Maldives: Political history

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.

Contents

History

2008-18, in a nutshell

See graphic:

The political history of the Maldives, 2008-18, in a nutshell

2014-2016: island-leasing scam

‘Maldives prez took lavish gifts from island developers', September 19, 2018: The Times of India


The president of the Maldives appeared to accept lavish gifts from a billionaire developer who was later leased two islands in the paradise archipelago without bidding for them, a corruption watchdog alleged Tuesday.

The claims — including that President Abdulla Yameen directly participated in a multi-million dollar scam that helped developers skirt public tenders and acquire dozens of islands and lagoons — come days before the strongman leader seeks re-election in the nation of 340,000 people.

Yameen, whose main political rivals are in jail or exile, has denied any involvement in the alleged island-leasing scam, which first came to light in a 2016 probe by Al Jazeera. His deputy and then-tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb, who was accused of spearheading the scheme between 2014 and 2015 and paying off judges and politicians, was later jailed on multiple charges including corruption.

But new allegations of Yameen’s involvement have been made by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, which gleaned fresh details from leaked government documents and other evidence it says implicates Yameen. The global investigative journalism consortium says Yameen assisted with at least two dozen no-tender deals to tourism resort developers, and directly ordered one island be leased through a stateowned company at the centre of the scandal.

2012: Coup and after

The Hindu, April 1, 2015

Mr. Nasheed resigned as president in 2012 following weeks of public protests against his order to arrest the top Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Mohamed. Mohamed was arrested soon after he released an opposition politician in detention and Nasheed’s administration accused him of political bias and corruption.

February 7, 2012

Police revolt forces Maldives President from office

In a day of dramatic developments that captured both the fragility of democracy in the Maldives and also the maturity of its political institutions, President Mohammed Nasheed resigned in the face of a mutiny by policemen that he said he did not want to put down by force, handing over the reins of power to his Vice-President, Dr. Waheed.

February 8, 2012

Waheed named President

Mohammad Waheed Hassan became the President of Maldives

February 8, 2012

Judge held by Nasheed released

A few hours after the Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed resigned office, the Chief Justice of the Criminal Court, Abdulla Mohamed, was released. The arrest of the judge was one of the immediate causes of Mr. Nasheed’s fall from power. He had ordered the arrest of the judge on charges of corruption, irked by the fact that Mr. Abdullah set free an Opposition politician who was arrested by police loyal to Mr. Nasheed.

February 8, 2012

Violence across Maldives threatens to get out of hand

Violence, fuelled by a speculative media owing allegiance to one party or the other, spread across the atolls of the Maldives after the deposed President, Mohammed Nasheed, on Wednesday decided to take the issue to the streets.

February 9, 2012

India sends official to defuse tensions

M. Ganapathi, Secretary (West), MEA, heldconsultations with a wide range of stakeholders in The Maldives in an attempt to bring all players to the negotiating table and sort out outstanding issues.

February 9, 2012

India played neutral as Nasheed's men sought military intervention

Fearing for the personal liberty of the deposed Maldives President, Mohamed Nasheed, close aides said some of his Ministers had sought Indian military assistance when the “coup” was under way but none came.

February 9, 2012

Warrant against Nasheed

Police spokesman Abdul Mannan Yusuf refused to disclose the grounds for the warrant, or say when Mr. Nasheed, who is living at his Male home surrounded by supporters, would be arrested.

February 9, 2012

Waheed effects quick changes

Mohamed Jameel Ahmed was given the Home Affairs while Mohamed Nazim was made the Minister of Defence and National Security. They were told to resolve the situation, implement laws according to the Constitution and treat every citizen equally.

February 11, 2012

U.S. presses for Maldives coalition

Both M. Ganapathi, Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs, and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert O' Blake held meetings with the former President, Mohammed Nasheed, the new President, Waheed Hassan, and other players. They stressed that the formation of a truly rainbow coalition was in the best interests of the people. The Maldivian Democratic Party of Mr. Nasheed will also talk to the new regime on joining the government.

February 12, 2012

New Maldivian Cabinet sworn in

The former President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, displayed admirable restraint as new President Waheed Hassan finally got his act together, named a new Cabinet, and embarked on a Himalayan task of making the national unity government work.

February 16, 2012

India brokers deal in Maldives

Maldives will go to the polls, possibly by year-end, to elect a new President. Till then, the national unity government will run the country. The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), to which the former President, Mohamed Nasheed, belongs, will be part of the government.

