President Yameen should apologise for thumbs down gesture, says MDP chairperson

President Abdulla Yameen should formally apologise for his thumbs down gesture at opposition MPs during today’s opening of the People’s Majlis, opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson Ali Waheed has said.

At a press conference this afternoon, Waheed contended that the gesture was intended to “mock” the opposition alliance, adding that it would not be acceptable to the public.

Waheed said the gesture showed Yameen’s loss of control over his emotions and that the government was “upside down.”

“I do not believe what we saw today should have been the message given to the people after delivering an address by a head of state,” said MDP parliamentary group leader, Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih.

After delivering his presidential address today amidst chants from opposition MPs calling for the release of former President Mohamed Nasheed, President Yameen gave two thumbs up to pro-government MPs and made a thumbs down gesture towards MDP and Jumhooree Party (JP) MPs.

President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali has since defended the gesture, tweeting that it was “an advisory gesture” against obstructing constitutionally mandated duties.

“Today we saw [opposition MPs] attempting to obstruct the president’s from fulfilling his responsibility under Article 84 of [the constitution],”he tweeted.

Opposition MPs gathered in front of the secretariat desk carrying posters depicting police manhandling and dragging the opposition leader into court and called for Yameen’s resignation.

Nasheed was arrested last week and remains in police custody pending the outcome of a trial on charges of terrorism.

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MPs responded to the opposition MPs’ protest by chanting “Ganjabo” and Theyobidbo,” epithets referring to the former president’s alleged encouragement of drug use, and held up placards that read: “You cant hide from the law Nasheed” and “Nasheed deserves to be in prison.”

Several PPM MPs also snatched posters from MDP MPs and ripped some posters to pieces.

Opposition’s demands

Last night, the MDP and JP coalition revealed that the two parties have agreed to request a meeting with President Yameen to discuss 13 demands issued at last Friday’s mass demonstration.

At a joint press conference, Ali Waheed said the parties would request an appointment today, adding that the 13 demands would be formally submitted in writing.

The 13 demands are:

  1. Stop restricting fundamental constitutional rights and freedoms through amendments to either the constitution or laws.
  2. Release former President Mohamed Nasheed, former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, MDP MP Ali Azim and others arrested during anti-government protests.
  3. Repeal amendments brought to the Auditor General’s Act that saw the removal of former Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim
  4. Withdraw political charges pressed against opposition politicians.
  5. Investigate alleged large scale corruption within the government.
  6. Continue providing the electricity subsidy and make electricity cheaper in Malé and other islands.
  7. Fulfil campaign pledges to provide subsidies to fishermen and farmers.
  8. Give back powers taken from local council, empower the councils, and enforce the Decentralisation Act.
  9. Enforce the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
  10. Increase wages for teachers, health workers and civil servants, ensuring equal pay to state employees.
  11. Reverse decision to impose import duty on fuel.
  12. Legally empowering independent institutions.
  13. Fulfil government pledges of providing unlimited health insurance.

Ali Waheed added that the alliance would meet relevant state institutions to discuss specific demands.

“Some of the demands are not just made to the President’s Office,” Waheed said.

“Some of the demands are made to specific institutions. We have agreed to hold meetings with all related institutions.”

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Foreign investments worth MVR9.8 billion expected in five years, says President Yameen

A total of MVR9.8 billion (US$635.5 million) has been pledged to the Maldives by 24 foreign investments registered so far, President Abdulla Yameen said in his presidential address today.

In the address delivered at the opening of the People’s Majlis’ first session of 2015, Yameen said the 24 foreign investments registered under his administration were not tourism-related.

“Under these investments, a total of MVR9.8 billion has been proposed to be invested in the Maldives during the next five years,” Yameen said over loud protests from opposition MPs calling for the release of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

The pledged foreign investments represent a 70 percent increase on the previous year, Yameen added.

President Yameen’s second presidential address was delivered amidst an ongoing political crisis sparked by the arrests and prosecution of former Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim and former President Mohamed Nasheed on charges of terrorism.

The newly formed Maldivian Democratic Party-Jumhooree Party (MDP-JP) alliance held a massive protest march in the capital last Friday (February 27) demanding the pair’s immediate release.

