High Court orders DRP Leader Thasmeen to settle MVR 1.9 million debt to Deputy Speaker Nazim

The High Court today upheld a Civil Court verdict in April 2011 ordering Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali to settle an outstanding debt of MVR 1.92 million (US$124,513) owed to Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim.

MP Nazim, who recently joined the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), sued the DRP presidential candidate in March 2011 to recover MVR 1.92 million (US$124,513) unpaid from a loan worth MVR 2.55 million (US$200,000).

While the High Court upheld the lower court verdict, the ruling (Dhivehi) invalidated the part of the Civil Court verdict ordering Thasmeen to pay Nazim MVR1,800 (US$140) incurred as lawyer’s fees based on a rate of MVR300 per hearing.

Nazim had claimed MVR100,000 (US$6,485) as compensation for lawyer’s fees.

The three-judge panel presiding over the case included High Court Chief Judge Ahmed Shareef, Judge Abdulla Hameed and Judge Ali Sameer.

The High Court judgment coincided with the launching today of the DRP’s fourth national congress at the Dharubaaruge convention center with 700 delegates.

At the final hearing of the Civil Court case in April 2011, Thasmeen’s lawyer reportedly claimed that Nazim agreed to sell Shaviyani Kabalifaru, which was leased for development as a resort in 2005, to raise funds to cover the MVR 2.55 million loan.

Thasmeen’s lawyer denied that an agreement was made between the pair to pay back the loan in a month, claiming that Nazim failed to find a buyer for Kabalifaru as agreed upon in November 2008.

The lawyer also denied Nazim’s claim that the loan was taken to pay back Thasmeen’s debts at the Bank of Maldives.

However, Nazim’s lawyer, Mohamed Saleem, disputed both claims, demanding documentation to prove that Thasmeen gave power of attorney to Nazim to sell the resort.

At a previous hearing, Nazim’s lawyer had produced a document with Thasmeen’s signature, prompting Judge Hathif Hilmy to note that the purported loan agreement had a reference number and that it was therefore reasonable to expect Thasmeen to be aware of the details of the amount in question.

At the time the case was filed, Thasmeen’s DRP was in a formal coalition with the minority opposition People’s Alliance (PA) led by Nazim and current PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen.

The DRP-PA coalition agreement was terminated in July 2011 amidst internal strife within the then-main opposition party, which saw a breakaway faction loyal to former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom leaving the party to form PPM in October 2011.

Following an acrimonious war of words between then-DRP ‘Honorary Leader’ Gayoom and his successor Thasmeen, the former president withdrew his endorsement of the DRP presidential candidate in March 2011.


Yameen announces intention to join Gayoom’s party, run in presidential primary

Opposition People’s Alliance (PA) Leader Abdulla Yameen has announced his intention to sign up for the new political party recently advertised by his half-brother, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, reports Haveeru.

The MP from Mulaku told Haveeru that Gayoom’s creation of a new political party was “widely requested” and due to “no other choice”. He said MPs from PA and Gayoom’s opposition faction had voiced concerns that  the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) was not fulfilling its duties.

The PA will not be dissolved in the wake of Yameen’s departure, Haveeru reported. Instead the party would form a coalition with the new, as yet unnamed party. Yameen told Haveeru that he was no longer involved in the People’s Alliance.

Yameen further announced that intends to run in the new party’s presidential primary. He added that he will support whoever the party chooses for the 2013 presidential election.


Former President Gayoom to lead new party

The breakaway Z-faction of the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) is to form a new political party to be led by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, reports Haveeru.

An unnamed official from the ‘Zaeem faction’ told Haveeru that a majority of the Z-DRP council and opposition parliamentary group members supported the creation of a new party at a meeting last night that took place at Gayoom’s new office in Male’.

“All the members except two or three supported creating a new political party. All the members supported the idea of Maumoon heading the party,” the member said. “It has been decided that the Zaeem [Gayoom] would announce the decision within 2-3 days.”

