Electoral Rights, New Candidates, Independence Day

Friday, July 28

Hospital emergency rooms filled up with sick children amid “a sudden increase in diarrhoea and vomiting” in Malé, according to the Health Protection Agency.

Citing “preliminary epidemiological investigations,” the HPA dismissed claims on social media about food poisoning from sweets handed out at the Independence Day float parade.

“This scale of up-surge is likely from a viral cause,” paediatrician Dr Abdulla Niyaf suggested, advising hand washing and ensuring that drinking water is clean.

After a spike in the number of children presenting to the ER on Thursday night, the ADK hospital set up special OPD and treatment rooms on the ground floor “to cater to this increased demand.”

A carnival in Hulhumalé was postponed as advised by the HPA.

The health ministry denied rumours about running low on medicine.

Friday, July 28

Ilyas Labeeb, MP for Hulhudhoo, was chosen as the presidential candidate of The Democrats in an uncontested primary, winning 95% of the vote from 3,203 members. Voting took place nationwide from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., open to new members immediately after signing up.

Speaking at a Democrats rally earlier in the week, former president Mohamed Nasheed, de facto leader of the new party, heaped praise on Labeeb and stressed his economic policy credentials. The two-term legislator from Addu City is of a similar age to Nasheed when he was elected president at 41 in 2008, he noted.

Nasheed came under fire over remarks about President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih having to take “a fistful of medicine every morning” for a heart condition.

In interviews with Adhadhu and Dhauru after a Democrats event to introduce the young candidate, Labeeb said he would remain loyal to “political mentor” Nasheed.

The speaker of parliament was widely expected to contest but instead pushed for a common opposition candidate. However, with the 7 August deadline for filing candidacy papers fast approaching, opposition parties appear to have failed to make a breakthrough in negotiations. Most parties have signalled that they would endorse Solih’s opponent in an anticipated second round run-off, which would be held if no candidates secures above 50% of the vote.

A recent poll showed nearly half of respondents undecided, 10% not voting, and President Solih and former president Abdulla Yameen leading with 19% and 18% respectively.

Thursday, July 27

Faris Maumoon sought the ticket of the Maldives Reform Movement to contest in the September 9 presidential election, standing as the sole contender in a primary due to take place next Monday with online voting.

Earlier in the day, the MRM formally rejected President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s invitation to remain in his Maldivian Democratic Party-led coalition.

Faris, the MRM’s leader and son of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, reportedly collected signatures to contest as an independent candidate before the MRM primary was announced.

It is unclear whether the party could field a candidate. In late May, the Elections Commission decided to dissolve the MRM after it fell below the minimum 3,000-member threshold. But the party cried foul, alleging the fraudulent de-registration of members, and challenged the EC’s decision at the civil court.

On Tuesday, Faris met with Jumhooree Party leaders to discuss a potential alliance. JP leader Qasim Ibrahim is also contesting in September’s election but has yet to start campaigning.

Thursday, July 27

Precautionary measures have been taken after a Maldivian tested positive for measles upon returning from overseas, the Health Protection Agency revealed.

Measles – which was was eliminated in the country in 2017 – is a highly contagious airborne disease that mainly affects unvaccinated children and young adults. The virus affects the respiratory tract and causes a red skin rash and flu-like symptoms.

Immigration Controller Mohamed Ahmed Hussain, known as ‘Hanafy,’ joined the Maldivian Democratic Party. A political appointee from the Jumhooree Party, Hanafy left the party after JP leader Qasim Ibrahim decided to run for president.

Badminton champion Neela Ahmed Najeeb decided to sue the Badminton Association at the international Court of Arbitration for Sports after she was suspended from the national team and excluded from the Indian Ocean Island Games.

A group of environmental associations slammed the “mismanagement, negligence and delayed action” in responding to a landfill fire in Fuvahmulah, which burned for more than a week and posed health risks with toxic emissions.

Wednesday, July 26

The Maldives marked the 58th anniversary of gaining independence after more than 80 years as a British protectorate. Celebratory events in Malé over the holiday included cultural and musical performances at the national stadium, a military parade and float procession.

“This year’s procession, featuring 15 floats from eight government offices, institutions, and state-owned enterprises (SOEs), was organised by the Ministry of Home Affairs,” according to the president’s office.

