Thilamalé Bridge, ‘India First,’ Opposition Ticket

Friday, August 5

A teacher and a home ministry official were suspended over leaked videos of homosexual relations with a Bangladeshi man.

The 25-year-old migrant worker, M.D Alamgiri, is suspected of secretly filming liaisons with more than 40 Maldivian men and using the videos as blackmail to extort large sums of money. He was arrested in early July.

The scandal broke in late June with sex tapes of lawyer Nazim Sattar, former MP ‘Colonel’ Mohamed Nasheed and a police officer. All three were arrested last week and the criminal court has since extended their remand detention.

After a new video of two Maldivian men with Alamgiri emerged on social media on Thursday night, the education ministry and home ministry confirmed suspensions but did not reveal any identities.

Friday, August 5

According to the Chinese embassy in Malé, the Maldives assured “firm commitment to the One-China Policy” amid a crisis triggered by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.

The opposition Progressive Party of Maldives also released a statement backing China’s “right to protect and maintain its sovereignty and territorial independence.”

Thursday, August 4

In an op-ed for The Hindu, former president Mohamed Nasheed called for revitalising ancient trade networks in the Indian Ocean to help maintain peace and security.

Thursday, August 4

A key state witness testified in former president Abdulla Yameen’s bribery and money laundering trial. Appearing via video conference from the Maldives embassy in the UK, Mohamed Hussain, a former football star known as Oittey, told the court about delivering MVR1 million (US$64,850) in cash to Yameen as instructed by his Vice President Ahmed Adeeb.

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 charges stem from an unprecedented corruption scandal in which US$90 million was stolen through the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation during Yameen’s administration. 

A police officer who analysed hand writing on cheques testified at the previous hearing on Monday. Yameen’s lawyers pointed out an error in the chain of custody document as the date on which the evidence was filed was entered as 23 August 2026. But pressed by defence lawyers, the police officer insisted that the typo does not affect the conclusion of his analysis.

More than 1,500 students from other islands have applied to join schools in Malé, up from a previous annual average of about 500, the education ministry revealed in a press briefing ahead of the start of the new academic year on 7 August. Senior Policy Director Moosa Adam attributed the rise to the growth of the capital’s population with the 7,000-flat Hiya social housing project.

The first of four new schools to be developed in Hulhumalé is expected to open next month.

The High Court upheld the detention of Sheikh Adam Nishan, a cleric who was arrested after protesters disrupted an International Yoga Day event on June 21. Along with Sheikh Fazloon Mohamed, Nishan is accused of inciting the mob that stormed the national stadium. Backing the criminal court’s orders to keep him in custody, the High Court cited communications with suspects involved in the disturbance and other evidence in a police intelligence report.

Wednesday, August 3

Doctors expressed concern with rising dengue cases as an infant was admitted at the intensive care unit. One child died from the mosquito-borne disease earlier this year.

Wednesday, August 3

A travel ban imposed on Sun Travel owner Ahmed Siyam Mohamed – MP for Dhaalu Meedhoo and leader of the Maldives Development Alliance – was upheld upon appeal.

The civil court withheld the resort owner’s passport in March over the enforcement of US$28 million in damages owed to Hilton. Sun’s accounts were also frozen after the Maldivian courts of appeal upheld a judgment in favour of Hilton by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre. The litigation arose from Sun’s cancellation of a management agreement for Irufushi resort in April 2013.

Tuesday, August 2

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi jointly inaugurated the Greater Malé Connectivity Project at a launch ceremony in New Delhi. The pair virtually initiated the the ‘Pouring Of First Concrete’ in Malé’s industrial village.

The 6.7km Thilamalé bridge – funded with a US$400 million line of credit and US$100 million grant aid from India and to be built by Indian company Afcons Infrastructure – will connect the capital with the nearby islands of Villimalé, Thilafushi, and Gulhifalhu, and facilitate the relocation of the Malé port.

Following official talks with Modi, six key agreements were exchanged between India and the Maldives, including a Letter of Intent on Buyer’s Credit funding approval of US$119 million for 2,000 social housing units to be built in Hulhumalé, adding to the 4,000 India-funded flats currently under construction in the manmade island. The Indian government also facilitated an additional US$100 million loan to “ensure the timely completion of important projects such as the Cancer Hospital in Gan, Laamu Atoll and the expansion of Hanimaadhoo Airport.”

During the president’s third visit to India since assuming office in November 2019, he reiterated the ‘India First’ foreign policy, paid a courtesy call on the new Indian president, attended a luncheon hosted by the Governor of Maharashtra, and toured the  Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Mumbai.

