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#Maldives: Unity Cabinet sworn in, but continued silence on coup investigation

Male', Maldives.
President Mohamed Waheed swore in a new cabinet today but maintained his silence on investigating the alleged coup which brought him into power on Tuesday. The new cabinet comprises of members of various parties, but none from his own party. Nasheed's MDP is totally absent. The largest share (4 ministerial posts) was taken by ex-President Gayoom's Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), lending weight to allegations that the coup was organized by Dr. Waheed in collaboration with Gayoom, and led by Gayoom loyalists. Dhivehi Raiyyithunge Party (DRP) and Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) took two cabinet posts each, while Jumhooree Party took one. Five posts (Finance, Foreign, Housing, Fisheries and Islamic Ministries) remain to be filled.

ex-President Gayoom took the key portfolios of Attorney General, Defense, Tourism and Youth Ministries. Dr. Hassan Saeed walked off with the Home Ministry and Health Ministry. Ahmed Thasmeen Ali took Education and Economic Ministry, while Gasim Ibrahim took Transport Ministry.

However, analysts say that the reality behind the PPM's 4 seats on the Cabinet is an equal division between Gayoom and his half brother Yameen. Yameen loyalists took the AG and Tourism posts, while Gayoom loyalists took Youth and Defense.

Attorney General Azima Shakoor, a respected lawyer with a number of legal victories during Nasheed's short regime, is Yaameen's lawyer, and was his appointee in the last Gayoom cabinet. Ms. Shakoor, previously of the DRP, shifted her support to Ahamed Thasmeen when Gayoom departed as leader, and later followed Yameen into the DRP breakaway faction, PPM.

Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Ghafoor, new Tourism Minister, is a Yaameen stalwart from the People's Alliance, and used to head the Chamber of Commerce until his appointment as Minister. Hailing from a strong economic background, he is credited with the economic policy support to the opposition coalition.

Youth Minister Mohamed Hussain Shareef (Mundhu, as he is popularly known), has lived all political life as Gayoom's spokesperson in one capacity or another. He is a well read and articulate young leader who has represented Gayoom at the forefront of the PPM Deputy Interim Leader Umar Naseer's activist movement from the beginning.

Defense Minister Colonel Mohamed Nazim is the main subject of ex-President Nasheed allegations of a Gayoom coup that ousted him from power on February 7th. Video evidence shows Nazim emerging from the MNDF headquarters that day, and informing by loudspeaker the police protestors that he had demanded President Nasheed's resignation on their behalf. Nazim was later seen leading the MNDF escort that took President Nasheed from MNDF HQ to the President's Office to give his resignation address to the nation.

In Gayoom's time, Colonel Nazim headed Gayoom's Military Intelligence Unit. He also led an MNDF crack-unit raid on the infamous MDP meeting place 'MDP Haruge' on Gayoom's orders in 2008. In the operation, the MNDF uncovered iron bars and wooden clubs alleged for use in MDP attacks on riot police and vandalizing operations in Male'. Nazim was 'fired' from an illustrious career in the MNDF by ex President Nasheed. Nazim contested his discharge from service in court and won a settlement of reinstatement and honorary discharge together with compensation payment.

Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, now being labelled an Islamic fundamentalist by foreign press, is top legal expert who leapt to public prominence in 2008 when he exited Gayoom's Government with fanfare behind his friend and partner, Dr. Hassan Saeed. Dr. Jameel, together with Dr. Saeed, was perhaps the most vocal critic of Gayoom in the Dr. Saeed's bid for the presidency in 2008, alleging corruption, nepotism, cronyism and judicial interference by Gayoom and his family. Jameel had been Gayoom's Justice Minister, while Dr. Saeed had been the Attorney General.

Dr. Jameel, Deputy leader of DQP, has spearheaded many legal cases against the Nasheed government in the past three years, and was under police investigation at the time of Nasheed's departure, for unsubstantiated allegations of anti-Islamism against Nasheed.

Health Minister Dr. Ahmed Jamsheed, a widely respected physician and health policy maker, is affiliated with Dr. Saeed's DQP, but has no political history to speak of. However, his professional and administrative credentials cannot be disputed. Dr. Jamsheed's only "opposition" credentials are his exit from the Government and a vocal criticism of Nasheed's health policies in local media and social networks. At the time of his appointment as Health Minister, he was COO of ADK Hospital, the largest private hospital in the country.

Economic Development Minister Ahamed Mohamed is a Thasmeen Ali stalwart appointed as DRP Deputy Leader by Thasmeen Ali after the departure of Umar Naseer. A respected economist who was fired from the post of CEO of State Trading Organization by Nasheed, Ahamed Mohamed was MD of one of Thasmeen Ali's companies prior to his appointment as Minister.

Education Minister Asim Ahmed, a DRP appointee, is brother in law to DRP Leader Ahamed Thasmeen Ali's wife, Visam Ali. He is married to Visam Ali's elder sister Sheeza Ali. Also coming from an economist and social affairs background, Asim Ahmed has credible experience in the social policy development.

Transport and Communications Minister Dr. Ahmed Shamheed comes from the Jumhooree Party, and has little experience in public policy and administration.

The public wait to see which parties will take the remaining five cabinet posts and that of the Vice President. Unconfirmed rumours abound that Gasim Ibrahim, leader of Jumhooree Party, will be the new VP. However, in order to do so, he would have to resign as a member of parliament, an unlikely move at a time that the opposition coalition requires as many votes as possible within parliament. The second nominee being speculated about is Gayoom's eldest daughter, Dunya Maumoon, presently a member of the PPM's Media Council.

However, more critical to the public than the rest of the cabinet, is when and how President Waheed will address the issue of an independent investigation into Nasheed's allegations of a military coup to oust him.

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