Former president and ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has called for a probe into a parliamentary committee’s rejection of his nephew for the post of Prosecutor General.
Maumoon Hameed failed to garner the required 75 points to obtain committee recommendation. The previous People’s Majlis had also rejected Hameed for the post in April.
The People’s Majlis independent institutions oversight committee – in which the PPM holds a majority – gave Hameed 33 percent and President Abdulla Yameen’s second nominee and Criminal Court Judge Muhuthaz Muhusin 67 percent.
In a letter to PPM parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan, Gayoom said chair of the committee PPM MP Ali Saleem had acted against the wishes of Yameen and must be held accountable for his actions.
Gayoom said he had received reports Saleem’s had not followed due process in the vetting process.
Candidates were summoned for interviews without a committee vote and the vetting criteria were not approved by the committee, said Gayoom.
Further, there were reports mark sheets were not tallied in the presence of MPs, he said.
Saleem had also failed to respond to opposition MP Rozaina Adam’s question over Muhsin’s eligibility.
Gayoom said judges could not stand for the position as per Article 151 of the constitution. Muhuthaz would lose his judgeship following his application to the post of Prosecutor General, he added.
“I do not believe that any person can take up the post of Prosecutor General while he is serving as a judge,” Gayoom said, referring to “a legal norm” whereby a former judge could only represent a client as a lawyer only after two years pass after resignation.
“Hence, please investigate this issue thoroughly and present a report to me before this matter is forwarded to the Majlis floor,” Gayoom said.
The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) has since said judges are allowed to apply for positions in the state’s independent institutions.
The independent institutions oversight committee interviewed candidates on Thursday, July 10, and decided against recommending either candidate on Monday, July 14.
Marks were reportedly awarded following evaluation of their academic qualifications, experience, competency, management skills, leadership qualities, achievements and integrity.
The committee is comprised of five PPM members, one Maldivian Development Alliance (MDA) MP, three opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members and two Jumhooree Party (JP) members.
PPM Parliamentary Group leader Ahmed Nihan was not responding to calls at the time of press.
The PG’s post has been vacant since November following the resignation of Ahmed Muizz ahead of a scheduled no-confidence motion in parliament.
Moreover, Acting PG Hussein Shameem’s resignation in early May brought the criminal justice system to a halt after state prosecutors went on strike, citing concerns of a lack of accountability in the absence of a PG.
However, the Supreme Court ordered prosecutors to resume work “without any further excuse” and ordered the seniormost official at the PG office to assume the PG’s responsibilities.
President Yameen meanwhile refused to submit a new nominee to the 17th Majlis during the crisis and opened up a third call for applicants, announcing his intention to nominate Hameed – son of former Atolls Minister Abdulla Hameed – for a second time to the newly elected 18th People’s Majlis.