Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed has stated that Maldivian citizens have the right to information regarding President Abdulla Yameen’s frequent trips abroad.
In a statement, followed by a tweet in Dhivehi regarding the issue, Nasheed stated that under the Information Act the public has the right to know details of all Yameen’s expenses.
“Revealing information regarding the expenses of the president from funds raised by public taxation is something that must be done in a transparent, democratic society,” said the MDP party president.
Responding to the statement, President’s Office spokesman Ibrahim Muaz told Minivan News that the president’s health was not an issue.
“You can see him actively working day and night. He is in good health, Alhamdulillahi,” said Muaz.
He added that the government does not believe that the details about such trips have to be made public.
“Details of president’s personal trips do not have to revealed, nowhere in the world does that happen,” said Muaz.
Further, he assured that the government will uphold the spirit of the Information Act and would therefore welcome any information sought within the boundaries of the act, “even if president Nasheed’s travel expenses and information on how many foreigners he employed, paid by the state, was requested”.
In his statement today, Nasheed said that during MDP’s tenure details of all government expenses were revealed by the Ministry of Finance and Treasury on a systematic basis, noting that the practice has been put to an end after the new government stepped in.
In a letter to Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed yesterday (January 11), MDP Deputy Chairperson Ali Shiyam asked the President’s Office to make public details of the number of official and unofficial visits Yameen had undertaken to Singapore since he assumed office in November 2013.
The MDP also asked for details on the number of days Yameen spent in Singapore, the number of individuals who accompanied him, the amount of money spent from the state budget, and details of the president’s health.
Yameen has travelled to Singapore at least five times between July 29 and the end of November last year. This includes two stop-overs in Singapore – one in August and one in November – on the way to China and Nepal, respectively.
Nasheed first raised concerns over the president’s health in October.
During Malé’s water crisis in December, the MDP passed a resolution claiming the government had failed to perform its duties and declaring support for Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim to assume power.
Yameen had been in Singapore, but cut short his unofficial trip and returned to Malé as the water crisis continued. The capital’s 130,000 residents had been left without running water due to a fire at the water plant.
Article 123 of the Constitution states that if the president believes himself temporarily unable to perform the duties and responsibilities of office, he should inform the speaker of the People’s Majlis in writing and handover duties and responsibilities to the vice president.
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