March 7, 2012

Gayoom returns to Maldives

Almost a month after a new regime took over in Maldives amidst allegations of coup, the former dictator, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, returned to the country, opposing early polls and claimed he had no role in the change of government.

April 19, 2012

Former dictator plotted coup, says Nasheed

The former Maldives President, Mohamed Nasheed, has said he received detailed warnings of an imminent coup from the country's military intelligence service weeks before he was ousted on February 6.

August 15, 2012

Maldives talks meander

The meeting of political parties represented in the Maldivian Parliament, The Majlis, with Vice-President Mohamed Waheedheen did not break any new ground.

August 30, 2012

Nasheed ouster not a coup: probe panel

The Commission of National Inquiry concluded that “there was no illegal coercion or intimidation nor any coup d’etat. The Commission has received no evidence supporting or to substantiate these allegations”.

February 13, 2013

Nasheed takes refuge at Indian High Commission

The former Maldivian President, Mohamed Nasheed, walked into the Indian High Commission in Male at noon after an arrest warrant was issued against him for failure to appear in a local court.

February 23, 2013

Nasheed leaves Indian embassy after ‘deal’

Thanks to India’s intervention, the crisis in the Maldives has blown over with the former President, Mohamed Nasheed, emerging out of the Indian High Commission in Male.

September 5, 2013

Maldivian Elections Commission set for polls

September 8, 2013

It’s Nasheed vs Yaameen in run-off

Former President Mohamed Nasheed and Yaameen Abdulla, half-brother to ex-President Maumoon Gayoom, will fight it out in the second round of presidential elections, . scheduled for September 28.

12:00 AM October 8, 2013 Setback to Nasheed as top court annuls poll results

The Maldives Supreme Court, in a midnight ruling, has annulled the results of the first round elections of September 7, in which Maldivian Democratic Party candidate, Mohamed Nasheed, stood first with over 45.45 per cent of the popular vote, and the Progressive Party of Maldives candidate Abdulla Yaameen was placed a distant second.

October 19, 2013

Police prevent Maldives polls

Acting on a mandate from the Maldivian National Security Council headed by President Mohamed Waheed, the police prevented the country’s re-scheduled presidential elections from going ahead.

November 10, 2013

Maldives court puts off presidential runoff

The Supreme Court ruled that the consecutive days of elections would be impractical, and set November 16 for the runoff.]

November 16, 2013

Yaameen elected Maldivian President by a narrow margin

Abdulla Yaameen, half-brother of former Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom — who ruled the country for about three decades — will be the new President of the archipelago nation.

November 17, 2013

Yameen sworn in as Maldivian President

Mr. Yameen, the half-brother of former autocratic ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, was administered the oath of office by Chief Justice Ahmad Faiz at a special session of Parliament. He was given a 21-gun salute. Mohammad Jameel was sworn in as Vice-President.

March 23, 2014

Majority mandate for Maldives ruling coalition

The Maldivian parliamentary elections, which were held amidst the controversial removal of the head and deputy of the country’s Elections Commission, concluded largely peacefully.

February 22, 2015

Nasheed held in Male under anti-terror law

Just days after he appealed to India to intervene in the ongoing crackdown on cases of alleged treason and terrorism by the Maldives government of President Yameen, former President Mohammad Nasheed was arrested in Male.

2018

‘Chief Justice was threatened with death'

Maldives chief justice was threatened with death: Lawyer, February 8, 2018: The Times of India


HIGHLIGHTS

Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed was warned he would be "cut into pieces" if he did not overturn a court order quashing convictions against high-profile political dissidents: Lawyer

'The Chief Justice was forcefully dragged on the floor from his chambers by uniformed security personnel in riot gear after he told them they were in contempt of court'

MALE: The Maldives' top judge received death threats before his arrest in a regime crackdown, his lawyer said on Thursday ahead of a United Nations Security Council hearing on the island nation's political crisis. Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed was warned he would be "cut into pieces" if he did not overturn a court order quashing convictions against high-profile political dissidents, his lawyer Hisaan Hussain said.

Saeed was arrested as President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency in the honeymoon islands after refusing to obey the court order.

The top judge was accused of accepting bribes to impeach the regime leader, who has jailed most of his political opponents.

"The Chief Justice was forcefully dragged on the floor from his chambers by uniformed security personnel in riot gear after he told them they were in contempt of court," Hussain said. He did not say who issued the threats.

Saeed is among two top justices detained in a sweeping crackdown by Yameen, who has doubled down since the Supreme Court cleared his political rival Mohamed Nasheed, among other regime critics, of terrorism charges.

