President Abdulla Yameen took questions from reporters for the first time since October 2015 at an extraordinary press conference in mid-July. He addressed long-standing allegations of corruption and spoke at length on the ruling party split and loss of the pro-government majority in parliament.
On jailed former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation corruption scandal
Adeeb is someone who has been with me in political activities. for a very long time. He worked with me in [Yameen’s former party People’s Alliance] before. Adeeb was someone I had trust in who was politically young but who worked with us genuinely and with courage. As such, due to the change in our government because of President [Mohamed] Nasheed’s resignation, I was one of the people who worked to make Adeeb the tourism minister during [Dr Mohamed] Waheed’s presidency. President Maumoon [Abdul Gayoom] approved of it and as such Adeeb became tourism minister.
There were reasons we chose Adeeb as tourism minister. He had a really good PR. We wanted progress for the industry. We chose Adeeb to have someone courageous, enterprising and with good PR. We noticed things after we chose Adeeb. He also did a lot of good things for President Waheed.
Additionally, after President Waheed’s term came to a close, Adeeb worked with me during the 2013 presidential elections. With God’s grace in 2013 when I was given office, Adheeb was again given the tourism ministry.
During Adeeb’s time in the tourism ministry, local businessmen who hoped for this government’s continuity and who were assisting us with projects we were facing [financial] difficulty with were giving me money. They were giving us money for what we needed to do then for political purposes and also for our presidential campaign.
I was giving that money to Adeeb. And Adeeb was in charge of getting that money. So Adeeb would have the accounts of all that money. I couldn’t say then nor can I say today how much money I received. Adeeb would have the records. Adeeb assured me before I took my last trip to Hajj that he would give me a detailed account of the finances by the time I got back.
I didn’t know to say back then if Adheeb was getting money outside of that arrangement, but I now know. I don’t know how to say how much of the money Adeeb had which was meant for me, and how much was gotten from other means. But without a doubt, the money I was given for my election by my well-wishers was given to Adeeb to be looked after.
On corruption and floor-crossing
Let’s not talk about the MMPRC corruption. Citizens talked about MMPRC corruption the most. Why do we not talk about this corruption today? Why do we not talk about the negative influences to our institutions? Why is it not corruption when our parliamentary members leave their parties for elsewhere, and there’s money involved?
Corruption is common amongst us and has been for years. [Fisheries Projects Implementation Department] corruption is common amongst us. I’d like to ask the citizens of Maldives even today if the money lost from FPID has been given back to the state. There have been many governments since the FPID corruption.
This government is the one that tries to get back any such money owed to the state. So corruption has been happening for a very long time. It is not something that belongs to a certain group or a certain age. It’s something’s that’s been amongst us since the very beginning. And what we see today is negative influence and money being given to different state bodies. And we see that the people who are getting money for corruption aren’t able to do that as at speed. Maybe there are difficulties for him. So there are such things. So when you take President Yameen’s votes, and then demand bargains, anyone who has principles and is trying to do things according to the law and constitution will keep them at a distance.
On demands from renegade MPs
I can’t give them 10-12 sandbanks, or lease them an island for a resort every time one of these people complain just to have them. I can’t do it that way. I work according to principles and procedures. One of the complaints of the many party members who have left me is, “Why do you not send Ahmed Adeeb abroad?” I told them I’ve given this answer at the very beginning. Ahmed Adeeb should go abroad. There is no obstacle to that. But before that, give back the money you took from the state. After handing the money taken from the state back to the government and recovering it through [the Anti-Corruption Commission], then Ahmed Adeeb can go abroad. There is no way he can leave before that.
And again I’d like to say this a second time; in this case, Ahmed Adeeb can bring any doctor he wants from abroad with his own money. It’s okay even if he brings numerous doctors. I’ll allow for them to use all the facilities at IGMH to treat Adeeb. So there’s no obstruction or obstacle to treating Adeeb.
But then why do these members who leave try to force me to send Ahmed Adeeb for medical treatment? I will not obey that.
