Additional reporting by Neil Meritt
The Adhaalath Party has threatened to dissolve parliament for “not functioning constitutionally”, by pressuring members to resign “just as former President Nasheed was” in February 2012.
President of the Adhaalath Party (AP), Sheikh Imran Abdullah, claimed parliamentarians were not conducting themselves according to the constitution or serving the Maldivian people.
Imran was speaking during a ‘National Movement’ event held at the Artificial Beach in Male’ on March 19, reported local media.
“If the parliament continues to fail to function according to the wishes of the people, Members of Parliament will be pressured to resign in in a similar manner as former President Mohamed Nasheed,” Imran declared.
“God willing, we will dissolve the parliament if it is not conducted according to the constitution. If they don’t want that, they should follow the constitution. We want the parliament to be an honourable place,” he added.
Imran claimed the recently ratified Parliamentary Privileges Act and Political Party Bill are not constitutionally valid laws.
“The Supreme Court has the authority to declare void laws that are enacted in violation of the constitution. So the recently-made Privileges Act and Political Party Act for which protests have been held after they were returned without ratification, are void.
“No action can be taken based on the void articles in these laws. We are not concerned about being accused of violating MPs’ privileges,” he said.
President Mohamed Waheed ratified the two controversial bills – the Parliament’s Privileges Bill and Political Parties Bill – despite previous claims that the two bills had several lapses and “unconstitutional” elements.
Following the President’s initial vetoing of the two bills, parliament overruled the presidential veto by a house majority and forced the bill into law, giving the president no option but to ratify the bills – one of which would see the dissolution of his own political party.
“Not a pressing issue”: Deputy Speaker Nazim
During parliament’s session Wednesday (March 19) MPs presented the issue to the Majlis floor considering Sheik Imran’s comments, a parliamentary official told Minivan News.
“Deputy Speaker of Parliament, MP Ahmed Nazim, who was chairing the sessions, said the matter was not a pressing issue despite concerns the comments were contrary to immunity provided for Majlis members.
“Pointing to parliament’s rules of procedure, Nazim requested any concerns on the matter be forwarded to the parliamentary committee overseeing MP privileges and immunity,” the official added.
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) both reflected the parliamentary sentiments that Imran’s remarks were of no concern.
MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor dismissed Imran’s remarks while speaking to Minivan News today.
“Sheik Imran has no understanding of public opinion. Parliament is very popular and the public looks to their elected representatives to solve problems,” claimed Ghafoor.
“As usual, he has got it wrong as he found out people do not like the coup he helped pull off by radicalsing groups of police and the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF).
“I think parliament is the only democratic institution left. The judiciary has been proven to be corrupt and my party has declared their intention to replace the supreme court bench,” Ghafoor added.
DRP Deputy Leader Ibrahim Shareef agreed, telling Minivan News that Imran’s comments were merely rhetoric.
“Imran is not serious, it’s all rhetoric with no meaning or substance. No such thing [as in the dissolution of parliament] is going to happen. All political leaders have rhetoric, it’s not something to worry about,” said Shareef.
“In fact our political climate is so polarised political leaders seek to please their constituencies. If things our political leaders said were true, we would have landed on the moon by now.
“This is not the way it should be. It does a lot of damage over the long term. It’s very sad, but has become a commonplace reality of life,” Shareef stated.
Unlike Ghafoor, Shareef maintained that the supreme court is a legitimate institution.
“The supreme court is one of the properly functioning institutions. It is not colored by the polarised political climate here,” claimed Shareef.
The “national movement” was born out of the unofficial December 23 coalition of eight political parties and an alliance of non-governmental organisations that rallied to “defend Islam” in late 2011 from the allegedly liberal policies and “secularisation agenda” of former President Nasheed.
The Adhaalath Party and Progressive Party of Maldives were not responding to calls at time of press.