MP Ahmed Mahlouf, spokesperson of the opposition parliamentary group that began functioning independently of the DRP last month, told Minivan News this week that discussions on forming a new party were at an advanced stage.

Factional strife within the DRP following the uncontested election of Ahmed Thasmeen Ali in March 2010 publicly erupted in a brawl between supporters of the embattled leader and dismissed Deputy Leader Umar Naseer in a televised rally on December 14, 2010.

Following months of allegations and counter-allegations in the media, in March this year, Gayoom fired off a 12-page letter condemning Thasmeen’s leadership of the main opposition party and accusing the DRP Leader of “acting dictatorially.”


Z-DRP, DQP condemn Thasmeen for meeting President Nasheed

The main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party’s (DRP) breakaway Z-faction along with coalition partner Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) has condemned DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali for meeting President Mohamed Nasheed Saturday night.

Speaking at a press conference the following day, DRP Deputy Leader Ilham Ahmed claimed that “because Thasmeen has millions of rufiya worth of loans owed to Bank of Maldives as well as other pressures,” the minority leader was “making deals with the government.”

“What we were saying is now becoming very clear to the public,” he said, referring to the Z-faction’s allegations of Thasmeen and Speaker Abdulla Shahid accepting US$1 million bribes from Indian infrastructure giant GMR.

DQP Secretary General Abdulla Ameen meanwhile told local media that the opposition leader meeting President Nasheed was “unacceptable” as it could be construed as an endorsement of the proposed economic reform agenda.

Ameen argued that discussions over the proposed reforms should have taken place much earlier.

“I don’t see any need for meeting the opposition leader after the reforms were planned and finalised and a ceremony held to announce [the reforms],” Ameen told Haveeru.

Thasmeen however told press outside the President’s Office after the meeting that he met the President to voice concerns about the economic reform bills currently before parliament, including planned expenditure growth for 2013 and the personal income tax.

Following the meeting, President Nasheed signaled the government’s willingness to address DRP concerns and incorporate changes in the relevant legislation before enactment into law.


Opposition Parliamentary Group to reject appointment of ministers Didi and Tholhath

The opposition parliamentary group has announced that it will reject the appointment of Dr Ibrahim Didi as Fisheries Minister and Tholhath Ibrahim as Defense Minister.

Spokesperson for the group, MP Ahmed Mahlouf  of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP)’s Z-faction, has confirmed the decision.

DRP MP Abdulla Mausoon said the faction of the party loyal to leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali had decided to accept Tholhath but reject Dr Didi.

“Our parliamentary group found that it does not make much sense appointing someone who has been already dismissed by us,” Dr Mausoom said. “Our leader MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali met with the press when they both were appointed by the President and revealed our stand.”

Dr Mausoom insisted that the same procedure had to be applied for everyone, recalling that when President Mohamed Nasheed reappointed Dr Ahmed Ali Sawad as the Attorney General after the parliament rejected him once, he was rejected a second time.

DRP MP Ahmed Mahlouf and DRP MP Ahmed Nihan did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.

Dr Didi is currently the President of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), but was reappointed as Fisheries Minister by President Nasheed on July 19.

Dr Didi resigned from his position as the Fisheries Minister along with the other cabinet members in protest to the opposition parliamentarians alleged obstruction of executive power in June last year. His subsequent reappointment was dismissed by the opposition-majority parliament, along with seven other ministers.


Z-DRP raises spectre of British imperialism and loss of Islamic identity

President Mohamed Nasheed was elected in 2008 “with the help of the British conservative party and imperial powers,” the Zaeem-faction of the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) claimed in a video message Thursday night, featured during a rally held to launch the Z-faction’s autonomous activities to celebrate the party’s sixth anniversary.