During last year’s budget debate, opposition MPs expressed skepticism of the government’s forecast of US$100 million expected as acquisition fees for Special Economic Zones (SEZ) by August 2015. The opposition has also criticised the lack of significant foreign investments despite assurances by President Yameen’s administration with the passage of the SEZ Act last year.


Yameen began the address by assuring MPs that the current government would protect and uphold the constitution, adding that significant efforts were made during 2014 to “strengthen the civil justice justice and criminal justice system of the Maldives”.

Legislation on civil trial procedures would be submitted to parliament this year, Yameen said.

A ‘risk management framework’ to combat drug smuggling and abuse would also implemented during 2015, he continued, and privately operated rehabilitation centres would be opened with modern facilities.

While a bill on establishing an Islamic University has been submitted to parliament, Yameen said eight new government-funded mosques would be built during the year in addition to 10 new mosques funded by Saudi Arabia.

“Seven island harbours were constructed last year. And work is underway on constructing harbours on 32 islands. Additionally, land reclamation has been completed on four islands. And while land reclamation is ongoing in three islands, coastal protection work is ongoing in three islands,” he said.

Moreover, road construction projects have been contracted for 10 islands, Yameen said.

A project awarded to the Malé Water and Sewerage Company (MWSC) to resolve flooding in the capital was nearly complete, he continued, whilst US$100 million worth of foreign loans have been secured to provide safe drinking water and establish sewerage systems in inhabited islands.

Construction of 1,089 flats in Hulhumalé have now been completed, Yameen said, and work on a further 5,000 flats would begin this year.

Reclamation of 227 hectares of land in Hulhumalé would also be completed in March, he said.

A waste management project targeting four northern atolls is meanwhile expected to be completed during the year, Yameen added.

While a fishermen’s marina was established in Felivaru last year, Yameen said three more marinas would be set up in Kooddoo, Hulhumalé, and Addu City Feydhoo.

On the education sector, Yameen said a diploma certificate has been set as the minimum qualification for teachers and a new salary structure has been put in place.

The government’s health insurance scheme ‘Aasandha’ has been expanded to cover chronic illnesses and kidney transplants, he continued, whilst a programme was launched in November to provide “super-specialist” doctor’s service to the atolls.

Legislation is currently before parliament to protect women’s rights in divorce cases, Yameen said, which would provide temporary shelter to divorced women and establish rules for equitable division of property.

Moreover, the government is formulating rules to provide easy access to healthcare and prioritise employment for persons with special needs, he said.

Loans worth MVR200 million (US$12.9 million) would be issued in the near future under the ‘Get Set’ programme for youth entrepreneurs, he continued, and a bill on youth rights would be submitted to parliament this year.

Work was underway on building 36 sports pitches in islands with populations exceeding 2,000 people, he noted.


Yameen noted that the forecast for economic growth in 2015 was 10.5 percent, up from 8.5 percent last year, adding that in 2014 inflation was kept on average at 2.4 percent and the budget deficit brought down to MVR1.6 billion (US$103.7 million).

In a bid to encourage lending, Yameen said the minimum reserve requirement for banks would be reduced this year from 20 percent at present.

The forecast for the current account deficit in 2015 is US$214.7 million or 6 percent of GDP, he added, down from US$290 million or 10% of GDP last year.

“As a result of the increase in foreign currency the Maldives earned in 2014, serious difficulties faced by the public in obtaining dollars have been resolved, and with God’s will, the dollar shortage has been alleviated,” he said.

Referring to a decline in tourist arrivals from Russia and China in December and January, Yameen said the government has launched efforts to increase arrivals from both source markets.

“Despite the Maldives being seen as a high-end tourist destination, efforts are now underway to advertise the Maldives as an affordable luxury destination, expand the Maldivian guesthouse business, and expand the tourism industry to target mid-market [tourists] as well,” he added.

Yameen also said the government was taking back uninhabited islands leased for resort development due to contractual violations.

In the wake of former coalition partner JP’s alliance with the opposition MDP, the government seized several properties leased to JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim’s Villa Group for alleged agreement violations. Last week, the Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) gave a 30-day notice to Villa Group to pay US$100 million allegedly owed as unpaid rent and fines.

