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President Solih sacks Maldives' Tourism Minister Ali Waheed

Fathmath Shaahunaz
09 July 2020, MVT 11:43
Ali Waheed was sacked as Maldives' Minister of Tourism on July 9, 2020. FILE PHOTO/NEOC
Fathmath Shaahunaz
09 July 2020, MVT 11:43

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih dismissed Ali Waheed from his post as Minister of Tourism on Thursday.

Waheed's termination was confirmed in a tweet by the Chief Communications Strategist at the President's Office, Ibrahim Hood.

Hood noted that the minister was dismissed after he failed to turn in his resignation as per the president's order late Wednesday.

With this development, Minister of Economic Development Fayyaz Ismail has been appointed as acting tourism minister on a provisional basis.

According to Hood, President Solih had ordered Waheed to resign over incidents of misconduct within the tourism ministry, which were reported by ministry staff to the president and the Ministry of Gender, Family and Social Services.

Later the same night, the police revealed that they received complaints of sexual assault against female employees of the tourism ministry, and that they were investigating the case.

When asked for official comment, the gender ministry only referred to Hood's statement but stated that they were also looking into the issue.

Although neither the President's Office nor the gender ministry have confirmed the exact nature of the tourism ministry staff's complaints, local media reports that Waheed was terminated in connection with the alleged sexual assault and harassment.

This would make Waheed the first minister to be terminated over allegations of sexual assault in Maldives' history.

In response to the president's order to resign on Wednesday night, Waheed posted a tweet saying that "time will tell the truth" and the "truth will always prevail".

He added that he was proud to have served the Maldivian people and nation "with honesty and energy".

Waheed is also the president of ruling coalition member, Jumhooree Party. Following the tourism ministry accusations, an emergency motion was filed at JP's council on Wednesday morning to impeach Waheed as party president.

Waheed ventured into the field of politics as a member of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) during the twilight years of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's presidency. After the latter lost the 2008 Presidential Elections to Mohamed Nasheed from Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), Waheed ran for parliament and was elected to represent Thoddoo constituency, becoming the youngest lawmaker to sit on the first parliament elected under the new Constitution of Maldives.

Amid the political rivalry between then-opposition DRP and the ruling MDP, Waheed switched allegiance to the latter and rose up the ranks to become MDP's chairperson. However, following his arrest during the major MDP rally on May 1, 2015, against then-President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Waheed fled to the United Kingdom where he resided in self-exile.

During his stay in the UK, Waheed also relinquished his post as MDP chairperson and resigned from the party.

Later, he signed onto join JP and returned to Maldives after incumbent President Solih won the 2018 Presidential Elections.

He was appointed as tourism minister of the current administration on a JP slot.

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