The remaining three judges restored the conviction Tuesday "in light of the concerns raised by the President", after Yameen declared the state of emergency and accused the justices of trying to overthrow him.

The international community has censured the president for imposing special emergency provisions that allow the military to detain suspects for long periods without charge.

The UN has urged Yameen to lift the state of emergency, and will discuss the crisis gripping the Indian Ocean archipelago in a closed-door meeting at the Security Council today.

"The Maldives have seen in recent years attacks on political opponents, on journalists, on civil society and human right defenders, and what is happening now is tantamount to an all-out assault on democracy," UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a statement.

Maldives SC revokes order to free prisoners

Maldives SC revokes order to free prisoners, February 8, 2018: The Times of India

A timeline of political career: President Abdulla Yameen, Mohamed Nashed, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed
From: Maldives SC revokes order to free prisoners, February 8, 2018: The Times of India

Move Follows Imposition Of Emergency, Top Judge’s Arrest

The political crisis in the Maldives took a turn for the worse late Tuesday night after the supreme court revoked last week’s order to release nine high-profile political prisoners. This came hours after embattled President Abdulla Yameen declared an emergency and the arrest of two judges, including chief justice Abdulla Saeed, prompting former president Mohamed Nasheed to seek India’s military intervention.

In the late-night development, the remaining three judges of the supreme court amended the order given last week to release the “prisoners”, among whom is Nasheed. In a statement, the judges said they were revoking the order to release the prisoners “in light of the concerns raised by the President”.

Earlier in the day, in his appeal to India, Nasheed had tweeted: “We would like the Indian government to send an envoy, backed by its military, to free the judges and the political detainees, including former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, from their detention and to bring them to their homes. We are asking for a physical presence.”

While Gayoom — a former president and Yameen’s halfbrother who is now with the opposition — had already been detained at his home early Tuesday morning, no details were given about any charges against the chief justice and the other arrested judge, Ali Hameed. Later, on national television, the President said that he had ordered the emergency to investigate what he said was a “coup”, claiming that the CJ was trying to illegally impeach him and sack the attorney general.

Nasheed called Yameen's “martial law” declaration an illegal act. “President Yameen's announcement... is tantamount to a declaration of martial law. This declaration is unconstitutional and illegal. Nobody in the Maldives is required to, nor should, follow this unlawful order,” said Nasheed, who is currently in Sri Lanka. “We must remove him from power. The people of the Maldives have a legitimate request to world governments, especially to India and the US,” he said.

The US weighed in, saying it was “troubled” and “disappointed” by the declaration of emergency and asked Yameen to comply with the rule of law and implement the SC ruling.

The Maldives is an archipelago of more than 1,000 islands with fewer than 400,000 citizens, more than one-third of them living in the crowded capital city, Male.

Gayoom second Maldives ex-president to be jailed

June 14, 2018: The Times of India


A Maldives court on Wednesday sentenced a former strongman accused of plotting to overthrow the government to 19 months in prison for failing to cooperate with the police investigation.

Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who ruled the Indian Ocean archipelago state from 1978 to 2008, is the second former president to be jailed under President Abdulla Yameen’s rule. He was arrested in February on charges of attempting to overthrow the government of Yameen, his half-brother.

A court sentenced him to one year, seven months and six days in prison for failing to hand over his mobile phone to investigators. Two Supreme Court judges, Abdulla Saeed and Ali Hameed, who were arrested with Gayoom, were also given the same sentences for the same offence on Wednesday.

Maldives, known for its expensive tourist resorts, became a multiparty democracy in 2008, ending Gayoom’s 30-year strongman rule. However, Yameen, who was elected in 2013, has rolled back much of the democratic gains.

Mohamed Nasheed, who was the country’s first freely elected president in 2008, was earlier given a 13-year sentence in a trial widely criticised for due process violations. However, he was granted asylum in Britain. Yameen’s former vice president, Ahmed Adeeb, two former defence ministers, a prosecutor general and opposition lawmakers are among those who have been jailed during Yameen’s tenure. All of the trials have been criticized for alleged lack of fairness.

With all of his potential opponents either in jail or in exile, Yameen is preparing to run for repolls in September virtually unopposed.

President Yameen loses elections to Ibrahim Solih

Sachin Parashar, Beijing’s grip on Maldives slips as Yameen loses polls, September 25, 2018: The Times of India


New Govt Plans To Audit Chinese Infra Projects

In a verdict that could be a game changer for Indian diplomacy and a setback to China’s strategy of backing autocratic strongmen, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen suffered a comprehensive defeat in the presidential polls with the opposition’s Ibrahim Solih winning by a margin of 16.6% votes.

