Former Progressive Coalition partners dispute validity of agreement

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has said its former coalition partner Jumhooree Party (JP) must initiate a new coalition, while the JP maintains the initial agreement is still valid.

Speaking to ‘Haveeru‘ Ahmed Adeeb – minister of tourism, co-chair of the cabinet’s Economic Council and PPM deputy leader has said the JP would have to express interest in forging another coalition with his party.

Blaming JP leader Gasim Ibrahim for ending the coalition, Adheeb said President Abdulla Yameen does not want to persecute political opponents or make statements about such issues.

Noting his respect for Gasim as a “generous” and “politically experienced” individual, Adeeb acknowledged the JP leader’s contribution helping the government to power, but stated that PPM would not allow anyone to pressure the government.

“We should be faithful to the votes people has given us. We should respect the opportunity to improve the economy given to PPM by the people. I am sure Gasim would also acknowledge [this]. And Gasim will also acknowledge that President Yameen will do no harm to him,” Adheeb was quoted as saying.

He told Haveeru that the opposition MDP had manipulated Gasim into believing that he could become the speaker of the parliament – the cause of the Progressive Coalition’s breakup last month.

Responding to Adeeb’s comments JP Secretary General Ahmed Sameer said the party still believes the initial coalition agreement is valid and will continue to respect the terms of that agreement.

“The coalition agreement was never abrogated, so there is no reason to form another coalition. I think what they [PPM] are saying is just a media stunt, there is no truth in it. It is sad that they have acted against the agreement [in purging political appointees in JP slots], but JP will continue to abide by it,” said Sameer.

He noted that the JP have not been informed about the abrogation of the initial coalition agreement.

“There have been no discussion with us about this and no formal communication of any sort,” Sameer said.

The fall out between the two parties became visible after the 18th People’s Majlis was elected and when both parties expressed interest in nominating candidates for the position of Majlis Speaker.

Despite the PPM’s warnings that the coalition agreement would be cancelled if JP proposed a candidate, party leader Gasim decided to stand for the position – eventually losing the ballot to the PPM candidate MP Abdulla Maseeh.

Soon after Gasim announced his candidacy PPM council unanimously passed a resolution announcing the coalition agreement had been “brought to an end by the Jumhooree Party”.

Within the week the government moved against political appointees belonging to JP removing and taking administrative action against them. One of the Cabinet ministers on a JP slot later signed for PPM.

JP has since accused PPM of not honoring the coalition agreement form the early days of coming to power, noting that the promised 35 percent stake in political appointees was not delivered.

The party claimed that only 29 slots were offered to them among as many as 300 positions. PPM has said that many of JP nominees had been unqualified.


Government begins purge of JP political appointees

President Abdulla Yameen’s administration has begun “a purge” of political appointees belonging to former coalition partner Jumhooree Party (JP).

Speaking to Minivan News today, JP Secretary General Ahmed Sameer said nine political appointees, including one minister, three state ministers and five deputy ministers, have been dismissed following the JP’s expulsion from the ruling coalition with Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM).

“An individual’s political affiliation must not affect their employment. This country is no longer free. I call on President Yameen to stop this discrimination,” Sameer said.

According to the JP, Yameen dismissed Minister of Transport and Communication Ameen Ibrahim on Thursday. Since then, State Minister of Transport Ahmed Zubair, State Minister of Defense Mohamed Muizz Adnan, and State Minister of Environment Hassan Shah have also been dismissed, Sameer said.

Deputy Minister of Health Adam Zalif, Deputy Minister of Environment Athhar Haleem, Deputy Minister of Transport Ikram Hassan, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Hameed and Deputy Minister for Finance Hussain Zamir have also been dismissed.

Sameer dismissed rumors that existing JP ministers – Minister of Economic Development Mohamed Saeed, Minister of Environment and Energy Thoriq Ibrahim and Minister of Home Affairs Umar Naseer – had joined the PPM.

He also condemned alleged attempts by PPM to recruit JP members to the ruling party.

President Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali was not responding to calls at the time of press.

PPM decided to unilaterally expel JP from the ruling coalition over JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim’s decision to stand for Speaker of the newly elected People’s Majlis. In Wednesday’s vote, Gasim narrowly lost the secret vote to PPM’s candidate Abdulla Maseeh.

PPM claimed Gasim’s decision breached the coalition agreement made between the two parties during November’s presidential election.

