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The Dictatorship of President Nasir 1969-1978
Compiled from various sources including Ibrahim Shihab's 'The Reign of Sultan Mohamed Fareed, a historical perspective', and the writings of Abdul Hakeem Hussein Manik
2009



1969 Ex-king Mohamed Fareed dies in Male', leaving President Nasir as the undisputed leader of Maldives.

1970 The Sifain militia is renamed as the National Security Service (NSS).

From September, land in Male' is permitted to be bought and sold with legal title.

1971 Maumoon Gayyoom, the future dictator, returns to live in Maldives after being resident overseas mainly in Egypt for 24 years. He teaches at Aminiya school.

1972 Ceylon changes its name to Sri Lanka, and the importation of (dried) Maldive fish is banned, seriously affecting the Maldivian economy.

British queen Elizabeth II visits Maldives in March and Ibrahim Nasir is awarded the customary KCMG.

The tourism industry begins in Maldives. President Ibrahim Nasir soon owns resorts and opens a travel agency. Bandos and Kurumba near Male' develop quickly. Mohamed Umar Manik and Champa Hussein Afeef are among the pioneers of the industry. 1,097 tourists visit Maldives in 1972, and 3,790 in 1973.

In July, Maumoon Gayyoom, Fathulla Jameel (future foreign minister) and Zahir Hussein (future editor of Haveeru) are summoned to meet President Nasir at his office. He invites them to write new Friday sermons for the mosques. Later Maumoon Gayyoom is appointed as manager of the government shipping department.

1973 Ibrahim Manik, Abbas Ibrahim and Maumoon Gayyoom are arrested for 'treacherous talk'. Gayyoom is claiming that selling alcohol, a mainstay of the tourism industry, is against Islamic law. Gayyoom is placed under house arrest.

In May, Gayyoom is banished for four months to Makunudhoo island on Maamakunudhoo atoll. He is permitted to return to Male' in October.

1974 Maumoon Gayyoom becomes director of the telecommunications department, and teaches Islam, Arabic and English in the afternoon.

Buruma Gasim Ibrahim, a trained clerk and accountant, becomes a retail shop manager for the government Bodu Store (later known as the State Trading Organisation, STO).

In February, the State Bank of India opens a branch in Male'. It is the first bank in the capital. Ibrahim Nasir had placed Ahmed Hilmy in charge of negotiations with Indira Gandhi to bring the bank to Maldives.

13 June - Big Thursday (Bodu Burasfathi): Koli Hassan Manik has been arrested earlier and reveals details of a plot to overthrow President Ibrahim Nasir, Moosa Fathy and Koli Ali Manik on Friday 14th and replace them with Prime Minister Ahmed Zaki, Ibrahim Fareed and Maumoon Gayyoom.

On Thursday 13th, a crowd gathers in the main Male' square protesting rising food prices and restrictive living conditions. Ibrahim Nasir picks up Ahmed Zaki at his house and personally drives him around Male' while the minister for public safety Abdul Hannan orders his men to fire their guns into the air to disperse the demonstration. People are arrested at the main square and in their homes. Zaki is released 14 days later.

In July, Gayyoom is arrested and questioned about Big Thursday. He is held in small cell for 50 days and then released without charge. He returns to work as secretary to the prime minister.

From September, engines are available for private fishing boats in Maldives, and the following month, air services begin with a HS 748 turbo-prop aircraft leased from the Sri Lanka Air Force.

1975 President Ibrahim Nasir rules with a circle of close advisors including Mohamed Zahir, Zaheer-Nasser, Umar Zahir, Ilyas Ibrahim and the feared home minister Abdul Hannan.

India finances the establishment of fish canning factory in Maldives with a grant of Rs4 million.

6 March - Little Thursday (Kuda Burasfathi). Prime Minister Ahmed Zaki is dismissed, arrested, sent to Dhoonidhoo and then exiled to Fua Mulak.

Gayyoom is appointed deputy ambassador to Sri Lanka. He visits United Nations in New York.

Nasir closes the embassy in Colombo after Sri Lankan government asks questions about US dollar cash flows through the Maldives embassy.

In September, the exchange rate is US$1 = Rf45.50

1976 The Pakistan-based Habib Bank opens a branch in Male'.

British decide to abandon Gan base on Addu atoll, 10 years before their lease expires.

Buruma Gasim Ibrahim establishes his own company with US$2,000 capital.

Gayyoom is appointed by Nasir in September as Maldives permanent representative to the UN in New York. Gayyoom stays in the US until January 1977.

1977 The Russians offer US$1 million to Maldives for use of Gan base by their fishing fleet. President Nasir calls the only cabinet meeting held between the end of March 1977 and November 1978. At that meeting, the Russian offer is rejected.

During the year, Nasir attempts unsuccessfully to change the Thaana script to Roman letters.

India assists Maldives to establish Maldives International Airlines through a lease agreement with India Airlines, and to modernise Hulhule' airport.

In February, a community school is opened in Eydhafushi island on Baa atoll.

Gayyoom is appointed to cabinet as minister of transport in March.

In May, wireless communication, organised by the Cable and Wireless company, begins from Male'. It enables direct communication between Nasir and Maldives representatives in UN.

In September, the foreign affairs protocol officer Hassan Haleem, traveling on a diplomatic passport, is stopped by Sri Lankan customs at Colombo airport and 385 expensive digital watches are found in his suitcase. Nasir makes sure Hassan Haleem is fined and banished for six months when he returns to Maldives, and his passport is confiscated.

In October, President Nasir gives the first interview by a Maldives leader to a foreign journalist Elizabeth Colton.

1978 A cholera epidemic sweeps Male'. Early in the outbreak, Ibrahim Nasir takes charge and manages the emergency and prevention measures. He personally helps set up tents for the infected. People are treated at government expense. Vaccine is brought from India and those who refuse treatment are vaccinated by force. Koli Ali Umar Manik donates 25,000 capsules of tetracycline. Maumoon Gayyoom and Moosa Fathy preach on the radio.

At the end of Ibrahim Nasir's presidency in late 1978, Maldives has 17 tourist resorts with 1300 beds.

Total student enrolments are 15,032, and only one government school operates outside Male'.

Ranvikka Ali Manik is head of the NSS when Nasir resigns in November 1978.

Maumoon Gayyoom's brother-in-law Ilyas Ibrahim's bank account balance with State Bank of India in Maldives is Rf1,817. Ilyas is senior secretary to President Ibrahim Nasir and under-secretary of the audit office.

Ilyas's wife Nasira, the sister of Ibrahim Nasir's vice-president Koli Ali Umar Manik, is receiving her brother's government pay cheques in her State Bank of India account which stands at Rf23,400.

In February, the Felivaru fish canning factory is opened as joint venture with the Japanese Nippon corporation.

Television broadcasts begin in Male' in March, and a new international airport project begins at Hulhule'.

In June, the majlis nominates Ibrahim Nasir for the presidency. Three votes go to Maumoon Gayyoom. Due to ill-health, Nasir, aged 56, declines the nomination. At the next majlis ballot, Gayyoom receives 27 votes and needs President Nasir's consent to secure the nomination. Nasir meets privately with Gayyoom but makes no public decision.

In November, Maumoon Gayyoom wins over 90% support in a presidential referendum (he is only candidate). Ibrahim Nasir allows him to become the new president of Maldives.





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