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Calls for tourism minister's resignation over controversial audio leaks

Fathmath Shaahunaz
17 February 2020, MVT 18:13
Tourism Minister Ali Waheed (L) shakes hands with JP leader Qasim Ibrahim during a meeting held in Germany. PHOTO/SOCIAL MEDIA
Fathmath Shaahunaz
17 February 2020, MVT 18:13

Some council members of Jumhooree Party have joined the public outcry calling for the resignation of Minister of Tourism Ali Waheed, after several audio clips were recently leaked on social media allegedly depicting Waheed making derogatory remarks about certain Cabinet ministers.

According to local media, some members were calling for the tourism minister, who is also the president of JP, to step down in a heated thread on JP Council's online group chat. The members denounced Waheed for "deplorable behaviour", with one urging party leader Qasim Ibrahim to expel Waheed and for the council to convene regarding the issue.

JP's Vice President and former transport minister, Ameen Ibrahim, called for a swift investigation into the audio clips. Noting that the derogatory remarks violated the policies and principles of JP, he said that it would be saddening should the clips prove to be legitimate.

"I believe that the party must take action on this", he said.

The audio clips, the first of which were leaked on Saturday night, depict Waheed, allegedly, in a conversation with an individual believed to be State Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment Assad Ali (Adubarey), who is a close friend of the tourism minister.

In the audio clips, "Waheed" makes highly disparaging statements, using obscene language, about fellow Cabinet members, Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation Aishath Nahula, Minister of Education Dr Aishath Ali, and Minister of Health Abdulla Ameen. One of the clips also feature a conversation between Waheed and Assad on corruption.

In the leaked audios, the brunt of his tirade fell on Health Minister Ameen, who along with Waheed was appointed as a minister from JP's slots in the governing coalition. Waheed slammed Ameen for trying to "take credit" by pulling off "media stunts" amidst the government's move to take preventive measures against the Coronavirus outbreak. He implied that he was the one who fulfilled the health minister's mandate.

His comments regarding Transport Minister Aishath Nahula, who is spouse to JP leader Qasim Ibrahim, drew the most scrutiny and criticism. One of the audio clips feature a phone call made to Nahula, with Waheed saying he called because he "missed" her. The transport minister responds with "From which direction did the sun rise today?", after which Waheed converses in an unseemly manner. At the end of the call, he proceeds to make derogatory statements about her.

Amidst the outcry that ensued following the leaks, the tourism minister took to Twitter twice defending himself. In his first Tweet, he stated that the audio clips were not legitimate, and that they were posted to defame him. Although Assad Ali also came to his defence, his Tweet saying that the clips were leaked over the upcoming Football Association of Maldives (FAM) elections revealed that the conversations between Waheed and Assad did take place.

Tourism Minister Waheed posted a second Tweet on Monday, claiming that the audios were modified falsifications. He called on the authorities to investigate him, maintaining that the truth would be revealed then.

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