Gasim’s support was crucial in in Yameen’s win against the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

The tourism tycoon backed Yameen at the eleventh hour in exchange for a 35 percent stake in political appointees and a promise to contest parliamentary and local government polls jointly. The JP was allocated 33 percent of seats for the two subsequent polls.

The JP has previously complained about the PPM’s failure to appoint JP nominees to political positions, saying the party only received 29 of the 300 positions. The party alleges PPM breached the coalition agreement first.

With JP’s expulsion, only two smaller parties remain with PPM in the ruling coalition. They are Maldives Development Alliance and the religious Adhaalath Party.


PPM MP Maseeh elected speaker, MDP MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik deputy speaker

Ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed and opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik have been elected speaker and deputy speaker of the 18th People’s Majlis, respectively.

Fuvamulah South MP Maseeh was elected with a simple majority of 43 votes while Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim received 39 votes.

Hulhuhenveiru MP Moosa Manik was elected with 42 votes while PPM contender Abdul Raheem Abdulla received 41 votes.

Voting took place through secret ballot at the first sitting of the new parliament following a swearing-in ceremony in the morning, where the oath of office for the 85 MPs-elect was administered by Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain.

The ballots were counted by a five-member committee chosen at the beginning of the sitting with unanimous consent of all MPs present.

In the vote to elect the speaker, two ballots were invalidated as they were not marked with the designated pen. One ballot was not counted in the vote to elect the deputy speaker as the MP had voted for both candidates.

JP MP Mohamed Hussain who chaired today’s sitting did not participate in the vote. The veteran MP presided over the first sitting in accordance with Article 82 of the constitution, which states, “Until such time as a speaker and a deputy Speaker is elected the People’s Majlis shall be presided over by the consecutively longest serving member from among those present.”

Coalition on the rocks

The ruling Progressive Coalition meanwhile appeared on the brink of collapse yesterday as the dispute over the speaker’s post saw the PPM threaten to sever its coalition agreement with the JP if Gasim Ibrahim did not withdraw his candidacy.

The business tycoon, however, refused and accused the PPM of breaching the coalition agreement by not providing 35 percent of political posts and failing to include the JP in decision-making.

After Gasim’s name was nominated at today’s sitting, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb told local media before the vote was taken that the JP was no longer part of the coalition.

The PPM deputy leader revealed that the decision was made last night by the ruling party’s council, adding that the council would ask President Abdulla Yameen to dismiss political appointees belonging to the JP.

The parties entered a formal coalition agreement ahead of last year’s presidential election run-off between former President Mohamed Nasheed and PPM candidate Abdulla Yameen after Gasim placed third.

Gasim’s endorsement of Yameen proved to be crucial in the PPM-led coalition’s narrow victory in the second round of November’s presidential polls.

After a joint campaign for the parliamentary polls in March, the Progressive Coalition secured 53 out of 85 seats. The PPM won 33 seats, followed by the MDP with 26 seats, JP with 15 seats, MDA with five seats, independent candidates with five seats and the Adhaalath Party with one seat.

Neither party won enough seats to reach the 43-vote simple majority.

Shortly after the polls, three out of the five independent candidates as well as MDP MP-elect Mohamed Musthafa signed for the ruling party, bringing the PPM’s numbers to 37 MPs.


The opposition MDP had decided to support Gasim after announcing eight conditions for supporting a candidate.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed – acting president of the main opposition party – meanwhile led a small group of MDP protesters outside the parliament house, calling on the government to fulfil campaign pledges.

Speaking to reporters, Nasheed accused President Abdulla Yameen and PPM Leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom of attempting to control all powers of the state.

Contending that the PPM had no intention of honouring its coalition agreement with the JP, Nasheed said that the current administration was “based on a lie.”

“So I am hoping that the government will soon be changed. I don’t see how the government can be sustained with 25 percent support,” he said.


Majlis under threat, suggests outgoing speaker

“My projection of what I see for the next five years is very bleak,” says Abdulla Shahid.

“Those who want to make sure that the institution of parliament is a weak one – those who would like the institution to just be an executive office – have a majority today in the parliament.”

Shahid was today sworn in to stand alongside his fellow MPs in the 18th Majlis after having led the house from the speaker’s chair for the past five years.

With controversy already surrounding the appointment of his successor, Shahid has told Minivan News of his disappointment regarding what he sees as the persistent erosion of the institution’s powers and independence.