Despite Yameen’s efforts to muzzle democracy by imposing emergency and jailing opposition leaders and judges, the voters rejected his regime, ushering a change that promises to reconfigure geopolitics in the Indian Ocean. PM Narendra Modi spoke to Solih and congratulated him. The two agreed to work together to strengthen relations between the countries. Modi is likely to visit Male before the year end. Close aides of Solih and Maldives ex-president Md Nasheed later said Modi might be invited for Solih’s swearing-in.

Nasheed told TOI that the new government would audit infrastructure projects in the light of alleged “land grab” by Chinese interests. He said two Indian military choppers, which Yameen wanted to send back, would remain in the archipelago.


Nasheed expected to play a guiding role to govt

According to the election commission, incumbent Abdulla Yameen got 41.7% of the vote to opposition candidate Ibrahim Solih’s 58.3% with over 89% voters turning out, indicating that opposition unity and the incumbent’s deeply unpopular regime had turned the tables on the ruling party and its backers. Yameen will remain in office till his tenure ends in November but declared that he had accepted the results.

India has waged a battle of attrition with the Yameen regime ever since the leader declared emergency in February and refused to heed advice to restore democratic functioning, banking on support he received from China which saw an opportunity to drop anchor in India’s strategic backyard. But China’s strategy of betting on autocratic leaders, seeing them as “single window” power centres, came unstuck as it had in Sri Lanka where it backed Mahinda Rajapaksa or Malaysia’s Mohammed Najib.

Nasheed said the ostentatious infra projects comprising “concrete and steel had failed to catch the imagination of the people’’. Apart from an audit, the new government is also expected to look into how much money came into Maldives in the recent past. “I am optimistic China will understand Maldives’s reasons for doing (audits) given what has happened recently in countries like Sri Lanka and Malaysia,’’ Nasheed said as he thanked India for its support to the joint opposition.

Nasheed recalled how the cost for the recently inaugurated ‘China-Maldives Friendship Bridge’ was estimated at around $77 million when his government approved it but later shot up to $300 million under Yameen. While Malaysia recently cancelled several Belt and Road Initiative projects, Sri Lanka continues to reel under the mountain of debt, having handed over Hambantota port to China on a 99-year lease.

While Yameen had ensured disqualification of Nasheed from the polls, the pro-India former president was the tallest leader of the opposition coalition and is expected to play a guiding role for the new government headed by president-elect Solih. “We will work with India for a meaningful safety and security umbrella in the Indian Ocean,’’ Nasheed said. He added that the voters had made it clear who they were aligned with. “We would like to plug into India’s development and its democratic institutions for capacity building. Connectivity is another important issue India can help us with.”

Nasheed though ruled out becoming a part of the government. “I believe Solih has it in him to take everybody together and forge national unity.” Nasheed’s remarks on China are extremely significant keeping in mind reservations expressed by several countries in south and southeast Asia over BRI, described by many as a debt trap. In an interview to TOI in February, Nasheed had said China had acquired as many as 17 islands from Yameen.

Maldives SC rejects Yameen’s petition against poll defeat

Maldives SC junks prez petition against poll loss, October 22, 2018: The Times of India


The Maldives’ SC ended weeks of uncertainty by rejecting strongman President Abdulla Yameen’s controversial bid to annul last month’s election results, upholding his landslide defeat to an opposition candidate.

The five-judge Supreme Court bench unanimously ruled that Yameen had failed to prove his claim that the election was rigged and a fresh poll was necessary in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

Under international pressure, Yameen initially conceded defeat in the September 23 election.

But he then filed an appeal this month, throwing the nation into turmoil and attracting warnings from the US and regional superpower India to respect the outcome.

Yameen claimed magic ink had been used to rig the election and that votes marked for him disappeared inside ballot boxes.

Opposition activists celebrated outside the SC after the decision was read out, effectively drawing a line under Yameen’s five years of iron-fisted rule. “After weeks of uncertainty, the Maldivian people can enjoy clarity regarding the outcome of the election,” said President-elect Ibrahim Solih.

The country’s independent Elections Commission, through its lawyers, had argued his petition was based on false allegations and should be dismissed.

SC clears Nasheed of terror charge

Maldives top court clears Nasheed of terror charge, November 27, 2018: The Times of India


The Maldives top court overturned a terrorism conviction on Monday against the country’s first democratically elected leader Mohamed Nasheed, who fled into exile after being sentenced to 13 years behind bars.