Wednesday, July 26

In a 30-minute message aired on Channel 13 after a last-minute cancellation of a press conference, Malé Mayor Dr Mohamed Muizzu categorically declared loyalty to former president Abdulla Yameen, addressing speculation about seeking the opposition’s presidential ticket.

According to media reports, support for Muizzu as an alternative to the jailed opposition leader has created divisions within the Progressive Party of Maldives.

Tuesday, July 25

The Supreme Court rejected a constitutional case filed to ensure former president Abdulla Yameen’s right to run for public office, which lawyers contended has been infringed by the High Court’s delay in concluding an appeal of his 11-year prison sentence on bribery and money laundering charges. The apex court’s registrar rejected the case for a second time shortly after it was resubmitted.

Tuesday, July 25

Ahead of the start of the new academic year in August, the education minister gazetted new rules for registering and licensing teachers.

The Maldives Correctional Services extended former vice president Ahmed Adeeb’s medical leave in Singapore until 28 August.

Adeeb, who was serving a 20-year prison sentence under house arrest, was authorised to seek treatment for a neurological disorder. The 41-year-old underwent surgery on Friday, according to his party.

MP Ahmed Amir was arrested for allegedly refusing to stop for traffic police at a vehicle checkpoint in Hulhumalé. After he drove on at a “dangerous speed”, officers followed and arrested him around 1:15 a.m, the police told the media.

The Maldives Development Alliance MP for Kudahuvadhoo was released after about an hour in custody. A video of Amir’s arrest emerged on social media. He denied refusing to stop at the checkpoint or using obscene language as alleged by the police.

His motorcycle was impounded over alleged reckless driving.

Monday, July 24

The Communication Authority of Maldives capped the number of SIM cards an individual could purchase, imposing a limit of 10 for Maldivians and three for foreign nationals.

The regulations were enacted after the registration of multiple phone numbers under one identity was flagged as an obstacle to investigating scam calls. The police previously informed a parliamentary committee that there were more than 800 SIM cards registered under the name of a single person, 24,000 SIM cards taken by two expatriates and 38,000 SIM cards under the names of a dozen foreign workers.

Monday, July 24

Sunday, July 23

Three commissioners on the five-member Elections Commission passed a symbolic vote of no-confidence motion against EC president Fuwad Thowfeek during the previous week, the media learned.

The law does not allow the commission’s chair to be removed through a no-confidence vote by members, with impeachment left to parliament.

Fuwad denied any impartiality or wrongdoing. The opposition Progressive Congress Coalition accused the government of interfering with the independent electoral body.

The five-year term of one of the three dissenting members, Ali Nashaath, ended on Tuesday. Parliament broke for recess last month without voting on a replacement.

Sunday, July 23

The judicial watchdog cleared Supreme Court Justice Mahaz Ali Zahir after investigating an ethics complaint.

He was accused of accepting a meal as a celebratory gift for ruling in favour of an appeal. After presiding over the case, Mahaz was alleged to have accepted a lunch delivery from a person connected to the claimant. 

Mahaz denied violating ethical standards. He had personally ordered and paid for lunch as it was the last day that all the justices would meet before the court’s year-end recess break, Mahaz explained, appealing for open hearings in the ethics probe. 

According to media reports, the case referred to in the complaint was former president Abdulla Yameen’s appeal of his money laundering conviction. Justice Mahaz was the presiding judge in the bench that overturned the opposition leader’s five-year prison sentence in November 2021. 

Also on Sunday, the Judicial Service Commission decided to recommend the removal of a magistrate who was accused of calling and sending inappropriate messages to a woman after she appeared in the island court for divorce proceedings.

Saturday, July 22

Fourteen people were arrested after the opposition’s ‘Youth Ride’ motorcycle rally in Malé turned into a protest.

Ten men and four women were arrested from Majeedhee Magu for disrupting traffic and unlawful assembly, the police told the media. All the protesters were later released.

The cycle rally started near the Progressive Party of Maldives office in Malé’s ring road with supporters calling for the release of jailed former president Abdulla Yameen. After driving across the island, participants stopped to protest on the capital’s main thoroughfare. The arrests were made near the gender ministry office.

Saturday, July 22