Male’s day of protests: Islam and women key themes

Hundreds of women marched across the Maldives’ capital Male’ in support of deposed President Mohamed Nasheed, before joining the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) rally near the tsunami monument in its call for early elections.

Meanwhile just several hundred metres up the road at the artificial beach, thousands more pro-government supporters showed up to demonstrate their support for President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.

Artificial Beach and Tsunami monument – both key venues for political gatherings – are situated on Boduthakurufaanu Magu [eastern coast of Male’].

Both rallies began at 4:00pm on Male’s and proceeded peacefully with speeches from key members, while the MDP women’s march, “Women’s rally for justice” kicked off from the Social Centre of the other side of the city at 4.30pm.

Minivan News observed many people walking between both rallies and taking pictures, as the sounds of both crowds overlapped. Only a few policemen were seen maintaining the traffic and security.

Though specific numbers on each side were difficult to ascertain, at its beginning the pro-government crowd waving national flags and banners seemed larger with around 5000 supporters – while the MDP rally slowly grew and eventually dominated as more marchers in yellow joined the rally, raising the numbers to perhaps 8,000 at the peak of the demonstrations.

At the time of press, both rallies continued.

“Maldivian women will bring down Tyrant Waheed”

Women's ready for march at Social Center

Maldivian women of all ages, dressed mostly in yellow and waved yellow flags and banners bearing slogans including – “Where is my vote?”, “We demand Justice”, “Say no to Waheed”, “We demand a date for election” and “Let Democracy rule” – marched from main road, Majeedhee Magu and took couple of careful turns to reach the MDP rally without a confrontation with pro-government supporters near Artificial Beach.

In the front row, former MDP Chairperson Mariya Ahmed Didi, former Education Minister Shifa Mohamed and former Tourism Minister Mariyam Zulfa led the female Marchers that stretched nearly 20 meters.

Dozens of men also joined the march, while several others followed the march on motor bikes and cars, as eager onlookers watched and took pictures from the buildings.

Throughout the walk, the women chanted: “Tyrant Waheed, Resign” – a reference to the accusations that Waheed, then- Vice President was complicit in what MDP calls a bloodless coup to force his predecessor, Nasheed out of office.

Speaking to Minivan News, a 34 year old mother of three who came to Male’ from Addu to join the march said that “I did not vote for Waheed, I voted for Anni [Nasheed].”

“We, the women, will show Waheed that he can’t play with our country. Tyrant Waheed has no right to depose the president we voted for,” the woman added, holding a banner that said “We want an elected leader”.

As the female marchers arrived at the tsunami monument they were welcomed fervently by Nasheed and his supporters.

MDP rally near Tsunami monument

Addressing the crowd on the mounted podium, Mariya called out emphatically that “Maldivian women will bring down Tyrant Waheed”.

“The only woman who will stand with Waheed is Ilham [Waheed’s wife and first lady],” she further claimed.

Referring to the brutal crackdown of MDP’s peaceful March on February 8, where women and old were seen beaten by the police, Mariya warned : “Now come with your shields to beat us. But, remember, if you hit even one woman, that is represents a strike on all Maldivian women.”

Nasheed also made a brief speech in which he praised the strength of the women who joined the rally and called out, “Congratulations, Maldivian Women!”

Nasheed further stressed, “Maldivian people want an elected leader, people want early elections”.

Allah’s will”

Aerial shot of the pro government rally

At the protest at the artificial beach up the road, men and women were segregated and gathered to hear Dr Waheed give his first open air speech at a political demonstration as President.

Dr Waheed made an emphatic speech in which he claimed the “people inflicting chaos are real traitors and enemies of the nation”.

“We will not let anyone inflict unrest and violence. Anyone who loves this nation will not torch public property. We will defend this nation with the last drop of our blood. We are not scared to die for this cause,” Waheed said. “Be strong. We will not back down an inch.”

Reiterating that the change of power was not a coup, Waheed claimed, “Today this change has happened because it is the will of Allah to protect Islam and peace of this nation”.

He added that it was every government’s responsibility to provide education and housing for its people, and said he would fulfill those responsibilities.

Surprised observers noted that Dr Waheed, normally of a calm and softly spoken demeanor, spoke loudly and emphatically with a touch of anger.

Meanwhile,in an audio recording broadcast at the rally, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom pledged that the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) would cooperate with Waheed, and congratulated the MDP for joining the all party talks.

“The day the Maldives embraced Islam is the most important day in the history of our country. History proves the introduction of any other religion in this nation could endanger our sovereignty,” Gayoom added.

Further, several speakers from various religious and political parties in Dr Waheed’s national unity government exhibited their support for coalition government and refusal to hold early elections. The crowds waving national flags and banners bearing  slogans including “Maldivians in defense of Islam”, “Maldivians united against corruption”, “Support Dr Waheed for peace and Islam” and “No early elections” hailed “Long live Waheed”.

MDP women’s march:


Protests to continue until date given for early elections: Nasheed

Yesterday’s large anti-government protests ended peacefully in the early hours of the morning, and look set to continue for a second day.

Demonstrators danced into the night as a bodu beru band played, and were joined by a number of elderly women. Police kept a low profile.

Amid the yellow banners, capes, badges and bandanas of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) supporters, were a noticeably large number of the formerly politically un-engaged, most of them young. Many said they were joining or had already joined the MDP, and there were reports that the party had temporarily run out of application forms.

