

Ahmed ‘Maaz’ Saleem, a PPM member who served as Naseer’s campaign manager,  stated that the case also concerned irregularities in the primaries. He reportedly told local media that they did not believe that Naseer’s allegations the primaries were rigged were enough ground for him to be dismissed from a political party in a modern democratic system.

Saleem further claimed that Naseer’s dismissal breached the fundamental regulations of the party itself.

“It’s against democratic principles to dismiss every person who expresses a dissenting view on party matters,” Saleem said.

Saleem went on to criticise other internal issues of PPM, stating that even the party’s Disciplinary Committee consisted of members who remained “under the control of” PPM’s presidential candidate Yameen.

Saleem further stated that a large number of PPM members are still supporting Naseer, and that they would back his claims that the primaries had been rigged through ballot-stuffing, falsifying vote counts and other such actions.

Saleem said that problems had risen in PPM after “a group of corrupt people from some organisation called the PA which does not even have 3000 members” joined the party.

The PA (People’s Alliance) was headed by Abdulla Yameen until the Dhiivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) split and formed the PPM. Yameen then joined PPM, leaving PA to be headed by Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim.

Unfair disciplinary action

Naseer’s close political ally Saleem added that the party had failed to take action against MPs Shifaq Mufeed and Ali Arif, who had strongly criticised the current government and President Mohamed Waheed Hassan in parliament, despite the party’s council having ruled it would not publicly criticise the government as they were part of its coalition.

“President Maumoon himself expressed concern about this action of the MPs,” Saleem was quoted as saying in local media.

“The decision to not criticise this government was made in a council meeting chaired by President Maumoon himself. And then these MPs acted against this decision right in front of MP Abdul Azeez Jamaal (Chair of PPM’s Disciplinary Committee). And even then, the committee did not even look into the matter. Tell me then, where is the justice in them taking action against Umar Naseer?”

Cases against PPM primaries

Saleem further said that “it is not a sensible line of action” to dismiss Naseer for alleging the primaries had been rigged, while there is an ongoing case in the Civil Court submitted by a general member of PPM regarding vote rigging in the primaries.

Earlier this month, member of PPM Rahma Moosa has lodged a case in the Civil Court challenging the results of the party’s presidential primary.

The case was filed claiming that 8,915 people who were not officially registered as members of PPM had been allowed to vote in the primary.

Moosa alleged that the move breached the Political Party Act and compromised the rights of all general members of the party.

PPM Spokesperson Ahmed Mahloof’s phone was switched off at the time of press.

Umar Naseer was not responding to calls. Earlier this month his secretary stated that, as a rule, he would not conduct interviews with Minivan News.


PPM presidential primary results challenged in court

A member of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Rahma Moosa, has today lodged a case at the Civil Court challenging the results of the party’s presidential primary.

The Civil Court has confirmed that the case was filed today, adding it was uncertain when a first hearing would be scheduled.

According to local media, Moosa filed a case claiming that 8,915 people who were not officially registered as members of PPM had been allowed to vote in the primary.

She contended that the move contravened the Political Party Act and compromised the rights of all general members of the party.

The primary, held late last month, saw MP Abdulla Yameen selected at the PPM’s candidate to stand in the presidential election scheduled for September 7 this year.

Yameen defeated rival Umar Naseer with a 63 percent of the vote.

According to Moosa, while the Elections Commission (EC) website stated that the PPM had a total of 22,383 members as of March 10, the voter registry published by the party had 31,298 persons listed.

She claimed that members of parties other than PPM had also been included in the voter list, according to local media.

The PPM has previously said that although the additional persons had not been registered at the Elections Commission by March 10, they were allowed to vote as they had submitted membership forms to the party.

However, according to the Elections Commission website, in addition to the PPM’s 22,383 registered members, the party had submitted only an additional 1671 membership forms to the commission.  These forms are currently awaiting verification. This leaves the membership still 7244 shy of the number of voters registered in the party’s primaries.

Elections Commission Vice President Ahmed Fayaz said that the commission has temporarily halted processing political party membership forms.

