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!


Government-aligned parties condemn India for hosting “cowardly” Nasheed

Political parties supporting the current government of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan have criticised both former President Mohamed Nasheed and the Indian High Commission after Nasheed sought refuge inside.

Former President Nasheed entered the Indian High Commission on Wednesday ahead of a scheduled court hearing, to which he was to be produced under police detention.

Government aligned parties including the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) have all claimed accused Nasheed of being “cowardly”.

Leader of the DRP and presidential candidate Ahmed Thasmeen Ali told local newspaper Haveeru he was “disappointed” over former President Nasheed’s decision.

He claimed that the decision by the high commission to provide refuge for Nasheed meant the embassy was meddling in the domestic affairs of the country, and said the issue was too complex for India to resolve.

“When a former President shows up in an embassy and claims he was there for protection, it is not an easy matter to solve. A quick solution should be sought through dialogue,” he said.

Thasmeen claimed that there was no need for Nasheed to seek refuge from the Indian High Commission.

He also contended that no political figure could force the Prosecutor General (PG) to withdraw the charges levied against the former President, and that it was solely at the discretion of the PG to decide the matter.

Nasheed is being tried for his controversial detention of Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed during his last days in office.

“Appoint a better high commissioner”, Adhaalath party tells India

In a statement released on Saturday, the Adhaalath Party accused Nasheed of using the Indian diplomatic office as a shield to protect himself from being summoned to court.

“The Adhaalath Party believes that this cowardly act by Nasheed is a huge crime and an attempt to destroy the country’s legal system. Instead of working on proving his innocence, Nasheed is continuously harassing the legal system, defaming security services, showing disobedience and attempting to create chaos,” read the statement.

The party also condemned the Indian High Commission and the Indian government “for assisting a criminal fleeing from trial”.

“Making the Indian High Commission a political camp of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), and [letting Nasheed] hold discussions with MDP activists on the premises and encouraging them to create chaos and unrest among society lowers the respect of Maldivian people towards India,” read the statement.

The Adhaalath Party told the Indian government “to appoint a high commissioner who is professional and capable of mending the deteriorating bilateral relationship between the two countries”.

“The worsening of bilateral ties between the Maldives and India is not at all something which this party wants to happen,” it added.

The Adhaalath Party was a vocal opponent of India’s GMR Group, and its US$511 million concession agreement to develop Ibrahim Nasir International Airport. During on of the party’s rallies, several senior government figures mocked and insulted Indian High Commissioner D M Mulay calling him a “traitor to the Maldives”.

During a PPM press conference held on Thursday, party spokesperson MP Ahmed Mahloof claimed Nasheed was “coward” on the run knowing that his crime would invalidate his candidacy in the presidential election.

Mahloof said Nasheed did not have the patience to remain inside the high commission and that he would come out “very soon”.

“What is actually happening to Nasheed is that after resigning on February 7, 2012, he claims he will the MDP protests even if the police shoot him. But when the protests begin he is nowhere to be seen and is either at his home or on an island. Now we know Nasheed is a big coward,” he said.

He further said that Nasheed should be proving his innocence in court instead of hiding in the Indian High Commission.

Mahlouf said Nasheed’s decision to remain in the high commission until the elections would be costly to his party, as he would not have the opportunity to campaign as much as his rivals.

MDP response

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Spokesperson Imthiyaz Fahmy dismissed the remarks made by the government-aligned parties, claiming that their respective leaders were desperate to eliminate Nasheed from the upcoming presidential election.

“Why are they condemning Indian High Commission’s hosting of Nasheed when there are graver issues to be concerned about? Our judiciary is failing. The Commonwealth, the European Union (EU), UN and even the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) report highlights the flaws within Judiciary. Why are they silent on that?” Fahmy questioned.

He further reiterated that India was observing the situation in the Maldives and were wary of the situation with the judiciary.

Fahmy also condemned the Adhaalath Party’s derogatory remarks towards Indian High Commissioner D M Mulay.

In a statement, the MDP said the party’s comments were “unacceptable” and would “mindlessly”  impact the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

“President Nasheed has sought protection from the Indian High Commission after the Prosecutor General levied politically-motivated charges against him which lacked any legal grounds, and is concerned for his security,” the party said.

