|In the series of events that led to the 7 February 2012 coup in the Maldives that ousted the first democratically elected President of the country Mohamed Nasheed, several Maldivian businessmen joined the 200 or so protestors who gathered on the Republican Square, adjacent to Police and Defense Headquarters in Male for close to three weeks. The protest, and the ensuing coup, is believed to be funded by key businessmen in the Maldivian tourism industry as well as by a half brother of former president Gayoom, MP Abdulla Yameen. Both Gasim and Yameen were seen addressing the protesters as well as the Police and Defence officers attending them, offering them to join with us in return for taking care of them .
Meeting with the press yesterday, ousted President Nasheed said at least four resort owners are heavily involved in this but he mentioned only Mr Gasim Ibrahim, owner of the Villa Group, only because he was seen in the protests and has been openly vocal about his support to topple the government , and refused to comment further until an investigation was carried out. Mr. Gasim Ibrahim has been running a hate campaign on Villa TV, a local channel he owns along with several five star hotels in the Maldives, an airline, airport, as well as several other businesses. He fell out with President Nasheed soon after he lost the 2008 Presidential Elections to Nasheed. Although he was an initial coalition partner in the Nasheed Administration, he resigned within weeks into the new government citing dissatisfaction with President Nasheed. Both MPs Gasim and Yameen were also arrested in 2009 for allegedly attempting to bribe Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) parliamentarians.
In addition to Yameen and Gasim, the other main financial contributors of the coup are believed to be the owner of Dhi TV and resort owner Champa (Ucchu), Mr. Saleem (Aagadhage), an architect and partner of Crown Company and partner of Champa Hussain Afeef (brother of Uchchu). Dhi TV has been running a smear campaign against the MDP and the MDP government since setting up the channel in July 2008, in time for the presidential election in October of the same year. The same allegations leveled at President Nasheed then (at the time, MDP presidential candidate) have repeated over the last three years.
In addition, small time businessmen such as MP Red Wave Saleem, who has several charges of corruption leveled against him, is also believed to have funded the coup, and was seen addressing the protests leading up to the coup, making similar offers to the police and defense officers as Mr Gasim and Yameen, to look after them and their families in return for defecting the forces. And although not visible in the media, it is also alleged that Mr. Ahmed Syam Mohamed, owner of the Sun Travels group may also have funded the coup. His online media, www.sun.mv has not covered the police brutality on the day after the coup and they are misinforming the public on the current crisis through misinformation and biased reporting.