Pres Solih's political appointee number is 719: Minister Waheed

Discrepancies have emerged regarding the number of political positions in the outgoing government of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Earlier on Tuesday, President-Elect Dr. Mohamed Muizzu's Transitional Spokesperson, Mohamed Firuzul, stated there are 1,063 individuals in political positions in the current government and that former President Abdulla Yameen's government had 806 political appointees. The figures are quoted with reference to the 2023 budget, he had said.

Firuzul said after evaluating the number of political positions in this government and the government of President Yameen, Dr. Muizzu's incoming government has decided not to increase the number of political posts to more than 700. The decision was taken after considering the number of administrative employees in government agencies, the President's Office, the President's Residence, and the Vice-President's Residence, he added.

However, when asked regarding the figures, Minister at President's Office, Ibrahim 'Ibrey' Waheed, reported a lower number. According to Waheed, excluding employees of the President's Office, Muliaage, and Hilaaleege, there are 719 political positions in the outgoing government.

"In fact, if they count the employees in the President's Office, Muliaage and Hilaaleege, they can put about 214 people in political positions. There are 426 employees in these places. If you count them, the number of political posts cannot be maintained at 700," he said.

The appointment of persons to political posts is made under the powers conferred on the President under Article 115 of the Constitution. Minister Ibrahim Waheed appoints and dismisses people to political positions in this government on President Solih's instructions.

Waheed said the President-elect’s spokesperson shared the number of political posts in this government with reference to the state budget for this year. He said it was inaccurate to count the number of posts based on the budget as the budget is passed with estimates.

"The budget figures are added with the expectation that individuals will be appointed to some positions. That does not mean that appointments would be made for the budgeted amount. We have not made appointments to the budget figure," he said.

Waheed added that he does not believe that the 719 people in political positions in the government are a large number. Whichever government comes to power, there will be a proportional increase in political positions due to the growing population and the expanding government workload, he said. Additionally, Waheed noted that the geographical layout of the Maldives, with its scattered islands, can also influence the distribution of political roles.