Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The return of Mr Go Go Latheef

Mr Mohamed Latheef, or Go Go Latheef as he is known, has returned from Colombo after a three-year exile. Latheef, one of the founders of the Maldivian Democractic Party (MDP), went into a self-imposed exile shortly after Eavan Naseem’s murder in 2003. Along with Mohamed Nasheed (Anni), Ahmed Mausoom, Ahmed Naseer and Ahmed Shafeeq (Sappe), Go Go was instrumental in exposing the brutal nature of the current regime to the rest of the world.

Latheef was welcomed both by people in Male’ and his native island of Thinadhoo where an important meeting of MDP was held recently coinciding with the visit of British conservative party politician Gary Streeter.

Latheef’s return is an important milestone. He has given an exclusive interview to Haveeru on 24 January, in which he talked of divisions within MDP and said he is working to bring the factions together. Latheef said solving all matters ‘on the street’ will result in MDP being perceived as immature and added that all energies must now be pooled for winning the presidential election of 2008. In the interview Latheef heavily criticized the way MDP is working at the moment.

Latheef, who had earlier said he was not pursuing a political post, made a rather surprising announcement that he intends to run for party presidency in the next Congress of MDP. He also announced that he has interests to run for a seat in the parliament. Latheef was an MP earlier after he was elected in 1989 for the Gaafu Dhaalu constituency.

Latheef’s previous associations with Gayoom have created some controversy in the past. We are posting some posts from the New Maldives group at Yahoo Groups in this blog because Mr Latheef is a significant player in Maldivian politics, and we want you readers to analyze the political scene with an open mind. It is up to you to make opinions and judgments.

Some of you may think that New Maldives group at Yahoo Groups has got some affiliation to the New Maldives Caucus within DRP. You are wrong in thinking like that. Long before a New Maldives caucus was established, Mr Ahmed Shafeeq (Sappe) created the New Maldives group in Yahoo Groups as a discussion forum for Maldivian politics. Sappe had fled the country after the now famous BBC interview, and Dhivehi Observer was not established yet. It was late 2003 and New Maldives had the visions of Maldivians who wanted a new country to be born from the struggles they had begun. Dr Ahmed Shaheed (current foreign minister) could have borrowed the name New Maldives from this discussion forum.

The first criticism against Mr Go Go Latheef came from naughtydude2020 who posted the following in the New Maldives group.

Things you should know about Gogo Latheef


the fact that Munavvar and Zaki is trying to get the leadership of Maldives Democratic Party is cause for concern... MDP's credibility is at stake... I mean, it was only last November that Gayoom unceremoniously dumped Munavvar and Zaki, and suddenly overnight, they seem to have embraced democratic ideals...i personally know these two personalities, and believe me, they cannot take any criticism against them, and their corruption is rampant...i will shortly post a message here with things you all should know about Zaki's and Munavvar's corruptions... please help keep MDP a clean not vote for Zaki and Munavvar...and also you should question about Aminath Najeeb..only late last year I saw her asslicking Maumoon and Nasreena at Shaheena Ali's photographic exhibition at UN building in Male'...the Aminath Najeeb I know is an
opportunist who switches sides, according to the prevailing Aminath Najeeb, Munavvar and Zaki is also trying to come to Maldives' leadership knowing that Maumoon is already a goner..lets not give these corrupt future dictators any place in the future of Maldives.....meantime, below here, i am posting an article a friend of mine did after researching into Gogo Latheef's background... i think what Maldives really needs is clean personalities and parties to lead it..


Things you should know about Gogo Latheef

As the opposition-in-exile Maldives Democratic Party finds its way into regional newspapers and websites critical of the government of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom,
people are voicing legitimate concerns about its links to the present regime, particularly its spokesperson Mohamed Latheef's erstwhile relationship with the dictator.

When Latheef makes remarks like "Gayoom is essentially a good man corrupted", you wonder if the irony is intended. It's well-known that one of Gayoom's first acts of corruption in power was to dispossess former president Ibrahim Nasir's father-in-law of the tourist resort island of Rannaalhi and dump it onto the eager hands of Latheef. This was the president's way of saying thank you to the man who, together with buddy Husni, concocted 'evidence' to implicate former Nasir of swindling the national treasury when he fled the country. Nasir, residing in Singapore, threaghtened legal action, and the government was forced to stop the then fashionable custom of publicly name-calling the former president. Latheef is also said to have testified against Nasir's in-law Naseem for criticising the government, which resulted in years of torture and suffering for Naseem and his family.

There is substantial evidence of Latheef's knowledge of and participation in the early corruption of Gayoom and, indeed, having benefited from it. But Gayoom eventually outgrew Latheef, and moved on to other more profitable vice with closer classmates and in-laws. It is difficult not to surmise that this was the reason for Latheef's dissatisfaction with the system, and not any genuine concern about Gayoom's corruption or human rights record.

Latheef has since told heart-wrenching tales of the death of his father in Nasir's prisons, conferring martyr status on him. In fact, he was not murdered in prison, but died while serving a sentence for involvement in the Huvadu separatist movement. If he was a victim of police brutality, and the miscarriage of justice, that is lamentable and those responsible should have been brought to justice. But it does seem odd that Gayoom, Latheef's friend at the time, did nothing to bring the perpetrators to justice, especially as they were not linked to him. But it should not be forgotten that Latheef's father himself terrorised people who did not join in the movement; indeed there are allegations that he may even have killed people who refused to enlist.

But this historical background may not be directly relevant to the issues at stake today.

