Supreme Court invalidates Thasmeen’s Majlis membership challenge

The Supreme Court has invalidated a challenge against Ahmed Thasmeen Ali’s People’s Majlis seat.

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) council member, Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim (Wadde), asked the Supreme Court to revoke Thasmeen’s seat claiming he had not paid back an MVR1.9 million (US$124,513) loan to Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim as per a Civil Court ruling.

Local newspaper CNM reported that the case was invalidated after the Supreme Court was unable to summon Wadde to court.

Article 73(c) of the constitution states: “A person shall be disqualified from election as, a member of the People’s Majlis, or a member of the People’s Majlis immediately becomes disqualified, if he has a decreed debt which is not being paid as provided in the judgment.”

Wadde said that, although Thasmeen had repaid the loan, he did not pay within the time period delineated in the Civil Court ruling, which required the repayment of MVR320,000 (US$20,779) each month for six consecutive months to clear the debt by April 2012. Thasmeen only settled the debt in July 2012 after the High Court upheld the Civil Court’s ruling.

The Supreme Court in October stripped opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ali Azim and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party MP Mohamed Nashiz of their seats over decreed debt. The pair were guarantors for five credit facilities worth MVR117 million (US$9 million) issued to Funadoo Tuna Products by the Bank of Maldives.

Thasmeen, Nashiz, and Azim are contesting the March People’s Majlis elections on the opposition MDP ticket.


Supreme Court accepts case to disqualify MP Thasmeen

The Supreme Court has accepted a case filed by Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) council member and prominent lawyer Mohamed ‘Wadde’ Waheed regarding the disqualification of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader and MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali from parliament.

Waheed claims Thasmeen had not paid back a MVR 1.9million (US$124,513) loan to Parliament Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim in accordance with a Civil Court ruling.

The Civil Court ruling required the repayment of MVR320,000 (US$20,779) each month for six consecutive months to clear the debt by April 2012, but Thasmeen only settled the debt in July 2012 after the High Court upheld the Civil Court’s ruling.

The Supreme Court in October stripped opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ali Azim and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Mohamed Nashiz over decreed debt. The pair were guarantors for five credit facilities worth MVR117 million (US$9 million) issued to Funadoo Tuna Products by the Bank of Maldives (BML).

The Civil Court in 2012 authorised BML to seize the assets mortgaged for the loans, which included Funadoo island, a yacht, and the Reethi Beach Resort following non-payment of the loan.

Supreme Court Justices Abdulla Saeed, Adam Mohamed Abdulla, Ali Hameed Mohamed and Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi voted to strip Azim and Nashiz of their seats citing Article 73(c) of the constitution which states: “A person shall be disqualified from election as, a member of the People’s Majlis, or a member of the People’s Majlis immediately becomes disqualified, if he has a decreed debt which is not being paid as provided in the judgment.”

However, Chief Justice Faiz and Justice Abdulla Areef ruled that the guarantors would only have to bear responsibility if the debt could not be settled by selling the mortgaged assets.


Former DRP leadership MPs Thasmeen, Visam join MDP

Former Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and his wife Visam Ali joined the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) on Wednesday.

The DRP backed MDP’s Mohamed Nasheed in September after the MDP won 45.45 percent in the annulled September 7 presidential election. Thasmeen had contested as former President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s running mate, but the pair managed to get only five percent of the vote.

Speaking at a ceremony held at the MDP’s offices yesterday evening, Thasmeen said: “I believe in and have been working to establish modern democratic principles in the Maldives. When you look at the current political environment, MDP is the party that will implement democratic values that the citizens believe in, as well as bring growth and development in the Maldives.”

With Thasmeen and Visam, the MDP now has 35 MPs in the People’s Majlis.

MDP Parliamentary Group Leader Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih said Thasmeen and Visam joining MDP gives the party “a new strength” in holding President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s government accountable.

Thasmeen had contested the Maldives’ first multiparty presidential elections in 2008 as the running mate of President of 30 years Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. The pair lost to a coalition led by Nasheed who won with 53.65 percent of the vote.

Gayoom then resigned as the leader of DRP and handed over leadership to Thasmeen in 2009. At the time, the DRP was the largest political party in the Maldives and won majorities in the People’s Majlis elections of 2009 and the local council elections of 2011.