“What we are hearing, especially from President Abdulla Yameen today, is that the parliament has to be an institution which would continuously back the government, and that is what it has been from 1932 to 2009 – an institution that has always rubber-stamped whatever the executive or the president or the sultan wanted,” said the member for Henveiru North.

A member of the Majlis since 1995, Shahid was a founder member of the country’s second registered political party, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party – formed as part of the country’s democratic transition over the past decade.

However, in the aftermath of the chaotic transition of executive power in 2012 , Shahid switched his allegiance to the deposed Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), citing his fear that “opportunists & extremists” were trying to reverse the country’s democratic gains.

“There have been times when I have been slightly satisfied that the Majlis and the country are on the right path, but the entire five years put into context – looking back – I think we have not met the aspirations of the people, or what the people aspired for in 2008.”

Oversight and immunity

Looking back on his term as the first democratically elected speaker of the first democratically elected parliament, Shahid described an institution whose constitutional powers were under concerted attack.

“If you can look at the last five years in parliament – the continuous battering that parliament as an institution took was immense,” he recalled, suggesting that the source of this obstruction was the legislature’s oversight mandate – unprecedented in the Maldives’ history.

“The people over whom we have the oversight wouldn’t have liked it – like the executive, like the judiciary, like the military, like the police – no one liked the parliament bringing officials, executives, or officers to the parliament.”

“Peoples representatives asking questions – they didn’t like it, so they used whatever means – and I’m sad to say this, but the media extensively, to batter the institution of parliament,” said the former speaker.

The 2008 constitution also determined that the proceedings of the Majlis must be open to the public, a consequence of which appears to have been a collapse in the public’s confidence in the institution, according to a recent survey by Transparency Maldives.

The culmination of this “systematic attack”, argued Shahid, was the erosion of parliamentary privileges, almost as soon as the privileges act had been introduced after overriding a presidential veto.

“There was once again systematic propaganda to mislead the public on immunities and privileges, which are two different aspects of the parliament, but they were combined – it was projected to be the same thing and as a result I would say the parliament has suffered immensely.”

In November, the Supreme Court voided a number of articles included in the privileges act and subsequently sentenced MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor to a jail sentence for his failure to attend court hearings scheduled during voting hours – later overturned by the High Court.

MDP MP Abdulla Jabir has also been handed a jail sentence in relation to refusal to submit to urine testing, while two other opposition MPs were removed by the Supreme Court over decreed debt.

Speaking at the launch of a book chronicling the history of the Majlis this week, Shahid noted that over 100 MPs had been convicted and removed from office during the institution’s history.

“The new parliament coming in on the 28th, and even the sitting parliament, we don’t have any immunities,” lamented Shahid. “All these have been incorporated into the immunities act and the constitution based on our experience in the last several decades but they’ve all been taken away.”

He called upon all incoming MPs to work to ensure the institution’s immunities are restored in order to ensure they can fulfil their roles as representatives of the people.

“I think all MPs coming into the new parliament should understand that they are coming with a direct mandate from the people. They are not elected because they have the duty to protect the government of the day.”

“My advice would be to try and bring back the immunities that have been taken by the executive, and by the judiciary.”

The new speaker

During the interview, conducted prior to today’s ballot, Shahid appeared to predict the dissolution of the governing Progressive Coalition which the election of a new speaker has brought about.

With President Yameen’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) keen to place a member in the speaker’s chair, and with coalition partner Gasim Ibrahim receiving the backing of the opposition MDP, the PPM this week forbade the Jumhooree Party leader from standing.

Gasim’s refusal to defer to his electoral allies appears to have resulted in the splitting of the coalition, leaving the PPM and the Maldivian Development Alliance just short of what had previously been a handsome majority in the 85-seat chamber.

While  today’s vote was subsequently won by the PPM’s Abdulla Maseeh, Shahid’s thoughts on Gasim’s candidacy and the ensuing divisions in the house again echoed his concerns over parliamentary independence.

“I talked to Gasim in the parliament about the immunities and he agrees that these immunities should have been incorporated into the constitution,” said Shahid. “If anybody would have the experience and not let the same mistakes be repeated, it would be Gasim.”

Of foremost importance, maintained Shahid, was the appointment of a speaker who understands that the parliament has moved on from its traditional role as an extension of the executive.

“Nobody holds a majority in the parliament, so once again we would have a parliament which is dysfunctional, which is not controlled by anybody and which on many occasions I foresee working with the opposition trying to block things that the government would wish to do,” he said.