The Supreme Court said Nasheed was wrongfully charged and should not have been convicted in the 2015 trial described by the United Nations as politically motivated. Nasheed went into exile a year later while abroad seeking medical treatment, and was branded a fugitive from justice.

“President Nasheed’s entire trial was a politically-motivated sham,” his lawyer, Hisaan Hussein, said after his conviction was quashed. “It is appalling that an innocent man was unjustly forced to spend a year in jail, 35 months in exile, and was prevented from standing for political office.”

Nasheed only returned to the Maldives this month after his political rival Abdulla Yameen was beaten in a presidential election. The strongman president jailed or exiled most of his opponents but since he departed office political prisoners have been freed and opponents abroad have returned.

Nasheed, the leader of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, was expected to contest the September poll but was barred on account of his terrorism conviction. His party’s nominee, Ibrahim Solih, ran and unexpectedly defeated Yameen despite curbs on opposition campaigning. Nasheed risked arrest if he ever returned to the Maldives while Yameen remained in power.

Anti- India tilt likely to be corrected

Indrani Bagchi, Yameen’s loss puts India back in the strategic game in Maldives, September 25, 2018: The Times of India


Outgoing Prez Allied Closely To China, But Ibrahim Solih Is Likely To Correct Tilt

India was first off the bat to welcome the results of the presidential election in Maldives, which threw up yet another surprise as incumbent Abdulla Yameen lost to the unified opposition candidate Ibrahim Solih. With only early provisional results in, the foreign office said in an early morning statement, “We heartily congratulate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on his victory and hope that the election commission will officially confirm the result at the earliest.” After two years of tetchy relations between India and its Indian Ocean neighbour, the polls have opened a new chapter in bilateral ties.

India was quickly followed by Sri Lanka and US in welcoming the election and the results. The action was more to remind Yameen that the world stood behind the process and its outcome than anything else. The elections surprised people yet again since it had become virtually accepted wisdom that Yameen would be using the elections to merely consolidate his already overwhelming power. In the past year, Yameen has not only thumbed his nose at India but was well on his way to becoming a security threat for New Delhi, by allying too closely with Beijing. Given Maldives’s strategic location in the Indian Ocean, India had been feeling the heat for some time.

Maldives’ ambassador to India Ahmed Mohamed told TOI, “History has proved that although we may be accused of all sorts of things, we do practice democracy, irrespective of what the results may be. President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom ruled for 30 years, but it was he who opened Maldives to elections and multi-party rule.” Mohamed, who is close to Yameen, said he would go back to join the opposition in his country.

India played a waiting game since February 5, when Yameen upended the judicial system by jailing Supreme Court judges, which he followed in the following weeks by throwing into prison almost all other political leaders, including his half brother and former president Gayoom. At times, India seemed almost ineffectual or helpless, as Yameen demanded that India remove its helicopters and cut visas for Indian workers.

Yameen moved Maldives from its India moorings to assiduously courting China and Saudi Arabia. China built infrastructure, resorts and reports said deepened its presence in at least seven of the important islands.

Solih is likely to correct this tilt and be more accommodating of India’s security interests. But it would be foolish to believe that China would be out of the Maldives. With 70% of Maldives’ external debt to China, China is not going anywhere, as has been seen in neighbouring Sri Lanka. What the elections have done is to put India back in the strategic game in Maldives.

2019

April: Nasheed makes political comeback

April 7, 2019: The Times of India


The Maldives on Saturday held its first parliamentary election since former strongman leader Abdulla Yameen was forced to stand down, with his archrival tipped to make a big political comeback.

Election officials estimated the final turnout to be between 70 and 80%, down from the 89% recorded at the September presidential election which unexpectedly toppled Yameen.

“I urge Maldivians to go out and vote,” President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said after voting in the capital, Male, where his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) fielded former president Mohamed Nasheed as a candidate.

Nasheed, 51, is the highest profile contender for the 87-member People’s Majlis, or parliament that is elected for five years. Over 385 candidates are in the fray. The first results are expected on Sunday.

Nasheed returned from an enforced exile abroad after his deputy Solih’s unexpected victory in September. Nasheed was jailed for 13 years on a controversial terrorism charge when Yameen was in power. However, the conviction was overturned last year after the presidency changed.

Solih said he expected Saturday’s poll to return a strong legislature led by his MDP. Nasheed is expected to wield considerable influence in any new government. He cast his ballot in Male, but made no comment.

The opposition coalition that helped Solih win has since come apart, with constituent parties going their separate ways for Saturday’s election.

Voting took place for overseas Maldivians in neighbouring India and Sri Lanka, as well as London. AFP

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