Maldives Prez adds more Gayoom loyalists to cabinet



Male: Maldivian President Mohamed Waheed on Monday picked up two more Gayoom-era officials to fill up the crucial cabinet berths of Foreign Affairs and Finance, even as the all-party talks to reconcile political differences and set out a future roadmap lay in shambles.

Waheed appointed Abdul Samad Abdulla, Maldives' envoy to Bangladesh during Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's time as the new Foreign Minister, and gave the finance portfolio to Abdulla Jihad, who earlier held the ministry as well as the position of the Central Bank governor during Gayoom's regime in 2008.

With the new appointments, former loyalists of the Gayoom regime now dominate Waheed's cabinet that also has the former dictator's daughter, Dhunya Maumoon as a State Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Waheed had earlier appointed former Justice Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, as the Home Minister, and Mohamed Nazim, a former military officer under Gayoom, as his Minister of Defence and National Security.

He also chose Gayoom's spokesperson, Mohamed Hussain Shareef as his Minister for Human Resources, Youth and Sports and made Gayoom's lawyer, Azima Shakoor, as the Attorney General.

The appointments came at time when differences are widening between the government supporters and those of ousted president Mohamed Nasheed, with the all party talks to take forward an India-brokered deal lying suspended.

At the moment, major parties who are part of the talks have withdrawn their representatives after the Maldivian Democratic Party's lawmakers disrupted parliament and prevented the president from deliver his address last week.

With the coordinator of the talks leaving the country on a private trip, the talks have been temporarily suspended, the Secretariat announced yesterday.

MDP leaders meanwhile are threatening the government that they will paralyse its functioning unless the government gives a date for the presidential elections.

Under an India-brokered deal, the Waheed government had agreed to hold an early election in line with Nasheed's demand.

Nasheed told his supporters today that he would not allow the Majlis to function until a date for the presidential elections is finalised.

During the early hours of the day today, some MDP supporters tried to enter a high security zone, trying to make their way to official residence of President Waheed.

Incidents of arson and protest are still being reported in the capital Male.

On Saturday night, some people tried to set ablaze two different police sub posts.

A marathon protest by MDP workers is continuing from the 17th of last month at the Tsunami monument, where MDP leaders address the protesters every night, repeating their demands for an early election and resignation of the president.

Leader of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, said he hoped the Speaker of Majlis will convene a session for so that the President can deliver his presidential address, if if it means using security measures.

Meanwhile, the Maldives' Police promoted its Assistant Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed to the post of Deputy Commissioner while the Maldives National Defense Force promoted Brigadier General Ahmed Mohamed, to the rank of Vice Chief of Staff.

The DCP rank at Maldives Police Service was vacant after the events of February 7 when Nasheed was ousted and the former Vice Chief of Staff of MNDF had retired last week.

PTI