What people really want to know is: What does Latheef have to say about being a beneficiary and partner of Gayoom's early corruption? Did he fabricate evidence
against opponents of the regime? And, more importantly, if someone formed an opposition and lured in Fathulla Jameel, Abdulla Hameed, Anbaree Abdul
Sattar and, for good measure, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom himself, will people seriously believe that they want to change the system?

After three decades of Gayoom, Maldivians deserve something other than a cocktail Gayoom's slimy ex-buddies and ex-ministers.

Let's face it, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom is history---there's no way a cheap carnival can make people forget images of the maimed body of Hassan Eevan Naseem, and what has surfaced about the way Gayoom's police work.

The least the aging dictator can do before he embraces obscurity in some foreign location is to immediately open up press freedom, allow open campaigning, and legalise public debates.

Maldivians need to be able to make informed choices, in order to truly get rid of not only the awful Gayoom, but also the equally unpleasant sediments he is threaghtening to leave.

Soon after this post was published soodoanim2000 posted a few thoughts about Mr Latheef.

Re: Things you should know about Gogo Latheef

mr latheef would do well to come out NOW and address the concerns people have regarding his alleged partnership in the early corruptions and human rights abuses of maumoon abdul gayoom's presidency.

to dismiss them as rumours with promises of fair judicial inquiries at a latter date will not work, since the reason they are being expressed NOW is that people want to know BEFORE they start supporting MDP.

another point that seems to be getting lost here is the fact that these concerns are about mr latheef's ACTIVE PARTICIPATION in the corruption and human rights violations of the gayoom regime, the very things that he is now criticising.

unless mr latheef comes clean on this, he is a hypocrite.

the fact is many people remember mr latheef's former association with gayoom and, i repeat, his participation in fostering the corrupt system that he now wants to replace.

Freemaldives2003 defended Mr Latheef in a post that followed.

Gayoom's "early corruption" and Nostradamus

It is good that participants are airing doubts and misgivings even about the founders of MDP and its would-be leaders. It is an example of the freedom of speech that we aspire for. Let us keep up this healthy trend, while exercising self restraint so that we don't harm any innocent person by launching a smear campaign. Let us give the benefit of doubt and assume that none of us here are part of Yameen's smear campaign against Latheef and MDP.

People talk of Gayoom's "early corruption." Today, with the benefit of hindsight we all know that he was corrupt from the word go. But how many of us knew it in the early 80s? There was no Maldivian Nostradamus who predicted how Gayoom will turn out. Gayoom managed to fool almost all Maldivians during the first term of his office.

So, we must give the benefit of doubt to Latheef for his role during that period. He may simply be a victim of Gayoom's deception, like all of us.

We must also not lose sight of Latheef's role in 1990. Like Wahidudeen, he also could have continued to grow rich and hold on to his resorts. But he chose to oppose the government and lose his resorts. Why were his "eager hands" now dropping them like hot potatoes?

soodoanim2000 was not easily convinced and raised more questions about Mr Latheef.

Re: Gayoom's "early corruption" and Nostradamus

latheef may have been fooled by gayoom, but he can't have been unaware of his own alleged involvement in corruption and human rights abuses, in order to achieve certain gains.

he may have swung out of favour now, but is yet to come clean by explaining his past actions.

unless he does this, he cannot be seriously taken at his word, and may end up causing serious damage to the party he has founded.

this would be a shame, as we badly need a strong opposition to gayoom's government.

You can read other interesting threads by joining newmaldives in Yahoo Groups.

Mr Latheef was a vocal critic of the government when he was MP in 1990. In an article titled ‘Are fair elections held in the Maldives?’ the fourth issue of Maverick Magazine has the following to say:

Despite the fraud in the election of 1989, in other atolls also a number of young members were elected to the parliament. They started open debate about various issues. It was a remarkable time in the history of Maldivian politics. Two newspapers, Sangu and Hukuru, were publishing articles criticizing the regime. A corruption case with a magnitude Maldives never experienced before came to light. Some of the MPs started calling for amendments to certain laws and to investigate the corruption cases thoroughly. The regime had to resort to dirty tricks to control the MPs who advocated reform. A number of MPs resigned from their posts because of the regime’s bullying and pressure. New elections and by-elections were held in those constituencies.

Mohamed Latheef, a MP for Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll, was sentenced to six months banishment on 15 April 1991 for allegedly speaking in a manner that threatened public safety and banished to Mulhadhoo island in Haa Alifu Atoll. Latheef resigned from his post as a MP following the charges.

Those MPs who worked with Mr Latheef for reform in 1990 were Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Maniku (MP for Male’ in 1990), Mr Hassan Afeef (MP for Thaa Atoll in 1990) Mr Mohamed Shihab (MP for Dhaalu Atoll in 1990), Mr Mohamed Ibrahim Didi (Modi) (MP for Fuvahmulah in 1990) and Mr Ibrahim Shareef (MP for Addu Atoll in 1990). Dr Waheed and Modi resigned from parliament because of various pressures. Shareef was never reelected till 2005 January. Shihab and Afeef were able to remain in the parliament.

Dr Waheed made a comeback in 2005 and ran for MDP’s presidency. Having lost, he disappeared from the political scene. There are rumours that he is waiting for the right moment to come back and make his mark and form a political party. Shihab, Modi and Shareef are very unpopular now because of their shameful vote for the Government Budget of 2007. Shareef has been expelled from MDP after accusations of sexual harassment of a female staff at the office of MDP Parliamentary Group. He did not bother to deny the accusations or defend himself in front of a disciplinary committee of MDP. Only Mr Go Go Latheef remains the most charismatic, influential and popular person from that batch. Is he a fine example of the survival of the fittest?

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