President’s Office (PO), on Sunday, announced the appointment of its previous Undersecretary Mabrook Azeez to the position of PO Spokesperson.
Since President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih first took office on November 17, 2018, the responsibilities of Spokesperson was handled by PO’s Chief Communication Strategist Ibrahim Hood, in addition to other work required by his position.
As his last task as Spokesperson, Hood tweeted that a reshuffle had resulted in Mabrook being hired for the position as of January 1. He also added as the Chief Communication Strategist, Hood would henceforth focus primarily on PO’s communications.
Even prior to the structural change, Mabrook had filled the role of spokesperson for the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC); established to oversee and manage Maldives’ COVID-19 response shortly after the virus was detected in the country.
Mabrook was present in almost all of NEOC's daily press conferences, where he delivered statistics, provided updates and continually reminded the public to exercise all precautions necessary to curb the spread of the virus.
Mabrook, who completed his graduate studies in the field of political science and public speaking, also contested for Vaavu Atoll’s Felidhoo constituency in the last parliamentary elections on ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s ticket, but narrowly lost the seat.
This new appointment comes at a time when the public has repeatedly called on the state to cut down the amount of political appointees with hefty salaries, due to the large amounts of funds allocated for them in the state’s expenditures, which many argue can be used to address more pressing concerns.
Further, despite the urging of relevant local and international entities, the President is yet to take any action to adequately reprimand PO Director of Communications Ismail Hassan, who stands accused of bribing and sexually harassing the editor of a local newspaper,.
Although the government had immediately sacked other high profile individuals, including former Minister of Tourism Ali Waheed, over similar allegations, touting its “zero-tolerance policy” for rape and sexual assault, Ismail Hassan continues to serve under the President with zero blowback incurred for the accusations levelled against him and without protections to other vulnerable colleagues.