President Mohamed Waheed Hassan told a rally on the island Kinolhas in Raa Atoll over the weekend that the Maldives “does not have a leader now.”
“As some people [say], the Maldives does not have a leader now. Lots of leaders are here, and all are of the same level. And so then everybody runs the state as they please,” Waheed told the rally.
“And the senior leader should not say anything. If he does, then it’s time to take away his post quickly,” Waheed said.
Waheed’s remarks came amid rising tension between parliament and the executive following the arrest of two opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs and an MP from the ruling coalition, Abdulla Jabir, on charges of a consumption of alcohol.
The Civil Court on Sunday also ordered the arrest of two MPs in the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) – another ruling coalition member – in connection with unpaid loans of several million dollars with the Bank of Maldives, through companies with ties to DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali.
DRP MP Azim alleged that President Waheed and other senior members of the executive had approached him, offering to cancel the court summons if he agreed during Monday’s vote on secret balloting to vote in the way they preferred.
The court hearing was scheduled at 1:00pm – the same time as the vote. The court order was subsequently cancelled.
“It is difficult to believe that the court order for the arrest of the two MPs, Azim and Nashiz, at the time the vote is scheduled is a coincidence. It proves the allegations made by a huge section of society that the courts are politicised,” said the MDP in a statement.
The wife of Jumhoree Party (JP) MP Jabir, Gender and Human Rights Minister Dhiyana Saeed, said following her husband’s arrest that President Waheed had sent her a text message denying any knowledge of the arrests.
“The leader of the country is saying that he himself is questioning the motivation behind this and who it was that did this. Police made the arrests, right? So this is an allegation against police by the President. And he said in the SMS that there is a possibility that some people might have done this to antagonise people against [the President] with regard to the vote on Monday,” Saeed told an emergency meeting of parliament’s privileges committee.
According to Saeed, President Waheed had alleged that the arrests were “directly connected to Monday’s vote.”
That vote concerned whether to allow a ‘secret vote’ in an as-yet unscheduled no-confidence motion against President Waheed. The MDP-initiated proposition was ultimately defeated during Monday’s parliamentary vote by a narrow margin of 34 to 39 votes.
Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz meanwhile declared that President Waheed had no prior knowledge of the arrests of the MPs.
“Such operations are not carried out by police after informing the President or the Home Minister. This institution does not have any political influence. We have the room to function with professionalism,” Riyaz told local media.