“We are very hectically working on drafting and finalizing the regulations which must be made following the ratification of the Political Parties Act, as it does not even have any clauses to give us an interim period. Hence, we have temporarily stopped processing the verification of membership forms submitted by any political party, unless in special circumstances. By this, I mean a case like, say, in the instance where some persons need to be registered due to party primaries,” Fayaz said.

Moosa has meanwhile told local media that the case was submitted on the request of a large number of party members, who she said believed that the primary was not conducted in a free and fair manner.

In the first public appearance after Abdulla Yameen winning the primaries, PPM Leader and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom referred to the recently concluded vote as “the most responsible, free and fair, transparent primaries ever held by a political party in the country to date.”

Umar Naseer however accused Yameen of “rigging” the election, alleging undue influence on voters, vote buying, intimidation of his supporters and denying a number of his supporters the right to vote by omitting their names from the voter list.

PPM has since given Umar Naseer a period of seven days in which he is expected to ‘reform and realign with the party’s charter or regulations’ or face expulsion from the party.

Rahma Moosa is reported in local media as being a PPM member who had supported Umar Naseer in the party’s primaries.

PPM Spokesperson Ahmed Mahloof’s phone was switched off, while the party’s presidential candidate Abdulla Yamin was not responding to calls at the time of press.

Umar Naseer’s secretary stated that, as a rule, he will not conduct interviews with Minivan News.

She said that no particular reasons were stated, and that those were the orders she had been given.


“I will lead Maldives out of a failing democracy, we don’t want a phobiocracy”: PPM presidential candidate

The newly elected presidential candidate of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Abdulla Yameen on Tuesday night delivered his first address to supporters following the conclusion of the primaries.

“Our motto is ‘nation first’”, Yameen stated. “Any other parties who genuinely want to join us can come knock on our door anytime. You are welcome at any time, whether it be day or late at night.”

“I am not trying to be elected President for want of a castle. I don’t want such a palace. It is also not with the intention of challenging competitors. This is why I’m telling my opponent in the party itself, too, to stop competing with me. I do not intend to compete with anyone. I am here to fight the battle of solving the many issues our country is facing now,” Yameen said.

“I want to repair the damaged social fabric of this country. I want to bring Maldives out of this failing democracy, save it from the impeding dictatorship and establish a modern democracy as facilitated by the systems set in place by our Constitution. We do not want a phobiocracy. We want development and modernisation.”

While the losing candidate who contested against Yameen, Umar Naseer, held his own rally on Monday night, PPM announced Tuesday’s rally to be “the first gathering held by the party after the primaries”.

The statement was made after Naseer aired serious allegations against Yameen during Monday night’s rally, accusing him of a variety of offences including forming alliances with drug cartels, vote buying and various other forms of corruption.

Meanwhile, the party’s council released a ruling after an emergency meeting held Tuesday afternoon, ordering Umar Naseer to offer a public apology for the comments he had made and for holding a gathering ‘against the party’s regulations’ before the commencement of Wednesday night’s official rally.

The council further ruled that should Naseer fail to put forward an apology within the assigned duration, the council would take further disciplinary action against him.

Umar Naseer was not responding to calls at the time of press. Local media has meanwhile reported that he refused to comment on the matter.

Playing in defence

“Many attacks have come at me from inside and out. I do not wish to defend myself, but I will make some comments here for your sake, as you should know the character of the person to whom you have pledged support,” Yameen told the crowds.

“I swear upon Allah that none of the things I have been alleged of doing can be proven against me. I am here with much more stability than that. If I had such actions on my conscience, I would not have stepped out for public service.”

“Just so as to offer consolation for you all, I am saying this. I am not a rich man. I do not own apartments in other countries. I do not control gangs. I am not involved in the illegal drug trade. I do not have even a small connection with the murder of MP Afrasheem Ali,” Yameen said.

“I would like to add that for the sake of our party, let us stop making allegations like this. We are far more responsible and well-established to be making comments of this nature.”