In 2015, Yameen said 22 islands would be leased for resort development both under normal bidding processes and as joint ventures.

Yameen added that development in the SEZs would create new jobs and spur economic growth as the minimum threshold for investments was US$150 million.

The government was in the process of formulating a master plan for the ‘iHavan’ project, Yameen said, which was among the mega projects envisioned in the SEZs.

A basic design for a new terminal at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) has been completed, he continued, and the government was seeking interested parties to repair and resurface the airport’s runway.

Foreign policy

Yameen said the Maldives achieved significant successes during 2014. The “Maldives’ name shined in the outside world” last year, he said.

The Maldives assumed the chairs of both the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) and World Health Organisation’s (WHO) executive board, Yameen noted.

Relationships with regional neighbours and Arab-Islamic nations were “brought back to its previous heights,” he continued.

In addition to state visits to friendly nations, Yameen said various agreements that would prove beneficial to the Maldives have been signed with India, Sri Lanka, China, and Japan.

Yameen also appealed for the participation of all Maldivian citizens in celebrating the country’s 50th independence day in July.

“God willing, this year will see new progress made in fulfilling the government’s pledges to the people,” he said.

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President Yameen delivers presidential address amidst opposition protests

President Abdulla Yameen delivered the annual presidential address today in the face of vociferous protests from opposition MPs at the official opening of the People’s Majlis for 2015.

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Jumhooree Party (JP) MPs gathered in front of the secretariat desk and clamoured for the release of former President Mohamed Nasheed, carrying placards that read, “Free President Nasheed,” as well as posters depicting police manhandling and dragging the opposition leader into court.

Nasheed remains in police custody pending the outcome of a trial on charges of terrorism.

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MPs responded to opposition MPs’ chants of “Yaagunda resign” with “Ganjabo” and “Theyobidibo,” epithets referring to the former president’s alleged encouragement of drug use.

PPM and coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) MPs held up placards that read: “Nasheed deserves to be in prison,” “Nasheed supports terrorism,” “Free Maldivians from Nasheed,” and “MDP must learn democracy,” .

“Gasim, first pay tax and then talk,” “You cant hide from the law Nasheed,” “It is time Nasheed should be put in jail,”and “Nasheed has to be tried for corruption of US$ 2 billion,” read some of the other placards.

Yameen’s second presidential address comes amidst a political crisis sparked by the arrests of former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim and former President Nasheed. The opposition MDP-JP alliance organised a massive protest march calling for the pair’s release on Friday (February 27).

Meanwhile, journalists, foreign dignitaries, and state officials inside the gallery could not hear President Yameen’s address over the din. The chants from PPM and MDA MPs drowned out the opposition MPs.

Confrontations and verbal sparring between pro-government and opposition MPs occurred inside the chamber, with some PPM MPs snatching posters from MDP MPs.

Former PPM MP Ahmed Mahloof – who was carrying a placard calling for Nazim’s release – also clashed with former colleagues in the ruling party.

After concluding the address, President Yameen gave two thumbs up to PPM MPs and made a thumbs down gesture towards opposition MPs.

“Today we saw [opposition MPs] attempting to obstruct the president’s from fulfilling his responsibility under Article 84 of [the constitution],” tweeted President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali.

Article 84 states, “At the beginning of the first session of each year at the first sitting, the president shall address the People’s Majlis on the state of the country, and may present proposals for improving the state of the country to the People’s Majlis.”

Muaz also tweeted saying he was “ashamed” that opposition MPs were unaware of Article 84 whilst “inciting unrest in the country in the name of defending the constitution.” The MDP-JP alliance launched nightly protests last month against the current administration’s alleged breaches of the constitution.

Muaz also said President Yameen’s thumb down was “an advisory gesture” against obstructing constitutionally mandated duties.

“Political charges”

“Delivering a presidential address while holding opposition politicians in jail is alien to democracy,” Minority Leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih ‘Ibu’ told journalists before entering the parliament building.

The MDP parliamentary group leader called on the government to withdraw “political charges” against the former president.

Ibu told reporters after the sitting that the opposition has delivered a message to President Yameen on behalf of the public.

