Deputy speaker seeks to ban megaphones at Majlis

The deputy speaker is seeking to ban horns, sirens and megaphones inside the parliament as opposition protests on the Majlis floor enters its eighth week.

MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik is proposing amendments to the Majlis standing orders banning horns, megaphones and other objects that may “mentally disturb” people, according to Haveeru. 

The amendments also prohibit MPs going up to the Speaker’s desk to disrupt Majlis proceedings.

Moosa, formerly a member of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), said he will make “many amendments to keep order and discipline in the Majlis.”

MDP and Jumhooree Party MPs have been protesting since March 2 over the arrest and subsequent imprisonment of former President Mohamed Nasheed and ex defence minister Mohamed Nazim.

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives has continued with Majlis debates while Speaker Abdulla Maseeh has proceeded with several votes including a law to delay the new penal code amidst opposition protests.

However, the debates have been inaudible over the sound of sirens and horns, while some votes were counted with a show of hands.

Moosa told Haveeru the Speaker will not to allow an MP to speak if other MPs from their party are disrupting Majlis proceedings.


Elections Commission says MDP cannot force Moosa to follow party whip

The Elections Commission (EC) has reportedly found no legal grounds on which the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) can impose the three-line whip on MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik.

According to media sources the EC’s letter noted that Moosa took an oath to sincerely and truthfully carry out the responsibilities of a parliament member in accordance with the Maldivian Constitution.

EC officials referred Minivan News to Moosa for further details regarding the deliberation, but the Hulhuhenveiru MP was not responding to calls at the time of press.

The commission investigated the case after Reeko – also deputy Majlis speaker- had requested a review of the MDP disciplinary committee’s decision to dismiss him from the party – a decision later backed by the party’s appeals committee.

When asked whether the decision regarding the case submitted by Moosa would oblige the MDP to take any particular action or reverse the party’s decision, the EC today stated that the commission cannot order any party to a particular course of action.

Moosa has previously refused to pursue the case in the courts, and said he would he not be joining another party. CNM has today quoted Moosa as saying: “I do not wish to leave the MDP, I will even participate in the party’s activities”.

According to the decision by the MDP’s disciplinary committee, if Moosa wishes to rejoin the party he is required to issue a public apology and obtain 50 new members for the party, but will be barred from standing for any leadership position or contesting in party primaries for five years.

Although Moosa has described the disciplinary committee’s decision as “discriminatory”, the appeals committee found no evidence that any other MPs had defied the party whip more than once, claiming that Moosa had done so on five occasions.

The appeal committee’s report noted that Moosa had violated the parliamentary group’s three-line whip on four other votes in December, listing them as: voting to consider and then to accept amendments to the Judicature Act, voting to pass the 2015 state budget, and voting to amend the Import Export Act.

Moosa was dismissed on December 22 after the party’s national council asked the disciplinary committee to take stern action against those who violated the three-line whip in the crucial vote to remove Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan on December 14.

The Majlis decision to remove the Supreme Court judges has been deemed unconstitutional by multiple local and international groups including the Maldives’ own Civil Court.

Responding to the appeals committee, Moosa said that the decision to expel him and to bar him from contesting in the MDP’s internal elections is in contradiction of articles 26 (b), 90 (a) and 109 (a) of the Constitution.

Article 90 grants immunity for actions carried out in the People’s Majlis, Article 26 defines the rights to vote and contest in elections, and Article 109 defines the requirements of an individual intending to run for the presidency.

Moosa has expressed his belief that the real reason for his dismissal from the party was his announcement that he intented to contest the MDP’s presidential primaries in 2018.

Related to this story

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Reeko Moosa appeals to MDP disciplinary committee after dismissal

Deputy Speaker of Parliament MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik has appealed against the decision to expel him from the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Moosa described the decision as “discriminatory” as the five other MDP MPs who were absent from the vote to dismiss the Supreme Court judges were given lesser penalties, reports Haveeru.

The remaining five MPs had been ordered to issue a public apology after having breached the party’s three-line whip only once, with the party publishing the resulting letters on its website today.

