Land Plots, Frenemy Alliance, Mystery Animal

Thursday, June 29

The Progressive Congress Coalition’s protest featured costumed performers wearing masks of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, prompting condemnation from the opposition coalition’s new partner. MP Ali Azim from the newly-formed Democrats of former president Mohamed Nasheed’s supporters called it “xenophobic hate mongering” but suggested that the government might be behind it.

On Friday, the government strongly condemned the “disrespectful act by the opposition” that “not only provoke hatred, but also promote hostility with the objective of tarnishing the country’s long-standing cordial ties with India.”

Costume parades are traditionally part of Eid festivities.

The main opposition has been staging daily protests outside its office in Malé’s ring road calling for the release of jailed former president Abdulla Yameen. The protesters on Thursday also carried carried placards with the ‘India Out’ slogan, which alleges an Indian military presence in the country.

Thursday, June 29

Wednesday, June 28

The Maldives celebrated Eid al-Adha with mass prayer congregations and festivities across the country. The Malé City Council lit up the capital with ornamental arches, played the takbeer chant on smart street lamps and organised a sacrificial goat slaughter.

The first couple visited Thoddoo and  attended a traditional lunch hosted by the women’s community.

Wednesday, June 28

A naturalised Indian man was deemed eligible for land plots by mistake, a state minister for housing told the press, after an uproar on social media.

“The matter has come to our attention. He is not eligible for land under the land allocation procedure and it will be corrected in the permanent list,” Akram Kamaluddin told Adhadhu.

On Thursday, Akram denied claims about 10 Indians on the eligible list but conceded that three naturalised citizens have been identified so far.

The Maldives was knocked out at the group stages of the SAFF Championship for the first time after losing 1-0 to Lebanon and 3-1 to Bangladesh.

Tuesday, June 27

A mystery animal seen at the airport in Noonu Maafaru was declared harmless. Soldiers were dispatched to the island after a video of the feline emerged on social media, prompting speculation that it could be a tiger or leopard. But the military determined through video analysis that it was not a dangerous animal, the Maafaru council said. According to media reports, the animal was most likely a large cat.

Tuesday, June 27

Monday, June 26

All eligible applicants to the government’s home ownership scheme for native residents of Malé will be awarded plots of land, the housing minister pledged. A provisional list of 10,314 recipients – including people who applied jointly and individually – was published in the gazette. Of 19,858 applications submitted under the ‘Binveriya’ scheme for 5,000 plots, 12,794 were deemed eligible after an evaluation process. All adult residents of Malé who were never registered on any other island and does not own 600 or more square feet were eligible to apply. Those who owned less than 600 square feet or stood to inherit land would have to relinquish it.

The scheme offered 5,000 land plots from Hulhumalé and new land to be reclaimed from the Gulhifalhu and Giraavaru lagoons near the capital. It was the first time that land was offered to Malé residents in more than three decades.

But the plans to award free land exclusively to Malé natives sparked fierce debates on social media. Critics argued that the exclusion of migrants to the capital – more than 100,000 non-native residents of Malé from other islands forced to pay exorbitant rents – was unfair, discriminatory and unconstitutional.

The opposition accused the government of unfairly allocating land to influence the September’s presidential election.

Addressing the criticism, Housing Minister Mohamed Aslam said the government wanted to ensure “breathing space” for native residents of Malé, many of whom live in slum-like conditions after the division of inherited land into smaller plots. State-owned land, reclaimed or otherwise, has always been awarded for free to native residents on other islands as well, he noted.

But questions were raised about the eligibility of some recipients, including lawmakers and business owners, prompting calls to stop paying rent for social housing.

After decades of migration in search of employment, education and healthcare, nearly 40% of the country’s population is crammed into the 2.2-square mile island of Malé. Resolving the densely-packed capital’s housing crisis was a key campaign pledge.

The recipients of 4,000 flats under a separate scheme with non-native residents of Malé also eligible to apply is due to be announced later. There were 20,697 applications for the two- and three-bedroom apartments under construction in Hulhumalé.

Monday, June 26

Monday, June 26

Kaashidhoo MP Abdulla Jabir joined the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party.

Jabir, a wealthy resort businessman, was elected as an independent. Speaking to reporters after the signing ceremony, Jabir said he would “work in my full capacity, financially and otherwise” to ensure re-election for President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Monday, June 26

The Democrats started formal talks with the main opposition Progressive Party of Maldives on working together to “bring an end to the government.”

At a joint press briefing, PPM MP Ahmed Shiyam said the opposition leadership was following instructions from jailed former president Abdulla Yameen. Pressed by reporters, Democrats MP Ali Azim said the new party would compromise and work together despite disagreements over the PPM’s anti-India campaign.

The new party was formed by a breakaway faction of the ruling party loyal to former president Mohamed Nasheed, who resigned from the Maldivian Democratic Party last week.

Sunday, June 25

The Elections Commission registered The Democrats, authorising an inaugural congress for party formation to be held on 2 July.

The decision came after the commission was deadlocked on granting approval. After the 3,000 membership forms required by law for registration was submitted in late May, the EC called an emergency meeting last week. EC president Fuwad Thowfeek and vice president Ismail Habeeb voted in favour but commissioners Ali Nashaath and Mohamed Asif voted against issuing the permit. With commissioner Dr Mohamed Zuhair on leave to perform the Hajj pilgrimage, the vote was tied.

Nashaath and Asif wanted to recheck the membership forms. But the pair did not attend a meeting called for Wednesday last week after the recheck.

At a joint press conference later on Sunday, opposition parties cast doubt on the fairness of the upcoming presidential polls, citing a lack of confidence in the independent electoral body over alleged government influence.

Sunday, June 25