“We never used to discuss politics around the dinner table,” one yellow-shirted demonstrator, previously unaffiliated with any political party, told Minivan News. “But after I was beaten [by police] on Wednesday, my whole family – sisters, cousins – have joined the MDP.”

Former President Mohamed Nasheed took the podium shortly after midnight, stating that all-party talks were scheduled for Sunday to decide a date for an early presidential election. He said he was confident a date would be set before Parliament resumed on March 1.

Nasheed – who said he was forced to resign under duress in a bloodless police and military coup d’état February 7 – said people had stood up against the 30 year regime of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom because of the inhumane treatment people suffered at its hands and had witnessed, a day after the first democratically-elected government was overthrown, a brutal police crackdown on the people who protested against the coup.

“I was repeatedly asked to unlock the arsenal and if so the mutinous police officers would have been easily arrested. But I was not elected to hurt the people of this country,” Nasheed said.

Nasheed explained that for a while after the coup he was “unable to get out of Muleeage [the President’s residence]” and was not able to call anyone to explain what had happened.

“The international community had not received word of the coup as I was unable to leave Muleeage,” he said. “It took some time for them to realised that the information they had been receiving was not genuine, and by then some had urged us to join this illegal government. But I have now informed them of the real situation.

“The coup leaders did not conceive of or anticipate the people’s reaction to the change in government,” Nasheed added.

They believed, he said, that they could consolidate their hold on power “by arresting me after the coup and beating members of the MDP and the Maldivian people into submission.”

He added the public, who had been “nurturing the country on the path to freedom”, were not willing to recognise as legitimate a government they did not elect.

The “peaceful political activity” would continue until a date for early elections was announced, Nasheed said, urging people to return the following day.

“People can swim, play sports, music and give political speeches here. Our aim is to gather people from all over the nation,” he said.

Following talks with India’s Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai on Thursday, Nasheed said Dr Mohamed Waheed’s government was supposed to announce early elections on Friday night, after which other parties, MDP and Nasheed were to welcome it.

The announcement did not come, except for a vague press conference by new Attorney General Azima Shukoor. The all-party discussions have been set for Sunday.

MDP’s President, former Fisheries Minister Dr Ibrahim Didi, said that Maldivians had voted for the MDP’s manifesto for five years, “and hence the rule of this party should remain even now. That is why we are pressing for an election and by the grace of God it will be achieved.”

Dr Didi claimed that Ahmed Thasmeen Ali’s Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DRP), the second largest party in the Maldives and the subject of an acrimonious split with Gayoom’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) last year, had “given the green light” for early elections.

A statement on the DRP website said the party “welcomes and supports this important initiative because we value the importance of strengthening the democratic foundations of the Maldives and the restoration of peace and calm amongst our people. We believe this initiative would help to further strengthen the role of independent institutions in the Maldives and prevent serious distruptions to economic development and prosperity.”

“In supporting this initiative the DRP is willing to participate in a dialogue among all relevant political parties regarding the holding of early elections as stipulated in the roadmap. The DRP would also extend its cooperation in carrying out any necessary amendments to the constitution in order to facilitate such an election.”

Dr Mustafa Lufty, Chancellor of the Maldives National University, former Education Minister and one of the founding members of President Waheed’s Gaumee Ittihad Party (GIP), also addressed the crowd.

“Pointing a gun at the head of our beloved president and forcing him to resign is the same as pointing a gun at all of us,” Luftee said. “If we give up now generations to come will have to live at gun point.”

“I came here today because I could no longer bear this travesty.”

“This has been carefully planned. One plan was to force Nasheed to resign and if he did not, then the arsenal would have been opened for the opposition. That would have meant major bloodshed and military rule – they would have kept the country under such rule for a long time. Nasheed was wise enough to step aside and save the country from a massive tragedy.

“The second plan was to arrest Nasheed when he resigned, which would prompt his supporters to take matters into their own hands giving an excuse to beat them down. They would have charged us under terrorism.

“Freedom is a god given right of every human being and must not be violated under any circumstances,” he said.

Mathai had endorsed a ‘road map’ backing early elections “as soon as feasible”, and said at a press conference that MDP had as a result been “reconsidering” Friday’s demonstrations.

In a statement yesterday from the President’s Office, Dr Waheed said he was “disappointed” with Nasheed’s decision “to go ahead with his demonstration in Male’ today despite assurances and promises that were given to the Indian Foreign Secretary Mathai yesterday that it would be cancelled and a smaller meeting will be held in its place.”

Dr Waheed said MDP’s claim that he had not respected agreements reached in the Indian-mediated negotiations was “a completely untrue and irresponsible suggestion”.

“I can understand whilst it is easy to march your forces to the top of the hill, it is much harder to march them down again. I also understand that at this critical juncture in our country’s history that showing strong leadership can be challenge. But I’m hopeful that Mr Nasheed can show the good judgement in the future that will be necessary to make the road map a reality. It’s the very least that the people of the Maldives deserve,” he said.

Meanwhile, a member of yesterday’s crowd told Minivan News that he was “proud of everyone who came today in spite of intimidation by the military and the PPM rumor mill warning of large-scale violence. Not to mention whatever lies the media axis of evil is spewing. A lot of people were apparently scared off.