Some members have said Ahmed Adeeb has sent a letter after the case has ended at Supreme Court, and that Ahmed Adeeb knows who put the weapons in ex-Minister Mohamed Nazim’s house. So even if Supreme Court has decided that, they ask for President Yameen to use his executive powers to release Nazim. I am not someone who will use the executive power to turn over the decisions made by the judiciary.
If Nazim’s lawyers believe there is any validity in Adeeb’s claims, it’s up to them to approach the Supreme Court to reopen the case. It’s not something President Yameen has to do. And other members are saying to forgive President Nasheed and let him go. That’s also not something President Yameen has to do. So even if the parliament members who worked with me leave because I’m unable to fulfil such great wishes, there’s nothing I can do about it. I am someone who works according to procedures.
The current opposition leaders came to me when the Nazim case first started. They said, “Finish this problem President, without making it a problem. Don’t investigate it, don’t send it to court.” These political leaders came to me. More than one political leader came to me. And there are leaders who separated from me because I didn’t do that. I have not made this public to the citizens before.
What kind of ideology must they have when the people who claim to wish to bring peace, prosperity, rule of law, affluence and other such rights are the very same people who asked me then to put aside law and justice. They asked me to take such cases and finish them on my own with my own deliberation, and to hide it in the closet. This is the standard of the leaders. Any of those leaders should say now, “I hadn’t said that” in front of the media with me at this table. So after they make such quibbles with me, and when I don’t comply they leave my coalition and me. There’s nothing I can do about that.
On the opposition’s bid to unseat Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed
All of this needs to be done, doesn’t it? If these things need to be done to upset our development projects, politicians will do it. But when they do it, I’m saying they should do it right. The case of no confidence against the Parliament speaker has already been submitted. The parliamentary speaker has proven that the case to be invalid against him, and the people who submitted the case haven’t been answerable for it. After that, the duration of parliament was over.
After recess, even before the parliament can have a session, they’ve again resubmitted the case of no confidence. So the ones who’ve submitted it should tell the citizens, even today, what the Parliament speaker did against the laws of the [arliament while he was off duty. So even if they’ve submitted it again, they’ve done it selfishly. Not because of lack of fulfilment of any requirements for parliament or due to anything illegal happening in the Parliament chambers. If there were something illegal happening at the parliamentary chambers we would see parliamentarians taking points of order on TV. But we’ve not seen that. So we cannot believe the parliament speaker has done anything illegal. If he had done, the parliamentarians have a responsibility to bring it to the attention of parliament administration.
If they submit the case without doing that after so long, they need to have a good argument. We haven’t seen that argument. Even back then, Dhiggaru member Faris Maumoon was unable to give a good argument. And that time, it turned out there was confidence in the Speaker. And then the parliament was in recess, and right afterwards there’s the no confidence motion against. So explain to the Maldivian citizens through logic and reasoning how the parliamentary speaker has done something illegal while Majlis was in recess.
Now the no confidence motion has been submitted, and without a doubt 45 members have signed it. Even so, our hope and our aim are to protect the Speaker’s seat, and it’s not something I say with certainty but it’s our hope. We hope by the time we get to a vote at parliament, they have followed parliamentary procedures and that the Speaker is able to answer to the allegations against him. When they ask for a vote then, then we hope even the people who have defected will, under the grace of God, will know there is a problem with this vote. So in that vote, I believe that it’ll get to the point where they believe while their such and such allegations against the Speaker, the allegations are not valid ones. I don’t believe the Speaker has done anything against the law.
I believe our party is one that has made the greatest democratic efforts to have procedures and systems, and we’ve shown that we’ve tried to re-establish them again when those procedures and systems fail. I say this because our party has had a presidential primary, and we have elected people for every role, and all our procedures are carried out through the party council. And when the existing leader of the party speaks about issues related to the party without bringing it through the council in the name of our party, our party has questioned it.
And even when our previous leader, the most honourable ex-President, didn’t consult with the council, our council requested of him to act according to our procedures. Yet through all of this, we tried to solve this peacefully. This is something the citizens of Maldives need to know now. We have not spoken about this in such detail before.
