When President Nasheed won the presidential election in 2008 one of my great expectations from him was to eliminate the high level of corruption in the Maldives. His campaign slogans targeting the rampant nepotism and cronyism in the country engendered by three decades of authoritarian rule gave hope to thousands of people and many thought a new Maldives was on the horizon.
Unfortunately, we were badly fooled. According to Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, in 2007 the Maldives ranked 84th in the world, but by 2011 we ranked just 134th, below Thailand and Colombia. It appears that the new government has not learned any lessons from the past and their actions have failed to meet their promises. Nepotism (favouritism shown on the basis of family relations) and cronyism (favouritism shown on the basis of close friendship) are widespread in the top tier of the government.
In 2009, Raajje News Blog produced a list of the links between various Government officials and others in positions of power, highlighting the huge levels of nepotism and cronyism within the top tiers of the Maldives Government. I have updated and revised this list, below, and intend to disseminate it as widely as possible to highlight how widespread corruption in the Maldives is, and the level of indignity with which our politicians continue to practice corruption:
1. Mohamed Aslam, the current Minister of Housing and Environment, is married to Aishath Rameeza, who is the daughter of President Nasheed’s second cousin (Naseema).
2. Ahmed Assad, the younger brother of Mohamed Aslam (the current Housing and Environment Minister), was appointed as Minister for Finance and Treasury and was later appointed as the Financial Controller. Assad resigned from this role in November 2011.
3. Minister of Health and Family, Dr. Aminath Jameel, is married to Sikka Mohamed Ismail Maniku (Kuda Sikka), whose elder brother, Sikka Ahmed Ismail Maniku (Bodu Sikka), is married to President Nasheed’s aunt.
4. President Nasheed’s close friend, DIK Ali Hashim, was appointed as the Finance Minister, but resigned following the ‘en mass cabinet resignation’ in June 2010. His reappointment was rejected by Parliament.
5. Former Finance Minister DIK Ali Hashim’s business partner, Mahmood Razee, is the current Minister of Economic Development.
6. President Nasheed’s father is second cousin to ‘Kerafa’ Ahmed Naseem, the current Minister of Foreign Affairs.
7. President Nasheed’s classmate and close friend Dr. Hussain Rasheed Hassan is the current Minister of State for Fisheries and Agriculture.
8. President Nasheed’s classmate and close friend, Uz Abdulla Muizzu, is the current Attorney General. Muizzu is also a member of the Judicial Service Commission of the Maldives.
9. President Nasheed’s classmate and close friend, Husnu Suood, was appointed as an Attorney General in June 2009 (resigned in August 2010) and was also the presidential nominee for Chief Justice in 2010. Suood is also a long time business partner of current Attorney General Abdulla Muizzu.
10. Husnu Suood’s brother-in-law is the Minister of Islamic Affairs Dr. Abdul Majeed Abdul Bari.
11. President Nasheed’s nominee for the vacant position of Speaker of Parliament in 2009 was his cousin Fazna Ahmed’s husband, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih. Solih is the MDP MP for Lhaviyani Hinnavaru and is considered a close friend and classmate of President Nasheed. Fazna’s father is Bodu Sikka (see point 3).
12. Niyaz Solih, Deputy State Minister for Medhu Uthuru Province, is the younger brother of MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s (see point 11).
13. Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s (see points 11 and 12) election campaign manager, Mohamed Mahir, is Counsellor for Lhaviyani Atoll.
14. President Nasheed’s cousin, Eva Abdulla (his aunt Zuheyra’s daughter), is MDP MP for Galolhu constituency.
15. MPD MP Eva Abdulla’s husband, Ahmed ‘Saabe’ Shahid, was the interim Deputy Chair of the Elections Commission until March 2009. Saabe and Mohamed Aslam (see point 1) are business partners. Saabe is also a senior member of MDP and, as of November 2011, is facing corruption charges from ACC.
16. President Nasheed’s uncle by marriage, Dheyliage Abdulla Mohamed (and MP Eva Abdulla’s father), is the older brother of Rugiyya Mohamed, who is MDP MP for Vaavu Atoll. Dheyliage Abdulla Mohamed is also MDP MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s cousin.
17. MDP MP Rugiyya Mohamed’s husband, Thoyyib Mohamed Waheed, is Minister of State for Tourism, Arts and Culture. Thoyyib grew up in President Nasheed’s aunt’s household, Dheeframaage.
