The Maldives Third-Way Democrats paid tribute to Ahmed Adeeb at the newly-formed party’s inaugural meeting Monday night, as founding members and invitees heaped praise on the jailed former vice president.
Adeeb, who who is serving 33 years in prison on multiple counts of corruption and terrorism, became the first member to sign for the party earlier this month after he was released to house arrest following a surgery.
Velidhoo MP Yameen Rasheed and Dhihdhoo MP Abdul Latheef Mohamed were among sitting lawmakers at the MTD inauguration. The ceremony centred around Adeeb, whose photos were shown on screen throughout the proceedings.
In his speech, Ismail Asif, vice president of the Maldives Chamber of Commerce, a founding member, showed a picture of Adeeb and asked the attendees to give him a standing ovation.
MTD would not exist without Adeeb, he declared.
Photos showing Adeeb being taken to prison and lying in his jail cell were in the background as MP Yameen Rasheed and MP Abdul Latheef made their speeches. Both MPs were previously members of the formerly ruling Progressive Party of Maldives.
Rasheed described Adeeb as a young politician who rose too fast and was pulled down by his political rivals. He was serving jail sentences for crimes he did not commit, the lawmaker claimed.
“He worked to progress in politics. He was ambitious, he tried to work closely with people, he was kind to young people. What happened next? He was taken down because he was getting too ahead in politics,” he said.
It was Adeeb who gathered the 3,000 signatures needed to register the party, Rasheed said.
“In just 21 days, while on house arrest, and with police patrolling the four walls, a party is registered. Are these not the real leaders? Did he step back because of three years in a prison cell, three years on a concrete bed? This party will talk about this.”, Rasheed said.
“This party will advocate to say no to the false, unjust accusations against Adeeb. This party’s members and this country will witness Adeeb being freed.”
“I call on the courts to ensure justice and declare Adeeb a free man.
Speaking as a special guest, MP Latheef – who recently joined Jumhooree Party – said Adeeb must be allowed to run the party despite his jail sentences.
“Other leaders had the chance to run parties from their jail cells. But when it’s Ahmed Adeeb, it is not possible? No, Adeeb must have that chance too. Why did other leaders have that chance? People who were detained, exiled or self-exiled had the chance to run parties.”
He described Adeeb as the real “mastermind” behind the development achieved during former president Abdulla Yameen’s term.
“Adeeb had a very good relationship with most PPM MPs. We never went to Adeeb to get an island, a lagoon or a shop. We went to work for the development of our constituencies,” he said.
“If Ahmed Adeeb did anything, it was done because President Yameen wanted, because Yameen asked him to do it. So Yameen must be a part of it. If Yameen remains free, Ahmed Adeeb must also be free.”
Photo from Abeedh for MTD