Condemnation of government attempts to intimidate MPs from political dissent through threats of coercing sections of judiciary to endorse confiscation of property

London, 4th November 2016 – The Maldives United Opposition condemns in the strongest terms the government’s concerted and continuing attempts to intimidate MPs from political dissent through threats of coercing sections of the judiciary to endorse confiscation of property and inflicting unlawful financial losses.

A court appeal to bolster the government‘s summary seizure of properties of Villa Group headed by Hon. Gasim Ibrahim MP was announced hours after the MP had publicly pledged his solidarity with the reform agenda of PPM Leader former President Uz. Maaumoon Abdul Gayoom, uniting dissenting MPs in his party.  

The government’s unlawful intentions against Hon. Gasim Ibrahim MP were made apparent earlier in February 2016 when an indication of a Jumhooree Party (JP, led by Hon. Gasim) alliance with the Maldivian Democratic Party led the government to unlawfully terminate the lease agreements of two lagoons and three islands leased to the Villa Group.

Subsequently in May, the government influenced the central bank to freeze the bank accounts of Hon Gasim’s Villa Shipping and Trading and subsidiary companies over US$90.4 million allegedly owed as unpaid rent and fines for the properties. It is ominous that the bank accounts were released only after the JP backed the government in several crucial votes in parliament and agreed upon a two-year payment plan.

The government’s unlawful actions had brought the Villa Group to the brink of bankruptcy. Hon Gasim was compelled to announce “retirement” from politics once his term as MP for Maamigili ends in 2019 and back a government proposed constitutional amendment that disqualifies him (and Maldivians over the age of 65) from contesting in the 2018 presidential election.

On 2nd November 2016, the Jumhooree Party announced plans to contest local council elections while endorsing PPM Leader former President Uz.Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and dissenting MPs of the ruling party, making apparent Hon. Gasim’s determination and resilience to return to active politics.

The Maldives United Opposition condemns the brash and politically motivated actions of the government to intimidate MPs from dissent and partaking in politics.

The MUO shall work together with all MPs and parties who prioritize the interests of the Maldivian people and urge the Maldivian people to gain strength from each other to stand in solidarity with the MUOs efforts to establish an interim administration; to regain Constitutionalism, reform the Judiciary by abolishing unlawful amendments to laws and adherence to relevant Articles stipulated in the Constitution; and to ensure transparent, credible, inclusive free and fair elections in 2018.