“A friend I met there who had sat in the square with Anni in 2005 said he didn’t think we’d have to do it all over again. I always tell people that the post-2003 pro-democracy movement separated the conscience-challenged cowards from those who value justice and were willing to fight for it. People are clearly not scared anymore.

“It wasn’t that long ago that they got the courage to paint their houses yellow in defiance of Gayoom. Today they are willing to wave a yellow flag under a military government.”

Time lapse footage of the crowds:

Bodu beru in the evening:


Comment: International community’s inaction may lead to carnage

The Maldives is beautiful. It is an archipelago of 1200 islands with pristine beaches, blue lagoons and thousands of coconut palms. It is one of the world’s most exclusive tourist destinations. It is a honeymooners’ haven and diver’s paradise. It is a hideaway for over-exposed celebrities and a sanctuary for the stressed. A string of islands nature intended as a playground for the rich and famous. Somewhere where Western billionaires come to have spa treatments underwater and the famous can relax without being photographed. A picture postcard.

Well, here’s a news flash. The Maldives is home to 300,000 people. They may not appear in the photographs, they may not be serving you your cocktails, they may not be cleaning your $4500 a night room, they may not be serving you the $1000 dinner on your golden plate under the full-moon, and the hands massaging your body in the spa under the palm tree may not be theirs, but they exist. They live, they talk, they walk, they feel, and they have the same silly notions about human rights, justice, equality and the rule of law as any other people in the world.

Last week, the Maldivian government was overthrown; its first democratically elected president held at gunpoint and forced to write a letter of resignation. It has been reported that ‘tourists barely put down their cocktails’ on the beaches of their exclusive holiday resorts just a few waves of the ocean away, so far removed is the tourism industry from the reality that Maldives is for Maldivian people.

Despite the tourists, and the rest of the world, being kept in deliberate ignorance, video evidence exists of the coup right from the planning stages to its successful execution. The only missing footage, so far, is that of the deposed president sitting down to write the letter. Everything else, from the violent take over of the state broadcaster by armed ‘policemen’, the beleagured president trying to control military and police personnel who were involved in the coup, coup leaders commanding the defecting officers, extreme brutality by the police against the public in the aftermath of the coup – it is all there, if you want to see it. ‘Want’ being the keyword here.

The ‘international community’ has not wanted to do so. British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had only months before described the deposed Maldivian President Nasheed as his ‘new best friend’, refused to lend him any support.

India, the supposed leader of democracy in South Asia, was the first to congratulate the new government and pledge its allegiance to its leader Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.

Sri Lanka, despite Nasheed’s ill-judged support of President Mahinda Rajapaksa while the intenational community condemned him for alleged human rights abuses, followed suit.

It would come as no surprise for any observer of China’s recent foreign policy decisins that Beijing had no qualms over the legitimacy of the new government in declaring its willingness to carry on with business as usual.

Australia, home to many Maldivians and supposedly a close friend, found the Maldivian situation to be fodder for political jokes; the violence that its people endured in the aftermath of the coup nothing but material for double-entendres to be lobbed between parliamentarians on opposite sides.

And, of course, given the manner in which the United States has sought to spread democracy in the world in the last decade, it should come as no surprise that it finds no room to exercise its soft power in assisting Maldivians establish the truth about how their democracy was derailed last week.

The international community is making a huge mistake in ignoring the current crisis in the Maldives. The foremost reason being that the Maldives is incapable of conducting its own independent investigation into the events of the day as the international community is recommending. Like a small community in which twelve impartial people cannot be found for a jury in a trial where everybody has a stake in the verdict, there can be no tribunal of truth held in the Maldives where the majority is not biased one way or another.

The United States and others have rejected the deposed president and his supporters’ calls for new elections on the basis that there are no institutions capable of holding a fair and free one. What makes it, and the rest of the international community, then think that there can be an independent institution capable of conducting an impartial enquiry into the facts of 7 February? If any of the international teams that have been so active in the Maldives in the last week have done any homework at all, they know the biggest impediment to consolidation of democracy in the Maldives has been failure of the so-called independent institutions have been unable to free themselves from political influence.

It is not just the Maldivian people that the international community is betraying by leaving them to their own fate. It is also the ideals of democracy they have espoused so stridently, not to mention violently, for the last decade. By refusing to help the Maldivian people establish the truth of how its first democratically elected president was deposed, it is allowing the burial without ceremony of the role that anti-democratic forces – including radical Islamists – have played in bringing the fledgling Maldivian democracy to its knees.

It is also turning its back on a valuable opportunity to increase its own knowledge of how Islamists can radicalise not just a small Muslim community, but an entire population. Available evidence shows that without a clear pact made with Islamists, the coup could not have been successfully planned or executed. By refusing to help join Maldivians’ efforts to establish the truth of the events of 7 February and the conspiracies that led up to it, the international community is doing what it does best: ignore a threat until it escalates to the point where there is carnage on the streets and thousands of lives are lost.