The party further contended that the Hulhumale Magistrate Court – which has been hearing the Nasheed trial – was illegitimate was therefore it unlikely that the former president would get a fair hearing.


PPM MP Ilham Ahmed to contest primary: “human nature to seek top office”

Vice President of the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and recently elected President of Football Association of Maldives (FAM), MP Ilham Ahmed, has said he may consider competing in the party’s upcoming presidential primary.

The Gemanafushi constituency MP told Minivan News he was considering contesting in the primary, but declined to give any details claiming that he had already given information to media.

Ilham told local media Haveeru that several supporters had called him and requested he contest.

Other candidates for the party’s presidential candidate include former Vice President of PPM Umar Naseer and PPM Parliamentary Group Leader MP Abdulla Yameen – half brother of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

The PPM has previously said the primary will  take place at the end of February although a specific date is yet to be announced.

“I am very seriously considering all the possibilities,” Ilham told Haveeru.

He also said his decision to potentially contest the primaries was not intended to split votes and defeat another candidate, as his competing would not disadvantage other contenders, he claimed.

“If a three candidate formula comes up in the primaries, it will be the ordinary party members who will make a decision,” he said.

He added that his presidential slogan would be “100 percent islanders’ presidency” or “vote for the 100 percent island man”, should he contest.

“When I compete for the presidential primary, people will consider whether to vote for candidates belonging to the capital Male’, or an islander,” he said.

Ilham further claimed it was a trait of “human nature” to always seek higher positions, and that he was no different.

“I also have the right to contest the primary. I am the Vice President of one of the largest political parties in the country. The largest association in the country is FAM. I have been elected the FAM president. Therefore I also have that interest to go for a higher post. That is human nature,” he said.

“When I am already elected as Vice President of PPM and President of FAM, people will obviously ask me to contest in the PPM primary and give me their support,” he added.

Ilham said it is very important that a presidential candidate of PPM maintain a good relationship with other government-aligned parties, suggesting that it was very difficult to predict who those parties would support in the event of a run-off election.

He added that the only way for PPM to win the election in the first round was to seek the support of other government-aligned parties including business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP), Dr Hassan Saeed’s Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) and the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP).

“We need to have a very good relationship with [other coalition parties]. It is important not to attack them on podiums and other political platforms. A coalition agreement is only possible if we have a good working relationship [with them]. I refuse to rule out the possibility that any of them may join forces with former President Mohamed Nasheed,” he said.

He also contended that his age and lack of experience were not a challenge to a government, should he be elected as president.

“I believe that being 36 years-old means I am very young. But, by the will of Allah, if I get elected as president, I would not be alone. I would also have a very tough team. That means, when I become president, current Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim would remain in his position. Current Tourism Minister Ahmed Adheeb will be given the same position. Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad will also stay in his position,” Ilham said.

Team Umar welcomes Ilham as a contender

Speaking to Minivan News, Senior member of Team Umar and PPM Youth Wing President Ibrahim Nazim said Umar’s team would welcome Ilham as a challenge should he decide to contest in the primaries.

“The PPM is a very open and a democratic party. We welcome any potential contenders. It shows the strength of the party’s internal democracy,” he said.

However, Nazim said that according to feedback from party members, Umar Naseer is the only candidate who would be able to win the primaries and that his team was expecting a “landslide” victory.

“The only person who can beat Umar Naseer is former President Gayoom. Even Ilham has his supporters too, but he will not be able to beat Umar Naseer,” he said.

According to Nazim, Umar Naseer is backed by a large majority of grass root members and members who have backed former President Gayoom since the formation of political parties in the country.

Nazim also alleged that some people are joining PPM with the sole intention of electing a certain candidate, but said that those tactics would be useless given Umar’s support base.

MP Yameen Abdul Gayoom – who is also contesting the primaries – was not responding to calls at time of press.


PPM membership tally overtakes DRP

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has overtaken the membership of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), from which it split in 2011.