“That is the only encouraging part in this scenario, because many of the things that the current government would want to do – based on what they have been talking about in their rhetoric – is making sure that there is a slide back to autocracy.”


Government hampered by “restrictive” public finance law, says President Yameen

Amendments brought to the Public Finance Act by the opposition-controlled parliament during the three-year tenure of former President Mohamed Nasheed are posing challenges and difficulties to successive administrations, President Abdulla Yameen has said.

The amendments (Dhivehi) voted through in June 2010 stipulated that the executive must seek parliamentary approval before either obtaining foreign loans or leasing state property. Nasheed at the time declared that the law would make it “impossible for the government to function.”

Addressing supporters in the island of Naifaru in Lhaviyani atoll Sunday night (May 4),Yameen claimed that laws imposing “various restrictions” on the executive were passed by the People’s Majlis due to the “irresponsibility” of the former head of government.

But former President Dr Mohamed Waheed had also faced “difficulties” in governing after succeeding Nasheed in February 2012, Yameen said adding: “This is the problem we are facing as well.”

The executive was still forced to seek parliamentary approval “even for a MVR1,000 (US$65) loan,” he said.

“Scorched earth” tactics

The passage of the amendments in 2010 prompted the en masse resignation of President Nasheed’s cabinet on June 29 in protest of the opposition’s alleged obstruction and “scorched earth” policy.

While former Special Majlis MP Ibrahim Ismail ‘Ibra’ characterised the amendments as the “grand finale of decimating the executive” by wresting control from the executive, the Nasheed administration filed a case at the Supreme Court contesting the constitutionality of some provisions.

Yameen, who was leader of the minority opposition People’s Alliance at the time, said Nasheed’s “selling off of state assets and giving up uninhabited islands” had prompted the opposition’s actions.

“When many such actions that were harmful to the public occurred, a group of people advocating as the people’s representatives – myself included – determined things that cannot be done without a say of the parliament and passed a law called the Public Finance Act to hold the government accountable,” he said.

Following the controversial transfer of power in February 2012, the new administration – made up of former opposition parties – sought to reverse the restrictions concerning the sale and lease of state properties.

In December 2013, the Auditor General’s Office revealed that President Waheed’s administration violated finance laws in securing a domestic loan worth MVR300 million (US$ 19.45 million) from the Bank of Maldives (BML) for budget support.

Yameen also noted that he inherited an MVR30 billion (US$2 billion) national debt when he assumed office in November.

“That means to reach the ground I have to travel 30,000 million feet,” he said.

Coalition discontent

Contrary to Nasheed and Waheed, Yameen said he did not anticipate difficulties due to non-cooperation from the legislature as the Progressive Coalition – comprising of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and coalition partners Jumhooree Party (JP) and Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) – has secured a comfortable majority in the incoming 18th People’s Majlis.

But Yameen has admitted to “some discontent” within the ruling coalition due to a dispute over which party should control the seat of Majlis Speaker.

“The public should work to change this discontent among us to contentment,” he said, adding that constituents should demand the cooperation of opposition MPs as well as JP MPs.

Yameen suggested that the public voted for candidates fielded by the JP and MDA due to the trust the Maldivian people had in PPM leader, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Stressing the importance of the public’s backing and support for the government, Yameen urged constituents to “constantly remind” their MPs that they would not have “a second chance” if they vote against government proposals.

As the public voted for a change in both the presidential and parliamentary elections with high hopes for economic progress, Yameen said that the government’s policies and development projects should not be hindered due to problems within the coalition.


Government coalition remains strong, insists President Yameen

The ruling Progressive Coalition remains strong and united despite minor problems in the coalition’s “internal dynamics”, President Abdulla Yameen told the press yesterday prior to departing on his official visit to Japan.

Asked about rumblings of discontent from coalition partners, President Yameen suggested that the main issue of contention was appointing members of coalition parties to political posts, which posed difficulties to the government.

“One thing is that I don’t want the government to be one with that many political posts. I wanted to keep political posts within some limit,” he said.

Yameen explained that he had decided that political appointees should not exceed the number of appointees under the previous administration of President Dr Mohamed Waheed.

“However, the written agreement of our coalition had higher figures than before,” he conceded.

President Waheed’s administration comprised of the same parties in the current ruling coalition.

Members of coalition parties as well as the Adhaalath Party worked hard in the presidential campaign to secure the coalition’s victory, Yameen continued, and were “awaiting some kind of post” in the government.