The most significant characteristic of the days that have followed 7 February in the Maldives is the deafening silence of the Islamists. They helped incite hatred and anger towards Nasheed when he was the legitimate president; they were the loudest and the most vocal of his critics. In the week that has followed his ousting, they have been ominously silent. And, judging from how they have conducted their operations in the Maldives for the last decade, the silence is not due to pious reflection and quiet contemplation of God’s greatness. It is a silence of anticipation, the calm before the storm. The conspirators who financed the coup have done a deal with them, and they are waiting in silence because they are sure their grand chance is about to come. That is, the chance to impose Sharia rule in the country, the chance to crackdown on the women and turn them into inferior human beings and citizens, the chance to bring the Maldives back to the early days of ‘pure’ Islam and turn it into the newest region of the Islamic Caliphate that bin Laden envisioned.

Unfortunately, we live in a world of realist international politics where until a state’s own ‘national interest’ is threatened or one’s own self-interest is at risk, there is no ‘legitimate’ reason to act. As long as the anti-democratic activities in the Maldives pose no geostrategic threat to the ‘international community’, as long as foreign investment in the Maldives is safe, as long as tourists can keep sipping their cocktails under the palm trees, and as long as Maldivian blood does not spill on the pristine white beaches that the rich and famous lounge about on, paradise is not lost. Until then what prevails will be accepted as what passes as ‘democracy’ these days – government for the rich by the rich.

Azra Naseem holds a doctorate in International Relations.

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]


Dr Waheed announces independent inquiry into “developments in the Maldives from Jan 14 to Feb 8”

President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan has announced an “independent and impartial investigation” into developments in the Maldives from January 14 to February 8, according to a statement on the President’s Office website.

Dr Waheed did not reveal who would conduct the inquiry, but he acknowledged the need for it yesterday after Germany and the UK to establish the legitimacy of his government.

The dates given include the period of incarceration of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed, and subsequent protests held by 200-400 opposition-led demonstrators, which culminated in a press conference on January 31 in which opposition parties called for Dr Waheed to take over the government with the assistance of police and military. The event itself took place on February 7.

In the statement, Dr Waheed said the investigation would create “factual and legal clarity” around events with a “direct bearing on the constitutional transfer of executive power that took place on February 7.”

“The investigation would also help establish accountability for any human rights violations which have taken place and thus set the groundwork for national reconciliation and dialogue,” Dr Waheed’s statement read.

“Reiterating his commitment to free and fair elections in 2013, the President urged all political parties to work together in creating a climate of trust and confidence in the build-up to next year’s elections. The President is also hopeful that the investigation, together with his offer to create a strong National Unity Government that would provide impetus for building trust and the establishment of the rule of law, would facilitate the resumption of normal democratic processes in the country,” the statement read.

Nasheed and his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) maintain that Dr Waheed’s government came to power after Nasheed was forced to resign under duress, and have refused to participate in a “national unity government” they claim is illegitimate.


“We call on the police and the army to pledge allegiance to the Vice President”: Umar Naseer, Jan 31

Former President Mohamed Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has circulated a video of an opposition press conference held early on January 31, following an early morning meeting between former Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan and opposition leaders.

The meeting with Dr Waheed included President of the Adhaalath Party Sheikh Imran, Vice President of former President Gayoom’s Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Umar Naseer, and Vice President of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party, Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef.

Nasheed and the MDP contend that his resignation following an attack by opposition protesters on the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) headquarters on Tuesday February 7 – in which element of the police and a smaller number of MNDF officers participated – was made under duress.

Dr Waheed’s government has maintained that the events of the day, including the takeover and rebranding of the state broadcaster, were spontaneous, and has praised the “sacrifices” of the security forces who participated.

“What happened (on Tuesday) was the culmination of a long process of political conflict and undermining of the judiciary,” President Waheed told foreign media during a press conference the morning after the alleged coup, which followed three weeks of 200-400 people protesting over the detention of Chief Judge of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed.

“I think it is unfair for anyone to accuse me of joining the opposition. I will continue this government in the spirit of coalition,” Dr Waheed said.

In the video of the opposition press conference eight days earlier, Umar Naseer claimed that President Nasheed had pledged “not to hold elections in 2013”.

“Hence, the December 23rd Coalition, all the different stakeholders of the coalition and all the opposition political parties are calling out to the police and the army to come out and pledge allegiance to Vice President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik, and not to implement any order given by Mohmed Nasheed,” Naseer said.

The coalition of opposition parties was formed following a well-attended ‘Defend Islam’ rally on December 23. Opposition leaders at the protest had criticised Nasheed’s Islamic credentials, accusing him of “building churches”, defending the Addu City ‘idols’ (SAARC monuments) and failing to condemn United Nations Human Rights Chief Navi Pillay for her suggestion that flogging be abolished as a punishment for extra-marital sex.

“We the Coalition of 23rd December has decided that from right this moment onwards, to step up the work we have been doing until today, to move things into the second phase,” said Sheikh Imran Abdulla, President of the religiously conservative Adhaalath Party, at the meeting on January 31.

“All of us in the Coalition have decided to pledge allegiance to Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik,” Naseer said.

At the press conference, DRP Vice Presdient Shareef said President Nasheed was a “huge threat to Maldivians”, and had “to be stopped immediately.”

“We believe Mohamed Nasheed has no legal standing to be the President of the Maldives. He has undermined the power of the courts, and completely abolished law and order in Maldives.

“He has tarnished the sanctity of the Supreme Court of the Maldives, and by giving illegal orders to the security forces, started injuring citizens.

