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Maldives opposition seeks probe against First Lady over date, Hajj quota 'theft'

Mohamed Visham
20 June 2016, MVT 14:37
First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim shakes hands with party supporters gathered near the jetty as she arrived from an official trip to Malaysia with her husband. MIHAARU FILE PHOTO/MOHAMED SHARUHAAN
Mohamed Visham
20 June 2016, MVT 14:37

Main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has asked the anti-graft watchdog to look into allegations against the First Lady for allegedly taking 50 Hajj pilgrimage quota and 10 tonnes of dates gifted by the Saudi government.

MDP in a statement said a case has been filed with the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) to look into allegations that the First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim had asked the Islamic Ministry for 50 quota out of the 1,000 given by the Saudi government to the Maldives this year.

The ACC has also been asked to investigate the allegations that she had diverted 10 tonnes of dates gifted by the Saudi government to her NGO, MDP said.

The attempt to launch a graft probe against the first lady comes after MDP had expressed outrage over Saudi Arabia’s statement defending the First Lady distributing the dates gifted by the Saudi government in her own name.

The Saudi embassy had said it was “saddened” to see the controversy over the dates, and said it was “proud” to see the dates being distributed by Fathimath Ibrahim’s NGO, the Sadagat Foundation.

The kingdom donates around 50 tonnes of dates to the people of the Maldives every Ramadan.

MDP had insisted that the actions of the First Lady are an affront to the years of generosity by Saudi Arabia and expressed disappointment that Saudi Embassy would defend the First Lady’s “corrupt actions.”

“This reeks of misuse of power and privilege. Saudi Government should be outraged rather than trying to cover up these shameful actions. Corruption, whether it is siphoning of state funds for personal use, money laundering, or seemingly as petty as stealing dates, should not be condoned,” said MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor.

The statement also warned that such actions could taint the high regard the Maldivian people have always had for the Saudi Kingdom.

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