Malé Housing, Unresolved Murders, Stormy Weather

Friday, July 1

Storm surges caused flooding on 22 islands across seven atolls. In Gaaf Dhaal Madaveli, the worst affected island, flooding caused damages to 98% of households. Of 50 homes affected in Addu City’s Maradhoo, two homes were evacuated.

Friday, July 1

Thursday, June 30

It would not be in the Maldivian Democratic Party’s interest for President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to seek re-election, former president and speaker of parliament, Mohamed Nasheed, contended in his ‘Ask Speaker’ public Q&A programme.

Nasheed, who is also the MDP’s president, signalled that Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid could contest in the MDP’s 2023 presidential primary. Shahid had been interested in seeking the MDP ticket before it was awarded to Solih in 2018, Nasheed revealed.

Thursday, June 30

Parliament broke for recess after passing a landmark evidence bill, a long-awaited law that introduces detailed legal processes and standards for evidence in criminal cases.

The People’s Majlis will reconvene for the third and final session of the year in August.

Journalists protested outside parliament against passing the evidence bill with provisions that allow courts to compel disclosure of sources.

Both the NGO Maldives Journalist Association and regulatory body Maldives Media Council urged lawmakers to add safeguards to ensure that the “overbroad and expansive” provisions are not abused to force journalists to disclose sources.

Speaker Nasheed told the protesting journalists that the law could be amended in the future to address their concerns.

Schools closed for a month-long holiday at the end of the academic year.

Transparency Maldives condemned the government’s plans to criminalise acts that harm the country’s foreign relations, warning that amendments proposed to the penal code encroaches on freedom of expression.

“While we are deeply concerned by the increasing intolerance, disinformation, hate speech, and xenophobia, these social and political issues cannot be addressed by laws with vague and broad provisions that violate international human rights standards and constitutionally guaranteed fundamental freedoms,” the NGO said. 

Hoarafushi MP Ahmed Saleem filed a lawsuit against Dhiyares seeking MVR10 million (US$648,500) as compensation for alleged defamation. The opposition-aligned outlet reported last week that Saleem was the unidentifiable man in a video circulating on social media of two men engaged in homosexual relations. The lawmaker accused Dhiyares of publishing a deliberately false allegation with the intention of defaming him.

The U.S. donated 200,000 rapid antigen test kits to the health ministry.

The criminal court continued hearing witness testimony in former president Abdulla Yameen’s bribery and money laundering trial. The opposition leader is accused of accepting and laundering a US$1 million bribe from former lawmaker Yousuf Naeem for the no-bid lease of  Vaavu Aarah for resort development. 

The prosecution’s third witness was a former legal counsel at the tourism ministry, who testified about the process of leasing islands for resort development through the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation, a government-owned company at the centre of an unprecedented corruption scandal in which US$90 million was stolen.

Wednesday, June 29

The coastguard attended to seven accidents at sea amid rough weather across the country. A man who went missing after a dhoni keeled over was found 20 minutes later and four people on a speedboat that capsized near Kaafu Giraavaru were rescued and brought to Malé. Tourists on a speedboat that ran aground on a sandbank near Kaafu Reethi Rah were rescued by a speedboat sent from the resort. No injuries were reported in any of the incidents.

The bad weather was caused by the “enhancement of southwest monsoon activity” over the region, according to the Met office.

Wednesday, June 29

278 cases were reported to the gender ministry in May, including 31 cases of child sexual abuse.

The first batch of Cuban doctors arrived under an MoU signed last December. The group includes four specialists, including a doctor who will work at the Maldives Blood Service. A dozen more specialists are due to arrive next week.

A nine-bed in-patient ward opened in the Centre for Mental Health at the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital with a terrace, a de-escalation room and exercise machines.

The government does not intend to impose new lockdowns in response to a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections, Health Minister Ahmed Naseem told parliament.

A music show with fireworks planned in Hulhumalé to celebrate the upcoming Eid holidays has been canceled due to the surge.

1,202 cases were detected between 19 and 25 June.