However, its strength declined when a faction of the party that continued to support President Gayoom split to form the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) in September 2011. In April 2013, DRP MP and People’s Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid resigned from the party to join the MDP.

DRP’s deputy leaders and MPs Rozaina Adam, Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef and Mohamed Ramiz have also resigned from the party this week.

In a tweet on November 16, following the MDP’s defeat in the presidential polls, Rozaina said she would join the MDP to “continue to work for democracy, human rights, against torture and against a dictatorship.”

MP ‘Colonel’ Mohamed Nasheed has temporarily assumed the DRP leadership and has pledged to bring back “the party’s golden days.” Nasheed defected from the MDP to the DRP in 2012.

Nasheed said the DRP will hold a party congress within two months to elect a leader and deputy leader and added: “My responsibility is to save the party. My mandate is to expedite a congress and hand over the party leadership.”

At present, the DRP has 19,038 registered members, the PPM has 24,311 members and the MDP has 43,277 members.


“We will do everything possible to help MDP win the election”: DRP leader Thasmeen Ali

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) held a rally on Friday night to celebrate the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party’s (DRP) support in the second round of the presidential election.

Jumhooree Party (JP) founding member Ahmed ‘ADK’ Nashid and Maldives Reform Movement leader Dr Mohamed Munavvar – also the former MDP chairperson – also announced their support for the party at the rally, attended by several thousand supporters.

DRP leader Thasmeen Ali, MPs Abdulla Mausoom, Visam Ali, Mohamed Nashiz, Rozaina Adam and other members of the party attended the rally held in the Alimas Carnival area of Male’.

Making the opening statement, MDP Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik asserted that, despite rumours allegedly being spread by political competitors, the two parties had not formed a coalition, and that the DRP had merely decided to back the MDP and to provide assistance in winning the upcoming second round of the election.

The DRP had gone into the first round in coalition with incumbent President Mohamed Waheed.

Speaking at the rally, DRP leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali said that the party had made the decision based on the overwhelming support that the MDP had received in the September 7 election.

“I assure you that I stand here today with sincerity to ensure MDP succeeds in the coming election, God willing I will stay dedicated to achieving this,” Thasmeen began, prompting a standing ovation from the gathered supporters.

“This country is changing at a very fast pace. This country is going forward, swiftly forward,” he continued, borrowing MDP’s campaign slogan for the second round.

“I don’t believe that anyone can inhibit these tides of change. We have clearly seen the results of the first round of elections. President Nasheed and MDP got 95,000 votes. This is a huge achievement, and incredible success, and I congratulate you all for it.”

“We fully accept the results of the first round. There is no indication that any foul play was involved. I believe that if one fails, one must accept it and learn to digest the loss. In my opinion, it will be irresponsible for any politician or party to not back one of the candidates who are to contest in the final round of this election,” Thasmeen said.

“I want to see the democratic system strengthened and maintained”

“We must think deeply about the two candidates. I thought about which candidate would prioritize national interest, about which candidate would least entertain thoughts of revenge. There is no question in my mind about who that is, it is doubtless MDP’s candidate Mohamed Nasheed,” he stated.

“After taking office in 2008, Nasheed did not act towards his opponents with any intentions of taking revenge. On a single occasion, President Maumoon [Progressive Party of Maldives leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom] was summoned to the police office, but even then he was taken with all due official respect. Nasheed did not treat either Maumoon or his family with any vindictiveness,” he said.

“The democratic system that came in 2008 with the new constitution is a system that we want to maintain, both then and now,” said Thasmeen – who had contested in the 2008 presidential elections as Gayoom’s running mate.

“A president elected by the people’s vote will take oath. The people will ensure this. The people will not let anyone do this in any other way,” he said, criticizing PPM running mate Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed’s statement in a rally held last week that Nasheed will not be allowed to take office even if he wins the second round of elections.

“I also worked with Gayoom during the reform process which began in 2005. I did so believing that he will stop ruling with autonomy and will step aside and hand over the reigns of the country to a new generation. However, in light of his actions since losing the 2008 elections to date, we have realized that all along his intentions had been to prolong his 30 years of rule. That is not something that will benefit this country, and that is not what the people want today, or even then. We must not give him space to do so,” Thasmeen explained.

