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Why Trump’s Win Could Be A Good Thing For Maldives?

in News/Politics by

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The shocking victory of real-estate mogul Donald Trump becoming the 45th President-elect of the United State of America is partly being attributed to that FBI Director James Comey’s announcement of a new investigation against rival Hillary Clinton two weeks before polling day. But Clinton’s campaign was disrupted the maximum by Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks which continues to publish the emails of her campaign chair John Podesta, a major Washington insider.

The whistleblowing website has published close to 56,000 emails from Podesta’s private account since October 7, sometimes more than once a day, revealing the internal communications of Clinton’s campaign staff.

And one of them is linked to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. John Podesta also owns Washington-based lobbyist firm Podesta Group run by his brother Tony. The firm signed a lucrative deal with the Maldives last September to counsel Abdulla Yameen-led government amid threat of sanctions and was paid USD 50,000 by a company implicated in country’s biggest corruption scandal.

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And whether or not Trump will act against Clinton, who, he had said during a debate would “be in jail” if he became the president, Podesta can actually be investigated over its links with a money-laundering regime in Maldives.

podestaPodesta, the “superlobbyist” has been accused for “whitewashing” Yameen and his cronies’ crimes, as alleged by opposition and received its fee from state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC).

Podesta was hired by Abdulla Yameen-led government to provide strategic counsel to the government.

The contract with the government published by Podesta Group on the US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) office’s website read, “(Podesta will) provide strategic counsel on strengthening ties (of Maldives) to the US government.”

The deal was cracked at whopping USD 300,000 for a period of six months between September 8, 2015 and March 7, 2016.

Government initially denied reports of hiring Podesta but e-mails containing details of cost negotiations with the firm — sent by Jeffrey Salim Waheed, the deputy permanent representative in New York — were leaked. The then Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon were also marked in the mails.

Adeeb, who brokered may such PR deals for his boss, was in direct communication with Foreign Ministry officials over hiring Podesta. Adeeb was also informed that Podesta wanted its fee to be paid in monthly instalments of USD 50,000.

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Even though the deal was called off in October after Adeeb’s arrest on the charges of plotting to assassinate Yameen in boat blast on September 30, Podesta received one-month fee for its services from state tourism promotion company MMPRC.

Documents filed by Podesta at the US Department of Justice disclosed that the firm was paid USD 50,000 from MMPRC.

Later, MMPRC’s former head Abdulla Ziyath was found guilty in money embezzlement USD 80 million from state coffers along with Adeeb.

Podesta, however, was not the only firm to be paid a lucrative fee for polishing the Maldives’ deteriorating image by MMPRC. Cherie Blair’s Omnia Strategy was also paid more than £200,000 for consultancy on “democratic consolidation” to Yameen by the state tourism promotion company.

The main-opposition Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) alleged that the government was spending obscene amounts of public money for image-building.

“Government officials are clearly rattled at the prospect of facing targeted sanctions. But rather than doing the right thing and freeing the political prisoners, they are spending obscene amounts of public money on foreign lobbyists, who will try to whitewash their crimes,” Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, the party’s international spokesman was quoted as saying by Maldives Independent.

In September this year, an investigative documentary by Al-Jazeera exposed embezzlement of money from state coffers to private accounts by illegally leasing islands. The documentary claimed that Yameen and his associates

The secretly filmed interviews describe how on mopeds carried millions in cash to the and his aides with some funds amounting to as large as $1.5 billion.

Election Commission Scraps Plan To Introduce E-Voting In Local Council Elections

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Local council elections scheduled in January next year will have traditional voting as the Election Commission has decided to scrap the plans to introduce e-voting following criticism from opposition parties.

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The Election Commission on Tuesday announced that the decision was taken after appeals from political parties who had threatened to boycott the elections if e-voting took place.

Both Maldivian Democratic Party and Jumhooree Party had expressed concern over implementation of e-voting and alleged rigging.

MDP had said that it would not contest the elections alleging that e-voting will allow government and ruling parties to rig the elections.  MDP maintained that e-voting was unnecessary “in a country with a small voting population where results are announced within a few hours.”

