Ali Waheed: Sexual assault allegations false, part of a conspiracy

Former Tourism Minister Ali Waheed speaks to press outside Maldives Police Service headquarters on July 19, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Ali Waheed, who was recently dismissed from his position as Tourism Minister following allegations of sexual harassment and assault of multiple female employees at the Tourism Ministry, said on Sunday that the allegations against him were false and part of a conspiracy against him.

He made the remarks while speaking to the press outside Maldives Police Service headquarters on Sunday night, after he provided his statement to the police.

The police launched its investigation into the case on July 8; the same day Tourism Ministry employees raised complaints of sexual harassment and assault against Ali Waheed with President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and the Gender Ministry.

The President, following his meeting with the Tourism Ministry employees, demanded Ali Waheed’s immediate resignation, and dismissed him the next day, after he failed to voluntarily tender his resignation.

Speaking to press on Sunday, Ali Waheed denied the allegations against him, and said he will answer all questions asked of him by the police, and provide his full cooperation for the investigation.

“This is a premeditated crime perpetrated against me by some people. I told them I categorically deny all allegations against me,” said Ali Waheed, speaking to the press regarding the allegations against him for the first time.

He said he believes the case involves political influence, and said a free and fair investigation will prove his innocence, and uncover the reason why he is being “framed”.

“I will not remain silent. I maintained silence during all my past encounters with the police. But I have no intention of maintaining silence in this case. I will provide my full cooperation for the police investigation,” he said.

Ali Waheed said he respects the President’s decision to dismiss him, and that he wishes for allegations against him to be cleared for both the President and the Maldivian people through a fair investigation.

“By the Grace of Allah, the truth will come to light. This too shall pass. The winds from such storms will not prevail forever,” he said.

The President dismissed Ali Waheed from his position as Tourism Minister in light of the allegations on July 9.

When asked about his future political plans, Ali Waheed responded that his current focus is on clearing the allegations against him.

Ali Waheed, who had been the youngest member of the 17th parliamentary assembly and President Solih’s Cabinet, said that he had worked hard to bring the current administration to power, and had served the administration faithfully.

“The truth is, I am very sad. An hour’s time will mark the end of my youth. I am turning 36 years of age at midnight. I have served the Parliament, the Cabinet, and in senior positions in political parties with loyalty and dedication. All my time and all my focus are on clearing the allegations against me,” he said.

When questioned regarding media reports that he is in possession of audio and video recording which can be used to blackmail the President and Parliament Speaker, former President Mohamed Nasheed, Ali Waheed responded that he has never engaged in such backhanded tactics.

“All political leaders know I am not that sort of person. All those who know me know I don’t engage in such action. I respect fellow politicians. And I respect political work. I have never engaged in such actions and neither will I ever,” said Ali Waheed, who has served in senior positions in DRP, MDP and JP.

The police have searched his residence and confiscated his phone and laptop. Ali Waheed said the phone he handed over to the police had been the one he had been using since his self-imposed exile to the UK during the previous administration.

The police have also taken a travel ban order against Ali Waheed to prevent him from leaving the country, and have taken statements from 15 people for the investigation.