“I am standing at this podium tonight and supporting Nasheed because I want to see peace in this country after these elections, because I want to see the democratic system strengthened and maintained. Because the country will not see development unless democracy is upheld. For these reasons, Nasheed must be elected in these elections,” Thasmeen said.

“I believe that it would be an irresponsible and cowardly act to back away from doing what must be done to ensure that democracy is upheld in this country due to some words I might have said in the past. And therefore, tonight I assure all of you that DRP will do everything we possibly can to help Nasheed win these elections. I will stand firm in actively doing whatever is needed of me to reach this goal. We will join campaign activities, and you will see us participate in all campaign events,” he continued.

“God willing, Candidate number one, MDP’s Mohamed Nasheed will take the oath of presidency on Monday, November 11, 2013,” said Thasmeen, concluding his speech to loud applause.

Thasmeen’s speech was followed by similar pledges of support for democracy and the MDP from the other new faces, including MP Rozaina Adam, Dr. Mohamed Munavvar and former Ahmed Nashid.

The last speaker at Friday’s rally was Mohamed Nasheed, who thanked all those who are now extending support to the party, before echoing the pledges and plans included in the party’s manifesto.

Aerial footage of MDP’s rally on Friday:


MDP willing to discuss interim government with PPM: Nasheed

Former President Mohamed Nasheed announced the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) willingness to discuss enacting an interim government with the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), which the party believes is essential for free and fair elections to occur.

The MDP has desired the establishment of an interim government since the controversial transfer of power of February 7, 2012 and is open to holding discussions with the PPM to establish a transitional government prior to September’s Presidential elections, Nasheed stated during a press conference held at the Mookai Hotel in Male’ today (May 16).

“If PPM wants to bring in an interim government, we are ready to hold discussions. MDP wants an interim government. We at MDP have always wanted an interim government. But we need support from other parties to do that in parliament. If PPM is so inclined, we are ready to hold discussions with PPM to achieve this,” Nasheed said.

“For free and fair elections [to take place], we are encouraged that PPM has pledged to stop Waheed from campaigning on state funds,” he added.

The MDP is continuing its call for the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) recommendations to be implemented, with the supervision of the international community. Nasheed stated he was disappointed CoNI recommendations have yet to be enacted – especially regarding holding to account those who mutinied against the government and committed various brutal acts, including destroying the MDP’s headquarters.

Nasheed said that the MDP did not believe free and fair elections were possible with Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz and Defence Minister Colonel (Rtd) Mohamed Nazim in their current positions, and has asked they be “transferred” from their current posts.

He distinguished between ‘rank and file’ Police Service and Maldives National Defence Force (MDNF) and their leadership. Nasheed said action should be taken against the highest ranking officers for their role on February 7.

MDP Spokesperson Mohamed Zuhair told Minivan News today that local media reports of Nasheed calling for Riyaz and Nazim to be “forcibly removed” are inaccurate, however the former President has called for their removal and transfer “as far away from their current positions as possible”.

“They are already enacting measures of intimidation under the guise of ‘coordination’ by requesting political parties give the name of a person to work with the police. The Elections Commission should be enacting such a policy, not the police. It’s very strange and highly suspicious,” said Zuhair.

Should PPM be of the same view that an interim government is necessary for credible elections to be held, MDP would work through the parliament to discuss with PPM, Zuhair explained.

“PPM’s President and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has said their party would ‘go it alone’ and not form a coalition, because that would not allow policies to be implemented effectively. Then the natural next step [for the PPM] would be to gain parliamentary support from the only player able to give support, MDP,” said Zuhair.

PPM Spokesperson and MP Ahmed Nihan today rejected the likelihood of the government-aligned party working with the opposition MDP to remove President Waheed from office ahead of elections in September.

“I do not believe this is a possibility. If it was possible, we would have done this already I believe,” he said.

Nihan claimed that the PPM’s main concern at present was for free and fair elections to take place. However, he added that with the Commonwealth-backed CoNI concluding that President Waheed’s coalition government – which includes the PPM – had come to power legitimately, it would not back the MDP’s calls for the present administration to be removed.

