Vendors turn Malé’s surf point into trash dump

Vendors have turned Malé’s surf point Raalhugandu into a waste dump after the biannual street market.

The two-week long market ended on June 13, but vendors left plastic, wood, cardboard boxes and pipes at Malé’s water front. The market organizer Maldives National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) has not picked up the trash two days after the market ended.

Some 500 stalls were set up for the market.

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The dumping of trash at the surf point sparked outrage on Twitter.

The MNCCI’s Vice President Ismail Asif told Raajje TV that the clean-up effort had been slowed by difficulties in transporting and offloading the garbage onto barges that would carry the trash to the dump on Thilafushi island.

The Malé City Council is cleaning up the mess now. Councilor Shamau Shareef appealed to the public to join him in the clean up with “brooms, gloves and garbage bags.”

As the sun set, only migrant workers staff were seen cleaning the area. Much of the garbage has been cleared on the outermost Bodu Thakurufaanu Magu, but adjoining Ameenee Magu is yet to be cleaned.


Stranded container ship in Male’ refloated: MNDF

A container ship was yesterday (Janaury 7) stranded in waters on the eastern side of Male’ for three hours before tug boats were able to successfully refloat the vessel, local media has reported.

Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Spokesperson Colonel Abdul Raheem told Minivan News last night that the ship, called Auguste Schulte, sailed under a Liberian flag.

The MNDF told local media that while the ship itself did not suffer much damage from the incident, investigations would be carried out on the reef where the boat had been stuck.

Should any damage be found on the reef, a fine of MVR 85,000 (US$ 5508) per square metre of damaged reef will be imposed, an official from the Transport Authority told the Sun Online news agency.


State lawyers delay protest camp case, challenging legality of MDP leadership

State lawyers have challenged the legal capacity of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s former president Dr Ibrahim Didi to sign on behalf of the party, in an ongoing court case between the MDP and the Maldives Police Services concerning the dismantling of the party’s tsunami monument protest site.

In April, after more than two weeks of hearings, the Civil Court dismissed the MDP’s case against the state claiming that the party’s interim chairperson Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik did not have the authority to file the case on behalf of the MDP. Didi then signed the court documents and the case was resubmitted.

The state lawyer representing police raised the procedural issue, arguing that the MDP had failed to inform the Elections Commission (EC) after amending the party constitution.

State lawyer Ahmed Ushaam stated in the session that the MDP had changed the method of leadership election from a vote in a party congress to a direct vote by the entire party’s membership.

However, Usham claimed the MDP had failed to inform the EC of the change as required by the political parties regulation, and therefore the legal legitimacy of party president Didi.

In response, former Minister of Human Resources Youth and Sports, Hassan Latheef, questioned whether the judge would also consider the legitimacy of the current government, to which the judge replied that such matters would be decided by the Supreme Court.

Speaking on behalf of MDP, lawyer Hisaan Hussain argued that the court would not be able to proceed with the case if the state kept taking procedural issues every day, noting that the state had earlier accepted that there were no more such issues to take note of.

Speaking to Minivan News, Hussain alleged that the government was trying to delay the proceedings by making “petty excuses”, while the party was fighting for fundamental rights entitled to it by the constitution of the country.

“We have changed the constitution in the last congress, and I do not believe that the amended constitution does not have legal effect just because it was not presented to the elections commission. It is an administrative matter that every party has to send its constitution to the elections commission, and that does not mean that the constitution is not legally ineffective,” she said.

“The court needs to draw the line as to the extent they should accept procedural issues. The elections commission is in charge of regulating the political parties and before they make any statement regarding the party’s constitution, and can the court take procedural issues on the matter?”

During the MDP’s first attempt to submit the case, Judge Aisha Shujon argued that the court could not verify whether an interim chairperson had been elected and so did not see sufficient grounds to continue with the case.

On 25 April, MDP resubmitted the case with the signature of then party president Didi, who was Fisheries and Agriculture Minister under the former government.Civil Court Judge Hathif Hilmee presided over the second hearings.

However five days later, the MDP National Council passed a no-confidence motion in the leadership of the party’s President Didi, and its Vice-President, former Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) MP Alhan Fahmy, removing both from their positions with an almost unanimous majority.

After the Maldives Police Services (MPS) dismantled the party’s first protest camp at tsunami monument area in mid-March, MDP moved its protest site to Usfasgandu. Male’ City Council permitted the party to use the premises as a compensation.

However, the cabinet of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan has decided to take over the control of the area last week, giving the MDP a deadline of May 14.

In a press statement released by the President’s Office, the government stated that the city council had “breached” the agreement with Ministry of Housing and Environment in utilising the land plots and other properties handed over to the city council by the ministry.

Male’ City Council however decided that it would not hand over the premises to the Ministry in a letter sent by the council to the ministry, stating that that the ‘Usfasgandu’ area was “temporarily leased” to the former ruling party in accordance with the Decentralisation Act, contending that the ministry did not have the legal authority to reclaim council property.


Police claim 99 arrested following yesterday’s unrest

Police have reportedly arrested 99 people following violent confrontations yesterday during protests led by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) to disrupt President Dr Waheed Hassan Manik’s presidential speech.

Police have told local press that 80 men, 13 women and six minors were among those who were arrested.

Of those arrested, 14 suspects were said to have tested positive for illegal drugs, though security officials did not specify what substances were have said to have been found.

Speaking to the press yesterday Police Superintendent Ahmed Mohamed claimed that the demonstrations taking place near parliament were at first peaceful.

However, Mohamed added that the protests turned violent after demonstrators attacked officers and entered in to the green zone.

He said security forces attempted to disperse the crowd, but protesters then used pavement bricks and other objects as weapons to attack the security forces.

During the clashes,  Villa TV[VTV], owned by MP ‘Burma’ Gasim Ibrahim, the leader of the Jumhoory Party [JP] – part of Dr Waheed’s government coalition – was vandalised by the protesters.

Mohamed said the attack was itself an act of terrorism and that those involved should receive the harshest punishment possible.

He said 11 police officers were injured and one with serious injuries has been now sent abroad for treatment.

A police spokesperson today told Minivan News that some of the arrested persons have been taken to the court for an extension of their detention period.  The police official was unable to specify the exact number of people who were facing extended detentions at present.

‘’It is very difficult to say at the moment because I am not quite sure about the figures,’’ he said. ‘’This evening we will provide details of the arrests.’’

Protest camp

Police also yesterday dismantled a protest camp site near to the Tsunami memorial that had been home to some MDP supporters originally from islands around the country without any prior warning.

The area was cleared; with people inside moved by police back behind a blockade at the entrance of the surfpoint.

Normality appears restored as of today though, where there is not a single Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) flag or a trace of the colour yellow seen in the area when the police left.