Shareef claims DRP factions using “intimidation” in attempt to take party leadership

Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef, currently at the centre of an internal Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) investigation over whether audio recordings of his voice seemingly attacking former president and leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom are genuine, believes factions within his party are trying to “stifle freedom of expression” in a bid to seize leadership.

Shareef, himself a deputy leader within the DRP, said he had no idea whether the party was undertaking an investigation into the legitimacy of his voice recordings, adding that he “didn’t care”. However, the deputy leader alleged that he was concerned that the dispute was being used to try and take party leadership of the DRP from incumbent Ahmed Thasmeen Ali.

“Doctored or not, I have not said anything in the manner [of the recording],” Shareef said. “If there is something that I want to say I will speak my mind, but people are trying to make a mountain out of nothing.”

However, claims that the recording was doctored in such a manner as to try and unseat the existing DRP leadership have been denied by some of its members, who believe the recordings are both authentic and against documented party policy.

The dispute last week saw crowds gathered outside DRP headquarters calling for the resignation of Thasmeen and Shareef in response to the broadcast of the allegedly doctored audio clip expressing a preference for the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) over former president Gayoom.

Shareef told Minivan News that he believed the audio clip was being used by factions of certain supporters within the party to “intimidate” and attack the current party leadership to further their own personal aspirations.

“It is sad that the very people who are claiming that party leaders [such as dismissed former Deputy Leader Umar Naseer] can only be fired from the DRP by its congress are calling for different rules now,” he said. “It is sad that they are trying to intimidate and stifle freedom of expression in the party.”

In regards to his own future, Shareef said he believed that he would remain in his role with the DRP despite the furore over the audio clip and that “justice will  be done” in terms of maintaining democratic rule within the party.

He alleged that factional disputes had formed within the DRP due to some individuals “concerned solely with their own interests” instead of trying to improve the nation.

“There are some in the [DRP] who believe it is not a party of the people,” he said.

However, fellow DRP member and MP Ahmed Nihan denied that the audio recordings were being used as part of factional disputes between Thasmeen and other members, alleging the issue was linked to the articles of association concerning public and private comments about fellow party politicians.

“Since day one we are a democratic party, so this issue is not about factions,” he said. “We do not allow our party members to make claims that attack any other member.”

Despite respecting Shareef, Nihan alleged that the DRP deputy leader had a “track record” of making similar claims to those allegedly spoken in the audio recording.

“I believe that it is Shareef’s voice and was made over the last few days,” he claimed. “I do not have any doubt that he will make similar statements in the future.”

Despite calling for a public apology from Shareef towards Gayoom – a request said to be backed by a petition signed by thousands of DRP supporters and “well wishers” of the former president – Nihan said that he hoped a compromise could be found that could see a stronger DRP emerge from present disputes.

“For the benefit of the party we want to find a common solution,” he said. “But when [former Deputy Leader] Umar Naseer was dismissed by a party disciplinary committee, action was taking against him very quickly and without an investigation.”

Reports of factions within the DRP have circulated since Naseer’s departure last December, leading to violent confrontations at an official party meeting held the same month that required police intervention after the dismissed deputy leader attempted to gain entry to the event.

The disturbance was linked to a growing war of words between Thasmeen and Naseer, with the latter still choosing to campaign with the DRP ahead of this month’s local council elections alongside Gayoom.

Yameen allegations

Outside of reported factional disputes within the DRP, Shareef said that allegations first surfacing this month in India-based publication The Week claiming former President Gayoom’s half brother Abdulla Yameen was involved in an international money laundering racket had no impact on the party or its operations.

Yameen, who is himself leader of the People’s Alliance (PA) party, has rubbished the allegations, which implicated him as “the kingpin” of a scheme to buy subsidised oil through the State Trading Organisation (STO) before selling it through shipping fraud at a premium rate to the Burmese military junta.

Whether proven or not, Shareef said that as far as the DRP was concerned, the case would have no impact on its operations and that the party encouraged its members to work within the country’s laws and regulations.

“If there is suspicion of anyone regarding corruption or theft of state assets then it must be investigated,” he said. “We are a party that is working for the benefit of the people.”


Comment: Thick as thieves

“Would a Rose by any other name still smell as sweet?” wrote Shakespeare. In the case of the Maldives People’s Majlis, call Rose what you like – she will still stink of corruption.