According to the latest political party membership statistics released on Tuesday by the Election Commission (EC), the PPM is now the second largest political party with 22,793 members, with 472 membership forms pending.

The DRP currently has a membership of 22,501 members.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) of former President Mohamed Nasheed remains the largest political party by a substantial margin, with 46,321 members, with 1,234 membership applications are pending with the EC.

Business tycoon and presidential hopeful MP Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party is the fourth largest political party in the country with 11,139 members.

Meanwhile, the religiously conservative Adhaalath Party’s membership stands at 5,877 members.

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s party Gaumee Ithihaadh Party (GIP)’s membership stands at just 3,217 members with 1,395 membership forms pending.

The Dhivehi Gaumee Party (DQP) membership has meanwhile fallen to 2099 members.

The recently established Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) led by tourism magnate Ahmed ‘Sun travel’ Shiyam has a membership of 3,441 with 161 new membership forms pending.

DRP concerns

Following the release of party membership statistics, the government-aligned DRP expressed alleging that the Elections Commission was being politically influenced by fellow government party, the PPM.

Speaking to local media after a meeting with the commission, DRP Spokesperson Ali Solih said it was “very clear” that the Elections Commission was working in favor of PPM while verifying membership forms.

Solih alleged the decision by the elections commission to cease the practice of fingerprinting for membership forms was to enable the PPM to rapidly increase its membership.  The decision was made by the Parliament’s Independent Institutions Oversight Committee last November.

“Even if a committee decides on it, the Elections Commission should not stop the practice immediately. They have to check the forms that were submitted with fingerprints. But what we saw was when people from a specific party come to the Elections Commission, they stopped checking for fingerprints. This is something done to please a certain political party,” he said.

He further alleged that the EC had updated the party membership statistics ahead of PPM’s presidential primary, and suggested that something was taking place behind the scenes. He also claimed the commission had been negligent in assessing the membership forms from his own party.

“When we submit 800 forms, they don’t update them. But we see membership of parties that have  not submitted any forms continuously updating. We have doubts over how the Elections Commission carries out the process,” he added.

Human error

Speaking to Minivan News, Vice President of Elections Commission Ahmed Fayaz dismissed the allegations of party bias.

“We can assure that that Elections Commission is not working in favor of a certain group of people or certain political party,” he said.

Regarding the decision to not include fingerprints in membership forms, Fayaz said it was made by the parliamentary select committee and was not based on the request of a specific political party.

“When we make a decision, there will always be people who are not content with it. I believe that is the case with the DRP. They are expressing their views and we respect that,” he said.

Fayaz acknowledged that the commission had received complaints from the DRP regarding discrepancies in its membership forms submitted, and said the matter was being addressed.

“I do not deny the fact that there could be mistakes. We are all human beings. We use our human senses to verify membership forms, so it is subject to human error. It is also important to note we are not processing a few hundred forms, but thousands of forms from different parties. So there could possibly be errors,” he said.

According to Fayaz, if the current Political Parties bill in parliament becomes law, it would solve a lot of issues that the commission is currently facing.  The bill was passed by parliament and sent for ratification, but was rejected by President Waheed claiming that it bill compromised the constitutional right of freedom of association, by requiring parties to have a minimum of 10,000 members.

The number of political parties in the country currently stands at 16. That is expected to increase in the days to come as yjr Elections Commission has granted permission for ex-servicemen and current Minister of State for Home Affairs Mohamed Fayaz to create a new political party, which the local media has identified as the ‘Maldives Industrial Alliance’.


Gayoom’s half-brother Yameen “unconcerned” by other PPM candidates

Presidential prospect MP Abdulla Yameen believes no other candidate is of any concern unless his half-brother, former Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, contests the President Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) primary, local media has reported.

“People contesting in the primary are not of any concern to me. I only have to be wary of President Maumoon. And that is not because he is my brother,” Yameen said to Haveeru.

Yameen’s rival in the primary, PPM Interim Vice President Umar Naseer is facing rumors he will “step aside” for Gayoom’s brother-in-law Ilyas Ibrahim, according to local media.

Umar had said if a more capable candidate decides to contest the primary, he was ready to “step back” or “sideways,” reports local media.