Earlier in May, European Union ambassador to Maldives and Sri Lanka, David Daley had put question mark over the preparedness to implement the electronic system following which the then Home Minister Umar Naseer assured that the decision won’t be implemented until and unless people agreed.

The opposition to implement e-voting gained momentum when the former President of the Elections Commission, Fuad Thaufeeq, voiced his concern saying that the people of the Maldives have lost confidence in the institution and that there was no need of introducing electronic voting in the island nation.

The local council elections are scheduled to take place from January 14 next year.

The elections headquarters are most likely to be set up at Jamalludeen school building in Malé.

The commission also notified that the process of filing nomination will be online and the candidates can file their application before November 15.

According to the electoral body, 563 councillors will be elected to 179 island councils, 67 councillors to 18 atoll councils, and 23 councillors to three city councils, Maldives Independent reported.

In last election in 2014, MDP won 41.5 per cent votes with 457 seats while ruling PPM won 25.5 per cent with 281 seats.

Other parties Jumhooree Party and Maldives Democratic Alliance who were PPM’s coalition partner won 11.4 per cent and 5.4 per cent votes respectively. The Adhaalath Party won 45 seats making it to 4.1 per cent.

Gayoom Vs Yameen: 8 PPM MPs Revolt Against President

in News by

The rift in ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives is now translating into act of rebellion as the MPs apparently belonging to the faction led by former President Maumoon Gayoom said they will put national interest before President Abdulla Yameen’s diktat.

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The development came after court stripped PPM’s President Maumoon Gayoom of all his powers and handed the full control to President Yameen.

In a press conference on Thursday, eight MPs announced that the decision of President Yameen has done irreparable damage and they will bring a number of changes in the Parliamentary work adding that they will no longer abide by the whip line set by Yameen.

The faction criticised lack of transparency, increasing authoritarianism and allegations of corruption by the government and vowed to work with the opposition to restore democracy in the country.

Meanwhile, MDP welcomed the decision of the MPs and said that the party looks forward to working with the MPs to bring about any necessary legislative changes to uphold the Constitution, protect fundamental freedoms, and to restore democracy in the country.

“In light of the immense difficulties that the people of the Maldives are to face, it is encouraging that 8 Government party MPs have pledged their intention to work with the opposition. We ask other Government MPs to do same, to work towards reform. This is now leading to President Yameen losing his majority in the Parliament. With this, President Yameen has lost any remaining legitimacy he may have had,” said former President Mohamed Nasheed.

On Sunday, Chief Judge Abdulla Didi ruled in favour of President Yameen citing extrordinary circumstances due to Maummon’s refusal to convene the party’s governing council and sacking of his deputy, Maldives Independent reported.

The court made President Yameen, who was the advisor of the party, as the head of PPM.

Maumoon’s Gayoom, meanwhile said that he will take the case to Supreme Court.

The rift between Gayoom brothers goes back to June when President Yameen led government introduced the Tourism Bill to which Maumoon strongly opposed. The rift got wider when Maumoon refused to endorse Yameen as the party’s
Presidential candidate for the next election followed by sacking of Faris Gayoom in reaction.

Maumoon who is in loggerheads with his half-brother Yameen has time and again criticised him for his decisions to implement death penalty and leave the commonwealth.

Maumoon daughter and former Foreign Affairs Minister Dunya Maumoon and his loyal and former Home Minsiter Umar Naseer had quit Yameen-led government citing differences.

MDP Cries Foul Over Election Commission’s Removal Of MPs Eva Abdulla And Ibrahim Mohamed Solih

in News/Politics by

In a deteriorating political climate in the Maldives, the Election Commission has struck off nearly half of the Maldivian Democratic Party’s members from its registry after the parliament approved a law requiring all political party members to submit their fingerprint records.

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Some 18,803 members were removed, reducing the main opposition party’s membership to 27,805 members.

The Election Commission on Thursday, effectively removed MDP MPs, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Eva Abdulla from the Party’s membership list. MP Ibu Solih is a founding member of the MDP, and is also the Party’s Parliamentary Group Leader. MP Ibu Solih is currently serving his fifth term in Parliament, whereas MP Eva Abdulla is serving her second.