But in that, because of the previous president of our party did not give us any other way, some of our party members tried to find a solution through courts. If the powers of the democracy aren’t able to hold each other accountable, then we have to go to court, as is done elsewhere in the world. It can’t be solved without going to court. When the three powers are being watchful of each other, it is always the case that one power is within the boundaries of the other power. And when that happens they don’t believe that they are doing an irresponsible thing. At that point what’re the walls that separate them? The ones to tell us where the walls are in the Maldives is the court system. The Supreme Court is the one with the final say in procedural matters.
In the issue that our party is facing today, our party members who were selected for our party ideology, by our party people, to fulfill certain progressive projects according to our party, and that this party government will bring such and such projects to the citizens, and that President Yameen’s manifesto is one that the citizens approved and have given the chance to run the state – then to put aside that manifesto and everything it talked about, the Parliament members of our party who have gone to the citizens after leaving our party without any sensible reason, is something that the citizens are expressing their concern about. If you are doing something responsibly, even if it’s Parliament or anyone else elected by the people, they have to explain why they did what they did to the people who elected them.
In all of this, we see is what the negative consequences of when things that paralyze democracy come into democracy. So even in such hard times, we get renewed hope when the Parliamentary Deputy Speaker Moosa Manik joined our party to join the democratic efforts by our party, and to bring progress to Maldives and establish democratic procedures.
And in this moment I would like to say the following to our political competitors – in all of these problems, don’t work together on the same ground with all the political leaders but our party. And even the Parliament members who have left our party today have asked me for assurances that we would not let President Nasheed win at any cost. All of the Parliament members have gotten this word one by one. That is because during his Presidency’s time, we experienced difficult times we don’t even want to believe that were against the laws.
Today, those members do not remember these words. And the leaders who are working with the opposition now were people who were impatient for a verdict for President Nasheed. They were always complaining to me about why the case was not completed, or why he didn’t get a longer sentence. They don’t remember this today.
Today none of these leaders will admit to the citizens of Maldives through any media that they didn’t want President Nasheed to get released. None of them will say that.
What we see is that our members are trying to use the media to explain to the system to the people are the people who are trying to hijack our system are people trying to hide from the law and from the courts. There are people who owe the state money amongst these people. I have not yet seen anyone on any media or TV to show how the state has done anything wrong procedurally. I would say there are people amongst them who do not like the current government having a rule-based governance. They are doing this to avoid paying the government the money that they owe, or because they want greater resources from the state, or because they want leniency from the courts, or because some of the verdicts from the courts are things they don’t want to believe.
So the opposition is working in such a manner. I am sad that there are members of our party who have left us to join them. This is not what they talked about to get elected. And each and every member has gotten the assurance from me individually to not let President Nasheed go. It saddens us that they have now gone to do the work they’re doing after speaking like that before.
But the [coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance] and [Progressive Party of Maldives] parliamentary group members are people who will continue to work on projects that will be beneficial to the Maldivian citizen.
When we headed to the 2013 Presidential elections before, Maldives was heading to a dangerous situation. We didn’t believe that the Elections Commission would hold transparent elections. A lot of procedures were missing. We said this continuously as a political party. When the Elections Commission didn’t comply, we went to Supreme Court. Then the Supreme Court gave out orders that included a lot of characteristics from the Elections Commission regulation. With the light of those orders we were able to have a transparent and fair election. Those were not orders to benefit one candidate. Those orders were there for the benefit of every party and every candidate to ensure they could contest equally. Under my presidency these orders have now been included in the elections regulation.
The case that has been submitted by the state to the judiciary regarding Parliament members leaving the platform they were elected for is because we believe only the Supreme Court can make the final decision on what happens to the Parliamentary seats when this happens. This time too, we believe that the Supreme Court will come to a verdict we will all peacefully accept without disagreeing. If all we’re going to do is chose to have political contradictions and fights with each other it will take away the mutual benefit of the public. This is not what we politicians should do. What politicians need to do is to the efforts it takes to win an election once we get to the ballot box. So if we use democracy unfairly, the only justice it can get is through the judiciary.