Gayoom will not confirm his intentions to contest the presidential ticket until the final PPM candidates are announced and has maintained he will “not take sides” during the primary.


“Father unlikely to run for re-election”: Dhunya Maumoon

Dhunya Maumoon, daughter of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom , has said that it is unlikely her father will contest in the upcoming 2013 presidential election.

Speaking to local newspaper Haveeru yesterday, Dhunya said she believed only two candidates would be contesting in the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) presidential primaries.

She claimed the two candidates would be the PPM’s Interim Deputy Leader Umar Naseer and its Parliamentary Group Leader – and half brother of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – MP Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

“Hasn’t Umar [Naseer] said that it is him and Yameen who will be competing in the primaries? That is how things are currently being seen. But it is [Gayoom’s] own decision if he wishes to compete,” Dhunya told Haveeru.

Naseer this week announced his intention to stand in the upcoming party primaries at a time when former President Gayoom, the current interim PPM leader, also hinted at the possibility of his running for re-election.

“I would definitely back Gayoom if he is to contest the elections. He is our ‘ace of spades’. You cannot say that the ace of spades is not the ace of spades,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gayoom told Indian newspaper The Hindu Tuesday (December 11) that he may consider contesting in the next presidential election, which is presently expected to be held in August or September next year.

“Things change very frequently. So I am keeping my options open,” Gayoom was quoted as saying.

“[If I run] it won’t be out of my choice, if ever, it will be out of compulsion. Because I feel I have served the country for 30 years and I feel it is up to other people [now].” he added.

Although unclear of his intention to run for top office, Gayoom announced that he would be contesting for his party’s presidency during a press conference held today (December 13). Gayoom was elected interim leader during the party’s inaugural convention in October 2011.


Nasheed invites Gayoom to talks, offers apology

Ousted President Mohamed Nasheed has offered to apologise to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom for accusing him of masterminding the change of government, were the leader of 30 years to agree to participate in the the All Party Talks.

Gayoom this week accused Nasheed of continuously making baseless comments about him in both the local and the international community, particularly that the former President had masterminded a coup d’état on February 7.

“With such a person, I do not wish to sit down and negotiate,” Gayoom said.

In an official statement on Sunday, Nasheed argued that his allegations were based on public statements made by Gayoom and those closely affiliated with him politically, including his family members – many of whom now hold senior positions in government.

Gayoom had called for Nasheed’s government to be brought down prior to departing for Malaysia in January, a month before Nasheed resigned amid a police mutiny.

“President Gayyoom stated that it was time to bring an end to the government entrusted upon me in my capacity as President of Maldives, and that the instigation of the enterprise was already overdue,” Nasheed said.

Vice President of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Umar Naseer had stated on many occasions that he had personally staged and directed the coup from ‘the command centre’, noted Nasheed.

“Naseer also met with my Vice President, Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik (now President) prior to the coup, along with all parties affiliated with the 23rd December coalition, and implored Dr Waheed to take over the post of the President of the Republic on the sole condition that having usurped the presidency,  he would refuse to resign from his post,” Nasheed said.

Naseer, in an interview given to the SBS dateline program “Mutiny in Maldives” in February, explained in English what happened from the perspective of the opposition demonstrators on February 7.

“We had a small command centre where we do all the protests. I command from the centre and give instructions to my people. On the protesters’ side, we were informing and educating the police and army through our speeches and television programs,” Naseer said at the time.

Nasheed also highlighted that statements from MPs now aligned with the government, including PPM MP Ilham Ahmed and Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed, had expressed gratitude to Gayoom and his family following the toppling of Nasheed’s government.

“Subsequent to my resignation under duress on the 7thof February, Ilham Mohamed, the Honorable Member for the Gemenafushi Constituency and Vice President of the PPM, and Riyaz Rasheed, the Honorable Member for the Vilufushi Constituency, stated in an interview on the day of the coup that all thanks for the accomplishment of ‘this enterprise’, referring to the staging of the coup and overthrow of the government, were owed to President Gayoom and his family,” Nasheed said.