The Election Commission, whose independence has been compromised since the appointment of individuals politically aligned to the Yameen Government, began their insidious meddling with Party membership lists in July 2014.

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MDP MP Eva Abdulla is the first women to be elected to the governing council of the Maldives first democratic party.

A fingerprinted form for political party membership was first introduced by a regulation in 2010, and by law in 2013. Then in July 2014, the elections commission gave all parties a six-month deadline to re-register all members whose fingerprints were not on file.

Other parties affected by the law include the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party, the Jumhooree Party and the Adhaalath Party. The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives, which emerged as a breakaway faction of the DRP in 2011, will not be affected.

The PPM, with 37,633 members, is now the largest political party in the country.

The DRP lost nearly 10,000 members, and now has only 3,966 registered members. The JP’s membership was reduced by 3000, while some 1000 members were taken off the AP’s registry.

The JP now has 10,989 members, and the AP has 9,009.

The MDP and the DRP challenged the order at the civil court, arguing that the requirement cannot be applied retroactively, a view the attorney general has supported.

The case moved onto the High Court, which granted an injunction on the Election Commission’s order. In reaction to the injunction, the ruling party used its majority to circumvent the courts and passed an amendment to the Political Parties requiring all members to submit fingerprinted membership forms or be taken off the lists.

MPs Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Eva Abdulla have submitted fingerprinted forms twice to the Election Commission only to be repeatedly rejected. Their forms were submitted prior to the deadline and following the second submission they were not informed of the cause of rejection.

MDP’s International Spokesperson, Hamid Abdul Gafoor said, “it is slightly suspicious how keen the EC were to inform Parliament of the removal of MDP MP Ibu Solih and MP Eva Abdulla when they and the Parliament have repeatedly refused to acknowledge the MDP’s requests to remove MP Moosa Manik as a member of the MDP’s Parliamentary Group. The EC’s actions continue to obstruct peaceful political activity, making a mockery of our constitution and the hopes for a free and fair election.”


Although the PPM claims the law is necessary to prevent fraud, MDP MPs said it was aimed at reducing the party’s membership, and cutting off its state funding, as the number of members in a party determines the size of the annual grant it receives from the state budget.

The elections commission has meanwhile withheld funding for all political parties citing leadership vacuums and mismanagement by some parties.

This comes at a time when there is growing disillusionment in the institutions of the Maldives, including the independence of the Election Commission.

In July, former President of the Elections Commission, , had said that the people of the  have lost confidence in the institution and that there was no need of introducing in the island nation.

 

Maldives: It’s Back To Square One!

in Opinion by
Even as reactions continue to pour in over the weekend on Maldives’ decision to exit the Commonwealth, alleging ‘unfair and unjust treatment’, the leadership of President Abdulla Yameen has moved on with the next political move, this one nearer home. The Yameen faction of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) got a civil court order removing former President and half-brother, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, as party head and replacing the latter’s team with another one of the President’s choice.
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On the opposition’s front, yet another former President, Mohammed ‘Anni’ Nasheed, too shed all semblances of fighting for democracy in the Maldives. From his overseas home in the UK, where he has been granted political asylum after jumping prison-leave for spinal surgery, Nasheed’s legal team has announced their decision to move UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, on a near-single point, for him to be able to contest the presidential polls, now due in 2018.

The Nasheed decision followed the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group’s (CMAG) inability to initiate any ‘action’ of the kind that his camp had envisaged against the Yameen government through its three meetings in the current year. The CMAG’s next meeting is fixed for March 2017 when it had threatened to take Maldives on its agenda to deny the nation participation in Commonwealth Council meetings and the rest.
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Nasheed’s decision to move the UNHRC also came only days before the Yameen government declared that it was quitting the Commonwealth. If earlier the Nasheed camp might have indicated that the Commonwealth was a toothless tiger, if at all, the Yameen decision has indicated that all CMAG initiatives of whatever kind have become infructuous with retrospective effect.

