Development is our only objective, Nasheed addresses pre-election rally

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has estimates that over 10,000 supporters were in attendance on Thursday night as it held its final major rally prior to the Saturday (September 7) presidential election in capital city Male’.

The rally started with a set of video interviews with members of the general public, who shared their reasons for supporting MDP presidential candidate, and former president, Mohamed Nasheed.

As the first speaker at the rally, the MDP’s vice presidential candidate Dr Mustafa Lutfi stated that “Saturday will be the historical day when we citizens re-establish the democracy that was taken away from us”.

“Nasheed is neither a relative, nor an old friend of mine. He used to be just a name I heard. However, today I have for him the deepest respect and love I would have for a hero of the nation.”

“He has been working since 1990 to gain human rights and democracy for us citizens of Maldives. He continued with the struggle for freedom despite being jailed, tortured, placed under house arrest and being placed in solitary confinement. And even when his democratic government was toppled in the February 7 coup, he took a step back and then with more might is walking forward with us again to regain democracy,” Lutfi continued.

The only other speaker at the rally was the presidential candidate himself.

“MDP is a party that takes steps forward. We are here to establish a people’s government. We believe the people of this country deserve far better than they have today. We are here to develop the Maldives,” Nasheed said addressed the large gathering of supporters.

“In the past 18 months, I have slept in 343 different beds. We have visited all the islands of Maldives. We have met with many Maldivian citizens. We know the sentiments of the Maldivian people. We have stepped forward to make the dreams of the Maldivian people a reality. We will win this election in the first round, in a single round,” he said, prompting loud applause from the crowd.

“We are calling on the people to roll up your sleeves and come with us to develop the country. Development of this country is our only aim, our only objective,” Nasheed continued.

“A nation is developed through doing particular things at a particular time in a certain manner. These things can be known through putting forward criticism and conducting peaceful political activities by competitive parties in a multi-party system. The biggest obstacle to this country’s development was the habit of torture and brutality exercised in this country’s past against anyone who expressed differences in opinion. We are here to overcome this obstacle. We will win the elections in one round,” he stated.

“You can push us down onto the ground and force us to eat sand, but we will stand up again. We will not step back. We will bring good governance to the people. Our courage cannot be deterred. We will develop this country, we will build the whole nation,” Nasheed concluded his speech.

Former State Minister of Islamic Affairs during Nasheed’s administration, Sheikh Hussain Rasheed, concluded the rally with a prayer, joined in by the thousands of supporters gathered at the rally.

After the speeches were delivered and the prayer recited, the party then held a laser show, with some of the images depicting themes related to the party and its policies, along with campaign songs by various artists from around the country.


JSC discusses probing bribery allegations against two judges by former Adhaalath Party President

Members of the state’s judiciary watchdog the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) have discussed probing allegations of bribery levied against two sitting judges by former President of the Adhaalath Party, Sheikh Hussain Rasheed.

During an opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) rally held last Thursday, Sheikh Rasheed said that last year he had met a Maldivian businessman in Saudi Arabia who had alleged to him that two Maldivian judges had accepted a sum of MVR 12.3 million (US$ 797,148.41).

A JSC spokesperson told Minivan News that after the allegations were made public, members of the commission had discussed an investigation.

“The matter was discussed during the last JSC meeting,” the spokesperson said. Asked whether a decision was reached, he replied “there were many items on the agenda.”

Rasheed alleged the businessman had paid one judge a sum of US$700,000 while other was paid US$50,000 on two different occasions.

The businessman gave the money to prevent his rights being harmed by the other party in the case, whom he alleged had also bribed the judges, Rasheed said.

Rasheed was not available for a comment when contacted.

President of the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) Hassan Luthfee said he had also heard of Rasheed’s allegations and would giving the matter a high priority.

“The ACC will for sure look into any cases of corruption, regardless of whom it involves. We too have heard of the allegations through the media. We will in the coming days look into this,” he said.

Luthfee said there were no legal barriers to the ACC’s investigation of judicial misconduct, and that the ACC had the jurisdiction to look into any corruption matter even if it involved judges.

“The case will officially be investigated by the ACC,” he said.

Former President’s Member on the JSC, Aishath Velezinee in her book The Failed Silent Coup: in Defeat They Reached for the Gun extensively highlighted the watchdog body’s undermining of judicial independence, and complicity in sabotaging the separation of powers.

In her book, she recounted her experience as the outspoken whistleblower as she attempted to stop the commission from re-appointing unqualified and ethically-suspect judges loyal to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, after it dismissed the professional and ethical standards demanded by Article 285 of the constitution as “symbolic”.