The former opposition parliamentarians had attested that President Gayoom’s son, Farish Maumoon, was instrumental throughout that entire night to the operation which accomplished “the enterprise”.

Nasheed also noted that Gayoom’s daughter and family members, being “part and parcel to the current coup government”, had “attained high offices within it.”

Nasheed contested that Gayoom had never denied that he had committed these actions on behalf of the political party to which he belonged, nor had he condemned any of the “aforementioned actions”.

“Nevertheless, in a predicament such as we are, and whilst the people of Maldives are overtly distressed by what has transpired after the coup, I have come to know that President Gayoom has said that he would sit with me for dialogue in the event I apologise for stating that it was he who instigated this coup,” Nasheed said.

Nasheed said he “firmly believed” that the powers of the Maldivian state were vested with the Maldivian people and should remain as such.

“Given that not for a single moment would I wish for someone unelected by the people of Maldives to entertain himself as leader to them, I believe now is the time for all parties to come forth in support of the best interest of the nation and its citizens, and as such, if President Gayoom indeed was not party to the coup, I have decided to apologise to President Gayyoom for the fact that I said he was behind this coup,” Nasheed concluded.

Nasheed also thanked facilitator of All Party Talks, Ahmed Mujuthaba, for “all the efforts” exerted by him to ensure that the negotiations succeeded.

Mujuthaba last week announced that a series of “high level” discussions will be held between President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan and the leaders of the largest political parties, to try and relieve growing political tension in the Maldives after the failure of talks in June.

Gayoom’s “humble refusal”

In a rally held yesterday by the PPM in Addu City, Gayoom publicly spoke vigorously condemned his successor, claiming that Nasheed had a habit of defaming him to both the local and international community.

Gayoom said that he had “humbly refused” a request from United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Patricia Butenis, to take part in the All Party Talks along with Nasheed.

He dismissed Nasheed’s claims that the controversial transfer of power was a coup d’état, but commended the acts of the mutinying police and military officials.

Following Gayoom’s statement, MDP Spokesperson MP Imthiyaz Fahmy said that it was disappointing to see Gayyoom refusing to take part in the All Party Talks.

“With the country fallen into this grave state, it is saddening to see Gayoom refusing to take part in the All Party Talks, a negotiation that is highly related to the public interest of the country,” Imthiyaz said, and called on the former President to prioritise the country before his own personal interest.

Imthiyaz said the MDP was ready to come to the negotiation table, a sentiment matched by former MP and MDP Legal affairs committee member Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail.

“I was once the President of the MDP. Nasheed was the Chairperson then. We both were harassed and tortured during Gayoom’s regime because we were opposed to his rule,” Ibra said. “But even then we were both prepared to talk to Gayoom and his government on issues that concerned the national interest,” he recalled.

Government demands “sincerity” from Nasheed

President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza said he doubted the sincerity of Nasheed’s “official apology”.

“Nasheed needs to show his sincerity and his commitment to the talks. If things are to materialise from the All Party Talks, [Nasheed] needs to win back trust and support from leaders of the other political parties,” he said.

Riza claimed that several political parties had expressed concerns following the ongoing protests by the MDP, alleging that Nasheed was behind the ongoing political “violence” and that this would affect the talks.

“All the political parties have raised concerns with the government regarding the ongoing political violence in the country. Nasheed should stop taking his supporters to the street and bring an end to the ongoing violent protests in order to win back the trust and support of other political parties,” Riza suggested.

The last round of All Party Talks collapsed after parties aligned with the government presented the ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) with a list of 30 demands.

The list included calls that the MDP “stop practicing black magic and sorcery”, “stop the use of sexual and erotic tools”, and “not walk in groups of more than 10”.

Riza said PPM council members had informed him they would come to a decision regarding Nasheed’s apology after a party council meeting, but said several were not in support of sitting down to negotiate with Nasheed.

“Some of them have said that they are not necessarily against talking to the MDP, but that it has to be someone else from the party and not Nasheed,” he added.

“The first thing on the agenda [of the talks] is to stop the ongoing political violence in the country. So there has to be peace to begin talks,” he said.