Echoing the minority leader’s sentiments, JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim said the international community views the prosecution of Nasheed and Nazim as politically motivated and warned of “economic sanctions” as a consequence, which could lead to “starvation” and “unrest”.

The MP for Maamigili reiterated appeals for Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin to withdraw the charges against the pair.

A crowd of opposition supporters were meanwhile gathered behind police barricades on Sosun Magu, a short distance from the parliament building.

According to a live blog on the police website, police confiscated megaphones after advising protesters not to use any loudspeakers as a school session was in progress at the nearby Majeedhiyya School.

Police pushed back protesters around 10:45am and set up barricades near the MDP office on Sosun Magu.

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Judiciary excluded from presidential address due to Yameen’s trust in the institution

President Abdulla Yameen’s failure to discuss judicial reform in his first presidential address was due to the “trust [he] has in the institution” and because of the respect the government feels towards the bench, he has said.

Speaking at the opening of a campaign office for PPM candidate Mohamed Ameeth, Yameen stated that the government will not criticise the judiciary’s verdicts, and that the institution has the government’s trust.

Yameen had been the subject of criticism from the political opposition, who described his speech at the opening of the People’s Majlis as failing to address the country’s most pressing issues.

Yameen did acknowledge, however, that there are delays in the completion of some cases by the judiciary, adding that the executive is currently working with the judiciary to seek solutions to the issue.

“Even during the presidential election campaigns we never criticised any judgement or verdict of the judiciary. What we did criticise was the slow rate of cases going through, and how some cases get delayed for long periods of time,” said the president.

“That is still the case, and we will continue talking about this lack of speed,” Yameen said.

Following the president’s address, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) spokesman Imthiyaz Fahmy accused the president of omitting critical issues from the address, including the state of the judiciary, and decentralised governance.

Discussing the approaching parliamentary elections yesterday, the president suggested that the MDP had a record of acting dictatorially when holding a Majlis majority.

He accused the now-opposition party of unduly influenced independent institutions when in power, asserting that this behaviour will never be seen from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives government.

Yameen further stated that the MDP, while loudly advocating for the separation of powers, had “locked and bolted the powers”.

While the opposition currently hold the majority of seats in parliament, they have so far failed to appoint a prosecutor general or a member for the vacant seat in the EC, he noted.

The MDP has pledged judicial reform during it’s Majlis campaign, while the party’s slogan for this year’s campaign is ‘Vote for the scale for separation of powers’.

Case against the EC

Yameen also addressed the case against the Elections Commission (EC) in the Supreme Court, stating that it was not a matter that concerned the executive.

He stated that, while some foreign countries are raising concerns about the matter, he believed the court case against the EC was something the government need not interfere with.

Yameen questioned the logic of countries who expressed concern about the matter, stating that it was “inexplicable” when the separation of powers was generally accepted.

“It is these foreign powers who most strongly want assurance that the executive will not interfere with matters of the judiciary. And yet today, when there is a case against an independent institution, they are worried that we are not interfering and making comments on the matter.

“Our foreign policy is to respectfully accept their concerns, and to still not comment on an institution which in our sovereign right the government wishes to refrain from commenting on,” Yameen stated.

He asserted that justice would be served to all alike – whether they be from among the general public, or someone holding a senior office in a state institution. The president concluded by saying that even if he himself was summoned to the Supreme Court, he would attend dutifully and without question.

While addressing the UN Human Rights Council this week, Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon also called upon the international community not to undermine the Maldives judiciary .

The judiciary has been criticised by a number of international actors as being both under qualified and lacking independence.

Prominent critics have included the UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul, the International Committee of Jurists, the UK Bar Human Rights Committee, and the US State Department.

In June 2013, spy camera footage revealed a Supreme Court judge allegedly speaking about the politicisation of the judiciary, stating “even [Parliament Speaker]Abdulla Shahid will know very well that my stand is to do things the way [current president] Yameen wants.”

In the tape, the judge also claimed to be a person who “even Yameen cannot play with” and that over time he had “shown Yameen” who he is.