“So before we go to a scarier, more dangerous blood shed, we have asked the Vice President to save this nation. I would like to call upon the security forces [to accept that] since the Vice President is a person elected by Maldivians, and should the President be incapacitated to perform his legal duties, the Vice President must assume the duties of the President.”

Recording of the January 31 press conference:


Sheikh Imran, President of the Adhaalath Party:

In the name of Allah, the most merciful, the most beneficent.

We had to meet at this late hour because the Government is acting out
of the boundaries of the constitution to destroy the judiciary and disenfranchise the citizens of the country, and because President Nasheed has indicated to us, clearly, that the 2013 elections will not be held.

(And so) we the Coalition of 23rd December has decided that from right this moment onwards, to step up the work we have been doing until today, to move things into the second phase.

The steering committee of the 23rd December Coalition has met and decided, unanimously, that we have to take things to the second phase.

(And so) we went to meet the Vice President, and having met him, we wanted to convey our decisions to the beloved citizens of the Republic of Maldives.

Hence we are meeting at this late hour. Umar will convey what we desire and the decisions we have taken.

Umar Naseer Vice President, Progressive Party of the Maldives:

Thank you very much. As you would know President Nasheed has, beyond doubt, contradicted the Constitution, and he himself has said that, he has stepped out of the chart.

And that he will not hold presidential elections in 2013.

Hence, the December 23rd Coalition, all the different stakeholders of the coalition and all the opposition political parties are calling out to the police and the army to come out and pledge allegiance to Vice President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik and not to implement any order given by Mohmed Nasheed.

And all of us in the Coalition have decided to pledge allegiance to Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.

So on behalf of this coalition we are calling on the security forces, to immediately pledge their allegiance to Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.

As you know Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik was elected by a direct vote of Maldivians, and has not acted contrary to the Constitution.

But Mohamed Nasheed has contradicted the constitution, gone outside the chart and has said he will not hold elections in 2013.

Hence we cannot say that Mohamed Nasheed is the legal ruler of Maldives.

This is the decision of the Coalition.

Mohamed ‘Mavota’ Shareef, Vice President, Dhivehi Rayithunge Party:

In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful.

We had met tonight with the Vice President on behalf of the Coalition to let him know what we think.

We have let the Vice President know what our parties had decided.

As you might know President Nasheed is a huge threat to Maldivians.

If what President Nasheed is doing is not stopped immediately, like what has happened in other countries, we fear that this country might plunge into a civil conflict.

So we requested the Vice President to take over the government, and we call upon the security forces to immediately start obeying the orders of the Vice President

That is because President Nasheed is not the President of the Maldives anymore.

He could have only stayed on as President, as long as he had not contradicted the constitution and does not contradict the law. He is trying to sideline the constitution.

He is contradicting the constitution knowingly, and on purpose.

Hence, as Umar and our Sheikh Imran has already stated, and as we have repeatedly stated, Nasheed who was holding the post of President, is not the President of this country anymore.

We believe Kenereege Mohamed Nasheed has no legal standing to be the president of the Maldives.

He has undermined the power of the courts, and completely abolished law and order in Maldives.

He has tarnished the sanctity of the supreme court of the Maldives, and by giving illegal orders to the security forces, started injuring citizens.

So before we go to a scarier, more dangerous blood shed, we have asked the Vice President to save this nation.

In conclusion, I would like to call upon the security forces, (to accept that) since the Vice President is a person elected by Maldivians, and should the president be incapacitated to perform his legal duties, the Vice President must assume the duties of the President. (And so) we have decided that he has to start performing these duties.


GIP ‘not informed’ about termination of coalition agreement

Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan said this morning that his party had not been officially informed of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s decision to tear up its coalition agreement with Waheed’s party, the Gaumee Itthihaad Party (GIP).

Twenty-one members of the MDP’s national council voted in favour of the move, out of 23 present. The council also called on President Mohamed Nasheed to remove all GIP members from ministerial positions. Vice President Waheed and Education Minister Dr Mustafa Luthfy are the only two GIP members remaining in Cabinet, after Nasheed dismissed Minister for Economic Development Mohamed Rasheed several weeks ago.

“We no longer trust these guys,” Haleem said. “Our coalition partner is working with the opposition – I think [Waheed] will be joining [the opposition] Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) very soon. I hope so, it would be best for him.”

Haleem added that he hoped the president would “obey” the MDP Council and remove the GIP members from government: “I hope so. MDP’s national council is one of the most powerful arms of the MDP,” Haleem said.

Dr Waheed recently raised the ire of MDP supporters when he held an apparently clandestine meeting with senior leadership of the DRP, including Umar Naseer and MPs Ali Waheed, Ahmed Nihan and Ahmed Mahlouf.

“I think the political sitaution requires that we talk to each other and work together,” Dr Waheed told Minivan News today. “There are bills we have to get through [parliament], especially revenue bills to address the deficit. I believe it is important, and I think I am in a position to speak. I met with opposition MPs partly at their request, and I indicated I would meet them.”

He said he was surprised at the inflamed response from MDP supporters – “I did not realise this would attract so much attention from the press and MDP activists,” he said.

Dr Waheed said the reaction of both parties following the meeting was “not helpful.”

“Under the current circumstances everyone is trying to score political points,” he said.

GIP had not been formally informed of MDP’s decision last night to sever the coalition, he noted.