In a way, Nasheed’s team seemed to have foreseen the possibilities before moving the UNHRC, though it’s unclear if they had any specific information that Yameen would act faster on the Commonwealth front than anticipated – that’s ahead of the March session. On other related spheres, too, the government has acted quick and fast, dropping all links to the Commonwealth. Maldivian missions overseas have now become Embassies in the place of High Commissions, a term linked to the membership of the Commonwealth.
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With all this, Yameen seems to have reduced his ‘development’ agenda into a single-point scheme to be able to contest – and win – a second term, the highest under the existing 2008 constitution. Nasheed too has reduced all talks of democracy and ‘inclusive elections’ to include his name alone – or, also – in the ballot for 2018 polls. With their current moves thus, they have shed the fig-leaf of fighting for a cause, whatever it be, and have reduced it all into a fight for personal supremacy, which is what it had been from day one.

It’s anybody’s guess if the UNHRC could move any faster than the Commonwealth on Nasheed’s initiative, and provide for ‘inclusive’ elections of the kind that he and his followers within the larger Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) wants. Old Maldives hands would recall how Nasheed in his own way had ‘hijacked’ the MDP and with that the larger democracy plank when the Gayoom presidency was seemingly unending and autocratic.
Nearer home, thus, it’s equally unclear if there are other presidential aspirants in the MDP, who may want to contest the party primaries ahead of the 2018 polls, or would they unanimously adopt his name, as they did – or, were forced to do – in 2013. If Nasheed were allowed to contest the next presidential polls, whatever the ways and reasons, would his camp revive the earlier posturing that his first term remained incomplete after his resignation/coup in February 2012, is another politico-constitutional question that the party too may need to address, early on.
Even as the government was preparing to announce Maldives’ exit from the Commonwealth, the Yameen-majority PPM parliamentary group initiated motions of political rapprochement between the governmental and organisational wings. Or, so did it seem at the time. They called for brothers Yameen and Gayoom to patch up differences, and asked for time to meet with both.

Photo Courtesy: President's Office


 Yameen gave time, and Gayoom did not – and that was enough for the Yameen camp to move the civil courts and obtain an order, unseating Gayoom from his party presidency. Earlier, the parliamentary group stuck to their sacking Gayoom’s older son, Faraas, from membership and declared his disqualification to represent PPM in the all-party negotiations, purportedly revived by the government, post-CMAG.
Today, the all-party negotiations have lost their relevance in the Commonwealth’s context, but may still remain, even as a lip-service by all, given the government’s continued commitment to stay ‘engaged’ with the international community. Kenyan Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, who resigned to take up the Commonwealth Special Rapporteur assignment for Maldives, may be ‘unemployed’ just now, but that need not be the case with the UN special envoy, Tamrat Samuel.
A lot however would depend on which way the Yameen leadership on the one hand, and the MDP-led political opposition on the other, and the Gayoom camp, on the third could turn, and turn up, on the all-party negotiations. Already, all sections have gone back on their perceived post-CMAG commitments. The government has continued with pre-conditions that convicts could not be named (say, by the MDP) to rep resent them. The MDP too has harped on the same, after enthusiastically accepting the government’s invitation – but leaving it to the leadership to decide the party nominees for the talks.
Dunya Gayoom (3)

Just now, the Gayoom’s camp’s legal and political positions are unclear. Maumoon is expected to challenge his court-ordered removal as PPM head in higher judicial forums. Alongside and alternatively, he can be expected to consider floating a new party – the third since 2008 – and still nominate son Faraas to the political negotiations, if invited. Yameen’s foe-turned-friend-turned-foe of the past five years, former Home Minister Umar Naseer, too is hoping to be nominated for the presidential polls by the Gayoom camp, making it politically difficult for Gayoom to keep it within the family, still.

