A parliamentary no-confidence motion against Attorney General Azima Shakoor has passed with 41 votes today (October 29).
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) filed the motion, claiming Azima had demeaned the constitution, parliamentary powers and the integrity of the Attorney General’s post by advocating against the Elections Commission (EC) in September’s vote annulment case.
The party also accused her of attempting to benefit her political party in presidential elections, and advising government officials against attending parliamentary committees.
According to Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid, Azima did not attend today’s Majlis sitting and did not respond in speech or writing to any of the allegations made against her.
However, in an emotional statement addressed to the Speaker and shared with local media, Azima stressed that she had acted within the law and accused the MDP of pursuing a “personalized vendetta.”
“It is not the Majlis that I will be held accountable to on the day after tomorrow. It is to Allah. On that day, I will be accountable without any fear. All of you know I will not stray from the path of justice for worldly gains or for a job. You will know I will not make a deal,” she said.
Speaking in the AG’s defense, MPs of the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) stressed that Azima had not committed any unlawful acts, and as such the no confidence motion was unjust.
The PPM boycotted the vote, but PPM MP Ahmed Mahloof voted for the no-confidence motion. In addition to the MDP, the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) supported the motion. Five MPs voted against.
The MDP submitted the no confidence motion against Azima on September 25 with the signatures of 26 MPs.
In the motion, the MDP noted that as Attorney General, Azima had advocated against an independent state institution – the EC – that she was mandated to defend.
Following the first round of elections on September 7, third placed Jumhooree Party sought to annul the vote, alleging widespread electoral fraud. Azima intervened in the case, presented a police intelligence document and asked for an investigation.
A copy of the document was leaked on social media. It alleged 18,486 irregularities on the voter registry. The Supreme Court annulled the election on October 7 and ordered a re-vote.
In her intervention she “advocated against the Elections Commission, discredited the institution, prioritized political party interests, and worked against the constitutional principles, state and public interest,” said the MDP.
The party suggested that the AG had abused her position to influence elections and in doing so had obstructed the election of a new government.
It also accused Azima of infringing upon the parliamentary powers by advising government officials and the security forces not to attend a Majlis committee set up to investigate the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012.
“Taken together, these actions clearly demonstrate that the Attorney General has destroyed constitutional norms and democratic laws,” the motion read.
“The Attorney General has demeaned the Constitution and the integrity of the post of Attorney General and betrayed the Attorney General’s responsibilities and the Maldivian nation,” it added.
“Head held high”
In a statement shared with local media, Azima criticized MDP presidential candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed.
“If I am dismissed from my job because certain individuals believe I am obstructing such a man [Nasheed] from coming to power, and if I lose my job, and if I lose my job because of this reason, and because I did not join them like you [Shahid] did, I see it as my sacrifice for this country. I will leave my job proud, with my head held high,” she told Haveeru.
If Nasheed took over the presidency, he would weaken the state and the country’s sovereignty, and weaken Maldives’ Islamic faith Azima alleged.
“I am saying so because I know so. However, I have not committed any act that violates the law. And I have not participated in any political activities. In my term, in matters relating to him [Nasheed] I acted fairly, within the law,” she said.
She alleged that, as president, Nasheed had sold part of the Maldives’ territory to another country – information which she had shared with the Majlis’ National Security Committee. Furthermore, Nasheed had attempted to include Jewish cultural education in the national curriculum, she claimed.
“I do not accept defying Islam and the Prophet. I believe the country has maintained its sovereignty because Maldivians have maintained the Islamic faith. I do not believe any other religion but Islam should exist in this country. This is my belief,” she said.
On the state’s decision to intervene in the Supreme Court’s vote annulment case, Azima said it was her duty to act as she had received credible evidence of electoral fraud. However, she said the state had not advocated for or against a vote annulment.
“I had to take action when I received credible evidence of repeated voting and votes cast by thousands of dead people, individuals who have not yet been born, and individuals who had not made ID cards through the Department of National Registration. Similarly, the state must be concerned when people made passports using those [fake] ID cards.
“These are matters that I would be questioned on if I did not take any action. Since these are matters that can be proven if a proper investigation is done, I did so with courage,” she said.
She also criticized Speaker Abdulla Shahid for helping MPs evade the courts, for supporting MPs who were in contempt of court and those who had committed criminal acts. Moreover, she said the Majlis had not followed the legal norms in dismissing a cabinet member.
“Today you are the judges and you have written your verdict without allowing the accused a right of response,” she said.