“If this is true then of course we are concerned. We believe we have a valid agreement to work with MDP together until the end of term.”

The removal of GIP members from government would be an “unfortunate” outcome, Dr Waheed said.

“I had expected some kind of discussion. Since we were not consulted when the Economic Development [Mohamed Rasheed] Minister was dismissed, I felt I had grounds to talk, especially since no reason given except ‘political circumstances’.”

Dr Waheed called for discussions, concluding that “we can’t go on pretending the country has no problems, because that will not solve them.”

The President has not yet said whether he will take the advice of MDP’s national council. Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair was not responding at time of press.


Comment: Speak freely, Dr Waheed

I write this letter with the passion of one who has not heard enough from the man who holds the second leading position in the government of the Maldives.

As Dr. Waheed says, “It is [high] time to get rid of that fear of speaking out.”

This is a new freedom we have as a nation that is clearly not being utilised enough.

This letter begins my own attempt to follow his example. This letter is also a plea that he continue to speak publicly, namely about the recent injustice to the Minister of Trade and Economic Development of the Maldives.

The government’s administration of injustice on Rasheed due to the call for freedom of speech led by Dr Waheed is discrimination. There was no reason given for Rasheed’s dismissal. I urge Dr Waheed to speak freely on what is going on in our government.

Dr Waheed brings up a grave concern. The gravity of the situation can clearly be seen now, as we know that even a Minister holds no safety in his position. Is this not just another autocratic government that does as it pleases with the power it holds? Who was involved in Rasheed’s firing?

Yet Dr Waheed is hopeful. He says in a recent article, “there is ‘nothing that can’t be fixed'”, as the government “is going through a learning process.”

Despite the hindrance on his job, he says, “I don’t see why we should be hiding our feelings now. We did not bring about this change to work in despair.”

In my view this is a man of courage and integrity. He is clearly working for the people. He speaks his mind and faces in the process public scrutiny and even ridicule. In my opinion, he needs to do more of this. If the government is not hearing your advice, tell it to us, the public. Continue the open line of communication you have started by beginning to voice your concerns.

If you are for the people, Allah’s power is with you. We did witness a miracle when we elected our current government into power, but the abuse of power can never reign without the intervention of Allah’s force. Dr. Waheed has not responded publicly to Rasheed’s loss at the hands of the government.

Please do not be silent for the sake of avoiding confrontation. Sometimes, difficult things need to be voiced, as you have suggested. Anything can be said in the spirit of compassion. Allah shows us this. This must be what is meant by freedom of speech.

As far as the claim that he is angling for the presidential seat in the next election, how is this even relevant to the concerns of governance of the people now, and the obvious unrest in the current government? As a self respecting citizen, I will not buy into this line of inquiry nor comment on what I think the VP is going to do, or is trying to do.

The question we should be more concerned with revolves around the unclear governance of our nation now, the very question Dr Waheed points us towards. The tyranny of the government has gone too far. The Vice President is being left in the dark. A minister has been fired for no reason. How can the people feel safe and secure under such a government?

Power is a dangerous mechanism and can be used too easily for harm. Dr Waheed speaks the truth that it should never be in the hands of a few. This always leads to the subjugation of others, just look at the history of governance of every nation in the world.

As a side note, when a voice of governance speaks publicly in any nation, he or she is speaking in his or her role, the role that this individual was elected into, especially if s/he makes it clear that s/he is speaking from this capacity! May Dr Waheed use his power for the benefit of the people. Speak to us, for us.

Dr. Waheed played a lead role in the reconstruction of a war torn country, Afghanistan, where he led an organisation of 250 Afghans and an international staff from 20 different countries. His early biography is brief, but mentioned he came from a low income family, and we all know what a low income family in Male was like in the early 1950’s.

Regardless of how he is able to serve us as a country, in my mind, this man has earned our respect for his very impressive track record abroad. As much I am giving Dr Waheed the benefit of doubt, I also think he needs to step up, and be more vocal about policies he would implement and the injustice being conducted by the government he is a part of. If you are working for the people Dr. Waheed, be the voice that gives us the power of information. Give the power that is being taken from us, back to us, where it belongs.

We as a country cannot forget the past that we come from. This man represents that past. If we are to move forward into the future with dignity and continued growth, we have to face the suffering of our past in unity, as well as the suffering we face today though of a very different form than it was only a few years prior.

I plead our honorable president to take heed of the words of a man who should be his best, his right hand man. Having read of Dr Waheed’s accomplishments abroad, I feel eager for some of this good work at home.

May Dr. Waheed continue the process of speaking his mind that he has only just begun. I challenge him to be even more transparent. What is the point of bringing his dissatisfaction to the public if he will not continue that process through, and keep us informed as to what he feels our country needs, as well as what is happening behind the curtains of the powers that be? You have the chance Dr Waheed, to use the power of words for our benefit.

Finally, as a Maldivian woman, I have been disappointed with the slow pace of progression when it comes to women’s rights and leadership. What does it take to right a patriarchal system that finds roots in the entrenched world patriarchal culture that we still live in?

I would like the women in power to speak to these issues. I implore the women in power to do so. For such an educated man as Dr Waheed, I find myself questioning how far he would go to uphold the rights of the people in this country, so many of whom are women.