A second issue was the preference for appointing educated youth to political posts with a first degree as a minimum requirement, Yameen said.

Parties sought to secure appointments for its members to the boards of government-owned corporations, though Yameen said the executive’s hands were tied by the new privatisation law.

The president’s nominees are evaluated by the privatisation committee and individuals who do not meet the criteria are rejected, he added.

Similarly, nominees for diplomatic posts such as high commissioners and ambassadors must have a background in foreign affairs, Yameen said.

Tension within the coalition was caused by the difficulties in appointing members of coalition parties to their desired posts, said Yameen, though he insisted that there were no problems at the leadership level.

While the problems related to appointments could persist, Yameen said he did not believe it could “affect the coalition too much”.

The number of political appointees in the executive presently exceeds 100, with four deputy ministers on average for each ministry.

The president’s remarks came after Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim revealed at a rally on Saturday night that JP members have been appointed to only 29 political posts so far.

JP was promised 35 percent of all political appointees in the coalition agreement, Gasim noted.

For example, if the government is making 400 political appointments, 29 is not 35 percent of that amount. [If it is 35 percent] there would be more. But if 29 appointments is 35 percent [of political appointments] then we are content,” the business tycoon said.

“But if we consider this figure, it should definitely reach 100. If this is not the case [we have to] look in to this.”


The JP was meanwhile absent from the celebration rally held earlier this month by the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance.

Several unsuccessful JP candidates have contended that they lost due to PPM members contesting as independents in constituencies reserved for the JP in the coalition seat allocation deal.

Explaining JP’s absence at the celebration rally, Gasim said that the event was organised by the PPM rather than the coalition.

Gasim claimed JP leaders were not given the opportunity to speak at the rally – “not even to give words of thanks”.

He further accused the PPM leadership of refusing to grant the JP’s request to alter the agenda to allow JP members to address coalition supporters.

Following the coalition’s victory in the March 22 parliamentary polls, the PPM and JP announced that the coalition partners would be fielding separate candidates to become the next speaker of parliament.

The speaker will be elected through secret ballot following the swearing-in ceremony for MPs-elect scheduled for May 28.

On the dispute over the speaker’s post, President Yameen told reporters yesterday that discussions on the issue have not taken place yet.

Yameen stressed the importance of parliament’s cooperation for the executive to implement policies, deliver services and fulfil campaign pledges, noting that parliamentary approval was needed for obtaining loans.

No one should be allowed to either obstruct the government from providing services to the public or “slow down” the legislative process, he added.

“So for that reason I want the speaker of parliament post for my party. I know Gasim is also interested. God willing, we will discuss it further with Gasim within the coalition,” he said.


Majlis elections: Voters said yes to peace and stability, says President Yameen

Voters said yes to peace and stability in Saturday’s parliamentary elections and rejected an ideology that was ruining the country, President Abdulla Yameen said at a rally held in Malé last night to celebrate the Progressive Coalition’s victory at the polls.

Voters said no to the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) ideology because the country did not have the “energy to bear the wounds any further,” he said.

Voters also rejected foreign interference in Maldivian domestic affairs, Yameen added.

The Maldivian people supported the government’s efforts to develop the nation and fulfil campaign pledges, he continued, and endorsed plans to “take Maldivian youth out of the crime environment, offer a second chance to persons serving sentences, and bring them back to society for rehabilitation.”

The Progressive Coalition will hold celebration rallies across the country in the coming days, Yameen said, including one in Thinadhoo tomorrow night.

In surprising victories, coalition candidates took both parliamentary seats in the MDP’s traditional stronghold in the south.

The rallies will be attended by PPM leader and former president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, along with coalition leaders Ahmed Siyam Mohamed and Gasim Ibrahim, Yameen said.

“Good news” will be revealed at the Thinadhoo rally, he said, adding that the PPM’s “list of pledges” was not yet complete.

Continue progress brought by “golden 30 years”

The policies in the PPM manifesto were formulated to transform the “landscape of the Maldives,” he reiterated, stressing that the policies were not limited to raising old age benefits, empowering women, or prioritising Quran and Islamic education.

The PPM-led coalition government’s policies would benefit fishermen, young entrepreneurs, and “people of all ages”, he said.

The main priority of his administration was “putting the economy back on track,” President Yameen said, adding that the public was already seeing signs of the economy rebounding.

Foreign investors were interested in coming to the Maldives because of the current political stability, he said.

