MDP agrees conditional participation in “interim government”

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has agreed to join an interim government that would pave the way for an early presidential election on the condition that five senior officials of Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik’s government are removed from their posts.

At a press conference yesterday, Male’ City Councillor ‘Sarangu’ Adam Manik read out a statement from an advisory sub-committee of MDP’s national council outlining the party’s position, which holds that “a government installed in a coup d’etat does not have the constitutional authority to form a national unity government.”

The former ruling party’s national council had passed a resolution on February 8 declaring that it would not recognise the “illegal government” of Dr Waheed.

“As President Mohamed Nasheed always places public interest first, his advice was, given that this problem can only be resolved with the participation of the people, to call for an early election,” Manik explained.

In response to Dr Waheed’s invitation to join a national unity government, Manik said the party considered the formation of such a government unlawful.

“However as the party also believes that the national interest would not be upheld without the participation of the largest political party, the Maldivian Democratic Party, and because this party has also worked in the interests of and for the benefit of the people, the party has informed Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik that we are ready to participate with conditions in an interim mechanism to be formed to prepare for an early election,” he stated.

The MDP’s condition is for Dr Waheed to dismiss Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz, State Minister for Home Affairs Mohamed Fayaz and Chief of Defence Forces Ahmed Shiyam.

The party contends that the individuals in question were actively involved in the coup d’etat. On the morning of February 7, following the police mutiny, Nazim, Riyaz and Fayaz entered the MNDF headquarters to negotiate with President Nasheed and announced to the protesters that they had demanded Nasheed’s “unconditional resignation” by 1.30pm.

Meanwhile, MDP’s national council convened for an emergency meeting this afternoon and decided to hold a primary to choose its presidential candidate as required under party regulations.


Housing success a three-part puzzle

The development of housing, industry, and transportation infrastructure is expected to greatly improve the “extreme” situation on Male’, said Infrastructure Development Ambassador Sarangu Adam Manik.

“There are more people in Male who do not have housing than people who do,” he said.

The capital Male’ has a land area of less than two square kilometers but is home to one-third of the country’s population or approximately 125,000 people residing in an estimated 16,000 households; the total number of households in the Maldives is estimated to be 46,000.

With 50,000 people per square kilometer Male’ is the most densely populated city in the world, outdoing Mumbai’s 33,000 people per square kilometre.

President Mohamed Nasheed previously said the “household is the main engine of development.” Making good on this claim, he yesterday conferred land tenure agreements to 20 parties who had applied for housing and housing grants to 27 applicants, saying the government intends to provide housing for all 21,000 applicants to the Veshi Fahi Male’ housing program.

Earlier this year, ten flats were awarded under the same program.

The government originally pledged 10,000 flats.

A statement on the President’s Office website said the program aims “to satisfy the lives of all Maldivian citizens, and augmenting the nation’s economically active population by economically mobilizing nearly 150,000 people.”

Under phase one of the project launched in January, a total of 1,000 parties were invited to apply for the housing scheme. Over 8,000 application forms were submitted on the first day.

The Cabinet also approved related projects including the development of a container park in Thilafushi to incentivise relocating warehouses in Male’ and construction of a multi-purpose local market with modern facilities for residents of Male’.

The programme was launched on November 10, 2010 with the aim of combining the development of Malé, Vilingili, Guli Falhu, Thilafushi, Hulhumalé and Malé International Airport.

Manik said the network of projects  will jointly reduce the stress on Male’.

“Gulhifalhu will help tremendously the housing and economic situation. Thilafushi will  centralise the industrial sector, and the bridge will improve mobility–all components will help the situation on Male’,” he surmised.

The Cabinet yesterday decided to proceed with the plan to construct a bridge between Male and Hulhule, a reclaimed island attached to Hulhumale.

Since Hulhumale’s population is expected to double in the next year as people take advantage of new housing opportunities, mobility will become an issue, Manik said.

“Think about it, you will have two to three thousand flats, each with a family of four or more people on average. That’s eight to twelve thousand people,” he pointed out.

He also noted that the current boat-based system is vulnerable to changes in weather.

Manik said building a bridge was not a new idea. “The previous government proposed it but didn’t find a way to do it. President Nasheed’s ability to think ahead and think strategically means that the new government has found a way to do it. Gayoom’s government talked about it but we never saw a plan.”

Reflecting on public complaints of some infrastructure development programs, Manik surmised that “everybody wants to be the khafir except the khafir.

“Each power is trying to draw new borders, and there are always demarcation problems. People will settle down and things will become more progressive. It takes time to accept a new democracy.”


Male’ City Council to confiscate former President’s house during ‘sidewalk’ meeting

Male’ City Council passed a resolution today to seize the official residence of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Ma Kibigasdhoshuge, for the state with compensation.

At an impromptu meeting held outside parliament this morning amidst public protests, nine councillors of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) sat cross-legged on a red carpet decked out on the road and unanimously endorsed the resolution. The two opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) councillors did not attend the ‘meeting’.