The ‘cash for votes’ scandal has gripped the nation ever since secret telephone recordings between opposition MPs were published on the Internet yesterday afternoon.

In one recording, the deputy speaker of the Majlis Ahmed Nazim discusses with Abdulla Yameen how Gasim Ibrahim took ‘Rose’ to Paradise Island Resort to finalise a Rf1 million deal.

“So Rose is joining Jumhooree [Gasim’s political party] now?” Yameen asks.

“No it’s not that….it is just for these matters,” assures Nazim, before explaining that ‘Maniku’ will complete the deal with Rose for a further Rf2 million. Nazim goes onto say that Gasim “has said everything will be OK… 100 percent and not to worry.”

In another recording, MP Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed says to Gasim, “I need some cash.”

“Yeah, OK,” replies Gasim before the two MPs discuss how the transaction will be completed.

In the third recording ‘Kutti’ Nasheed explains to Yameen and Nazim how he will “prevent the government from trying to do what it is doing” by moving motions of no-confidence against Finance minister Ali Hashim and Economic Affairs minister Maumood Razee. He reads out a plan to stop “all work on the tax bills submitted by the government to the Majlis.”

Rumours of corruption in the Majlis are nothing new, but never before have the sordid details of MP’s shenanigans been aired in such excruciating detail.

Last week, President Nasheed was being pilloried in sections of the media for being ‘dictatorial,’ following the arrest of Yameen and Gasim for alleged corruption and bribery. Now, significant sections of the community seem keen to lock them up and throw away the key.

“Petty, cheap, revolting, nauseating” – “Have nothing to say except that…I am ashamed. How cheap are our parlimentarians?” – “Thick as thieves. Guilty as sin. Let them hang from the nearest coconut tree!” – a few readers’ comments from Minivan News’ coverage of the scandal.

While many Majlis watchers will not be surprised to hear the tapes involving Yameen, Nazim and Gasim, many people have been shocked to hear that ‘Kutti’ Nasheed is also implicated.

Kutti likes to present himself as an independent MP par excellence, a symbol of integrity who rises above the grubby day-to-day deals of the Majlis. No longer. He has been treating Gasim as his personal ATM. In return, he appears to be chief architect of plans to subvert the government’s tax and privatization initiatives, measures that could damage Gasim’s and Yameen’s extensive business interests.

In his personal blog, Kutti says he simply borrows money from Gasim from time to time and it has no influence on his voting in parliament. Few, if anyone, will believe his excuse.

So far, the corruption allegations appear concentrated on Yameen’s Peoples’ Alliance party, Gasim’s Jumhooree party, and their ‘independent’ supporters in the Majlis. Indeed, President Nasheed said yesterday that the speaker of the Majlis, DRP MP Abdulla Shahid, is “an honourable man.”

How far this scandal spreads is anyone’s guess, but it is likely to lead to both political and cultural change in the Maldives, as people recognise the real damage that corruption can bring to their institutions.

For centuries, Maldivians have pledged their loyalty to rich men, bodun, whose political power and status was measured by the number of their followers. These loyalties often spanned generations, and the practice of honouring the rich and seeking their ‘benevolence’ was deeply entrenched in the Maldivian psyche. The dictatorship and crony capitalism of the previous Gayoom government welded easily with this old cultural tradition. The democratic revolution of President Nasheed’s administration, and the President’s open condemnation of corruption, is demanding new loyalties to the rule of law, honest administration and institutions, and personal integrity.

It’s a painful process for the old cliques who profited so much and enjoyed high social standing, but a welcome change for the young Maldivian population who see an opportunity to compete and prosper without selling their loyalty and bowing to the bodun.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


Leaked voice clips may be ‘conversations between friends helping each other’: Yameen

Three recordings of discussions between Majlis members referring to other members and officials, including a plan to cease work on the Tax bills in the Majlis, have appeared on the Internet.

The People’s Alliances party (PA) leader Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom told Minivan news this afternoon that a voice in the sound clips might be his, but the conversations were ”not to borrow money to bribe MPs… [rather] As friends, we might help each other,” he said.

Yameen said the discussions ”would be a recording of a telephone call”, and were potentially taped by either the Police or by the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF). ”We have sent a letter to the telecommunications authority to clarify whether they gave permission to record any of their telephone calls,” he said. ”It is unlawful to record private phone calls.”

However, the Police denied Yameen’s claims. ”The Police will never record anyone’s phone calls,” said sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam. The police had no connection with the leaked voice recordings, he said.