This is a very high standard that I hold him to above others of his standing because of his background and experience. The task of reconstructing our patriarchal system is one I would like to see someone with power in our government tackle. When we look at the history of subjugation of women, we see how subtle and how permeable is the assault inflicted by those that hold power.

Every major power in the world that has found great success has not been able to do so without its women empowered to hold their own on equal footing with men, and add their wisdom to the process of growth.

Women have been given positions of power in the Maldives, but we are underrepresented and so our voices cannot be heard loudly enough. As a feminist, I am extremely sensitive to the power differentials among the sexes. Perhaps the task of addressing this issue in my country is one that I as an educated woman need to begin to tackle for myself. Perhaps I need to take my own advice around using the power of words and freedom of speech, being that I have it.

What I have learned as a feminist is that we each cannot hold anyone but ourselves responsible for speaking to the suffering in our own hearts. May the might of words bring power of justice back to the people where it belongs. May this letter be a start for me, in the name of our most Merciful and Compassionate.

With Best Intentions,

Mirani Bhava

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]


Comment: We think violence is okay

This government clearly has every kind of trouble imaginable when it comes to the religious front. We have extremists, conservatives, suspected missionaries, Taliban freedom fighters, Afghan parliamentarians, jihadists, and zealots of every denomination. So what is the government doing about it?

This government is led by some of the most liberal minds in the country. But that is to their detriment. They cannot make liberal policies because they will be attacked for it. They are constantly threatened, warned, and then shunned by the conservative community. The only reason Adhaalath tolerates MDP is because MDP has fundamentalists like Fareed, and Adhaalath is getting their own ministry as a result of that tolerance.

But that does not seem to be enough. So now, the only way to get these people (meaning conservatives and not just Adhaalath) on our side seems to be to ensure that there is no doubt as to the fact that we will not unduly prosecute them – even if justice demands it.


When the Himandhoo residents attacked the police with knives, batons, and rocks they crossed the line. They chose violence. We cannot tolerate violence in any form. If they had blocked entry and sat in front of the mosque in non-violent protest, then this would be a different story. But that was not the case.

I’ve written about the human rights which must be afforded prisoners and today I want to remind everyone that these rights apply to our police officers as well. We all know members of the armed services, and we know them to be diligent, caring and disciplined citizens. And though there are institutional problems, they deserve to have the support of the people for working towards the lawful protection of the nation. When the Himandhoo residents attacked them, they crossed the line.

Mr President, I have a tremendous amount of love and respect for you, but this is not something that members of the liberal community can find acceptable. Even though we understand the reasons for it, there needs to be more due process, if for no other reason than to honor the policemen who were forced to go up against them.

How can the Himandhoo residents just be released again? These are residents from an island which has been heavily influenced by Lashkar-e-Taiba, the largest terrorist group in our region. They constantly violate human rights, create a repressive environment, and allow child abuse in the form of underage marriage. They actually picked up arms against the government in defense of a radical and conservative ideology. Will a simple workshop convince them of the error of their ways? No.

Violence is okay

Instead we will send a message to the conservative community that their actions were okay. That it was understandable. I mean, they were only defending a mosque right? Only defending their holy place. So it is okay right? No. It is not okay. They blocked entry and threatened other Muslims. The police could have easily taken off their shoes and entered the premises in a respectful manner, but instead the Himandhoo residents chose violent confrontation.

Many specific mosques are becoming places that are forbidden to many of us now. Even in Male’ – many mosques are hostile to certain people praying in them and all forbid women from the main spaces. One of the first moves the Islamic Ministry made was to shut down all women’s mosques. And where was the backlash?

Those of us who do nothing are sending the message that this kind of action is okay. And this message is being spearheaded by government policy. Recently we released nine Maldivians who were arrested on the Waziristan-Afghanistan border.

When the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was questioned about this, Shaheed said that “if we release anybody, it is because our laws require them to be released.” So then why were these people repatriated in the first place without any accompanying documentation of charges? If they have not been tried or convicted, then why are they not formally charged before being released? Why did Shaheed allow them to be brought to the Maldives without any investigation in their actions or collaboration with the Pakistani government? Why did he not seek information about the three Maldivians who died in Pakistani custody? And finally, why did he pass the buck to the Maldivian Police Service saying that the Maldives Police Service had determined that “the best thing to do was to release them to their families and put them under surveillance”, while their activities abroad were investigated?

So do the Police now have an international investigative unit? Do they have the money and capacity to pull off this kind of investigation? No. These people are the rest of our problem now. That we are repatriating our would-be jihadists is apparently of no concern. That Lashkar-e-Taiba is active in Himandhoo (and anywhere else in Maldives) is also apparently no big deal.

Against extremism

Though appeasement does seem to be rampant, at least we have been making some headway against fundamentalism. The rapidly formalised defense agreement with India was aimed at protecting our boarders from terrorism. The Maldives was a focus because Lashkar-e-Tabia, who was responsible for the Mumbai Terrorist attacks, as well as being linked to the Sultan Park Bombing and Himandhoo, is obviously active in our country. We have also objected, very mildly, to having Afghans come for official negotiations without informing the government beforehand.