Former Mayor “Sarangu” Adam Manik confirmed the council’s decision and defended the legality of the move.

“The meeting was a lawful meeting and all decisions made during the meeting will be lawful and shall be implemented,” insisted Manik, who also chaired the meeting.

However the former municipality head refused to comment any further on the matter.

Article 41(n) of the Decentralisation Act empowers the city council to seize private property “if necessary” after providing “fair compensation”.

Ahmed Nihan, spokesperson of the Z-DRP faction formed behind the party’s ‘Honorary Leader’ Gayoom, told Minivan News today that he did not believe the council’s decision was legal.

“How can they claim land owned by someone? Even the constitution states that everyone must respect others private life and house,” Nihan said. “The current government is helpless to rule the country.”

Nihan said that the Male’ City Council had violated the rights of the former President, adding that the council did not have the legal authority to seize land.

“The ultimate outcome of such decisions will be other island councils will start making such decisions in council meeting and will start claiming others’ properties,” he suggested. “Now also Kaafu Atoll Guraidhoo Council is claiming that the resort (Kandooma Island Resort) right next to the island is a part of the island.”

The DRP MP for Vili-Maafanu strongly condemned the decision made by Male’ City Council.

“It is another desperate action of the government,” he said. “Mad people like Adam Manik will do such things like sitting on the road and holding council meetings.”

Nihan argued that the Male’ City Council could not take the land without Gayoom’s consent.

“Although the council has decided to pay compensation in return for the land, still it cannot be taken without the consent of former president,” he insisted.

Nihan said that he was not aware if Gayoom had officially decided to take any action concerning the decision.


MDP expels member for running against Manik as an independent

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has expelled member Aishath Sherin from the party after she decided to run as an independent candidate in the Local Council Elections, in opposition to head of Male’ municipality council ‘Sarangu’ Adam Manik.

Sherin had openly criticised Manik and alleged that he was influencing people using money, the MDP said in a statement.

”The party decided to expel Sherin because the area of Mahchangolhi South, where Sherin decided to run, was won by Sarangu Adam Manik by the primaries conducted by MDP to choose candidates,” said the MDP in a statement, further accusing the candidate of “smearing respect” for both Manik and the party.

MDP alleged that Sherin had been “continuously criticising the party and candidate in front of people of South Mahchangolhi area”, and declared that t it would “take action against other such candidates.”

In an interview to SunFM, Sherin has denied running for the election as an independent candidate with the intention of confronting MDP.

”I have always said, I will run against Sarangu Adam Manik, and I will try my level best to win because he is influencing people with money,” she told the station.

She said her expulsion had “made it easy” for her to win the election.


MDP concludes primaries for Male’ city council

The ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) conducted primaries in the capital yesterday to choose its 11 candidates for the Male’ city council.

Provisional results show that Male’ municipality president ‘Sarangu’ Adam Manik received the most number of votes in the primaries.

The winning candidates from yesterday’s primary who will contest on the MDP ticket for the local council elections on February 5 are ‘Maizan’ Ali Manik for Hulhu-Henveiru, Lufshan Shakeeb for Mid-Henveiru, Mohamed Abdul Kareem for Henveiru South, Mohamed Afrah Haleel for Galolhu North, Adam Manik for Machangoalhi South, Mohamed Aiman for Maafanu South and Arham Hussein for Vili-Maafanu.

The rest of the candidates – Abdulla Shafeeq for Galolhu South, Ahmed Samah Rasheed for Maafanu North, Mohamed Falah for Maafanu West and “Jambu” Hassan Afeef for Machangoalhi North – ran uncontested.


Closing public water taps “like drinking blood of the people”: Umar Naseer

Male’ Municipality has closed 14 public water taps across the city, leaving only four taps available.

Deputy Head of the Municipality Mohamed Arif said the taps were closed because the council had received many complaints about the taps, which were “not being used by Maldivians.”

”Most of the water is used by expats, for car washing and a very few poor locals,” Arif said. ”We have done surveys to check who has been using the water taps.”

Arif said the water taps cost the municipality Rf3.5 million (US$270,000) last year.

He said the water taps were established intending to help the poor locals who could not afford to pay the water bill.

”Our records show that only 10 per-cent of the people using the water taps were Maldivians,” he said.

”We receive many complaints from Ameer Ahmed School that people throw water at the students,” he said. ”We also have many complaints from people that they are having difficulties due to water spilt near the taps.”

Press Secretary for the president Mohamed Zuhair also said that the taps were used mainly by expats and for washing cars.

Vice president of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party DRP Umar Naseer said that he was concerned about the issue as “a lot of people are unable to afford their water bill.”

”That’s why they stay in the queue for hours, ” he said. ”Closing the water taps is like drinking the blood of the people.”

Most people could not afford to drink bottled mineral water all the time, he noted.