Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Anders B. Johnsson has written to the Speaker of the Majlis proposing an urgent delegation be sent to the Maldives.
“We are concerned that these recent developments and the continued polarisation of the political situation might imperil the Maldives’ fledgling democracy,” wrote Johnson to Speaker Abdulla Shahid.
“I propose that an IPU delegation returns urgently to the Maldives to discuss and agree with the relevant authorities and stakeholders effective steps to ensure that the parliament can fully discharge its legislative and oversight functions freely and independently and that its members can do their work unhindered, without fear of intimidation and harassment or attack on their physical integrity,” added the Secretary General.
Following the Majlis’s rejection of the court’s ruling, MDP MP Ali Azim’s was arrested after scuffles with the military as he attempted to enter the parliament on Saturday.
His detention has subsequently been extended for 15 days.
Johnsson’s letter also included the full text of the IPU Governing Council’s recent resolution which expressed concern at “reports of alleged arbitrary arrests, attacks and harassment of MDP members of parliament”.
The resolution, adopted earlier this month, listed 21 cases of Maldivian MPs already being monitored by the IPU with the addition of three new cases.
The IPU General Council “is alarmed at the climate of confrontation spawned by the first round in the presidential election.. [and] is deeply concerned that parliament’s authority is apparently once again being challenged in the current political crisis,” read the resolution.
“[It] is alarmed in this regard that members of parliament may be facing legal action because of opinions they expressed and positions they adopted in parliament; would like to receive the authorities’ views on this matter.”
All MPs listed by the IPU – barring murdered Progressive Party of Maldives MP Dr Afrasheem Ali – are members of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) which has described the prosecution of its MPs as a “purge”.
On-site mission suggested
“The urgency and seriousness of the current situation warrants an urgent on-site mission by the Committee, so that it can gather first-hand information on the allegations and ascertain the prospects for their examination and clarification in the current political situation in the Maldives,” read the IPU resolution.
The MDP last week linked the “intimidation and harassment” of its MPs to crucial votes in the Majlis concerning the imminent transition of presidential power as well as no-confidence motions against senior members of the cabinet.
The MDP’s recent alliance with the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party – one of whose MPs was unseated by the court’s recent ruling – has given it the support of a majority of the chamber.
A motion to allow the Speaker of the Majlis Abdulla Shahid to assume the presidency following the expiration of the current term on November 11 was passed yesterday, in spite of the abstention of all government aligned MPs.
Today’s scheduled no-confidence motion against Attorney General Azima Shukoor was delayed after the AG informed the speaker that she was unwell.
The three new cases noted by the IPU General Council concerned Ali Azim, Alhan Fahmy, and the Speaker Shahid. The list also included fresh allegations concerning MPs Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, Ali Waheed, and Eva Abdulla – the Maldives’ first member of the IPU.
Eva was arrested briefly during protests against the Supreme Court’s involvement in the annulling of the presidential elections earlier this month, whilst the IPU also resolution expressed shock at reported death threats against both Speaker Shahid and MP Ali Waheed.
More recently, Ghafoor has sought protection from arrest in the parliamentary premises following a police summons to attend hearings into drugs and alcohol charges.
US ambassador Michelle J. Sison yesterday met with Shahid and Hamid, whilst US diplomat Christopher Teal called for an end to politically motivated arrests.
Amb Sison meets w MPs Shahid & Hamid Gafoor. Important NO more political arrests of MPs or threats of arrest pic.twitter.com/ckkTLi6m1g
— christopherteal (@christopherteal) October 27, 2013