After distancing itself from Nasheed’s early claims to an emerging/existing alliance against Yameen, the Gayoom camp surprised followers and foes alike by participating in a recent all-opposition news conference against the nation’s Election Commission – and by extension, the incumbent government. They were protesting against the EC delaying/denying funds disbursements for recognised political parties, as laid down under the 2008 constitution, citing what they considered were ‘extraneous reasons’.
The EC however has threatened to de-recognise parties whose leaders were living overseas and were not available to update Commission documents and electoral lists’ as required. Nasheed and his associates in the MDP-led Maldives United Opposition (MUO), apart from the parties that they lead, are candidates for such de-recognition. Would the MDP and other parties in the EC’s list ‘elect’ leaders for an interim period, which could extend indefinitely, if only to be on EC’s records of recognised political parties authorised to contest future elections, is the question they should be asking themselves.
Over the medium-term, however, with Nasheed out of the country and prison without authorisation, and continuing to remain ‘disqualified’ from contesting the elections, any alternative arrangement  is for the MDP to make and in good time. Independent of the ‘terrorism’ trial that was heaped on Nasheed for what r remained an ordinary criminal trial in the ‘Judge Adbulla abduction case’ dating back to the former’s months as president, the inability of the international community to have an ‘inclusive’ election as he has now envisaged, could flag political, rather than diplomatic issues of their own.
Hopes now thus lie more on the effective revival of the political negotiations, under UN care than on any UNHRC initiatives. There again, the government has been maintaining stoic silence on the continued relevance of the UN group on arbitrary detentions naming Nasheed’s as ‘one’, which it had condemned unequivocally when made. None of the stake-holders, including the UN, can ride on multiple tigers, and hope to reach their destination, purportedly common.
It’s back to square one – who winks first, if at all, how and for how long, and who does not. In context, Maldives quitting the Commonwealth, and the latter feeling saddened about what anyway was in the making, and the UK as the Commonwealth’s founder and eternal chair, too feeling upset, have only academic relevance just now.
So are all the protests and criticisms of the Maldivian exit from the Commonwealth, both from within and outside the country….at least until the other stakeholders have a point to make, and make it loud, clear and effectively in ways the Maldivian state apparatus and the Yameen leadership hear, understand, and are compelled to act upon.  The irony is that the solution to the Maldivian imbroglio lies within, and international diplomacy can only take it away not closer to the ‘collective goal’, which is just not there, either.

(N. Sathiya Moorthy is Director, Chennai Chapter of the Observer  Research Foundation.  The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FocusMaldives.)
This article was originally published on South Asia Monitor. It has been republished with permission.

Umar Naseer Appointed To PPM’s Council On Maumoon Gayoom’s Discretion

in Mas-Huni Brief by

Umar Naseer, months after resigning from President Abdulla Yameen-led government, has been appointed to the Council of ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) on the discretion of party’s President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

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  • Umar is one of the most loyal supporters of Gayoom
  • He took Twitter to thank Gayoom and said he would work in accordance with the founding purpose of the party.
  • He was also a member of the short term advisory committee formed to implement PPM’s reform agenda which was later dismissed following his will to contest 2018 Presidential election.
  • Along with Umar Ahmed Sofwan was also appointed to PPM’s Council

Read full story at VNews

Ex-Prez Mohamed Nasheed Knocks UN’s Door To Get His Political Rights Restored Before 2018 Presidential Elections

in News/Politics by

With Presidential elections due in 2018 and amid growing resentment in the Maldives due to dictatorial nature of the government, former President Mohamed Nasheed has moved to United Nations seeking to restore his political rights that were “illegally” removed by “wrongful” conviction.

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Former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed filed a formal complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee, seeking to restore his political rights that were illegally removed by operation of his wrongful conviction on bogus terrorism charges.

The poster boy of the Maldivian democracy, Nasheed in a formal complaint asked UN Human Rights Committee to restore his political rights to lead his opposition Maldivian Democratic Party ahead of 2018 presidential election.

Nasheed, who is currently in the United Kingdom in exile, was automatically disqualified from running for political office under the country’s Constitution and from holding a leadership position in a political party under the Amendment to the Prison and Parole Act after he was convicted for 13-years in prison on the charges of terrorism.

“Today, counsel for former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed filed a formal complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee, seeking to restore his political rights that were illegally removed by operation of his wrongful conviction on bogus terrorism charges,” a statement released on Friday said adding “This includes his right to participate in the 2018 presidential elections and to lead his opposition political party, the Maldivian Democratic Party.”