“Most democratic primaries ever held”: Gayoom

PPM Party Leader former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom addressed the hundreds of party supporters at the rally, stating that the recently concluded party primaries were “the most responsible, free and fair, transparent primaries ever held by a political party in the country to date.”

“Both candidates who competed in the primaries showed high competitiveness in the spirit of democracy,” Gayoom stated.

“These historic, free and extremely fair primaries were won by Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayyoom. I congratulate him in your name and mine,” Gayoom continued.

“At the same time, Umar Naseer, who could not win the primaries, also contacted me via phone after the results were announced. He said to me that he accepted the results, and extended congratulations to Abdulla Yameen. He further said he believed the primaries had proceeded in a very fair manner. Naseer also said that the campaign office he had built was from that moment on gifted to PPM, and hence I would like to thank him for the democratic example he has displayed with these actions,” he stated.

Both Gayoom and Yameen have claimed that the party has 31,000 “genuine” members now, and called on the members to each find two new members by the end of May.

“This is not difficult. If we each get two more members, we will soon have 93,000 members and with a little more effort we can easily achieve 100,000,” Gayoom said.

“Our party has the highest number of genuine members now. By that I mean that all 31,000 of our members have submitted complete details of themselves to authorities, including even their fingerprints. The other parties have not done so,” Gayoom alleged.

Official figures on the Elections Commission website show that PPM currently has 22,383 members, with an additional 1671 forms awaiting clearance.

“Our loyalties should be to the party, not to Maumoon”: Gayoom

“Our party always acts in accordance with law and regulations, and it must continue to do so,” Gayoom said. “All party members must follow the party’s regulations. No one is above these regulations. We are obliged to act in accordance with the regulations, or else people will start acting as they please, which would lead us astray from our objectives.”

Gayoom referred to the breaking up of his previous party Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) into factions, stating that he had made a stand for Umar Naseer when DRP had tried to dismiss him from the party in breach of their regulations.

“I stood up for his rights, but then DRP started acting towards me in a very demeaning manner. They went on TV and said they did not need me, my advice or opinions. And so, I had to leave that party. This is an experience I have had related to the importance of following regulations.”

“Article 69 of our regulation states clearly that all PPM members must pledge allegiance to the presidential candidate. We cannot say that we will support him if he acts in any particular way. That is simply not an option,” Gayoom said.

“Our loyalties should not lie with an individual. It should not be pledged to a certain Maumoon, or to anyone besides Maumoon. It should be towards the party itself, with our policies and principles,” he stated.

Furthermore, Yameen called out to Naseer to work with him to lead the party to further successes.

“We were able to win 17 of 20 recent by-elections. This is because of the strength of having worked together, which is why I call out to Umar Naseer to come work with us,” Yameen said.

“The primaries were a test of character of the whole party and its individual members,” Yameen said. “We must not let any weakness seep into the party. Our brother Naseer, who was unfortunate this time and lost the primaries, must also display his test of character now. Our party is larger than any of us individuals,” he continued.

“My biggest strength is that our fountain of wealth, fountain of experience, party leader Gayoom, is here to guide me and our party and lead us. This is my ultimate happiness,” Yameen stated.

Autism Awareness Day

With April 2 declared Autism Awareness Day and marked widely throughout the Maldives, many speakers at the rally pledged support to families with autistic patients.

“Today is the internationally marked day for families with autistic kids to raise awareness in countries of the challenges that they face. Thus, in commemoration of this day, I really wish to extend my heartfelt sympathies, love and support to such children, and so I have now done that,” Gayoom stated.

Presidential candidate Yameen said in his speech, “This is the Autistic Day, isn’t it? If one is not autistic, whichever way one looks, one would doubtless see the development that has been brought to this country in the 30 years.”

Yamin’s comments, though applauded at the  rally, were criticised in social media as being offensive and insensitive.

Responding to criticism and demands for an apology, PPM Spokesperson Ahmed Mahloof initially tweeted “Yameen’s comments on autism are being twisted by MDP (Maldivian Democratic Party) members after watching our rally and not being able to digest it.”

