Additional Reporting by Zaheena Rasheed
Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officers have circulated an appeal calling on their fellow soldiers not to obey “unlawful” orders issued by President Waheed or his political appointees, following the expiry of his presidential term at midnight on November 10.
The five-page document, signed by 73 officers including many mid-ranking officers, is titled “An appeal to soldiers to maintain their oath to be professional and apolitical.”
Given that the Article 107 of the Constitution limits the presidential term to five years,
And given that Article 108 of the constitution mandates the election of a president through a secret and direct vote of the people,
And given the current presidential term ends on 11 November 2013,
We do not believe there will be a president and a Commander in Chief on 11 November 2013 if there is no president elect,
And we believe the positions of President, the cabinet and all individuals in political posts will expire at 12:00 midnight on 10 November 2013. With reference to the aforementioned constitutional articles, we believe any order they make in the name of any institution on the army and police is unlawful. We call your attention to Article 245 of the Constitution which states that we do not have to obey such orders.
In order to maintain the oath we took in the name of Allah, we have to protect the Constitution.
We swore to sacrifice our bodies and life to [protect the constitution], hence, we know the fundamental aspects of the constitutions. Neither the Attorney General nor other party have to interpret [the constitution] to us.
Hence, we call on all soldiers to respect the Constitution.
MNDF Spokesperson Colonel Abdul Raheem said he could not verify the petition as he has not seen the petition or received any information regarding the petition.
Colonel Raheem confirmed that the MNDF had promoted over 300 officers on Friday, the last working day before the expiry of President Mohamed Waheed’s term.
Colonel Abdul Raheem said the promotions had been awarded “as per usual procedures”, but said he did not know the specific reason for the promotion of such a large block of soldiers at this time.
An MNDF source meanwhile told Minivan News that the soldiers who had signed today’s appeal “are the backbone of the military, because they physically work out the operational plans. Earlier we saw the leadership’s message, and now the backbone of the military are taking the same stand to uphold the constitution.”
The appeal follows a “letter of concern” sent on Monday (October 3) by senior officers in the MNDF to Chief of Defence Force Major-General Ahmed Shiyam, following the failure of the country to hold scheduled elections on September 28.
An officer who signed that letter told Minivan News on condition of anonymity: “This is not a petition. It is a letter of concern over the Supreme Court’s order to delay elections, the failure of state institutions, and the possible politicisation of the military, and asking that unconstitutional orders not be issued.”
The MNDF reacted by firing, suspending, transferring and demoting many of the officers who had signed the letter, and then introduced new regulation banning officers from inciting “upheaval and chaos [through] speech, writing, action or gesture amongst members of the military.”