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The Maldives is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a treaty that is binding on its government under international law

Articles 25 and 22 of that treaty provide for the rights to political participation and to freedom of association, respectively.  The Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, to which the Maldives is also a party, provides an individual complaint mechanism for violations of the treaty.

In his 20-page submission, Nasheed also highlighted UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s findings which said that Nasheed’s arrest, conviction, sentence, and imprisonment on terrorism charges was “arbitrary” and in “violation” of international law.

On the submission, Nasheed’s lawyer Jared Genser said:

We have filed our complaint before the Human Rights Committee because any disqualification from running for office or leading a political party emanating from what has been found to be an arbitrary detention by an independent and impartial international tribunal is fruit of the poisonous tree and hence null and void by the standards of international law.

The first democratically elected President of the Maldives, Nasheed was convicted of terrorism in March 2015 on terrorism charges for 13 years for kidnapping a judge which was later upheld by the Supreme Court stripping him of any political rights.

What ‘The Dark Lord’ Advised Yameen’s Regime To Keep ‘Sunny Side of Life’ Image Intact

in Investigation/Politics by

Former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb had a contact saved in his now infamous gold iPhone as ‘Lord P’. The same gold iPhone that exposed how Adeeb and his mentor-tuned-boss turned-antagonist President Abdulla Yameen were not only involved in high-level corruption but also in wiping off anyone and everyone who did not fall in line — media, politicians, activists and even its own ministers; now has another story to tell: How the two cracked a deal with ‘Lord P’ to shroud the autocratic nature of the government with a well-crafted image of the Maldives’ economic development.

Adeeb's gold iPhone as shown in Al Jazeera's documentary Stealing Paradise
Adeeb’s gold iPhone as shown in Al Jazeera’s documentary Stealing Paradise

But it was not the first time when Yameen agreed to spend a fortune to negate the banana republic impression. Last summer, Yameen signed a lucrative deal with Cherie Blair- wife of former Prime Minister and Labour Party chief Tony Blair- after she was rejected by the first democratically elected President Mohamed Nasheed who had Amal Clooney by his side.

Cherie who was earlier ready to represent Nasheed calling his trial ‘an extraordinary farce’, then agreed to revive Yameen’s image for £ 210,000 (MVR 4,128,292).

Back In 2012 too, right after the coup that toppled Nasheed’s government, another Labour Party member, former Labour Cabinet Minister and former attorney general Baroness Scotland took £ 75,000 (MVR 1,457,366) to advise the then government on avoiding action by Commonwealth in a two-week work contract.

On August 12, 2015, a few days before Yameen got Cherie on board, Adeeb broke a deal ‘Lord P’, who is a professional lobbyist and political adviser, to revamp the image of Yameen’s regime.

‘Lord P’ is no one else but the man who has not only been a Member of Parliament (MP) for Hartlepool for Labour Party but also held a number of Cabinet positions under Prime Ministers Tony Blair.

The man who rebuilt the Labour Party as New Labour before its subsequent victory in the 1997 election.

‘Lord P’ is Peter Mandelson – The Prince of Darkness.

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A report by Daily Mail says that 62-year-old Mandelson held meetings with Adeeb and Yameen to counsel the government on how to “rebuild its public image”.

The British Daily quoting a four-page memo says that Mandelson’s strategic advisory firm Global Counsel suggested the government to deal with the PR crisis by projecting “your vision for the country’s future”.

The memo was dated August 18, four days after the meeting took place between Adeeb and Mandelson at the resort of Gili Lankanfushi.

Headlined as ‘Next Steps’, the memo asking to set up a strategic communication to fix the international image of the Maldives as quoted by Daily Mail read:

The taskforce will benefit from start-up training and development from an external source. This is something we could guide you on as part of our current work with international investors in the Maldives

It also offered to lobby United Nations General Assembly and Commonwealth by “telling an effective story about the Maldives to international audiences”. The advisory firm also said that it would get confidence of the international investors “everywhere from New York and London to Berlin, Paris and Beijing”.