He then tweeted an apology on behalf of Yameen, stating “Yameen apologises if there was any misinterpretation of his comments with regard to autism.”

Yameen has since released an official statement on Wednesday, echoing Mahloof’s allegations of political opponents distorting his words and apologising if there was room for misinterpretation.

He also pledged to advocate for the rights of persons with special rights, and offered assurance that such persons will be given equal opportunities in the instance that PPM wins the September 7 elections.


Umar Naseer alleges PPM primaries rigged, declares “war within the party”

Former Interim Deputy Leader of the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), Umar Naseer, has declared a “war within the party” against the “dark forces” he claimed had taken root within the party and vowed to bring in a “white revolution” to cleanse it from what he alleged included drug lords, gangsters and corruption rings.

Naseer made the remarks during a rally held on Tuesday evening, following his humiliating defeat in the PPM’s presidential primary.

The former military sergeant was at the losing end of the party’s primary held to determine its official presidential candidate, gaining just 7,450 votes – 5,646 votes less than his rival, the Parliamentary Group Leader of PPM MP Yameen Abdul Gayoom, who won with 13,096 votes – 63 percent of the vote.

Naseer – who is one of the founding members of the PPM – told supporters he had to battle the “entire machine” of the party during the primary, claiming that his opponent had every advantage in the race.

“Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s children were with Yameen, the largest gangsters in the country were with Yameen, all the drug cartels in the country were with Yameen, the most corrupted people were with Yameen, the whole elections committee was with Yameen and a large chunk of PPM’s parliament members gathered around Yameen.

“We came out knowing that the referee, the linesman and even the match commissioner along with his 11 players were playing on his side. Our team had the poor and the middle class players,” Naseer claimed.

Even though Naseer admitted defeat, he claimed the party’s election had huge discrepancies including influencing of voters, vote buying and intimidation of his supporters.  He also alleged that many of his supporters were denied the right to vote, claiming that their names had not been on the lists.

“We even witnessed that those who are heavily involved in drug trafficking were present at the polling station wearing Yameen’s campaign caps,” he said. “Not only did they exert undue influence, they travelled to islands with stashes of black money and attempted to turn the votes. In fact they even did turn some votes.”

Naseer further alleged that the hands of the elections officials involved in administrating the elections were tainted and had played a significant part in his defeat.

“On Kelaa in Haa Alif Atoll, they added the remaining ballot papers as votes for Yameen. On Fodhdhoo in Noonu Atoll, they took ballot papers that had my name ticked and invalidated it by ticking next to Yameen’s name. No ballot box was placed on Thulhaadhoo in Baa Atoll, but astonishingly results came from that island too,” he claimed.

“White revolution”

Despite the discrepancies, Naseer contended that he would not take a “single step back” and would remain firm in cleansing it of “dark forces”.

Naseer claimed his team would bring about a “white revolution” within the party, and declared war against corruption and gangs within PPM.

“This battle will be fought within PPM’s grounds and this battle will also be won within the lines of PPM,” he claimed, as supporters roared in support.

Naseer stated that although he had congratulated Yameen regardless of how he had won the primary, Naseer warned that he would not back him should he associate himself with people Naseer believed were corrupt.

Referring to recent remarks made by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim – who claimed that he would join PPM very soon – Umar Naseer expressed his concern over “people who are renowned for corruption” joining the party.

“Remember, I told you about a corruption network. In just less than 24 hours after our colleague Yameen won the PPM primary, the most notorious figure within this corruption network, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Nazim, announces that he is joining the PPM. This is not a sheer coincidence,” Naseer claimed.

“I want to tell my colleague Yameen that he will never get my support if he keeps corrupt people like Nazim behind him. Some people may say that certain things should be done in the party interest, but there are times where this country should be bigger than the party to us,” he said.

“Money money cash cash okay?”

Meanwhile, in an audio clip of a phone conversation leaked to social media, a profession Yameen supporter attempts to buy the votes of Naseer supporters through a person identified in the clip as Ahmed ‘Mujey’ Mujthaba.