Moosa’s letter is also said to have claimed that the three-line whip issued regarding the judges was in conflict with the interests of MDP’s ordinary members, also describing it as a step taken to defend the interests of a “few influential” people within the party.

The MDP’s disciplinary committee expelled Moosa on December 22 after he repeatedly breached the party’s three-line whips including the vote on the 2015 state budget, amendments to the Judicature Act – which reduced the seven-member Supreme Court bench to five, and the subsequent removal of Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan.

If Moosa wishes to rejoin the party, he is required to issue a public apology and obtain 50 new members for the party, but he will be barred from standing for any leadership position or contesting in party primaries for five years.

Moosa has previously stated that he does not trust the party’s appeal process, and has said he will request that the Elections Commission review the decision.

Moosa’s mobile phone was switched off at the time of publication, while Ali Waheed said he did not wish to comment on the matter.

The former MDP chairperson Moosa told Minivan News last month that he felt his dismissal had been a deliberate ploy to remove him from the 2018 presidential primaries, labelling party President Mohamed Nasheed a “green dictator”.

Apology letters

Meanwhile Vaikaradhoo MP Mohamed Nazim, Velidhoo MP Abdulla Yamin Rasheed, Mulaku MP Ibrahim Naseer, Felidhoo MP Ahmed Marzooq, and Kurendhoo MP Abdul Bari Abdulla have apologised to the MDP and its members for violating the three-line whip on the removal of Supreme Court judges.

In the letter written by Yamin, he apologised to the party and its members “for not being able to attend, vote & not to followi [sic] whipline of the party”, assuring the “public and party leadership that, I will not repeat the mistake in the future”. The letter provided no reasons for his absence.

MP Bari stated that he was unable to attend the Majlis on the day of the Supreme Court judges removal as he had been in Colombo when the whip was issued, arguing “I have also not received the whip line with sufficient time for me to get back to Male’ to attend the parliament for voting”.

Furthermore Bari’s letter, “congratulated” the disciplinary committee for the “good work done” and stressed the need to take action against MDP MPs who have “consistently and purposely voted against the party whipline”.

Similarly, while apologising to the party and its members, Nazim stated in his letter that he was unable to attend the Majlis on December 14 as he was left with no choice but to travel abroad with his wife who required medical treatment.

While Marzooq’s letter did not provide any reasons for violating the three-line whip, he stated that he respects the decision of the disciplinary committee and that he sincerely apologises for being absent for the vote.

Marzooq also assured the MDP and its members that his decisions in parliament will not in any way damage or distress the party in the future.

In MP Naseer’s brief letter he apologised for the “damage caused to the party due to my absence”.

International reaction

The MDP has said the sudden removal of the two Supreme Court Judges is an attempt to stack the judiciary in President Abdulla Yameen’s favour.

Moosa has argued that the dismissed chief justice had done great harm to the party, not least when swearing in Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed without question following Nasheed’s controversial resignation of the presidency in February 2012.

During Faiz’s tenure, the Supreme Court bench had stripped three MDP MPs of their membership and annulled the first round of presidential elections held in September 2013, he told Minivan News following his dismissal.

Commonwealth groups have described the judges’ removal as unconstitutional, saying it constituted a clear breach of the Commonwealth Principles to which the government of Maldives has subscribed.

The International Commission of Jurists said the Maldivian parliament and executive “have effectively decapitated the country’s judiciary and trampled on the fundamental principles of the rule of law and separation of powers in a democratic State.”

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Nasheed elected uncontested to MDP presidency

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has been elected president of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) after standing uncontested for the position.

Nasheed had taken over the leadership as acting-president of the part following the resignation of chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik after March’s disappointing Majlis election results.

After the party won just 26 of the 85 seats in the legislature, MP Reeko resigned, urging new leaders to come forward and current leaders to follow his lead in stepping down.

Nasheed received 33,709 votes from a total of 57,203 eligible voters, while former MP Ali Waheed – a losing candidate in the March polls – secured the chairmanship, also uncontested, with 26,033 votes.

Nasheed had called for new leaders to come forward and lead the party immediately following the Majlis polls.

“I want new people to come forward to run the party. But I will not go away from the party, I will always remain in doing party work,” he added.