Tuesday, June 28

A group of local NGOs called on the government to ensure that an environmentally destructive project is not carried out in the Alif Dhaal Fenfushi lagoon after it was leased for tourism development to the Villa Group. The lagoon is adjacent to the South Ari Marine Protected Area, renowned for whale sharks.

Tuesday, June 28

The Jumhooree Party will field a candidate in the 2023 presidential election, JP leader Qasim Ibrahim declared at a rally held in Malé, the party’s first political activity after a long inactive period.

But the JP will decide its stance at its next congress, he said.

The JP is part of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party-led coalition. Qasim, a 72-year-old business magnate who was in exile and barred from contesting for the third time in 2018, backed the MDP candidate, who contested with a JP running mate.

After announcing his intention to seek re-election last month, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih met with Qasim and the JP’s leadership in Maamigili. At the time, the JP spokesman denied rumours that Qasim had agreed to be Solih’s running mate next year.

Monday, June 27

Former chief judge of the family court, Huzaifa Mohamed, was appointed to the High Court.

There were eight applicants for two more vacancies in the appellate court.

Monday, June 27

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and First Lady Fazna Ahmed returned after attending the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda. On the sidelines, the president met with the Prime Minister of Mauritius and the Minister of External Affairs of India.

Two more suspects arrested in connection with the disruption of an International Yoga Day event in Malé last week were remanded to 10 days and 60 days in custody, bringing the number of suspects arrested to 21.

Briefing the press, Assistant Commissioner Ali Shujau conceded that a “security failure” by the police was to blame for the mob storming the stadium. An internal review and inquiry are underway, he said.

Ambassadors from six countries were in attendance when security was breached.

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The source of a leaked video of lawyer Nazim Sattar engaged in homosexual relations with a young foreign man has been identified, Assistant Commissioner of Police Mohamed Riyaz revealed at a press briefing.

The police were alerted to cases of blackmail with similar videos in late March, he added.

Asked why Nazim Sattar has not been arrested, Riyaz suggested that there was no legal reason or necessity. Nazim – younger brother of former president Mohamed Nasheed – has been barred from leaving the country.

Local media has identified the other man in the video as a 25-year-old Bangladeshi migrant worker, who is suspected to have secretly recorded videos of liaisons with more than 40 local men in a room at a high-rise residence in Orchid Magu.

After a photo of former MP ‘Colonel’ Mohamed Nasheed was also leaked on social media, he admitted to having been in the room but denied having sexual relations. He also claimed to have resisted a blackmail attempt to extort US$200,000.

Though rarely prosecuted, sodomy is a crime punishable by a lengthy jail term.

A photo of ruling party lawmaker ‘Andhun’ Hussain Shameem naked in bed with another man and a woman is also under investigation.

A letter sent on 15 June informing the police that yoga was un-Islamic contained a fatwa (legal ruling) that was issued in violation of rules and procedures, the Islamic ministry stated in a press release. According to media reports, the letter from the ministry’s senior executive director to the police commissioner declared that yoga was forbidden to Muslims and cited rulings to that effect by the Malaysian and Egyptian fatwa councils.

A detailed Shariah ruling on yoga will be issued by the Fatwa Council, the Islamic ministry said.

Sunday, June 26

As pledged by the president, the government invited applications from registered residents of Malé for 4,000 flats under construction in Hulhumalé and 3,000 plots of lands from the manmade islands of Hulhumalé and Gulhifalhu. A portal was launched for submission of applications with a deadline of 26 September.

Solving the densely-packed capital’s housing crisis was a key pledge of the 2018 campaign.

Sunday, June 26

Three key suspects in the abduction of journalist Ahmed Rilwan in August 2014 and the murder of blogger Yameen Rasheed in April 2017 were arrested following a breakthrough in investigations by the presidential commission on deaths and disappearances.

The criminal court ordered their detention for trial. The three men are 30-year-old Ismail Abdul Raheem, 39-year-old Ahmed Ismail – alleged leader of the ‘Buru’ gang in Malé – and 40-year-old Ahmed Muaz – an alleged gangster who was behind a machete attack on Rilwan’s workplace.

Saturday, June 25

A 41-year-old Australian tourist who went missing from Crossroads was found dead by the coastguard 1.33 nautical miles east of the resort.

Saturday, June 25