Civil society organisations, including Transparency Maldives, Association for Democracy in Maldives, Save Maldives, and Zero Waste Maldives, have issued a joint statement calling for Abdulla Jihad and Abdulla Didi’s removal from their high-ranking government positions. Both individuals are facing serious corruption allegations.

Abdulla Jihad, a former finance minister and vice president, was recently appointed as the Chairman of the newly established Maldives International Finance Service Authority. Abdulla Didi, a former Justice of the Supreme Court and Chief Judge of the High Court, was appointed as the Legal Counsel of the President’s Office.

The organisations expressed deep concern over these appointments, raising serious questions about the state’s commitment to eradicating corruption and ending the culture of impunity. The statement reads, “These decisions may lead to coercion, hinder the investigative process of holding corrupt officials to account, and lower public confidence and trust in state institutions, the judicial system, and investigative bodies in tackling corruption.”

The statement said that Didi was dismissed from the Supreme Court bench following a complaint submitted by the Judicial Service Commission to Parliament in 2019, while the Prosecutor General’s Office, in 2020, filed a corruption charge against Jihad for using the influence of his position as the Minister of Finance in awarding the lease of Fushidhiggaru in Kaafu Atoll, noting that the case is still ongoing. The joint-venture agreement pertaining to the development of Fushidhiggaru “only awarded 25% of the shares to the state instead of the 50% shareholding initially agreed on through the Cabinet decision, contravening section 13 (a) of the Act of Prevention and Prohibition of Corruption and resulting in a loss of MVR 9.32 billion to the State in land rent alone,” according to the statement. 

In addition, Jihad was charged with illicit enrichment in 2020 for failing to vacate the apartment given to him during his tenure as vice president. The state sought to recover MVR 1,109,227 from Jihad as part of rent, maintenance, and utility costs. However, these charges were withdrawn in January 2024.

The civil society groups also urged the state to immediately remove individuals charged with corruption from key positions and enact statutes to hold high-ranking political officials accused of corruption accountable. They reiterated their demands for a merit-based and transparent appointment process for political appointees, strengthened anti-corruption efforts, the introduction of anti-corruption legislation, a clear and transparent system to address allegations and acts of corruption by public officials, and the adoption of a comprehensive conflict of interest policy across all government institutions and state-owned enterprises.