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.


Progressive Coalition to hold public feast to celebrate election results

The Progressive Coalition is to host a feast for the public to mark the Majlis elections success, according to local media outlet Vnews.

Speaking in a press conference held in Progressive Party of Maldives offices in Janavaree magu, President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali stated that the feast, titled ‘Shukuriyyaa Gaumu’ or ‘Thank you, Nation’, was part of the festivities to mark their success in the parliamentary elections.

Muaz added that senior officials of the Coalition partners will participate in the feast. He also said that the Coalition had invited members of opposition Maldivian Democratic Party.

The Progressive Coalition won a total of 53 of the 85 Majlis seats being contested on March 22, with the subsequent addition of 4 more MPs-elect swelling the number to 57.


Elections Commission unable to reach PPM and JP leaders to sign off on electoral register

The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Jumhooree Party (JP) presidential candidates have demanded fingerprint verification of the finalised voter registry, with police refusing to support the election without the candidates’ signatures.

After submitting letters submitted to the Elections Commission (EC) after midnight, the party’s leaders have been unreachable.

The EC is ready to hold the re-run of the presidential election’s first round tomorrow (October 19) as soon as the candidates approve the voter registry.

The Supreme Court’s controversial annulment of the presidential election’s first round held September 7 gave the the EC less than 12 days to prepare for the repeat poll, and mandated the commission adhere to 16 guidelines, which included obtaining every presidential candidates’ signature on the finalised voter registry and having the police play a substantive role in handling the logistics and security of the election and ballot papers.

The EC has been unable to reach JP’s candidate Gasim Ibrahim or the PPM’s candidate Abdulla Yameen or their representatives to sign the lists.

The commission told a press conference this morning (October 18) that it has called, texted,  and sent officials to individual’s houses – as well as to the homes of JP representatives Umar Naseer and Hassan Shah – but has received no answer.

“We are trying our best to have the election as per the verdict of the Supreme Court,” said EC Vice Chairperson Ahmed Fayaz. “But with all the hard work of the last 11 days, now the process has almost been halted.”

“Although we’ve invited all the candidates to sign the voter registry, so far we have not been able to reach PPM and JP. However, MDP sent their representatives and signed the registry,” he noted.

Minivan News understand that certain PPM MPs have expressed their determination to prevent Saturday’s election from taking place.

“Without their signatures, the Maldives Police Service is not willing to support us. They will not give protection to conduct the election and if we hold polls it will be invalidated by the Supreme Court,” explained EC Chairperson Fuwad Thowfeek.

“The police need signatures of all three candidates or their representatives [before they will allow elections officials to depart to their respective polling stations with the printed ballot papers and voter lists],” said Thowfeek.

Thowfeek noted that he had spoken to Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain about the difficulty of meeting the deadline immediately following the October 8 ruling.

“I spoke to Faiz again today about the lack of response from two candidates regarding approving the voter lists. He told me to keep trying. Send people to their homes and keep trying. He did not say what else we should do,” said Thowfeek.

Fingerprint verification demands

After midnight last night the EC received letters from the PPM and JP demanding fingerprint verification of the voter registration forms.

“PPM wants fingerprint verification of 10 percent of reregistration forms, which is over 7000 forms,” said Thowfeek.

“It will take at least 20 days,” added EC Member Ali Mohamed Manik. “PPM also asked for rejected forms to be resubmitted. PPM said they will only sign list when these requests are attended to.”

“JP’s letter asked for verification of 5 percent of forms, which is over 3500 forms,” Thowfeek continued. “Each form has four people’s fingerprints, the voter, witnesses and the bearer’s fingerprint.”

“We asked if there are any suspicious forms submitted by specific people, so we can send those forms for verfication, but neither PPM or JP has provided a list like that,” he noted.

“This is not really practical at all, even the police only have fingerprints for some people, not everyone [eligible to vote],” Thowfeek added. “The Department of National Registration (DNR) says they don’t have the technical expertise, it’s not possible [to verify fingerprints].”

“This is going to take many days. We don’t have that many days. This is the last day to finish updating the forms [with candidate’s signatures], after that there is only one day to do everything, like sending personnel and materials.”

“It is an impossible demand they are making again,” lamented Thowfeek. “I don’t know why they don’t understand we don’t have time to do all these things [and adhere to the Supreme Court’s verdict].”

“We have not yet given a deadline. By giving a deadline it may make things more difficult,” he continued. “For example, if deadline of 12:00pm is given, and they don’t sign, then it may cause problems. The EC is willing to wait until last minute for signatures.”