EC awaiting budget from Finance Ministry for parliamentary polls

A budget of MVR25 million (US$1.6 million) allocated for conducting the parliamentary elections on March 22 has not been released in full to the Elections Commission (EC), commission members told MPs on the government oversight committee today.

At today’s meeting of the oversight committee – held upon request by three opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs – EC President Fuwad Thowfeek explained that the commission had to make individual requests to the Finance Ministry to pay bills and settle other expenses incurred in preparations for the polls.

“We have to do this in a very unorganised, unsystematic way,” Thowfeek said, adding that in the past the commission could “limit and plan expenses” as it was working with the full budget.

An official from the Finance Ministry told Minivan News last week that there would not be any restrictions in releasing funds if the ministry was convinced the money was required for election preparations.

While Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad was currently out of the country, Acting Minister Mohamed Saeed informed the committee that he was unable to attend today’s meeting.

Committee Chairman MDP MP Ali Waheed read out a letter from the Finance Ministry assuring MPs that the necessary funds will be provided to the commission.

Additional funds required for the polls had not yet been released because the EC has not exhausted its budget for 2014, the letter signed by Permanent Secretary Ismail Ali Manik stated.

It added that the ministry would settle bills forwarded by the EC.


Thowfeek however informed MPs that in addition to funds earmarked for political parties and employees’ wages, the commission had MVR9 million (US$583,68) left in its 2014 budget.

The total amount owed for pending bills exceeded MVR9 million, EC member Ali Mohamed Manik noted, adding that the amount was insufficient for conducting an election.

Manik said the commission did not have the funds to hire 10 temporary staff to man its 1414 number, whilst it was also unable to hire speedboats from private businesses as they were no longer willing to raise the credit limit.

The EC found itself without enough petty cash to buy water on some days, Manik added.

Thowfeek meanwhile revealed that  in January a Singaporean hotel sued the Maldives High Commission over unpaid bills.

The hotel bill for election officials sent to Singapore for last year’s presidential election was later settled by the Finance Ministry, he said.

Moreover, Island Aviation refused to transport election officials and ballot boxes for January’s local council elections due to outstanding payments, Thowfeek said.

“So we had to scramble and call the Finance Ministry,” he said, adding that EC staff found it “very difficult” to contact senior officials from the ministry.

The EC’s work was “stalled” in such cases, Thowfeek said: “For example, when we couldn’t send ballot boxes to islands, we had to tell finance [ministry] and they gave an instruction to Island Aviation to raise the credit limit,” he said.

On schedule

Asked by MDP MP Visam Ali if there was any guarantee that the polls could take place on March 22, Thowfeek said the EC’s preparations were presently on schedule.

“However, the suspicion or fear is that while we are working without money at hand and in the hope that the funds will be provided, the certainty that we want for our institution is a bit low,” he said.

Thowfeek told Minivan News last week that the EC has so far been able to manage expenditures with cooperation from the ministry.

“Now we are using the office budget mostly. But the Finance Ministry is releasing funds as we spend,” he said.

EC Secretary General Asim Abdul Sattar meanwhile said today that the Finance Ministry had not replied to four letters from the commission concerning its expenses.

However, Finance Minister Jihad had given verbal assurances to commission members that funds will be made available, Asim said.


President Yameen delivers first presidential address

President Abdulla Yameen today delivered his first presidential address in the parliament’s first official session after recess.

President Yameen detailed his administration’s achievements – claiming success in all the 100-day initiatives.

He explained that the executive had now drafted a legislative agenda for the next five years which would be gradually submitted to parliament in the form of draft bills.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has described the address as “taciturn and rather nonsensical”, arguing that major issues such as the Supreme Court and the recent HIV scandal at IGMH were ignored.

Opening the ceremony, Parliament Speaker Abdulla Shahid noted that this was first instance where an MP has been unable to attend the presidential address due to incarceration, referring to MP Abdulla Jabir.

Shahid also condemned the attack on MDP MP Alhan Fahmy, calling for the cessation of all acts against the implementation of rule of law and legal obligations. Alhan attended today’s ceremony returning from Sri Lanka where he underwent spinal surgery following his February stabbing.

The president began his address by noting that, although national debt would increase this year to MVR31 billion, the debt percentage can be maintained at 78 percent of GDP in 2014.