“In the two years since this government came, 22 people were killed on the street, Islam was challenged and defied,” the video message intoned. “[The government] made drinking alcohol and using drugs commonplace, appointed drug users and convicts to senior posts, sold the country’s assets to foreigners, lost control of the economy, locked down the High Court, and members of the ruling party hijacked the Deputy Speaker of parliament along with opposition MPs.

“Sickness is commonplace and the health system has been demolished. In the meantime, leaders that Zaeem Maumoon [Abdul Gayoom] brought to the political arena have abandoned his ideology and are now trying to chart a new course for their ship away from him.”

Addressing supporters after the video presentation, former President Gayoom said that the DRP’s “greatest national duty” was “to ensure that the Maldives remains a 100 percent Muslim country,” with “full independence and sovereignty.”

“The independence of the country and our faith are very much related,” he said. “The Maldives will only remain a country with complete freedom, independence and sovereignty if it remains a 100 percent Muslim country.”

If that status should change, said Gayoom, “there is no doubt that our independence will be threatened as Maldivian history has taught us the lesson that every time we lost our independence it was because some group tried to turn the Maldivian people to the wrong religion.”

He stressed that allowing freedom of religion “in a tiny country like the Maldives with a small, homogenous population” would create “disagreement and division among the people and lead to bloodshed.”


The narrated video presentation – set to black and white reels of British monarchs and ships in the Male’ harbour – sketched a history of the Maldives’ “enslavement” under British colonialism and Indian Borah merchants to independence on July 26, 1965.

“In 1834, [Robert] Morseby came to the country on behalf the British governor in Bombay to draw [maritime] charts of the Maldives,” the narration began. “But the territorial chart wasn’t the only chart the English were drawing.

“They were drawing charts of our internal affairs and the economy, too. [They] connected Maldivians with the Borah traders who upheld the interests of British imperialism, and arranged for them to be permanently settled in Male’.”

The British then proceeded to “divide and rule,” sparking a feud between two royal families led by Athireege Ibrahim Didi and Kakaage Mohamed Rannabadeyri Kilegefaanu, both of whom had “significant political interest in the trade of the Borah.”

In late 1886, Ibrahim Didi or Dhoshimeyna Kilegefaanu deposed the reigning Sultan, who was replaced with Mohamed Mueenudeen III, known as Kuda Bandarain.

“It cannot be believed that the English played no part in the great atrocity that was the coup attempt through arson [Bodu Hulhu] in 1887,” the narrator states. “The leader of the coup, Ibrahim Dhoshimeyna Kilegefaanu, was a British citizen.”

Before heading out to set fires in Male’, the arsonists “performed black magic inside Velaanage” and ate the heart of a 15-year-old boy who had died that day.

“Eventually those who committed [the acts of arson] were found and caught,” the narration continued. “Ibrahim Dhoshimeyna Kilegefaanu and his accomplices were punished and banished. [But] before too long, the English meddled with the investigation and forced the Sultan to free Ibrahim Dhoshimeyna Kilegefaanu.”

The Maldives “became enslaved by the British” on December 16, 1887 when “the Sultan was intimidated and coerced into signing the protection agreement.”


The Z-DRP video message observed that the Maldives as a British protectorate was characterised by “poverty and the struggle for the throne by powerful families” as well as political instability and the secession of three southern atolls.

“As a consequence of the country becoming a British protectorate, after 87 years the Maldives was among the poorest five countries in the world,” the narrator explained. “The British could not bring democracy to the Maldives. There was no education system, no health system and no domestic economy. And justice was not served either.”

Former President Ibrahim Nasir secured independence in 1965 but “began his own business using state resources.”

“When Nasir left office in 1978, he owned seven resorts, numerous plots of land in Male’, a shipping line and counted a number of shops among his businesses,” the narrator claimed.

The condition of the Maldivian people “was changed by our national hero and proud Zaeem [beloved leader] of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party.”

The video message argued that the ex-President “empowered Maldivians spiritually, intellectually, socially and physiologically.”