Mujthaba – who seemed to have been involved in Yameen’s primary election campaign on Gemanafushi in Gaaf Alif Atol – was given instructions to trade cash for votes on the island.

According to the audio recording, MVR 300,000 (US$ 19,455.25) was wired to Mujthaba, of which he was to distribute MVR 200,000 (US$ 12,970.17) among potential voters while he was to keep the remaining MVR 100,000 (US$ 6,485.08) for himself as “a small reward”.

“Hey Mujey, don’t tell this to anyone,” speaks a voice, who identifies himself as ‘Ismael’ and claims to be one of Yameen’s campaign managers.

“Not even a single person okay Mujey? This is between me and Mujey. This is between us.  What you should do is, distribute the 200,000 rufiyaa. The remaining 100,000 rufiyaa you keep it to yourself. Okay? You should do this very secretly, no one should know about this.”

Ismael is also heard asking Mujthaba to “destroy PPM MP Ilham Ahmed’s family” during the process. MP Ilham – who is the MP for Gemanafushi Island constituency – had supported Umar Naseer in the primaries.

Mujthaba claims that MP Ilham’s brothers in Male’ had called PPM members on the island and had said “they would give them a two-way ticket to India in return for vote”, to which Ismael responded that Ilham did not have the funds to pay such a large sum of money.

“They can’t give that to them now. They won’t have money even close to the amount of money we have. Not even close to ours. They’ll just keep bragging about that. So what you should do is go to their houses. Just go to their houses and wire in the cash and get all the votes. What you can do today is all that you can do, okay? There will be nothing else we can do after today,”

“Hey, you will also get a reward. If we can do this, you will get 100,000 rufiyaa, we have decided that. We have decided to give you 100,000 rufiyaa if you win this vote for us Mujey. Isn’t it a good reward?” he added. “Yes, if you can get the majority from that Island, you will get 100,000 rufiyaa,”

“Money money cash cash okay?” Ismael was repeatedly heard to say.

Minivan News sought to verify the authenticity of the recording, however Yameen and his campaign team were not responding to calls at time of press.

Speaking to Minivan News, Youth Wing Leader of PPM Ahmed Nazim – who is also involved in Umar Naseer’s campaign team – said that he did not wish to comment on the matter.

Translation of the audio clip

ISMAEL: Hey I am saying, everything is going alright now is it?

AHMED MUJTHABA: Yes. It will be alright

ISMAEL: So, how are things with opponents? [Repeatedly asks]

AHMED MUJTHABA: They are also there. They will also work in their capacity right?

ISMAEL: Not too many [people] right?

AHMED MUJTHABA: We are all good here. Not too many [people] working with them.

ISMAEL: I’ve called to arrange some cash.

AHMED MUJTHABA: I don’t think it is going to be very bad.

ISMAEL: Why? We have been getting information that Umar’s people are really weak.

AHMED MUJTHABA: Yeah. Last night, some of his supporters roamed around the island with cash. They even showed us the cash too. I don’t have any guarantee on their success; some people did not even accept the money.

ISMAEL: But for us…

AHMED MUJTHABA: They went to the house with the money.

ISMAEL: Aah…If they accept the money they would obviously vote in that manner. That is a big problem isn’t it? So, we also have to do that from our side, give a little bit more.


ISMAEL: Mujey we can arrange 200,000 rufiyaa immediately if you want.

AHMED MUJTHABA: We won’t be able to get it by today right?

ISMAEL: No. You can get it through Sheesha Ahmed. Isn’t Ahmed’s family [living] there, his wife’s family?


ISMAEL: So when you say you want, handing over the money to Ahmed gets the job done.


ISMAEL: So what should I do?

AHMED MUJTHABA: Well, then let me talk to others and call back?

ISMAEL: No wait, I have a condition too. You will have to destroy MP Ahmed Ilham’s family in the process. Can you do that?

AHMED MUJTHABA: Wait, he was the one who got me a job. He was very upset with me. My family members have called me bull shit.