The Memo By Global Counsel
The discussion in Gili Lankanfushi was very useful in scoping out the next steps. What follows in this note assumes that the situation regarding Nasheed can be resolved amicably from the perspective of all relevant stakeholders. The Maldives is a young democracy and recognises it has further to go in order to create the institutions and space to enable democracy to flourish… Reforms to the penal code and judicial system, as well as strengthening the rule of law, are prerequisites to a healthy democracy, and the government is in the process of designing and implementing reforms in these areas that will deliver immediate benefits as well as building the foundations for a stronger democracy in the longer term.

The firm suggested that government can rebuild its image by giving an ‘accurate account’ of the government’s ‘accomplishments’ in the fields of economic stewardship, social reform and environmental protection.

It is unclear if the two went ahead with the big revival plan as Adeeb – in less than two months – was jailed for plotting to assassinate his boss Yameen.

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On October 13, when Ying Staton, Global Counsel’s ‘Asia Director’ wrote to Adeeb to figure out when Mandelson and Yameen could speak on phone, he was already in middle of speed boat blast allegations and days ahead only led to his impeachment, arrest and sentencing.

Flamboyant Adeeb, one of the richest politicians, also seen as Yameen’s loyal, also got implicated in one of the country’s biggest corruption scandal with Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC).

An audit report of MMPRC revealed that money as huge as USD 80 million received from leasing islands and resorts meant for the state was siphoned off to private accounts which benefited Adeeb, Yameen, his wife and other politicians.

And it also benefitted Cherie Blair. Omnia had billed Abdulla Ziyath, former managing director of the MMPRC for £ 210,000 (MVR 4,081,265) – the half amount of total fee charged by the firm for a six-month contract.

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According to Maldives Independent, government also spent USD 19,293 (MVR 297,510) on visits of Omnia’s barrister Toby Cadman, between June and September.

My work is not yet complete. My work will be completed once the airport and the country is the preferred destination. When my work is done, I want to compare the difference between the services given in the Maldives and Singapore, Dubai – Yameen

Omnia, on the allegation of receiving the money from a company implicated in corruption, said that it terminated six-month contract early due to unpredictable domestic events and is no longer instructed by either the government or the MMPRC.

The whistleblower, Bank of Maldives former manager Gasim Abdul Kareem, who leaked the account details of Score of Flairs (S.O.F) Private Limited which facilitated the transaction between MMPRC and Omnia is now in jail on the charges of unauthorised disclosure customer information.

Adeeb was sentenced to eight years in prison for stealing USD 5,000,000 (MVR 76,850,000) from state coffers besides 15 year jail term for plotting to assassinate Yameen.

Government also hired Washington based lobbyist firm, Podesta Group in September for a sum of USD 300,000 (MVR 4,611,000) and London-based PR firm BTP Advisers in November.

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Even after massive PR exercise Yameen is now isolated by his party men. Though, he is often witnessed talking about economic development and policies as ambitious as making the Maldives the next Singapore and Dubai. At an event in May this year, Yameen said:

My work is not yet complete. My work will be completed once the airport and the country is the preferred destination. When my work is done, I want to compare the difference between the services given in the Maldives and Singapore, Dubai

Battered by its international image, Yameen-led government even launched a programme ‘Visit Maldives Year 2016’ to promote tourism and also enhanced their budget but soon abandoned the ambitious 1.5 million tourist target this year alleging opposition of tarnishing the image of the country.

The government functioning on PR machinery of the west in a bid to revive the image of the country often blames opposition and its leader Nasheed for destroying country’s economy, ironically, calling them the agents of the west. Meanwhile, Nasheed continue to enjoy the support of international rights’ group, journalists and rival of the Labour Party, Conservative Party’s former leader and former Prime Minister David Cameron.

Jumhooree Party To Contest 2018 Presidential Election

in Mas-Huni Brief by

Jumhooree Party (JP) has decided to contest the upcoming Presidential Election in 2018 in a council meeting on Friday.