“After empowering Maldivians upon these pillars through the service of a golden 30 years, he took the country out of the list of the world’s poorest states,” the narrator stated. “[Gayoom] introduced principles of modern democracy, separated powers of the state, and introduced a multi-party system [in 2005].”

“Now the situation has darkened again,” the Z-DRP warned. “But what the people still want, north and south, and all across the country, is the ideology [of Gayoom’s reign] that empowered them.”

“True independence”

Meanwhile in his speech Gayoom explained that true independence included “freedom of thought, economic freedom and cultural freedom as well.”

“Passing our economic affairs into the hands of foreigners, just saying that we have political freedom, is not ensuring independence at all,” he contended.

Democratic governance “is the best form of governance,” said Gayoom, and the reform agenda launched in 2004 “to bring modern democracy to the Maldives has, by the grace of God, been successful.”

“As a result of [the road map for reform] the Maldives has become a complete democracy,” he said. “A complete and perfect constitution was devised, independent institutions were established, political parties were formed, the fundamental rights of the Maldivian people were protected, justice was established. All this was done and complete before 2008.”

The new constitution was ratified on August 7, 2008, two months before Gayoom was ousted in the country’s first democratic multi-party election.

Gayoom however went on to say that “renewed efforts” were needed “to bring back democracy to the country.”

“I won’t go into too much detail on this,” he said. “However even as the video we just saw explained, the situation is deteriorating on a daily basis. The people are becoming impoverished and their rights are being violated.”


Z-DRP requests PG investigate MDP MPs’ “act of terrorism”

Opposition MPs met with Prosecutor General (PG) Ahmed Muiz today to request criminal charges be pressed against MPs of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) for bolting the chamber doors and “hijacking parliament” on July 13.

Speaking to press outside the Prosecutor General’s Office, MP Ahmed Mahlouf said that the opposition MPs considered the incident an “act of terrorism” and “a serious criminal offence.”

“In addition, because neither the army nor police took any action against MDP members protesting outside the parliament building, where gatherings are illegal, we also submitted that complaint,” he said.

He added that the MPs requested an investigation into MDP activists locking parliament gates with chains “as a serious issue.”

PG Muiz with MP Hamdhoon Hameed
PG Muiz with MP Hamdhoon Hameed

Speaking to Minivan News today, MP Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih, parliamentary group leader of the ruling party, said that the opposition MPs’ decision to take matters up with the PG was “regrettable.”

“There are internal arrangements [within parliament] to deal with such matters,” he explained. “If there was an issue of privileges or ethics, we have a privileges committee and an ethics committee that can investigate [complaints].”

Ibu Solih insisted that there was no criminal element to the disturbances in parliament last week.

Z-DRP MPs Mahlouf, Ilham Ahmed, Ali Arif and Ahmed Nihan were joined at the meeting this afternoon by MPs of the minority opposition Jumhooree Party, People’s Alliance and Dhivehi Qaumee Party.

Mahlouf told reporters that “rocks and water bottles” hurled into the building caused harm to both MPs and officers of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).

He claimed that PA MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla was hit by a rock while an MNDF officer’s eyes were “seriously hurt” by a projectile.

The DRP MP for Galolhu South noted that neither the MNDF nor police moved to offer protection to Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim “an hour and a half after the hijacking.”

“After the sitting finished, for the security forces to stand by and do nothing while the Deputy Speaker and MPs were hijacked in there is a very serious problem,” he said.

Asked if any MP was directly prevented from leaving the chamber that day, Mahlouf said that he “tried to get out [of the chamber] but couldn’t do it.”

“My grandmother was at the ICU at the time and I couldn’t go there,” he said. “We couldn’t even go to the toilet. We have videos of all of this and we have even shared some with the media.”


Committee composition approved at “unlawful sitting”: Z-DRP MPs

MPs of the main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party’s (DRP) breakaway Z-faction vowed today to disrupt future sittings of parliament in protest of last night’s “unlawful sitting,” claiming that the revised committee composition voted through was not the same proposal agreed upon by parliamentary group (PG) leaders.