Senior party members, including Reeko and Parliamentary Group Leader Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Solih,  suggested that the election setbacks had been a result of internal problems as well as the use of undue influence and bribery by other groups.

The position of both president and the vice president of the party have been vacant since Dr Ibrahim Didi and VP Alhan Fahmy were removed in a no-confidence vote in April 2012.

Former MP Mohamed Shifaz was also elected yesterday as party vice president, receiving 21,052 votes

March’s elections prompted the MDP to form a three-member committee tasked with collecting suggestions and ideas from the public for reforming and restructuring the party.

The suggestions – which include clearer delineation of leadership roles, greater transparency during internal elections, and better engagement with the media – will be considered at the party’s next national council meeting later this year.


Nasheed announces candidacy for MDP presidency

Former President Mohamed Nasheed yesterday announced his candidacy for the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidency – vacant since the national council removed former party president Dr Ibrahim Didi in April 2012.

Nasheed, who represented MDP in the 2013 presidential elections, is currently the interim president of the party after the National Council appointed him to the post on April 1.

Meanwhile, former party chair MP Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik reiterated calls for young leaders to come through the ranks, while refuting reports that he hoped Nasheed would not again stand for office.

Speaking with Minivan News today, Moosa – recently elected as Majlis deputy speaker – expressed the need for a “young and new” leadership in MDP.

“Deciding who will become the [permanent] President is in the hands of party members. I think is time for us, who have been in the leadership before to make way for a young leadership and step aside.”

Recently quoted in Haveeru as saying he hoped Nasheed would not compete in future presidential elections in order to make way for young leaders, Moosa told Minivan News that his words had been misunderstood.

The Hulhuhenveiru MP clarified that, since Nasheed is working to bring a parliamentary system, it would mean the most powerful position would be that of prime minister, and that Nasheed would not be then be running for president.

Time for young leaders

However, Moosa added that – though he still supports the parliamentary system “as the MDP has always done” – he felt that Nasheed’s calls to bring about the change immediately were premature.

“We were demanding a legitimate elected government in the Maldives, and we have one now. So I think we should give time for the people to breath and for economic and financial stability. The government should also be given an opportunity,” said Moosa.

“We saw what happened during our government, we should see how things go for this government instead of trying to destabilise the political environment.” Moosa said.

“The problem is less about the system of governance and more to do with powers of the state stepping into each other’s boundaries”.

He added that he would also be against anything done in cooperation with President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, referring to Nasheed’s suggestion that he would gladly work alongside the 30-year ruler to bring about the necessary constitutional changes.

Moosa said the appointment of Nasheed as the interim president could be a good move as he is an experienced politician, adding that his calls for a young leadership was inspired by Nasheed’s post-Majlis election statement calling for a new leadership and internal reform.

“I want new people to come forward to run the party. But I will not go away from the party, I will always remain in doing party work,” Nasheed said at the time.

Noting that there were capable and experienced candidates for future leadership, Moosa gave the example of former MP Ali Waheed.

“There was a similar thinking before back when Maumoon was in power. People though that no one else have the capability of ruling the country. And again later when Maumoon founded PPM, a young leadership came out of the party and are still holding posts. MDP have much more capable people,” said Moosa.

Nasheed and the MDP

President Nasheed – also a founding member of the party – acted as its chairperson from December 2005 until he won the primary for presidential elections in April 2008.

After winning the first ever democratic presidential elections in October 2008, he automatically remained leader of the party until his dramatic resignation in February 2012. According to internal regulations, when the party is not in power the highest authority of the party will be its president.

While Nasheed is the only candidate who has thus far announced candidacy, the official date for applications is Jun 15 – 25, with elections for president and chairperson of the party on August 29.

The MDP has also called for a National Congress – a gathering which includes representatives from all organs of the party across the country.

Initially planned to be held this weekend (June 6-7), the congress was today delayed due to difficulties in arranging a venue.

According to the party, discussions at this congress will include the restructuring of the party and proposals made by the members regarding the issue.


Nasheed appointed acting president of MDP as ‘Reeko’ Moosa resigns chairmanship

MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik announced his resignation as chairperson of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) at a meeting of the party’s national council today, which also saw former President Mohamed Nasheed appointed MDP’s acting president.

