Coalition parties’ Majlis selections continue amid internal criticism

The Jumhooree Party has assigned tickets for all 28 constituencies in which it will contest the upcoming People’s Majlis elections.

After giving tickets for eight sitting MPs and the former Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz last week, the party yesterday announced the candidates selected for the remaining 19 seats.

The JP’s procedure in selecting candidates involves applicants being reviewed by a special committee formed by the party council, which grades them through a set of publicly announced criteria. Applicants with most points receive the ticket – in the case of a draw, the party will reach an agreement through dialogue, with a primary race only becoming necessary should these methods fail to find an acceptable candidate.

The selection of sitting MPs and Riyaz, however, came without a public call for candidates, and were subsequently criticised by party council member Fuad Gasim – particularly as most of these members joined the party very recently.

“I believe a lot of people worked very hard for the country, democracy, and the party during the recent presidential elections. Even if they are MPs I cannot accept them – not being part of that work and now coming to us for tickets when the government changed,” said Fuad.

Meanwhile, the PPM primaries scheduled for tomorrow have been delayed indefinitely. A party official stated that the delay was due to certain decisions that have to be made by the party council.

The party council will screen all 150 candidates applying for the party’s 49 allocated constituencies through a set of criteria before primaries are held.

PPM Secretary General Mohamed Zuhair told local media that these deliberations include making a decision on handing over party tickets to sitting MPs without a primary.

The party’s procedure for selecting candidates have also been subjected to criticism from party members, with supporters in Laamu atoll demonstrating in support of a primary. The protesters accused PPM leadership of planning to give the Maavah constituency to the incumbent MP Abdul Azeez Jamal Abu Bakr without a primary.

PPM member Simad Adam said that an estimated 240 people were protesting against handing over the ticket to Jamal “on a tray” because of his close ties with President Abdullah Yameen: “The party’s constitution says primaries must be held. There are others who want to contest the seat. We are just asking for a primary.”

Through a deal made within the governing coalition, the PPM will be contesting for 49 seats, the JP for 28 seats, and 8 seats have been reserved for the Maldivian Development Alliance (MDA).

Among the eight, the MDA reserved two for sitting MP s – party leader and Dhaalu Meedhoo MP Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam, and Dhaalu Kudahuvadhoo MP Ahmed Amir. Tickets for two seats were won without a primary as only single candidates applied.

Primaries for a further two seats were held on 30 January, though after discovering issues with voter lists, the party will be repeat the primary for Manadhoo constituency tomorrow.

The MDA decided not to contest for Gahdhoo seat, for which the incumbent MP Zahir Adam will contest independently.


Donor Conference pledges now US$487 million, says Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Aid commitments following the recent Maldives Donor Conference have reached US$487 million, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed and State Minister Ahmed Naseem took to the stage this morning to dismiss claims made by the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) that the donor conference had raised less US$20 million in pledges.

“That is their own number,” Dr Shaheed said.

“If you add up the money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the UN system, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) it’s almost US$200 million. That is 80 per cent of pledges coming from these big donors.”

Shaheed spoke about monitoring and implementation mechanisms, which would ensure the funds are used according to the donor’s wishes and the government’s pledges.

Coordinator for the UN in the Maldives Mansoor Ali said the donor conference had been very successful and it was “not the time to be negative” about the results.

Dr Shaheed also spoke of the recent climate change meeting held this week by the Progressive Group in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, where delegates from 23 countries met to advance negotiations before the next international climate change summit scheduled to take place in Cancun, Mexico in November this year.

The Progressive Group brings together the countries with a “forward-looking and constructive attitude to international climate change negotiations,” and played a key role in last year’s international climate change summit in Copenhagen.

Delegates from over twenty countries came together in Colombia to “exchange opinions and promote active participation towards the next climate change summit.”

The meeting focused mostly on creating ministerial-level communication between countries, in hopes to ease dialogue between nations and to advance on key issues such as fast-start financing, adaptation, low-carbon development and verification of emission cuts.

Maldives proposed a second ministerial-level meeting to take place in Malé in July this year.

Dr Shaheed also spoke of President Mohamed Nasheed’s recent visit to Europe, and confirmed that German Police officers will be arriving in Malé “very soon” to begin training Maldives Police Service (MPS) officers to work in a democracy.

“They are the ones who retrained the Stasi in East Germany after German reunification, as well as the police force in Kosovo,” Shaheed said. “They are the best in the world at what they do.”

He said the German team will stay in the Maldives from one year to eighteen months, depending on when they believe the MPS is ready, “all at the German government’s expense.”

Dr Shaheed added that Icelandic President, Ólafur Grímsson, will be visiting the Maldives soon to promote sustainable green energy alongside President Nasheed.

Dr Shaheed spoke of the recently signed agreement with the Rothschild banking dynasty, which has agreed to help the Maldives in the bid to become carbon neutral by 2020.

“There needs to be a study on where we have most carbon emissions,” Dr Shaheed said, adding that “they will also try to carbon-proof our current systems.”

The Rothschild group will secure international financing to fund a carbon audit of the Maldives. Dr Shaheed said the surveying will take approximately nine months.

Dr Shaheed ended the press conference with news of the UN Human Rights Council’s decision to draft a new international human rights treaty as an additional optional protocol to the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), which was proposed by the Maldives.

Maldives was chosen to chair the core group discussing the CRC in Geneva, joined by Slovenia, Slovakia, Egypt, Kenya, France, Finland, Thailand, Uruguay and Chile.

The CRC, which is the most ratified treaty in the world, was lacking in allowing cases regarding abuse of the rights of children to be submitted to international UN mechanisms.

The new treaty proposes to allow cases to be sent to international protection mechanisms to intervene when domestic institutions fail to offer protection.

Correction: In an earlier version of this story Dr Shaheed was quoted as saying the visiting German police trainers were  responsible for retraining the Gestapo after the Second World War. This has been clarified as the Stasi, the East German secret police, who were retrained after the reunification of Germany post-1990.