Today’s sitting was meanwhile cancelled after just 15 minutes when the Z-DRP MPs and Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed left their seats to protest in front of the secretariat desk.

With the latest forced cancellation, parliament has now been deadlocked since Tuesday (June 28) last week.

At a press conference after the cancellation, DRP Deputy Leader Ilham Ahmed argued that last night’s sitting was “unlawful” because MPs were informed via text message just two hours before it began.

Ilham’s Z-DRP colleague MP Ali Arif explained that MPs were not sent agendas as required by parliamentary rules nor provided details of the revised composition: “Therefore, as last night’s sitting was illegitimate and unlawful, we do not accept any decision made at the sitting.”

The Z-DRP MPs objected in particular to the composition of the coveted ‘241’ Security Services Committee, which the MDP could potentially control with the support of the two Independents Ali Mohamed and Ismail Abdul Hameed.

While the former resigned from DRP last month, the latter has a record of voting with the ruling party. However Velidhoo MP Ali Mohamed notably voted against the MDP to approve Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).

Meanwhile Z-DRP MP Ahmed Mahlouf alleged that Speaker Abdulla Shahid held a secret meeting with President Mohamed Nasheed after last night’s sitting.

All three Z-DRP MPs strongly criticised DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali as “incompetent,” reiterating their accusation against the minority leader of “making deals with the government.”

The Z-DRP MPs demand that last night’s vote should be invalidated and the committee composition revisited.

However the parliament secretariat has issued a press statement in response to the Z-DRP MPs’ claims, noting that the revised rules of procedure does not require MPs to be informed three days in advance.

It adds that both the agenda and items up for a vote could be viewed on the computers at each MPs’ desk.

Moreover, MPs were informed of sittings via text message on two occasions in the past: “The 79th sitting of the 17th parliament held on 28 December 2009 and the 26th sitting of the third session of 2010 on 20 December 2010 were held after MPs were informed on short notice via text messages. Those sittings took place at 8.30 at night.”

DRP response

Meanwhile at a press conference by the rival opposition faction, DRP Deputy Leader Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef defended the compromise agreed upon by DRP Leader Thasmeen following “a long negotiation process.”

Shareef revealed that Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim refused to enter into a formal coalition with the DRP “for some reason after [the coalition agreement] was signed and finalised to be sent to the Majlis secretariat. We are seeing the bitter [consequence] of that now.”

If the coalition agreement had been signed, the allied opposition parties in parliament would have been level with the MDP at 34 MPs each.

“Considering the composition of the People’s Majlis today, in circumstances where our coalition has less than 34 seats, there is no way that we could have got more than what we have achieved through negotiations,” he said. “We have not lost even one seat that we deserved.”

He added that the opposition retained control of influential committees such as the Public Accounts Committee and the Government Oversight Committee.

As it was “a political reality” that MDP were entitled to control of some committees, Shareef said that the Z-DRP MPs’ claims were “deliberate lies intended to deceive the public.”

The DRP deputy leader also warned that opposition politicians risked raising “doubts about our sincerity” due to the ongoing internal squabbles: “Any loss to the DRP is a gain for the government and a loss to the whole opposition effort.”

Shareef called on the Z-DRP to “set aside political rivalry and dreams of winning the 2013 presidential election for the sake of the nation.”

DRP MP for Thulusdhoo Rozaina Adam meanwhile pointed out that JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim had also voted to approve the compromise reached by PG leaders.

She added that Thasmeen held out on a compromise until leaders of minority opposition parties People’s Alliance, JP and the DQP endorsed the agreement.

“Last night’s sitting was held because opposition parties reached an agreement, not at all because the Speaker himself wanted it,” she said.

The DRP had also “sacrificed” its slots on some committees to allow Independents and DQP MP Riyaz Rasheed to have a seat, Rozaina said.

