President nominates campaign staff as broadcast regulators

President nominates campaign staff as broadcast regulators
March 27 18:32 2016

President Abdulla Yameen has nominated several individuals to fill upcoming vacancies on the broadcasting regulator, including the commission’s current president and an administrative officer at the presidential residence.

The five-year terms of six members of the Maldives Broadcasting Commission are due to expire on April 4.

Ibrahim Muaz Ali, the president’s spokesperson, said the names of all 23 individuals who applied to the president’s office will be forwarded for parliamentary approval today. However, he explained, the names were ranked in order of preference.

Two of the commission’s current members, Abdulla Shujau and Ibrahim Ashraf, had also applied to the president’s office but did not make the top six.

The individuals ranked highest are MBC President Mohamed Shaheeb, Ismail Sofwan, Hassan Nabah, Fathmath Zaina, Zeena Zahir, and Aminath Sharahath Izzath.

Zaina, a former journalist, is an administrative officer at Muleeage and the editor of the pro-government ‘Yageen’ magazine. Both Zaina and Zeena Zahir are active in the president’s campaign office, which is managed by First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim.

Both women were also involved in organising the recently concluded symposium held in Malé to train campaign leaders for Yameen’s reelection bid in 2018.

Yameen’s administration has previously been accused of using the ruling coalition’s majority in parliament to stack independent institutions with loyalists.

The president’s preferred nominees are likely to be approved as the ruling coalition controls 52 seats in the 85-member People’s Majlis.

The broadcasting commission is an independent regulatory body formed under the Broadcasting Act of 2010. The commission commenced work on April 4, 2011.

The MBC’s mandate involves regulating and developing the broadcasting sector in the Maldives, investigating content-related complaints, and issuing broadcasting licenses.

The MBC came under fire during last November’s short-lived state of emergency after threatening to revoke the licenses of TV stations that air content deemed to pose a threat to national security.

Last month, the commission ordered the opposition-aligned Raajje TV not to air a documentary about a Sri Lankan man who allegedly performed sorcery or black magic to help Yameen win the 2013 election.

The current members of the seven-member commission are Mohamed Shaheeb, Abdulla Shujau, Aishath Hana, Mariyam Shaugy, Ibrahim Ashraf and Moomina Adam.

A seventh member, Mohamed Aslam, was appointed in March 2013 to replace former MBC President Badr Naseer. Aslam’s five-year term expires in March 2018.

The applicants for the MBC who did not make the top six included television presenter Mariyam Waheedha, Maldives Journalist Association Vice President Ali Shamman, and football commentator Abdulla Azmeen.