At the conclusion of today’s meeting, the outgoing chairperson said he decided to resign because he believed in democratic principles, urging other members in the party’s leadership to follow his example.

He added that former President Nasheed was in charge of the MDP’s election campaigns, which were conducted based on “his instructions and under his supervision.”

Moosa assured council members that there was no “negligence” on his part that was to blame for the MDP’s losses.

Today’s meeting was called to discuss restructuring and reforms following electoral defeats in the presidential and parliamentary polls, and to decide a date for the party’s next congress.

MP Moosa Manik announced his resignation at the start of the council meeting in Dharubaaruge this afternoon.

In the wake of the party’s poor performance in the Majlis elections, Nasheed told the press that the leadership should bear responsibility and called for new leaders to take the party’s helm.

The main opposition party fielded 85 candidates and won 26 seats in the March 22 elections, while the ruling Progressive Coalition secured a comfortable majority.

The coalition’s numbers in parliament grew to a two-thirds majority with yesterday’s defection of MDP MP-elect Mohamed Musthafa to the Progressive Party of Maldives.

A resolution to appoint Nasheed acting president was adopted with the support of 47 members out of the 54 in attendance at today’s council meeting.

The post of the MDP’s president has been vacant since the national council removed former party president Dr Ibrahim Didi with a no-confidence vote in April 2012.

The MDP national council today also decided to hold the party’s congress on June 6 and 7.

Among other decisions approved today, the national council voted to form a three-member committee to study reforms (Dhivehi) suggested by a group of party members. The committee consists of Youth Wing President Aminath Shauna, Ali Niyaz, and Ahmed Mujthaba.

A proposal by MP Ahmed Hamza to appoint members to vacant leadership posts within the next six months and a proposal by former National Social Protection Agency Chairman Ibrahim Waheed to make former presidents elected to office on the party’s ticket permanent members of the council were also passed.


Majlis elections: Undue influence, bribery, and disilussionment led to losses, says MDP

Senior members of Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) have said that bribery and people losing faith in elections may have been responsible for the party’s loss in yesterday’s election.

While the preliminary results are to be announced by the Elections Commission (EC) tonight, results reported by the media indicate that the MDP have won less than 30 percent of seats (22 – 25 seats) while the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has taken approximately 39 percent of the seats (33 seats).

Along with the seats of the PPM’s coalition partners – including Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhooree Party (JP), who reportedly won 14 seats – President Abdulla Yameen’s government appears to have won the approximately 65 percent of the seats in the People’s Majlis.

MDP Chairperson MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik and MDP parliamentary group leader MP Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Solih  – both of whom reclaimed their seats yesterday – expressed discontentment over the party’s overall performance.

“There are a number of constituencies from which the results we got really surprised the MDP. This includes Gaafu Alif, Gaafu Dhaalu and Haa Alif atolls. The results we got from these areas are not the ones we expected or hoped for,” said Hinnavaru member Ibu.

He noted that the party was not satisfied with the results in Malé City, and that while Addu City’s results were largely as expected by the party, losing MP Ilyas Labeeb’s seat was a surprise.

Meanwhile Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail – who lost in yesterday’s Machangolhi Dhekunu poll – said that the results did not surprise him as much.

“I believe the election is a farce – while there was a free vote, it was not a fair vote. Government influences were used, voters were threatened, and people were bribed openly –  I noticed this particularly in my constituency.” He said.

Ibra led the drafting of the 2008 democratic constitution in the the constitutional assembly and later served as an advisor to President Mohamed Nasheed.

When the party seemed divided over participating in the election after the Supreme Court sentenced the independent EC members, Ibra revealed that he had supported a boycott just as had former President Nasheed.

“I said at the [MDP] national council meeting as well, it is meaningless to hold an election without addressing those issues. I supported an election boycott until the playing field was leveled. Without it the people’s will cannot be expressed,” said Ibra, stating that he had predicted a low number of seats even at that time.

Undue influence and democratic disillusion

Ibra’s concerns regarding bribery and undue influence by the government and businessmen was echoed by other MPs, with Moosa describing this influence as “huge”.