That moment at the conclusion of the constitutional interim period marked the collapse of the new constitution and resulted in the appointment of a illegitimate judiciary, Velezinee contended, and set in motion a chain of events that ultimately led to President Mohamed Nasheed’s arrest of Chief Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed two years later.

Current Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed – himself a former judge and Justice Minister – has admitted the quality of services delivered by the judiciary remains disappointingly gloomy while writing in an op-ed article in Haveeru.

“Our judiciary has some bright minds, but that does not exempt it from scrutiny; the judiciary in the Maldives, with the exception of few courts and judges, the judiciary as a whole has earned a deservedly bad reputation for its inconsistent judgments, lack of leadership, lack of competency and being out of touch with modern laws and views of the society,” he wrote.

In 2004, a report by judicial expert Professor Paul Robinson assessed the country’s criminal justice system, and found in his report that “serious efforts” were required to increase the quality of judges.

“Serious efforts must be made to provide substantial training to current judges in order to ensure that all have the background they need in both law and Shari’a. Perhaps more importantly, no judge should be hired who does not already have the needed training,” he wrote.


Former Adhaalath Party leader criticises new leadership

Former President of the Adhaalath Party Sheikh Hussain Rasheed Ahmed has strongly criticised the new leadership of “acting dictatorially” and issuing press releases without consulting either the heads of party organs or Islamic Minister Dr Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari.

In a statement published on his official website this week, Sheikh Rasheed wrote that “the biggest change” he brought to the Islamic Ministry’s functions after being appointed State Minister in December was to “change the dictatorial policy of the ministry’s former senior officials” to ensure that important decisions were not made without “direct instruction from the minister.”

“The rule of granting permission to make sermons based on a person’s face was abolished. Work being done that conflicted with government regulations and policy in a way that could facilitate corruption was reformed and brought into line,” he said.

Sheikh Rasheed, a founding member of Adhaalath, condemned a press statement issued by the party on September 5 regarding the controversy surrounding Qunooth (an invocation recited during prayers) and reciting Bismillah out loud as “very irresponsible.”

The press statement argued that the invocation was not compulsory except during periods of adversity.

Rasheed claimed that a letter sent to the Addu City Council regarding Qunooth was based on Dr Bari’s advice: “Therefore I can’t believe that Dr Majeed would talk to Adhaalath members differently about the issue of saying Bismillah [out loud] during prayers,” he said.

“Adhaalath Party’s Scholars Council Chair [Dr Bari] told me that he had informed [the party] not to issue the press release like that,” he continued. “And the deputy chair apparently knows nothing about the press release. The party’s charter states that when dealing with religious issues, a statement could only be issued after a meeting of the religious scholars council and with the consensus of its members.”

Rasheed went on to say that there were “know-it-all scholars” and a culture of attacking anyone who opposes their statements or ideology, adding that the scholars in question believe the country’s policy should be based on their thinking.

Statements made on foreign policy by some Adhaalath senior members reminded Sheikh Rasheed of “thoughts that come and goes quickly to a person suffering from a mental illness.”

“Anyone who disagrees with their religious opinion turns into a criminal [in their minds],” he wrote, referring to the Adhaalath’s public antagonism to NGOs Jamiyyathul Salaf and Islamic Foundation of the Maldives (IFM).

Sheikh Rasheed called on officials in senior leadership positions to adhere to the party’s charter or governing rules.

He also urged Dr Bari to be consistent in statements made in his capacity as Islamic Minister and chair of the religious scholars council.

Rasheed said he was moved to publicly criticise the new leadership because of the extent to which “the dictatorial [tendency] of some Adhaalath party members” has grown.

Islamic Minister Dr Bari told Minivan News he did not wish to comment on the matter.

JSC quiet about charges against judges

The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is filing charges against Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed and Civil Court Judge Mohamed Naeem, according to a story published on Miadhu today.

According to Miadhu, Judge Mohamed was charged, among other things, of obstructing the judicial procedure and for disciplinary issues, charges which he denied.

The article says the cases against Judge Naeem were charged by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Musthafa and President of Adhaalath Party, Sheikh Hussain Rasheed.

Sheikh Rasheed said in 2008, when he went to court over a defamation case, Judge Mohamed Naeem was the presiding judge.

Sheikh Rasheed said Judge Naeem unlawfully placed him under house arrest, and then had him arrested when he was meant to only get a warning for not showing up at his court hearing.

He then filed an official complaint against Judge Naeem. He said he had to go to the JSC every day to look at the progress of his complaint, so he withdrew his complaint today.

“I can’t waste my time,” he said.

Judge Abdulla Mohamed said he had “not yet” been informed about any charges against him by the JSC and said he had “no idea” what he was being charged of.

The JSC did not comment to Minivan News on the cases.