Penultimate Week, Pledge Contest, ‘India First’

Friday, September 1

Concluding the penultimate week of campaigning before the 9 September presidential election, the Maldivian Democratic Party held a well-attended rally in Malé, featuring performances by top local artists.

Addressing a fired up crowd of supporters clad in the party’s yellow, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih pledged to develop a city hotel and convention centre in Funadhoo, a small island near Malé. Other plans for the capital include the introduction of light rail transport, capping the number of vehicles and the expansion of the Sinamalé bridge with two new lanes.

He also kept up attacks against main rival Malé Mayor Dr Mohamed Muizzu, criticising the city council’s sale of parking spots in the densely-packed capital.

In his speech, MDP Chairman Fayyaz Ismail predicted victory for President Solih with 56% of the vote.

Friday, September 1

Former president Abdulla Yameen’s lawyers released a statement denying an Adhadhu report about the jailed opposition leader’s alleged displeasure with the Progressive Congress Coalition’s candidate Dr Mohamed Muizzu.

According to Adhadhu, Yameen told opposition MPs during a break in appeal hearings at the High Court on Wednesday that Muizzu was “shooting himself in the foot” by distancing himself from the former president in media interviews. Muizzu told Adhadhu earlier in the week that he would consult Yameen but govern independently if elected.

Thursday, August 31

A Hindu priest who tried to hold spiritual healing classes in Malé was arrested and deported.

The Islamic minister asked the police to take action after the spiritual healing classes were advertised on social media. The practice of religions other than Islam is prohibited by the constitution and the religious unity law.

Thursday, August 31

A 25-year-old man from Addu City pleaded guilty to stabbing his brother to death on May 31. Hussain Mavaz confessed to the murder and signed a plea agreement with the Prosecutor General’s office.

The judge announced that a sentence hearing will be held in 10 days.

Mavaz stabbed Ahmed Shuaib, 27, with scissors during an altercation between the brothers outside their home in Maradhoo. He went into hiding after the assault but turned himself in to the police on the following day.

Wednesday, August 30

Issuing a decree under powers granted by the decentralisation law, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih accorded city status to Gaaf Dhaal Thinadhoo, a population hub in the southern atolls.

He made the announcement during a campaign rally on the island.

During the trip, the president formally inaugurated the Raajje Transport Link speedboat ferry service in the atoll and marked the completion of infrastructure projects in Thinadhoo, including a new powerhouse, new facilities at the hospital and a new office for immigration services.

Earlier in the day, the president issued a decree to bring Mathiveri Finolhu under Alif Alif Mathiveri and Gaaerifaru under Lhaviyani Hinnavaru. The uninhabited islands were placed under the jurisdiction of the Mathiveri and Hinnavaru island councils as requested by the public.

During the week, Solih campaigned in Thaa, Laamu, Alif Alif and Lhaviyani atolls, making pledges and cutting ribbons for completed projects in Dhiyamigili, Kinbidhoo, Gaadhifushi, Madifushi, Isdhoo, Kalaidhoo, Dhabidhoo, Himendhoo, Olhuvelifushi, Kurendhoo, Hinnavaru, Maamendhoo, Fonadhoo, Hithadhoo, Maabaidhoo and Maavah

Wednesday, August 30

Democrats presidential candidate Ilyas Labeeb proposed an ambitious policy to de-congest Malé, offering housing to residents of the most slum-like neighbourhoods in exchange for vacating the plots. The first phase of the plan involves building 15-storey condominiums on five plots under government-owned company ownership for the relocation.

Tuesday, August 29

The state broadcaster Public Service Media partnered with Sangu TV to hold a presidential debate on Saturday (September 2) after cancelling plans to host its own debate in collaboration with the Maldives National University.

The private TV station first decided to exclude independent candidates but later invited all eight candidates.

Tuesday, August 29

An Interpol red notice was issued for Hussain Shifau, a 37-year-old Maldivian man who went into hiding after he was charged with money laundering, forgery and counterfeiting, simulating objects of special value and theft by deception.

Shifau was facing trial on 23 counts, according to the Prosecutor General’s office. He is accused of defrauding several foreign companies with fake TT slips for imported goods worth US$123,800.

Financed by loans from the Kuwait Fund, the China National Electric Engineering Company was awarded a US$76 million project to develop 100-bed tertiary hospitals in Kulhudhuffushi and Thinadhoo, urban centres in the north and south.

Monday, August 28

The Maldives National Party alleged efforts to coerce employees of state-owned companies to “use a pen or marker of a particular colour” on the ballot paper in order to confirm their vote. The Elections Commission decided to investigate after the main opposition party filed a similar complaint.

Monday, August 28

The United States provided US$895,000 to migrate government data and critical digital infrastructure to a cloud-based ‘Government Digital Service’ platform.

The grant aid agreement was signed by Environment Minister Aminath Shauna and new U.S. resident Ambassador Hugo Yon during the visit of Senator Chris Van Hollen, the first official trip to the Maldives by a sitting senator.

Parliament’s sitting was cancelled due to lack of quorum with only 13 out of 87 MPs in attendance. At least 22 MPs must be present for the sitting to proceed.

Tuesday’s sitting was also called off with only 10 MPs in attendance.

A 65,000 square feet waste management centre was opened in Malé’s industrial village. Built with grant aid from the Asian Development Bank, the facility has the capacity to serve 300 vehicles at a time, segregate waste and “transport waste to Thilafushi Island in packed containers, preventing spillage,” according to the president’s office.

Sunday, August 27

The president’s office ordered the transport ministry to suspend the sale of vehicle domains, citing irregularities and suspected wrongdoing.

Sunday, August 27

Saturday, August 26

In an interview with Dhauru, Dr Mohamed Muizzu pledged to maintain the longstanding ‘India First’ foreign policy but vowed to expel Indian soldiers allegedly stationed in the Maldives. In interviews with Mihaaru and Adhadhu, the Progressive Congress Coalition candidate reiterated accusations of India “interfering in our own affairs and undermining our sovereignty.”

The Malé mayor also denied alleged ties with hardline religious group Salaf.

Campaigning across the country during the week, Muizzu pledged to restructure public debt, waive fines for late rent payments for social housing, retain U.S. dollar earnings in the domestic economy, connect Kaadehdhoo and Thinadhoo with a bridge, create separate ministries for fisheries and agriculture, and close government offices during the last 10 days of Ramadan. He also pledged to develop new airports in Gaaf Alif Villingili, Baa Thulhaadhoo and Raa Fainu.

Saturday, August 26