“In some islands we lost with very small difference because people’s jobs were threatened by businessmen who have influence over them. People were afraid. The government also used their powers and influence,” said the MP for Hulhu Henveiru.

Local NGO Transparency Maldives has today said that “issues of money politics threatens to hijack [the] democratic process” in the Maldives.

While this was a major issue of concern among all parties, parliamentary group leader Ibu also observed that “there are constituencies where the candidates have not put in as much effort as they should have.”

‘Ibra’ Ismail stated that the low turn out could have affected the number of seats won by the MDP, as it is likely that many pro-MDP people did not take part in the election.

While no official voter turnout has yet been announced, the EC has noted that it was very low. Some estimates put turnout as low as 65 percent compared to over 88 percent during the last presidential elections.

“It is too soon to comment [as to why MDP didn’t win the election] – we can only conjecture and surmise at this point, but if look into Malé, it was very obvious that the voter turnout was very low.”

“I believe a lot of MDP supporters and people who have similar thinking did not come out and vote this time. Because many of them believed that it was meaningless, that the government will keep changing the results until they get what they want,” said Ibra.

Ibu Solih, meanwhile, noted that the Supreme Court’s influence in the election also had a great impact on the turnout.

“One thing that we noticed is that following the Supreme Court cases, there was a lot of doubt whether or not the election will be held on the date. This contributed to the low turn out as people had been confused, and failed to re-register,” he said.

Chairperson Moosa said that people were “tired and exhausted” after three elections and “fighting the coup”, noting that this has also led to financial issues within the party.

The road ahead

Ibra described the party’s loss yesterday as a “huge set back for the democracy movement”.

“I think with these results, the constitution which protects minority rights and fundamental liberties will be suspended. It will be put on the shelf.”

“With tyranny of the judiciary combined with the tyranny of the majority, we will see the right to dissent, the right to exercise people’s will, the right live freely will be curtailed to that extent [where the constitution will be as good as suspended].”

Ibra noted, however, that no democratic efforts were ever wasted, while Moosa remained adamant that the MDP would not let democracy fail in the Maldives.

“We will not let that happen. We will protect democracy, hold the government accountable and ensure the independence of the judiciary. We can do all this, and we will.”

“We started this [fight for democracy] under an authoritarian government with the support of the people. We brought down that government with an election, we forced them to bring a democratic government, we have grown in numbers since then. We fought the coup and got an election even with several attempts to deny it,” said Moosa.

Both Ibra and Ibu felt that it is time for MDP to sit down and discuss how to proceed in the future.

“The MDP has to sit down and reevaluate their strategies and decide if the strategy used in the past five or six years has worked or not. We need to have a very honest look at the situation and reevaluate. But this task will be made harder considering the environment we have to restrategise in. It is a difficult and more opressive environment,” Ibra said.

With calls for party reform being heard, party chair Moosa said any changes will be brought in through democratic means.

“If it is necessary, we will reform MDP. The party will function as the members want it to, we will never allow family rule,” he said.


Total of 892 MDP candidates to compete in local council elections

Speaking to media today, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik said the forms for all 892 candidates that won MDP tickets for the upcoming local council elections scheduled for  January 18, 2014 have been handed over to the Elections Commission.

Moosa said in constituencies without an MDP candidate, the party will endorse independent candidates. He said the details of this will be revealed soon.

Meanwhile the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has previously announced it will be contesting a total of 627 seats in this election.

The PPM and the ruling “Unity Coalition” members will work jointly in these elections to gain maximum seats. The Jumhooree Party, the second biggest in the coalition, will be contesting for more than 340 seats.


MDP Chair’s company ordered to pay MVR1.3million

The Civil Court has ordered Heavy Load Maldives Pvt Ltd to pay MVR1.3million (US$84,41500) for the failed payment of several speedboats, reports local media.

Heavy Load – owned by the family of Maldivian Democratic Party Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik – was ordered to reimburse Maldives Finance Leasing Company Pvt Ltd after the court found it had failed to meet the previously agreed payment schedule.

The unpaid amount – for which Moosa was reported to have been guarantor – is to be paid to the court within three months.