Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) has denied media reports suggesting that Chief of Defence Forces Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel offered unsolicited legal advice either to the Speaker of Parliament or other MPs.
A press statement issued yesterday explains that Major General Jaleel met with some MPs on Sunday upon request by Speaker Abdulla Shahid.
“The MNDF did not offer legal advice at the meeting either to the People’s Majlis or the Speaker,” it reads. “However the Major General received legal advice before he went to the meeting. The law obliges MNDF to protect the People’s Majlis and other state institutions.”
It adds that MNDF “would not do anything to obstruct the proceedings of parliament.’’
MNDF Spokesperson Major Abdul Raheem told Minivan News that the document containing legal advice leaked to the media had been produced by the army’s legal department several days ago.
He stressed that legal advice was not given either to MPs or Speaker Shahid during Sunday’s meetings.
In the past few days, several media outlets have reported that the leaked document, signed by the head of MNDF legal department Major Zubair Ahmed Manik, was offered as legal advice to Speaker Abdulla Shahid by the MNDF.
The document states that the army has legal authority to remove any MP that refuses to leave the chamber after being ordered to do so by the Speaker.
Yesterday’s sitting of parliament was cancelled after MP Ali Arif of the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party’s (DRP) Z-faction refused to comply with an order to leave the chamber.
Speaking to press on the day before, Z-DRP MP Ahmed Mahlouf claimed that the involvement of the MNDF signified “a deal made between President [Mohamed] Nasheed, Speaker Abdulla Shahid and DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali to destroy us.”
Z-DRP MP Ahmed Nihan meanwhile told Minivan News yesterday that MPs “felt intimidated” following the MNDF’s legal advice.
“The Speaker has the authority to take other actions against MPs who do not follow the regulations, such as cutting an amount from their salary,” he said. “Now this country is becoming like Myanmar [Burma] has been in the past years – the Maldives is bit by bit turning to a military rule.”
At the beginning of yesterday’s sitting, Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed raised a point of order demanding to know which law authorised MNDF officers to enter the chamber and “drag MPs away.”
Deputy Speaker Nazim replied that he was aware of the meeting between the Speaker and the Chief of Defence Forces.
“MNDF [officers] will not enter the Majlis chamber without the permission of the Speaker,” he said. “The Speaker does not intend to give permission and I will not do it either.”
Meanwhile local daily Haveeru reports today that the Labour Party of MP Ahmed “Redwave” Saleem has asked the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to investigate Major Jaleel and take measures against the army chief.
The Labour Party claims that Jaleel “gave warnings to MPs” and spoke to them “in threatening tones.”
The party’s letter to the ACC states that Jaleel’s behavior was “a clear proof of a plan to bring an iron-fisted military rule to the Maldives.”
The Labour Party requested the ACC to investigate the “motive and purpose” behind Jaleel’s alleged threats of the possible use of force against MPs.