Maldives names finance minister as new VP in major cabinet shuffle

Finance minister Abdulla Jihad (R) gestures during a press conference. Jihad has been appointed as the new VP by president Yameen. PHOTO/PRESIDENT'S OFFICE

Finance minister Abdulla Jihad (R) gestures during a press conference. Jihad has been appointed as the new VP by president Yameen. PHOTO/PRESIDENT’S OFFICE

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom on Wednesday named his finance minister Abdulla Jihad as the new vice president which has prompted a major cabinet reshuffle.

Jihad becomes the third vice president in three years after his two predecessors had been impeached after falling out with the president.

Yameen’s first vice president Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed had fled to the UK last July days before he was impeached in a controversial vote which was alleged to have been orchestrated by his eventual successor Ahmed Adheeb Abdul Ghafoor who himself was impeached following a blast aboard the presidential speedboat.

He has now been convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison for orchestrating the blast, now confirmed as a plot to kill the president.

The vice president’s post has been vacant since October last year after Adheeb was arrested in connection to the blast.

The reshuffle was prompted after the sudden resignation of home minister Umar Naseer on Tuesday.

Sports minister Ahmed Zuhoor has been named as the new home minister while the health minister Iruthisham Adam has been as the sports minister.

The new appointments to the cabinet include Ahmed Munavvar as the finance minister, Zenysha Zaki as the gender minister and Abdulla Nazim Ibrahim takes the health portfolio.

Munavvar had been the state finance minister while Nazim was the deputy education minister prior to the shakeup.

The home minister is yet to specify a reason behind his sudden decision to step down but Umar influence within the government has been on the decline after his crackdown on gangs.

President Yameen on Sunday had relieved Umar of the authority to issue monitoring and control (MONICON) orders to appoint a four member committee to handle the task.

However, the controversial anti terrorism law only affords the authority to issue MONICON orders to the home minister. But the newly formed committee mandated to “advise” the home minister on MONICON orders has effectively relieved the minister as the sole authority for such orders.

Maldives has electronically tagged, conducted surveillance and intercepted communications of several high-profile gang members which has put pressure on Umar from even within the government.

Opposition parties have continued to accuse president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom for having links to gangs.

The decision to relieve Umar of MONICON authority also came after a spate of gang related stabbings that left two fourteen year olds dead.

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