“We want to change the Maldives to a modern nation from where President Maumoon’s golden 30 years brought us,” he said.

Acknowledging public discontent over the quality of healthcare, Yameen said fixing problems in the sector was a high priority, noting that there were two or three doctors per 10,000 people in most developed countries.

“With God’s blessing, the Maldives even today is in a position where we have to rejoice. Today there are 1.6 doctors per 1,000 people in the Maldives,” he said.

The foundation for the progress the Maldives has made was laid by President Gayoom, he said.

Separation of powers

Yameen also expressed gratitude to the leadership of the MDP for the prevailing stable political environment.

The opposition party has meanwhile released a press statement expressing “deep concerns” with the electoral environment ahead of polling day on March 22.

“The MDP believes the processes of elections from a quantitative point of view were efficient and well managed. However, continued judicial interference in the electoral process affected the independence of the elections commission, and created an atmosphere not conducive towards holding a free and fair election,” the statement read.

The Supreme Court’s removal of the Elections Commission (EC) chair and deputy chair in proceedings where the apex court was “judge, plaintiff and the jury” was an attempt to “intimidate state actors and voters,” the party contended.

The dismissals of the EC members two weeks before the elections “affected people’s confidence in the election and resulted in lower voter turnout,” the statement read.

The party called on the international community to maintain “robust engagement” with the government to “ensure Maldives does not backtrack on hard-won freedoms and reforms” since the adoption of a democratic constitution in August 2008.

Concerns over the Supreme Court’s negative impact on the electoral environment have also been expressed by EU and Commonwealth observer teams this week.

“The 7 Feb 2012 coup d’état, legitimised by the CoNI report, ushered in a period of authoritarian rule which continues to this day,” former President Mohamed Nasheed was quoted as saying in the MDP statement.

“We have a situation in which the Supreme Court now feels empowered to sentence the Elections Commission on politically motivated charges only a week before polling day,” he said.

“The Maldives no longer has an effective separation of powers and forces close to the former dictatorship now control all three branches of the state.”


Majlis elections: JP Gasim satisfied with results, but says vote-splitting cost greater gains

Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim has stated that, while he is satisfied with the results of the parliamentary elections, independent candidates affiliated with the governing Progressive Coalition cost the group seats.

Speaking at a press conference held on Sunday (March 23) at the party’s campaign headquarters, Gasim revealed that out of the 28 constituencies in which the JP had contested, leading figures of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) had independently contested in eight.

He stated that the provisional results being announced by various media outlets displayed the losses that this decision has caused the coalition due to vote-splitting between the coalition aligned candidates which led the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to win those seats.

Gasim admitted, however, that members of the JP had also contested in three constituencies in which the PPM was allocated, thereby causing the same loss.

He added that, although both parties had previously announced that they will penalise members who contested independently, neither has taken any such action as yet.

“We saw PPM challenge slots that the coalition had granted to us. And then right after that, Adhaalath Party – who used to work very closely with us – also went out and contested. They said that they will contest in the 28 constituencies that were given to us,” Gasim stated.

The JP leader went on to express hope that the independent candidates who have gotten elected to the parliament would work together with the coalition, stating that they are people “who have had ties with the JP and PPM from before their decision to contest”.

He added that with this alliance he is confident that the government coalition will get a three quarter majority in parliament.

He further said that the results of the parliamentary elections are “proof of the public’s acceptance of the current administration”, and of the rising sense of awareness among the public.

“We must make good use of the opportunity before us. If we try to abuse it, then whether we be government or someone else, no good will come of it,” he continued, stating that upon receiving majority in parliament, the focus should be on serving the citizens.

Gasim further stated that he is “not too keen” on acquiring the position of parliament speaker in the newly elected 18th Parliament.

“I will know for sure only when the time comes. I am not keen on it. I have been given that opportunity even previously,” Gasim stated on the matter.

Criticism against Adhaalath Party

At the press conference, Gasim levied heavy criticism against the religious conservative Adhaalath Party which had backed the JP in the early rounds of the 2013 presidential election.

The Adhaalath Party (AP) contested in 13 constituencies in the parliamentary elections, but managed to win only one seat.

Gasim stated that if the AP had accepted the four slots that the JP had offered them and run from within the coalition, they would have had a better chance at winning seats.

“It would have been better for the Adhaalath Party if they had accepted the four seats we offered them. But then, it’s only when a person dies that the living realise his true value. Some people are only able to appreciate how kind their parents were only after they pass away,” Gasim said.