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  • 18 members of the party unanimously voted to contest the upcoming elections
  • Even as the party will run for election, its leader Qasim Ibrahim cannot be involved
  • According to new amendment in the constitution in 2015, people older than 65 years cannot contest Presidential election.
  • Qasim had run for elections in 2013 and supported President Abdulla Yameen after losing

Read full report at Sun Online

Maldives Faces Threat Of Suspension From Commonwealth, Now On Formal Agenda By CMAG

in News/Politics by

The Commonwealth in its 49th meeting on Tuesday in New York on the sidelines of the 27th United Nations General Assembly concluded that the group is “deeply disappointed in lack of progress in the Maldives and now on a formal agenda and threat of suspension in March.”

In a two-page report, the CMAG expressed deep disappointment in lack of progress in the priority areas identified in April this year and said,

Ministers expressed deep concern over lack of progress in the progress areas that they earlier identified, and therefore placed Maldives on CMAG’s formal agenda. Ministers agreed that in the absence of substantive progress across the priority areas, the group would consider its options, including suspension from the Council of the Commonwealth, at its next meeting in March next year.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mohamed Asim and Attorney General Mohamed Anil were also present in the meeting.

The group also asked that both government and opposition to hold dialogue and underlined that the it should be done with full participation and without pre-condition.

The group also addressed the issue of Presidential election due in 2018 and assured a conductive environment for “credible and inclusive” election.

The meeting was held after the review of the situation in the Maldives last week by the human rights wing of the Commonwealth, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), which in its report to the CMAG, asked suspension of the Maldives from the group concluding that the island nation is sliding to dictatorship and if the situation continues it will be on the “brink of violence and anarchy.”

CHRI expressed grave concern on government failing to comply with the six-point agenda and said, “These actions not only signal the government’s unwillingness to initiate political dialogue, but also indicate that the government is taking steps to actively impede and obstruct any kind of political dialogue. There is clearly no intention on the part of the government to find a political solution.”

Besides, a critical report on the “dictatorial” functioning of the government, CHRI also gave legitimacy to the most important developments that are most likely to help in the expected ouster of President Abdulla Yameen.


Here’s All You Need To Know About The CHRI Report


Maldives United Opposition (MUO)

MUO 1 (3)


The CHRI said in its report that it was the formation of the rainbow coalition Maldives United Opposition (MUO), a united coalition of the previous rivals against President Yameen that showed his unpopularity among his former allies.

“MUO brings together former allies of President Yameen, such as the Adhaalath Party and jailed Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, together with the largest political party, the Maldives Democratic Party, is a sign of growing unpopularity of the present administration,” the report said.

Stealing Paradise By Al Jazeera

stealing paradise


The group also acknowledged the allegations of corruption on President Yameen by Al Jazeera and criticised the government for not initiating any concrete investigations into the cases.

“(We) express concern about the mounting allegations of corruption against officials at the highest political level. The release of “Stealing Paradise”, a documentary by Qatar based Al Jazeera reveals the involvement of President Yameen and his deputies in massive theft and money laundering,” the report said.
“The government has not shown any inclination to investigate these very serious allegations and bring the perpetrators to account. The total lack of accountability combined with the rollback of constitutional rights and democratic norms has led to deep frustration and disillusionment among the people of the Maldives,” it added.

The 2018 Presidential Election

election


The CHRI concluded that if the current scenario continues, the Maldives will not have free and fair Presidential elections due in 2018 and called for a “firm action” by the Commonwealth.

“CHRI strongly believes that the current environment is not at all conducive to free and fair presidential elections due in 2018. In fact, the nation is sliding into a dictatorial system once again. CHRI is worried that, if allowed to continue, the situation will soon push the island nation into the brink of violence and anarchy.”

The Recommendations

chri


In the strongly worded report, the CHRI asked Commonwealth to “suspend”, “exclude” and “halt” the current government.

“SUSPEND Maldives from the Councils of the Commonwealth, which will EXCLUDE the government of the Maldives from all Commonwealth inter government meetings and events, including ministerial meetings and CHOGM; HALT all Commonwealth technical assistance, other than the mandate of the Special Envoy.”
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