Youth Minister Mundhu Shareef defends ministry from DRP’s allegations of incompetence

Youth Minister and spokesperson for former President Gayoom, Mohamed ‘Mundhu’ Hussain Shareef, has hit back against the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP)’s allegations that the government had not made “adequate efforts” to address the country’s recent economic and political upheavals.

Mundhu’s response followed allegations last week from DRP Deputy Leader Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef that some top officials in the present coalition government – of which the DRP is one of several parties represented – had not shown themselves to be “capable” or “proficient”.

Speaking to online publication Channel News Maldives, Mundhu said the DRP’s criticism targeted ministries headed by the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) because ministries headed by the DRP had themselves not done sufficient work after the government came into power.

Mundhu also claimed that the criticism leveled against the PPM was with the intention of helping the government sort out its challenges, but was instead a personal attack. He also stated that when Shareef criticised the youth ministry, he did not realise that it was one of the most efficient ministries in the current government.

“If one had looked into Male’ alone, there has been significant progress made since I assumed the position,” Mundhu claimed.

He said that renovations had been brought to the youth centres in Villimale and Galolhu wards, and also the youth center in Hulhumale. He added that maintenance works were being carried out in Maafannu Stadium leveling its ground and fixing the lighting system, and that his ministry had planned further enhancements to the National Stadium as well.

“These are just a few works to date. The Youth Ministry is one of the most efficient ministries since Dr Waheed came to power,” he added.

Mundhu alleged that the DRP  had been making up stories “because the ministries that they control are failing.”

“They want to say the government is not functioning properly so they can walk away from the government. President Waheed will know of this,” Mundhu said.

Mundhu was not responding at time of press.

During a press conference held last week, DRP Deputy Leader Ibrahim Shareef expressed particular concern over the conduct of the Foreign Ministry, which he alleged had not sufficiently explained to the international community the current situation in the Maldives since the new government came to power. Both the Foreign Minister and State Minister are from the PPM. State Minister Dunya Maumoon is also Gayoom’s daughter.

Shareef also raised criticised accusations by the Foreign Ministry that the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) had sided with the now opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – a claim he did not agree with.

Shareef told local media that despite the “major achievement” of the coalition remaining in power for its first 100 days, it had been difficult for the DRP to “execute its policies and beliefs” in line with other parties.

He said he was confident that several ministries overseen by DRP representatives, including areas such as finance and tourism, were functioning “efficiently”.

Tempers have been flaring between the two parties, who make up the majority of the now ruling coalition of political parties backing President Mohamed Waheed Hassan. Waheed was sworn in on February 7 after former president Mohamed Nasheed’s controversial resignation.

Vice President of the PPM Umar Naseer has alleged to local media that DRP’s recent criticism of the government was due to their intention to leave the ruling coalition, an argument the DRP has denied to this date.

Speaking to newspaper Haveeru at the time, Naseer accused DRP leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali of trying to “get things done in his favor” through the present government.

“The DRP is seeking to get a sovereign guarantee to pay off Thasmeen’s debts. As soon as they know it can’t happen, they will break away from the coalition”, Naseer claimed.

However, Shareef denied Naseer’s allegations and accused Naseer of continuously attempting to defame Thasmeen.

“Umar accused Thasmeen and Abdulla Shahid of being involved in the [awarding of the airport] to GMR. If that is so, why aren’t they investigating the matter now that they are in the government? There is never any truth to what [Umar Naseer] says,” Shareef said at the time.

Naseer claimed that PPM deserved more positions in the current government than the DRP, as PPM had played the “most important role” in the transfer of power in February.

“Ninety-nine percent of the anti-government protesters were from PPM. 99 percent of the injured were from PPM. Our members sacrificed the most to change the government. And DRP does not deserve to get an equal number of government positions as PPM,” Naseer said.

Naseer’s comments follow last week’s press conference by the DRP criticising certain government officials and describing them as incompetent.

The Progressive Party of the Maldives formed from a splinter group in the DRP, under the leadership of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom. Gayyoom and Thasmeen came to blows after Gayyoom’s faction alleged that Thasmeen had been running the party through “authoritarian” means.