All in all, we release violent jihadists and the Himandhoo residents. With Shaheem, from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, on the delegation who visited them, it’s quite obvious that this is a religious issue and not just a matter of the previous government “treating them unfairly.” It is an active policy of appeasement towards the conservative religious community. But toward what end? Maybe it is because there are so many of them that we can no longer stand against them. Maybe we are finally giving in to the threats and warnings. Maybe it is just so we have a little bit of support and cooperation. Or maybe it is so they don’t blow up the Holiday Inn once it finally gets issued its liquor license.

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


Police on defense over DhiFM coverage of Muleeage mob

Police have denied asking DhiFM to cease broadcasting live coverage of a protest that took place outside the president’s official residence on Thursday night, instead claiming officers requested the station stop airing interviews featuring people calling for the government to be toppled.

A large mob of protesters marched on Muleeage just before midnight, after rumours of a police death in custody circulated around a DRP rally being held at the artificial beach.

“People were already angry about the civil servant salary issue,” said DRP MP Ali Waheed, who joined the protest outside the president’s gate and was later hospitalised after he was hit in the head by a stone.

“This was not a planned protest,” he emphasised. “DRP MPs (including Ahmed Nihan and Ahmed Mahlouf) joined the protest on the way to the president’s residence because we feel very strongly about the issue.”

Police eventually dispersed the crowd using tear gas. Three people were arrested but were later released.

“We don’t care who was leading it or what the point was,” said Inspector Ahmed Shiyam, adding that despite the large number of people clamouring at the gates of Muleeage “at no time was security threatened. Police were backed up by the MNDF and very senior police [were in command].”

Several police were injured, he added, including one who was hit in the face by an object thrown from the crowd.

Shiyam explained that during the incident officers approached DhiFM and asked them to stop airing live interviews with people calling for others to join the protest and overthrow the government through violence.

“We sent officers to tell them, ‘please don’t do that’,” Shiyam said. “They misunderstood, and I called a senior member of DhiFM and managed to convince him.”

DhiFM CEO Maassoodh Hilmy said plain clothes police arrived at the studio at 1:51 on Friday morning, showed their idenification and demanded the station cease broadcasting.

“I said we were not stopping,” he said. “We had two reporters at Muleeage and they were calling out [what they were seeing].”

Shiyam said today that police had sent a letter of complaint alleging that DhiFM had overstepped its status as an observer by broadcasting “calls for violence”.

“That statement from police is not good. They are lying, which is very wrong,” said Hilmy.

The Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) today issued a statement strongly condemning the police attempt to “shut down [DhiFM’s] transmission while it was carrying out the live coverage of the protest,” calling it “a flagrant violation of the independence of the media and the freedoms ascribed in the Constitution.”

“We note that police also forced other media personnel to stop covering the incident and leave the scene, which can only mean that this is a deliberate attempt by the government to influence media content and subsequently, public perception,” the MJA said, expressing further concern about the police comments regarding DhiFM’s conduct, “which seem to imply that DhiFM’s live coverage could amount to inciting more people to violence and that DhiFM carrying out its duty as a media could pose a national security risk.”

“We condemn such attacks on democracy and Constitutional freedoms and call on all authorities not to engage in such appalling action in the future.”


Independent MP and former Information Minister Mohamed Nasheed said neither police nor defence personnel were allowed to walk into a station and ask it to stop broadcasting.

“They were asked to either put the request in writing or say it live on radio. They refused and returned to the police station,” Nasheed said.

“The next day they sent a document with a police letterhead that was not signed [by the relevant authority], claiming that DhiFM took part in an unlawful gathering calling for the removal of the existing government – this is very strong language from the police.”

Nasheed said Maldives’ broadcasting legislation contained details for disciplinary action but was intentionally designed to include hurdles to make it difficult for the government to close a station.

“Broadcast licences are issued for a year and come with 100 points for every six months, much like a driving licence,” he explained.

“[In the event of a complaint] an independent content committee appointed by the information ministry will act like jury – if the majority agree a maximum of 10 points can be deducated for an offence, and to terminate a broadcast licence the committee must be unanimous.

“Only then can the information ministry ask police or defence to enforce the order on behalf of the committee.”

Nasheed noted that police appeared to be “now varying their story” by stating that their request was regarding certain interviews rather than the live broadcast itself.


Police “strong denied” the rumour of a death in custody that triggered the protest, Shiyam said, identifying the subject as 32 year-old Mohamed Nooz of Gdh Thinadhoo.

Nooz was taken into police custody on Jan 15, Shiyam said, but was sent to hospital after he complained of “medical problems”.

“His family was informed and on the 26 Jan police heard his condition had become serious and that he had died that evening.”

Shiyam noted that no family members had filed a complaint about Nooz’s treatment by police, and that one family member had expressed concern that his death would “be used for political gain.”

Waheed said today that the DRP would be supporting an investigation into the matter after “the person who cleaned the body said he smelled something fishy about the case,” and expressed concern about what he claimed was police unwillingness to conduct an official autopsy. That person had gone to HRCM to make a complaint, he said. Waheed also noted the victim’s age as 24, differing from the police account.

He stressed he “was not saying people were killed in custody”, and added that the DRP “will never try to overthrow a legal government.”

“DRP MPs will only join reasonable protests,” he said, adding that he was not sure if similar incidents would occur.

“I wouldn’t know, that’s for the public to decide,” he said. “People are suffering from the reduced civil servant salaries and increased electricity prices, while President Nasheed is trying to take the tension out of these issues by focusing on global warming and the economic crisis.”