The People’s Alliance party secretary-general Ibrahim Shareef said that he could not say whether the voice in the clips was Yameen’s. ”Personal calls should not be recorded,” Shareef said. ”We do not have anything to say regarding this. Yameen himself will be the best person to ask. This is a personal issue.”

Jumhooree party leader MP Gasim Ibrahim did not respond to Minivan News’ calls at the time of publication.

The second recording below is between the South Kulhudufushi MP Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed and MP Gasim Ibrahim, according to ‘Kutti’ Nasheed’s personal blog. Nasheed says that the request for cash from Gasim was made months ago. In his blog, Nasheed denies that the cash had anything to do with voting in the Majlis.

Recording:1 Transcript below | Audio in Dhivehi – mp3 file

Voice1: We have the original now.

Voice2: So if we put this through the ACC [Anti-Corruption Commission] tomorrow morning, how soon will the ACC release a statement?

Voice1: It should be released tomorrow. They are coming tonight. Two ACC commissioners are in Malaysia. The President [of ACC] is here. Our friend Hoara Waheed is there. I have directly given all warnings through him… in prelude to this… that this is a must. I have also passed the number to Gasim. Seems Gasim will maintain connection.

Voice2: Have we been able to get anything from Gasim yet?

Voice1: He said Rose matter is sealed. He worked very hard. He took Rose to Paradise yesterday evening at 6. And he came to that meeting at around 9.30 -10 and said “final”. That it’s done.

Voice2: So that means?

Voice1: It’s the one million matter. Isn’t it?

Voice2: Yeah.

Voice1: He tried a funny story with me. After Friday prayers yesterday, I went to Gasim’s house…

Voice2: So Rose is joining Jumhooree Party now?

Voice1: No it’s not that… It is just for these matters…

Voice2: In that case, Nazim, why don’t we take Rose, with this million?

Voice1: Yeah. Rose knows now. And I have asked Maniku to complete the deal. With one million given there is still two million… So what happens now is… I mentioned everything that there was doubt about. I wasn’t able to talk to Gasim later. He has said everything will be Ok…100% and not to worry.

Voice2: What are you telling Maniku?

Voice1: I went to Maniku… Gasim is going to see Hassan Saeed at 2.30.

Recording:2 Transcript below | Audio in Dhivehi –mp3 file

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: And again, it is three months since I have been trying to get myself out of that.

MP Gasim Ibrahim: Finishing it now.

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: Are you still in the office, … mean … in the Majlis?

MP Gasim Ibrahim: I came at six o’clock and since then, now finishing and leaving now. Continuing tomorrow.

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: Yeah, OK.

MP Gasim Ibrahim: What happened?

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: I contacted, this is just… how is your situation in relation to flow?

MP Gasim Ibrahim: Why?

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: I need some cash.

MP Gasim Ibrahim: Yeah, ok… How much?

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: I need it very much.

MP Gasim Ibrahim: Have you got someone to come over here?

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: Here, at this time, there’s no one.

MP Gasim Ibrahim: Yeah it is…

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: Yes, tomorrow morning will be fine. It’s not a problem.

MP Gasim Ibrahim: People will see it there, will be watched, won’t it?

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: OK, I will try and arrange someone from there to go to Villa, is that ok?

Recording:3 Transcript below | Audio in Dhivehi – mp3 file file

Voice2: Yes, what is it?

Voice1 (?): Dilute, Thasmeen is working to dilute… Nasheed, could you please tell that story.

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: Yes, I was contacted just then…. You have seen the first draft, haven’t you?

Voice2: I haven’t seen it yet, not yet.

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: OK, the first draft states specific actions that will be taken. I will, for your convenience, read it for you right now, those bits.

Voice2: OK read.

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: It was agreed that to prevent the government from doing what it is trying to do, to take a number of steps all at once.

These steps include meeting with those who submitted the [airport] bids, and clearly explaining to them the common Maldivian view on this, and the view of the political parties.

The Financial Act Amendments Bill, which is in the finishing stages, is to be pushed fast through the Majlis.

Submit a no-confidence motion to the Majlis for a decision regarding the Minister for Finance Ali Hashim and the Minister for Civil Aviation Mahmood Razee who is responsible for the privatisation.

And until all these things are done, to cease all work on the tax bills submitted by the government to the Majlis.