He added that the decision of the AP’s leadership had caused them “irreparable damage” in this election.

“Imran came at me and demanded we give them 15 percent of seats, and said that if we don’t do so, they will contest in 50 constituencies. He said then we will see how that turns out, that we will see which party is able to win more seats.”

I found his words very unpleasant, it is not the kind of words that a person who maintains such Islamic principles would utter,” Gasim said.

“I responded immediately to his words. I said ‘so this is what it all comes down to. Now we are getting to see the truth. Out of impatience, you are struggling to come out of the womb in whichever way possible’,” he stated.

While the Elections Commission’s official provisional results are pending, local media reports that the JP has won 16 seats and the AP has won one seat out of the total of 85 seats in the 18th parliament.


JP member files case seeking Majlis elections delay

Jumhooree Party (JP) Youth Wing President Moosa Anwar has filed a case at the Supreme Court seeking a court order to delay Saturday’s scheduled Majlis elections.

“It is a case saying that the Elections Commission must consist of at least five members including the president of the Elections Commission,” Anwar told Minivan News.

“It’s in article 168 of the constitution. Currently the Elections Commission is not complete. So I don’t believe that they can hold an election.”

The Elections Commission (EC) currently consists of three members – the mandatory quorum needed for the group to hold meetings and pass decisions –  following the Supreme Court’s dismissal of EC President Fuwad Thowfeek and Vice President Mohamed Fayaz on charges of contempt of court and disobeying the court’s orders.

In the days following the court’s ruling, the Majlis approved Ismail Habeeb as the commission’s third member – joining existing commissioners Ali Mohamed Manik and Mohamed Farooq.

Anwar’s case also concerns the Majlis’ rejection of the Supreme Court’s ruling. A letter sent to senior government figures following the dismissals argued that the EC leadership was removed in contravention of the constitutional procedures governing their appointment and dismissal.

The letter was signed by both the Speaker of the Majlis Ahmed Shahid and Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim – MP’s with the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

“I have also requested the Supreme Court to disqualify their parliament membership and also their candidacy for this election,” said Anwar.

The case was file with the court at 1:30pm today, explained the JP member, although he had yet to receive confirmation that the court had accepted the case.

The Supreme Court earlier this week advised the EC that polls could proceed, despite the failure to gain the signatures of all candidates.

Approval of the voter registry was mandated in the Supreme Court’s 16-point guideline accompanying its annulment of last year’s presidential election first round.

Anwar explained that his decision was not a party one.

“None of the JP leaders have been informed. It was done on my own,” said Anwar.

“It has nothing to do with JP or any other party. This is not a politically motivated case. You will know that the vice president of the Majlis is also a government coalition member.”

Coalition unrest

News of Anwar’s case comes as an audio clip of JP leader Gasim Ibrahim has emerged on social media which appears to indicate unrest within the governing coalition.

In preparation for the upcoming Majlis polls, the three parties in the governing Progressive Coalition – PPM, JP, and Maldives Development Alliance – had agreed to allocate constituencies among the coalition partners, with the PPM contesting 50 seats, the JP contesting 28 seats, and the MDA contesting seven seats.

In the 2:49 clip, Gasim appears to criticise President Abdulla Yameen, former President and PPM leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and Home Minister Umar Naseer.

The audio appears to have been recorded after the revote of the presidential election, held on November 9 in which candidate Gasim finished third.

The court’s decision to annul the first round of the presidential poll came after Gasim had lodged a case alleging inconsistencies within the electoral register used on September 7.

In the recording, Gasim is heard saying that it would not be “easy on the heart” to endorse Yameen as he could not forget the “suffering” of his family under President Gayoom “even if I don’t say anything about it.”

“We couldn’t support Anni [MDP’s Mohamed Nasheed] because his principles are bad. We know how things are with Yameen. They are full of brutality,” he is heard saying.

The opposition MDP meanwhile put out a statement contending that the leaked audio shows that “Honourable Gasim joined the government coalition due to intimidation and political influence.”

As a result of the alleged mistrust among coalition leaders and their efforts to exert political influence over one another, the MDP contended that living standards have fallen and government services have deteriorated in the past four months.

“MDP has always been advocating that in a presidential system the public will not benefit from a coalition government. At such a critical juncture, this [leaked] phone calls has revealed the extent to which the coalition has unraveled,” the statement read.