Government developments

Yameen said that the government had decided to construct a youth city in Hulhumalé and that physical work on construction of a bridge connecting capital city Malé to the airport island Hulhulé will begin before the end of the year.

He added that once the development of the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport in Hulhumalé is completed, it can be maintained for use for a duration of at least 50 years, and that the construction of two new airports – in Kulhudhuhfushi and Felivaru – have now been opened for bidding.

Yameen also spoke of the need to strengthen investor confidence, and pledged to eradicate all obstacles and difficulties currently faced by foreign investors.

Yameen noted that the number of tourist arrivals had already increased to 348,000 in the past three months, stating that this added US$70 million to government earnings. He added that the government intended to introduce tourism to atolls currently not involved in the sector.

Regarding the fisheries sector, Yameen stated that a system has been put in place where fishermen who earn less than MVR10,000 a month will be given financial aid from the state. He added that this will commence in a period of two months.

He also pledged that scholarship schemes will be offered in the near future to students who pass a minimum of three GCE Advanced Level subjects.

On the topic of health services, Yameen stated that arrangements are being made to introduce new health facilities – including ambulance speedboats – to the country. He added that an initiative has now begun where existing health institutions are being categorised and supplied with the necessary medical equipment.

The president said that the government would shortly submit a bill to parliament seeking to provide financial aid to persons with special needs,as well as a bill seeking the establishment of special economic zones within the country.

MDP Response

MDP Spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy described President Yameen’s address as ignoring many pressing issues, suggesting that he appeared “disconnected with what is happening here and now”.

“To begin with, the whole country is appalled and in shock about the HIV infected blood transfusion at IGMH which recently came to be known of. And yet, there was no apology or even a mention of the matter,” said Fahmy

Fahmy suggested that the president spend excessive time discussing administrative issues such as queues outside government offices and phones not being answered efficiently at the expense of issues of wider importance, such as the judiciary.

“This is something the whole world is talking about, that our judiciary needs to be reformed. And yet, Yameen did not even mention them,” Fahmy continued.

“He also failed to condemn the way the Elections Commission is being unconstitutionally dragged to the Supreme Court at a time when there is an election looming overhead.”

The party’s official response will be delivered via the Majlis.


“Illegitimate address by coup president warrants no official response”: MDP PG Leader Ibu Solih

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Parliament Group Leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (Ibu Solih) has stated that the party will not be responding to the presidential address delivered by President Mohamed Waheed Hassan during Monday’s parliament opening ceremony.

Solih said the statement held no legitimacy as Waheed himself was an illegally installed president, and hence warranted no official response.

“Waheed is in his position through a coup d’etat. A year having passed since does not change that fact. That is what we demonstrated in parliament today,” Solih told local media.

“We are only obliged to respond to a presidential address given by a legitimate leader.”

If Waheed were to be a legal president, then he would be representing MDP. Were it so, then MDP would not need to respond to the address, and the task would be for some other party. So, in either of those instances, MDP has no obligation to respond to Waheed’s statement,” he continued.

MDP also refused to respond to Waheed’s address in 2012.

Parliament regulations state that the majority and minority parties in the parliament besides the one that the President represents must issue a response to the presidential address within a period of 14 days after it being issued.

Solih furthermore expressed concern over some actions during Monday’s parliamentary session.

“While the session was in a recess, an MNDF officer attacked one of our MPs. I saw this happen with my own eyes. I have already lodged a complaint about this with the parliament speaker. The security officer was removed from the parliament halls at the time. Incidentally, we have also identified him,” Solih alleged.

Solih also alleged that the party’s objective during this parliamentary year was to pass many of the important bills that have been pending for long periods of time.

“I believe this year we will see a lot of productive work being completed here. One of these pending bills is the Penal Code. Hopefully, this bill will be passed as law within the month,” Solih stated.

Presidential Address in six hours, six attempts

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan delivered the presidential address in parliament on Monday through six separate attempts made through nearly six hours.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs staged protests inside the parliament chambers while simultaneous protests by party supporters carried on outside parliament, with thousands of supporters chanting “coup president resign now” and “we want an interim government now”.