18. Dheyliage Abdulla Mohamed’s (see point 16) second wife’s brother, Maizan Adam Maniku, was former State Minister for Housing, Infrastructure and Transport.
19. President Nasheed’s class mate and close friend, Ali Shiyam, is the Economic Advisor to the President.
20. Ali Shiyam’s brother, Ahmed Hamza, was President Nasheed’s nominee for Deputy Speaker of Parliament.
21. Ali Shiyam’s brother, Jihad, was MDP candidate for Faafu Nilandhoo constituency.
22. Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, the former Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is the former brother-in-law of former MDP chairperson and prominent leader of ruling MDP, Mariya Ahmed Didi. Dr. Ahmed Shaheed was formerly married to Ashiya Ahmed Didi.
23. MDP MP Mariya Ahmed Didi’s sister, Haula Ahmed Didi, is the Deputy Foreign Minister.
24. MDP MP Mariya Ahmed Didi’s sister, Rugiyya Ahmed Didi, is the Deputy Under Secretary at the President’s Office.
25. Rugiyya Ahmed Didi’s ex-husband, Umaru Jamaal, is the Minister of State for Upper South Province. Umar Jamaal was convicted for his involvement in the November 1988 coup.
26. MDP Mariya Ahmed Didi’s brother-in-law, Ahmed Latheef (married to Fazeena Ahmed Didi), is the Maldivian Ambassador to China.
27. MDP MP Mariya Ahmed Didi’s nephew (Ahmed Latheef’s and Fazeena’s son) Mifzal Ahmed, is Advisor on Investments for the Ministry of Economic Development. Mifzal is the Managing Director of Mega Maldives Pvt. Ltd. – the international airline of the Maldives opened in 2010, with many routes between China and Maldives. Note: Mifzal’s father is the Maldivian Ambassador in China.
28. MDP MP Mariya Ahmed Didi’s sister Fazeena’s brother-in-law, Hassan Latheef, is the Minster of Human Resources, Youth & Sports.
29. MDP MP Mariya Ahmed Didi’s sister-in-law, Dr. Farahanaaz Faizal, is the Maldivian High Commissioner to the UK.
30. Dr. Farahanaaz Faizal’s brother, Ameen Faisal, is the former Defence Minister (resigned in the ‘en mass cabinet resignation’ in June 2010 and his reappointment was rejected by the Parliament). He is currently the National Security Advisor to the President and has been nominated by the President for the post of Ambassador to India.
31. Dr. Farahanaaz Faizal’s sister, Aishath Shuwaikar, is the Deputy Under Secretary of the President’s Office.
32. Aishath Shuwaikar’s husband, Ahmed Rasheed, is the Chief of Protocol.
I am sure some of these people are qualified for their jobs but the level of power shared amongst a few elite groups is undeniably shameful and disgusting, especially given the fact they their claim to power was on the promise of eradicating corruption within our country. One can argue that this level of connection could be because the Maldives is a small community and ‘everyone is related to everyone else’, but as a Maldivian I can tell you that the familial power sharing I witness today in the Maldives is of a different scale to any ‘family-ties’ that operates amongst ordinary Maldivians, yet we do nothing about it. Power is passed amongst these traditional power blocs as if it is a family heirloom!
Count how many of these people own resorts or have shares in resorts. Remember how many of these people held positions of power in the previous regime. Think how many of these people have won bids for businesses, land or resorts. Many of these very same people ate from Maumoon’s plate not so long ago and reaped all the benefits during his regime (E.g. Mariyam Ahmed Didi and Dr. Shaheed). They have all switched to President Nasheed’s club for the time being, and when the time comes I predict they will switch back to the next popular regime. We can already see this happening because many politicians are already switching back to DRP or PPM for the 2013 elections! The very people that President Nasheed has surrounded himself with will be the downfall of what could have been a truly remarkable presidency.
I don’t have any affiliation with this regime or the former. Entire generations of ordinary Maldivians are the victims of these power-hungry, money-grabbing, opportunistic politicians who have amassed the nation’s wealth for personal gain over countless generations! Let us hope that in the next elections and in the next government there will be more transparency, fairness and less corruption.
Ps: If some of the information on the list are outdated or inaccurate please feel free to correct me!