Nihan added that, while continuing to support the present coalition government, many PPM supporters believed that the party presently represented one of only two political ideologies in the country. These philosophies he said were those of PPM founder former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and former President Nasheed and the MDP.

Nihan claimed that the majority of the country’s smaller parties, including those choosing to side with President Waheed in a pre-election coalition, were all rooted to former President Gayoom and his “political wisdom”.

“Strange bedfellows”

Nasheed also addressed the recent addition of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) to the President Mohamed Hassan Manik’s coalition – which includes his Gaumee Ittihad Party (GIP) and the Adhaalath Party (AP) – and it’s incompatibility with a democratic presidential system of governance.

Nasheed expressed his happiness about Gayoom’s statement that coalitions do not work because they are not in line with a presidential governing system and are instead more reflective of a parliamentary system.

“I am very happy that President Gayoom – [who is] no doubt is the most experienced political leader [in the nation] – has been very clear about how inefficient for democratic policies the formation of coalitions are in a presidential system,” said Nasheed.

Nasheed noted that the Adhaalath Party and Sheiks’ extremist views will pose difficulties for the GIP-led coalition. Although the DRP are billing themselves as a moderate party, they will not establish the national ‘bastion of tolerance’ they claim to be purporting, Nasheed said.

The former President believes the coalition is a “hodgepodge” mix of ideologies, not politics and these “strange bedfellows” cannot achieve anything.

DRP disintegration

Nasheed stated that the alliance between GIP and DRP is only agreement between the two individual and not reflective of grassroots DRP supporters. He believes that DRP leader Thasmeen Ali and Waheed had no other choice and formed the coalition out of sheer necessity.

He also stated that the recent coalition has not produced a “third ideology” and that only two ideologies exist in the Maldives.

During door to door campaigning, the MDP has noticed that DRP grassroots support is disintegrating. They are either merging with PPM or joining MDP, according to MDP Press Director Mohamed Zuhair.

Additionally, Zuhair discussed the distinction President Nasheed made between other parties and MDP. He highlighted that MDP policies are formulated by consulting every household to asses the Maldivian people’s needs. This is followed by holding consultative seminars, with the feedback passed to the party’s ‘organs’ for discussion, then to policy committees, with the process culminating in an announcement.

“None of the other parties have this method,” said Zuhair.

“So far three policies have been announced, and the fourth – agrobusiness – will be announced tomorrow,” he continued.

“MDP is focusing on policy issues, having to ‘go out on the road’ and stage protests to ensure free and fair elections will change the entire dynamics of the campaign. We are hoping it doesn’t come to that,” said Zuhair.


Former DRP registrar and Customs head charged with corruption

Former Principle Collector of Customs Ibrahim Shafiu was produced before the Criminal Court today on charges of corruption.

Shafiu, who was also the ex-registrar of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP),  was accused of changing the details of two speedboats imported to the Maldives in 2007 by ‘Sultans of the Seas’, a company owned by DRP Leader and MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali’s family, and decreasing the customs duty payable for the two vessels.

According to a local newspaper present at the hearing, Shafiu’s lawyer denied the charges and requested the judge give him time to respond to the charges. The  judge adjourned the case for seven days.

Newspaper Haveeru reported that Shafiu had been living abroad after the fall of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s government in 2008, and arrested at the airport when he arrived back in the Maldives last month.

The Criminal Court’s media coordinator had not responded to Minivan News at time of press.

The Prosecutor General has also pressed further charges against Shaifu, alleging that he reduced the customs duty of a crane brought to the Maldives in 2008 by a company called Centre Enterprises.

The DRP was formed by Gayoom following the introduction of multi-party democracy, and was the largest opposition party until the ousting of the MDP government on February 7.  It is now the largest party affiliated with the new governing coalition.

Recently, Independent MP Abdul Hameed was sentenced to one year and six months banishment after the Criminal Court found him guilty of corruption, a sentence disqualifying him from parliament.

The court ruled that he had abused his authority as the former Director of Waste Management at the Male’ municipality to financially benefit a Singaporean company named Island Logistics, in a deal to purchase a barge.