She added that the Independent MPs on the 241 committee were “two MPs that both sides believe to be neutral.”

Z-DRP MP Ahmed Nihan however told Minivan News today that the Z-DRP MPs’ protest last night sprang from concerns about the Speaker’s political affiliation.

“We strongly believe he has connections with the government as he is working to an unknown agenda in their favour,” he said.

Nihan added that he expects protests on the Majlis floor to continue indefinitely.

“Today, we are seeing the government appoint the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) to step in to run immigration here in the country,” he said. “How can we hold this government accountable if the opposition is not in control of the 241 committee?”


Under-fire Thasmeen won’t shift 2012 congress amidst DRP reconciliation attempts

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali has questioned calls to bring forward the party’s 2012 congress amidst initiatives designed to end infighting between his own supporters and those of his predecessor, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Amidst an escalating tensions between Thasmeen and former President Gayoom – the DRP’s honorary leader – a group of party councillors have moved to form committees to try and reconcile divisions that have occurred between the two figures.

Party members critical of Thasmeen’s leadership have said they hope that any potential reconciliation will resolve concerns regarding what they see as the serving DRP head’s failure to adhere to the party’s charter on a number of issues such as dismissing former party member Umar Naseer.

Thasmeen told Minivan News today that from his perspective, he welcomed the possibility of dialogue that served to “strengthen” the party, having nominated three persons to represent him as a committee. The DRP leader added that Gayoom had appointed representatives of his own to take part in the ongoing discussions, which he claimed remained at an early stage and had yet to deal with the key “issues” that had led to divides in the party.

“The talks have not gone far, yet if any good can come of them [for the party], I would welcome that,” he said. “It is too early to say what sort of outcome we are expecting and we would like to see how talks proceed before we make any prejudgments in the media.”

The DRP head added that despite welcoming the talks, he would not concede to calls from some MPs to bring forward the party’s scheduled 2012 congress or hold an extraordinary meeting concerning topics like his leadership. In the last party congress held back in 2010, Thasmeen was anointed by Gayoom as party leader and elected unopposed – the honorary leader’s support has since been revoked on the back of apparent professional animosity between the two men.

“President Gayoom has suggested bringing forward the party congress. Now I have my opinions on this, but I would rather not say them right now,” he said. “The DRP constitution says that a congress should be held in 2012, so why is there a need for this to happen sooner?”

Thasmeen claimed additionally that certain party members had been using the media to attack and cause further divisions within the party and that he wished to avoid making any comments that exacerbated the present situation.

Thasmeen criticism

Ahmed Nihan, a DRP MP allied to a spin-off faction of the party known as the Zaeem-DRP (Z-DRP), which supports Gayoom and dismissed Deputy Leader Umar Naseer in their criticism of Thameen’s leadership, said that a “lot of effort” was taken by general members and councillors to try and bridge divisions within the party.

Nihan said that he rejected the label of the Z-DRP and its description as a political faction as a media invention, adding that initiatives were being taken to resolve differences within the party between Thasmeen and Gayoom, including ending a boycott of DRP council meetings.

“We are still members of the DRP and I have the same rights as anyone else to speak my mind. We are a democratic party,” he said. “As of last night, we have agreed to attend the party’s council for the first time in months and sit down with [Thasmeen].”

According to Nihan, the key objectives for supporters of the so-called Z-DRP movement were to call on Thasmeen to run the party under the rules outlined under the DRP’s charter, something he alleged has not been the case at a time. He claimed this was unfortunate at a time when opposition parties needed to be working closer together to oppose the government.

In outlining areas about Thasmeen’s leadership that concerned him, Nihan claimed that not all had been bought to the attention of the public as yet.

“There are a lot of things Thasmeen has done that we haven’t revealed to the media. These relate not only to Umar [Naseer’s] dismissal, but actions taken afterwards,” he said. “He has tried to expel members of the party who do not agree with his rule. Being the leader he should think of the wellbeing of the party.@