ISMAEL: Is it?

AHMED MUJTHABA: So destroy these people.

ISMAEL: That is why I have come out with courage.

AHMED MUJTHABA: Yes, this time this family should be destroyed. You have to be able to do this.

ISMAEL: He will be gone this time. This time very sure…yeah?

AHMED MUJTHABA:  This is something you should be able to do. On the other hand, islanders, people from your area are quite stupid. You should be able to control these people.

ISMAEL: I have a big family in this island. Our family is not an ordinary family. All our family members are against him. No one will be there to support them. That’s why, when it became intolerable, they have come out with cash.

AHMED MUJTHABA: Ilham’s brothers in Male have called us and said that they would give two-way ticket to India in return for vote. That is the level they had gone to. So they are very very desperate.

ISMAEL: They can’t give that to them now. They won’t have money even close to the amount of money we have. Not even close to ours. They’ll just keep bragging about that. So what you should do is go to their houses. Just go to their houses and wire in the cash and get all the votes. What you can do today is all that you can do, okay? There will be nothing else we can do after today.

ISMAEL: Then, people in your area are really dumb, isn’t it? Usually islanders are very dumb isn’t it? They have been made dumb and stupid.

ISMAEL: Hey, you will also get a reward. If we can do this, you will get 100,000 rufiyaa, we have decided that. We have decided to give you 100,000 rufiyaa if you win this vote for us Mujey. Isn’t it a good reward?

AHMED MUJTHABA: We will win you the votes from here. I am guaranteeing you that you will get majority from this island.

ISMAEL: Yes, if you can get the majority from that Island, you will get 100,000 rufiyaa. What?

AHMED MUJTHABA: I don’t want money for doing that.

ISMAEL: Yeah yeah…

[Voice becomes unclear as two begins to talk at the same time]

ISMAEL:  Hey listen to this. This money is something that is a secret between you and me. People giving money, this is not related to this. You should not tell this to even your friends.


ISMAEL: Understood?


ISMAEL: This is not something I am giving to your group or people helping you. So this shall remain between us only. This is how the boss as has asked me to do, okay?

AHMED MUJTHABA: Hmm… You called last night as well right?

ISMAEL: Yeah. Yes. Hey bro, [repeatedly calls]. Money money cash cash alright? Understood?


ISMAEL: Money money cash cash okay?

AHMED MUJTHABA: Don’t worry. I am saying you will get majority from this island by the will [of God].

ISMAEL: Yeah…Yeah.

AHMED MUJTHABA: You wait and see at 4:00pm today. I will call you today.

ISMAEL: Ahh…very good.

[Separate phone call]

ISMAEL: Is it Mujey ?

AHMED MUJTHABA: Yeah yeah true, it is Mujey.

ISMAEL: I called you, Ismael.


ISMAEL: Yeah, I said issue with money has been settled and finished. The money has been given to Ahmed. Who would be receiving the money from your end?

AHMED MUJTHABA: I don’t mind giving it to me. You can give this number.

ISMAEL:  Ah okay. So I should give your number right?


ISMAEL: What should I say? You should tell your full name Mujey. Then only isn’t it we can settle it.

AHMED MUJTHABA: Yes. Ahmed Mujthaba. Note it down.

ISMAEL:  Ahmed Mujthaba right?

AHMED MUJTHABA: Yes…Mujthaba. Should I give you my ID Card Number?

ISMAEL: Yes, tell me your ID Card Number [Mujthaba gives his ID Card Number]

ISMAEL: 2881…okay. Hey Mujey, don’t tell this to anyone. [Speaks in a hush voice] Not even a single person okay Mujey? This is between me and Mujey. This is between us.  What you should do is, distribute the 200,000 rufiyaa. The remaining 100,000 rufiyaa you keep it to yourself. Okay? You should do this very secretly, no one should know about this.


ISMAEL: Remember okay?


ISMAEL: Alright then. We will inform the person that you will go to collect the money. Okay, take your ID Card with you.


ISMAEL: Thank you bro!