“Up until today, we hoped Gasim and Yameen will cooperate with us. We have very little time. There is doubt if we can proceed without solving these problems,” stated Thowfeek.

“We urge [Qasim and Yameen] to sign the lists. The election is now in their hands.”

“We want to work until the last minute. We do not want to create a hopeless situation,” he declared.

Overseas vote and party responses

“Fortunately, Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz gave his approval for us to send election officials and materials to Delhi, India this morning on the condition that the EC sign a letter stating we will not allow polling to take place without signatures of all the candidates,” explained Thowfeek. “Instead the EC will send a PDF copy of the approved registry.”

This afternoon the elections officials need to depart for evening flights to London and Singapore, Thowfeek continued. The EC may need to seek approval from Riyaz to send officials and materials to these locations under the same conditions.

“We have not yet come to a situation where we cannot hold an election. We hope now and we continue to hope that the election proceeds. We are just trying to reach the candidates and their representatives,” added Commissioner Manik.

The opposition MDP announced yesterday (October 17) that it had accepted the modified voter registry despite finding some minor irregularities contained within, to ensure the re-run of the annulled 2013 presidential election goes ahead as scheduled on Saturday (October 19).

Ghafoor accused both the PPM and JP of deliberately trying to avoid a vote without giving sufficient reasons for their reservations.

“The situation is ridiculous, they have run away from the vote,” he said.

After attempts to contact senior JP leadership, Minivan News was advised to call party Spokesman Ibrahim Khaleel whose phone was switched off at the time off press.

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen told Minivan News this morning that the party still had not seen the amended voter registry, while questioning why the MDP had signed the list ahead of Saturday’s scheduled vote.

“I fail to understand the MDP’s readiness to sign the list before seeing the list,” he said today.

In a correspondence obtained by Minivan News that was sent by Yameen to Elections Commissioner Fuwad Thowfeek this morning, the PPM expressed concern that it not even seen or had the chance to verify the registry.

“Please allow us 72 hours to verify [the list] and please comply with our request to authenticate the sample specimens of thumb prints,” stated the message. Today, a PPM team will visit you and request to physically see the 71,000 re-registered forms.”


Attempts will be made to “assassinate” my character: Umar Naseer

Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) presidential primary candidate Umar Naseer has claimed he has “received information” of an attempt to plant drugs in one of his offices.

A post made under Umar’s name on his Facebook and Twitter pages stated he had received “intel” that an attempt would be made to discredit his name by planting contraband in one of his offices.

Umar Naseer is the Managing Director of both Whale Submarine and and Alarms Pvt Limited. One of building in which the Whale Submarine office is located caught fire on Saturday (March 9).

Despite the posts on social media, a source familiar with the matter told Minivan News on Tuesday (March 13) that police had already searched through the Umar’s offices looking for contraband.

“After Home Minister [Dr Mohamed] Jameel [Ahmed] joined Umar’s competitor [Abdulla] Yameen in his campaign meeting, police turned up at Umar’s offices with a search warrant allegedly looking for alcohol,” the source claimed. “It is an intimidation tactic I think.”

Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef denied that police had searched the offices of the PPM presidential helpful.

Both Umar Naseer and Abdulla Yameen are currently campaigning to win the PPM’s presidential candidate slot for the upcoming presidential elections to be held in September this year.

Umar Naseer’s secretary, when contacted by Minivan News, said that Umar was unable to comment on the matter as he was away on a campaign trip.

Asked whether she was aware of any office searches by police, the secretary stated: “I am in no position to answer that. I will get back to you.”

Minivan News was awaiting a response at time of press.

On Saturday (March 9), local media reported that a fire had broken out at a Sakeena Manzil property in Male’ – a building also used by Umar Nazeer’s ‘Whale Submarine’ company.

Soon after the flames had been extinguished by Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) firemen, local media reported that the MNDF equipped two well-known PPM activists with gas masks and oxygen tanks, who then entered the building.

According to a report in Sun Online, the two PPM activists went inside the building to retrieve some “very important objects”, but it had not been elaborated as to what these objects might have been.

MNDF Spokesperson Colonel Abdul Raheem denied reports made by local media, stating: “The fire chief told me they did not allow any civilian to enter the building or tamper with fire equipment.

“Once the area was deemed safe however, members of the public were allowed back into the building with the guidance of police,” Raheem told Minivan News.