The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) did not respect separation of powers during its three years in government, President Abdulla Yameen has said, urging voters to consider the track record of former President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration before choosing parliamentary candidates.
Speaking at the Progressive Coalition’s parliamentary campaign launching rally on Thursday night, President Yameen strongly criticised the opposition party’s campaign slogan – “Vote for the scale [of justice] for separation of powers” – contending that an MDP-controlled parliament would exert undue influence on other state institutions.
“Our rival opposition party is saying that they are coming to the People’s Majlis to separate powers. No doubt separation of powers is important in modern democratic systems. Separation of powers is a basis we all believe. But let us consider how responsibly and the extent to which powers were separated during the three years of the MDP government,” he said.
“We have to learn from past experience and they have shown very well, in much detail, during their three years how they want to separate powers in the future.”
The state of affairs that prevailed in the country at the end of the MDP’s three years in government should not have been what it was if the party had ruled democratically, Yameen argued.
Yameen said he “could not believe” that national debt could rise from MVR5 billion (US$324 million) to over MVR30 billion (US$1,195 million) during a democratic government.
MDP in office
President Yameen claimed that the MDP government attempted to merge the three powers of state during its time in office.
Yameen referred to the military’s controversial detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed in January 2012, which he contended was prompted by “verdicts or punishments not being delivered the way the president wanted.”
Moreover, the arrest of two opposition MPs in June 2010 “showed the extent to which political space was offered” to members of the People’s Majlis, Yameen said.
Following the en masse resignation of Nasheed’s cabinet on June 29, police arrested then-MP Yameen and MP Gasim Ibrahim over allegations of bribery and treason. Both MPs were subsequently released by Judge Abdulla.
Yameen also referred to the delayed appointment of the Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ACC) President Hassan Luthfy, who was eventually sworn in 24 months after parliament approved him for the post.
After President Nasheed recalled Luthfy’s name and proposed a substitute nominee in late 2009, parliament rejected the substitute and approved Luthfy to the commission.
The President’s Office delayed swearing-in the new commissioner as it sought a Supreme Court ruling. Yameen alleged that the appointment was held up to prevent the ACC from functioning.
MDP MPs have not shown “even a small example of separating powers,” Yameen continued, accusing opposition MPs of obstructing the government and blocking development projects.
“Dark clouds” on horizon, warns vice president
Yameen also accused the opposition party of refusing to cooperate with the government on confirming the appointment of a new prosecutor general.
“So I have to say that it might be that they are obstructing [the appointment] because there are cases involving [opposition MPs]. This is why I am saying they are not trying to separate powers. What we are seeing is the merging of powers,” he said.
In his speech at the rally, Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed contended that MDP MPs contesting the upcoming parliamentary elections endorsed former President Nasheed’s alleged “inhumane activities” and “insults” to Islam and the Prophet Mohamed (pbuh).
Voting or campaigning for such MPs was “without a doubt aiding and abetting sin and strife,” he said.
Repeatedly urging voters to consider the MDP’s track record before voting on March 22, Dr Jameel called on the public to vote for coalition candidates to empower citizens, defend the constitution and protect Islam.
Reiterating a central theme from last year’s presidential campaign, Dr Jameel insisted that the MDP would pursue an agenda to eradicate Islam from the Maldives.
The vice president also said he could see “dark clouds gathering” on the horizon, warning of arson in the capital Malé and judges “tied with rope and dragged through the streets.”
Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – figurehead and leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives – meanwhile praised the candidates fielded by the PPM and its coalition partners Jumhooree Party and the Maldives Development Alliance.
Gayoom stressed that the Progressive Coalition must “work together” in the parliamentary campaign to secure a majority in the People’s Majlis, adding that government supporters contesting as independents would split the vote and benefit the MDP.
“Our three parties are working together as one party. We are working towards one objective. So there is no doubt that candidates contesting from our parties will have the full support of the other two parties,” said Gayoom.
“That is why I am saying that the foundation of the efforts we are commencing is working together, helping one another, and cooperating with each other.”