Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Maldives to launch probe into alleged cash for votes scandal

Amid the opposition's demand for President Mohamed Nasheed's resignation, Maldivian authorities on Monday said a probe will be ordered into charges by local media about some MPs bribing colleagues in Parliament to vote down government bills like those on privatisation.

"It looks like the concerned opposition MPs have a lot of explaining to do. People in Maldives are outraged at what they see as a cash for votes racket operating in the Majlis, (Parliament) in which some opposition MPs are trying to bribe other MPs to support anti-government legislation," a top official in the Maldives President's office said.

Last night, Maldivian electronic media aired three secret telephone recordings that implicated MPs in corruption and bribery, the official said, adding that an investigation would be launched into the matter.

The audio purportedly suggested one MP telling the other that one of their colleagues was taken to a resort "to do a 1 million deal for support on these matters."

In the second recording, another Majlis Member is heard allegedly suggesting an MP "to send someone to his office to pick up the cash".

In the third recording, an MP supposedly explains to a parliamentarian that they are working to "submit a no-confidence motion to the Majlis for a decision regarding the Minister for Finance Ali Hashim and the Minister for Civil Aviation Mahmood Razee who is responsible for the privatisation."

Another MP says "until all these things are done, to cease all work on the tax bills submitted by the government to the Majlis."

On Thursday, Maldives opposition leaders demanded President Mohamed Nasheed's resignation and new elections in a deepening power struggle between the executive and Parliament.

The government in the Indian Ocean archipelago has been stuck in a stalemate since the 13-member Cabinet resigned last Tuesday, accusing the opposition-controlled Parliament of blocking every legislative initiative.

"The only solution is for President Nasheed to resign and go for fresh elections to see how popular his government is," said Umar Naseer, deputy leader of the main opposition Dhivehi Raithunge Party.

A government official rejected the opposition demand, saying Nasheed planned to serve his five-year term.

Nasheed assumed power in the country's first democratic elections two years ago after defeating Maumoon Abdul Gayoom who served as the Maldivian President from 1978 to 2008.

Police arrested two prominent opposition leaders last Tuesday on corruption allegations.

Source: zeenews.com

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