Maldives – Inching again towards political showdown?: South Asia Monitor

“With the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Jumhooree Party (JP), one-time ally of President Abdulla Yameen’s ruling combine, deciding to work together in ‘defence of the Constitution’, the stage seems set for another political showdown of unprecedented proportions, if the government does not take appropriate correctives at appropriate time(s),” writes N. Sathiya Moorthy for the South Asia Monitor.

“Adding spice, and possible urgency, to the show at present is the revived high court hearing on MDP leader Mohammed Nasheed’s suspended plea, challenging the constitution of a three-judge criminal court to try him on charge of illegally detaining Criminal Court Chief Judge, Abdulla Mohamed, in January 2012, when was president.

It had begun with the Yameen government having parliament amend the Judicature Act to reduce the Supreme Court strength from seven justices to five. It was followed in equal haste by the removal of then Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and another. Though there was no love lost between the MDP and the two judges, and Nasheed had continually targeted Justice Faiz, the two ‘impeached’ judges had actually given dissenting observations when JP leader-cum-presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim challenged certain decisions and directions of the Election Commission (EC) as a prospective ally of fellow candidate Yameen during the two-stage presidential polls of 2013.

It’s thus a continuing irony of Maldives’ infant democracy that Gasim should now be turning against Yameen and his government, after the latter denied him parliament speaker’s post, a job he coveted after being the speaker of the Special Majlis which drafted the ‘democratic Constitution’ of 2008. The Yameen camp possibly had other suspicions as the speaker is the second in line of succession for presidency after the vice-presidency, should a contingency arose.”