While normal procedure during previous instances where a president speaks in a parliament is to fly the presidential flag alongside the national flag and the parliament flag, no such flag was hoisted during Monday’s session.

Waheed was prevented from entering the main parliament hall twice, and he proceeded to deliver the presidential address in four separate installments. Local media reported that Waheed had omitted much of the 17 page speech that had been distributed to media ahead of the parliament meeting.

Three of these times, he was led out of the hall by Parliament Speaker Abdulla Shahid due to disruptions caused by MDP MPs who were echoing the chants of “baaghee” [traitor] inside.

After Waheed concluded his presidential address, MDP MPs joined the street protests which were being carried out on Sosun Magu.

Former President and MDP Presidential Mohamed Nasheed joined to greet the MPs as they entered the gathering to the sound of loud cheering from party supporters.

Before the protest was concluded, MP Ali Waheed addressed the crowd, stating that the party would continue protesting against what he alleged is a “coup government.”

“What we have witnessed is the beginning of the end of Waheed’s coup administration,” MP Waheed told the gathered crowds.

“Just like the old dictator Maumoon had to retreat into his cave, Waheed will have the same fate,” he said.

“The events we saw in Majlis has proven a lot of things. The fact that members from all the other parties stayed quiet and did not attempt to intervene in our protests say a lot. They have said ‘no to Waheed’ in the loudest form that they can while they are still part of this current government,” Ali Waheed said.

“Around 30 of our MPs managed to hold Waheed back from speaking in parliament for over five hours despite him coming surrounded by police and army. There is hope that we will be victorious,” Ali Waheed said in conclusion of his address before the party marched off, bringing an end to Monday’s protests.


Disagreement on house rules post-coup leaves parliament in limbo, claims MDP

The ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) will reject amendments to house rules to allow the government to submit bills through any party, the party has said in a statement on Wednesday.

Article 71 of the parliamentary rules of procedure states the government can only submit bills, including tax bills, to the parliament through the party it represents.

However, President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s Gaumee Ithihad (GI) does not have representation in the Majlis. Waheed, the former vice-president, took power after MDP’s President Mohamed Nasheed resigned on February 7. The MDP claims Nasheed was ousted in a coup d’état.

Nasheed’s deposition has raised questions over MDP’s status in parliament. According to MDP’s statement, parliamentary group leader Ibrahim Mohamed ‘Ibu’ Solih has written to Speaker Abdulla Shahid stressing that the MDP was elected for a five-year term and the administration continued to belong to the MDP, despite the transfer of power.

“The Majlis is in limbo,” MDP spokesperson and Malé MP Hamid Abdul Gafoor told Minivan News. “MDP has been elected for a five-year term. In the middle of the term Shahid is trying to make us out to be the opposition. He is attempting to bring about a coup within parliament.”

Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim had told local media Haveeru that house rules needed to be amended to allow Waheed’s administration to submit bills before Majlis reconvenes. He also said any bills submitted by Nasheed’s administration are now void and have to be submitted again.

“From the moment when President Waheed addressed the assembly, the new government has now been accepted by the Parliament. In my view, the bills submitted by the former government have now been rendered void. Hence the bills must be resubmitted,” Nazim said.

The MDP attempted to prevent Dr Waheed from delivering a constitutionally-mandated presidential address and obstruct the Majlis from reconvening on March 1 and March 19.

Waheed narrowly managed to deliver a shortened presidential address on March 19, over loud heckling from MDP MPs.

With MDP’s refusal to allow amendments to the house rules, the MDP and the coalition of parties backing Dr Waheed will now go “head to head” on the matter when Majlis reconvenes on Monday, Gafoor said.

Nazim also said the Majlis has to decide on opposition response to the president’s address. According to article 25 of the Majlis rules of procedure, the largest political party opposing the president’s party in Majlis must respond to the presidential address.

Ibu has said the MDP will not issue a rebuttal to Dr Waheed’s address as the party continues to question Waheed’s legitimacy and the constitutionality of the March 19 Majlis opening session.

“As long as the MDP continues to be the elected administration, the MDP parliamentary group does not have to respond to the presidential address,” the party’s statement read.