Former Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) Captain Abdul Muizz Musthafa has filed unfair dismissal charges against the military at the Civil Court.
Musthafa is the first of the nine senior officers who were dismissed in November to press charges. The nine fired were accused of sowing discord within the military during Maldives’ presidential election, 2013.
Musthafa has said he was dismissed without due process, and in violation of the constitution as the MNDF had not taken any prior disciplinary action against him.
He is seeking reinstatement and has asked the Civil Court to order MVR6 million (US$389,105) in compensation for damages.
Musthafa is accused of collaborating with former Brigadier General Abdulla Shamaal in collecting signatures from MNDF officers on a letter which had been prepared “in the guise” of supporting the Chief of Defense Forces Major General Ahmed Shiyam.
A copy of the letter leaked on social media expressed concern over delays in the presidential elections in 2013, and the repercussions should a president-elect not be determined by the end of the presidential term on November 11.
A statement by the military said Shamaal had leaked the letter on social media “in order to reveal dissent within the military,” and accused Musthafa of aiding Shamaal and planning “to commit dangerous acts using the troops under his captainship.”
The presidential elections of 2013 were marred by repeated delays after the Supreme Court annulled the first round of polls held in December.
Following the MNDF’s first letter of concern, the force amended its regulations to punish officers who promoted “upheaval and chaos”. Several officers were suspended and Shamaal was removed from his position as the commandant of training and doctrine.
In mid November as the possibility of holding presidential polls by the end of the presidential term dimmed following police obstruction and Supreme Court orders to delay the second round of election, 73 mid ranking officers circulated an appeal calling on fellow soldiers not to obey any “unlawful” orders issued by then President Dr Mohamed Waheed or his political appointees.
Shortly after President Abdulla Yameen was inaugurated, nine senior-ranking officers were dismissed.
At the time, the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) condemned the dismissals as “politically motivated and unjust,” and noted that no action had been taken against the soldiers who mutinied on 7 February 2012.
“On 7 February 2012, some uniformed soldiers publicly called for the resignation of the President and Commander in Chief and protested along with the opposition at the time. They have publicly violated global norms of military discipline. The CONI report has highlighted this act and called for action against them.”
Instead of penalising mutinying soldiers, the Ministry of Defense awarded them promotions, the MDP said.
“Such actions politicize the military, undermine professionalism and demean the institution,” the MDP added.
In September, the Civil Court ordered the Maldives Police Services to reinstate former Head of Intelligence Mohamed ‘MC’ Hameed who had been dismissed by the police’s disciplinary board for unspecified offenses.
Local media at the time said Hameed dismissal was related to a report published by MDP on the controversial transfer of power.
The police have said they will appeal the case.