Tuesday, August 2

Protesters on Kudahuvadhoo clashed with riot police guarding the island’s airport after a patient who suffered a heart attack was unable to fly to Malé on Manta Air on Monday night.

The patient was later brought to the capital by national carrier Maldivian. Boat or sea ambulance transfer was unavailable due to rough seas.

The privately-owned domestic airline Manta Air – which operates the Dhaal Atoll Airport on Kudahuvadhoo and carries tourists bound for nearby high-end resorts – explained that its ATR aircraft are not equipped to accommodate patients on stretchers. According to Manta, transport could have been arranged via seaplane but an official request had not been made during the day.

Twelve tourists including children were stuck inside the airport for hours as protesters blocked the entrance, Manta CEO Mohamed Khaleel told the press, condemning the “hijacking” as politically motivated.

Seventeen men were arrested in connection with the unrest, but all the protesters were later released.

Protests continued outside the airport until Manta officials arrived for talks on Wednesday night and agreed to arrange seaplane transfers for patients in emergencies. If an urgent transfer is required at night, a Maldivian flight would be diverted to Kudahuvadhoo and Manta would cover the national carrier’s scheduled flight to other regional airports.

The Civil Aviation Authority has also instructed private carriers Manta and Villa to provide stretcher service on its flights within three months.

The state-owned Maldives Transport and Contracting Company launched an MVR451.6 million (US$29 million), 50 hectare land reclamation and airport development project on Raa Alifushi island.

MP Ahmed Nazim – a retired colonel, former defence minister and leader of the Maldives National Party – intends to contest in the 2023 presidential election. A decision on holding a primary to elect its candidate is expected to be made at the MNP’s first national congress due to take place in September.

After a Twitter spat with ex-president Yameen last week, Nazim told Mihaaru that the MNP offers an alternative to the two “extreme” parties that have ruled since the first multi-party election in 2008.

Monday, August 1

Indian media covered the rift between President Solih and Speaker Nasheed ahead of the former’s official visit to the country.

The split in the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party between rival factions loyal to the two leaders worsened after the arrest of Nasheed’s brother on charges of homosexuality. In an angry reaction, Nasheed accused the government of appeasing religious extremists and claimed to have photos of Solih having sex with a young woman, an allegation that prompted MPs in the president’s faction to reportedly start gathering signatures to impeach the speaker.

“We founded the MDP to stand for liberal, inclusive values, and my worry is that the people who will really gain from ousting me, and splitting the party are those who want to push Maldives in a xenophobic and religiously radical direction, and also those who are behind the ‘India out’ campaign,” Nasheed told The Hindu.

Monday, August 1

The higher education ministry invited students who completed the Maldivian Aviation Academy’s refresher course to apply for loans to complete their pilot training.

The refresher programme was offered to students who were unable to complete their studies when the flying school previously operated by the Asian Academy of Aeronautics was shut down after being mired in controversy.

The new academy in Addu City was formed as a joint venture between national carrier Maldivian airline and the Maldives National University with management by a Czech Republic institution.

The gender ministry attended to 248 cases in June, including 126 cases involving violence against children.

Sunday, July 31

The joint council of the Progressive Congress Coalition decided unanimously to award its 2023 presidential ticket to former president Abdulla Yameen without a primary contest.

But the opposition leader will be barred from running if he is convicted in either of two ongoing bribery and money laundering trials.

Sunday, July 31

The Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital denied “baseless” media reports about retaliation against emergency room nurses who submitted a petition over alleged refusal of sick leave and demands to work despite an illness. Contrary to media reports about nurses being transferred to other departments as a punishment, IGMH insisted that the transfers were unrelated to the petition. Their complaints are under investigation in accordance with civil service rules, the government hospital assured.

President Solih assured the Maldives Journalist Association that the NGO’s concerns over provisions in the new evidence law that allow courts to compel journalists to disclose sources will be addressed. Members of the MJA and the Editors Guild met with the president and the attorney general to share their fears over the potential threat to press freedom.

The constitution guarantees the right to protect sources of information but the new law introduces exceptions in cases involving acts of terrorism or offences related to national security. 

Last week, local and international organisations called on the government to amend the provisions before the law comes into force in six months.

Public transport services began with 20-seater minibuses in the three southern atolls of Laamu, Fuvahmulah and Addu. The bus service is free of charge for the first two weeks, after which it will be free for children under three, students, disabled persons and the elderly.

The World Health Organisation donated generic PCR test kits that could be used to confirm a diagnosis of monkeypox for a minimum of 200 patients.