Former President Mohamed Nasheed warned Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain last night against Supreme Court interference in the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for March 22.
Speaking at a campaign launching ceremony for two Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidates, Nasheed said last year’s presidential election was “taken away from us by the Supreme Court.”
“The island council, atoll council, and city council elections have slipped from their fingers by God’s will while they were unaware. Now we are coming to the People’s Majlis elections again. If the People’s Majlis election is stopped, you could not place a bigger obstacle to the country’s development,” he said.
Supreme Court Justices “should know very well that the people of the Maldives will not forgive,” Nasheed said.
“And do not think that the courage of the Maldivian people has flagged. No, when they have to take to the streets, they will,” he said.
“If you decide to halt our elections, remember that we live on this land too. Keep in my mind, our Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz, know that we too grew up in this island. As long as we are on this soil, you cannot keep perpetrating injustices against our people.”
The Maldivian people were not indifferent or willing to “remain in a state of shock or fear,” Nasheed continued, adding that the people have “found courage from one another and moved past their fear”.
“We cannot remain still, we cannot give up the hope of our children and children’s children, we cannot give up the Maldives,” he said.
The Supreme Court summoned members of the Elections Commission (EC) on February 12 and began a surprise trial on charges of contempt of court. The apex court invoked new ‘Sumoto’ or ‘Suo motu’ regulations that allow the court to initiate hearings and act as both prosecutor and judge in a trial.
The court contends that criticism by EC members of its decision to annul the first round of last year’s presidential election – citing a secret police report that has since been dismissed by a UN expert review and questioned by the Human Rights Commission of Maldives – constituted contempt of court.
Nasheed meanwhile declared last week that the MDP will boycott the parliamentary elections if the Supreme Court removes EC members ahead of next month’s polls.
Speaking at a campaign event on the night before EC members were summoned, Nasheed accused parties in the ruling coalition of colluding with the Supreme Court to delay the Majlis elections as they were “certain of defeat.”
“In my view, an election conducted with the Supreme Court exerting influence over the Elections Commission to deliberately commit electoral fraud or rig the vote will not be a legitimate election – in my view, MDP should not participate in such an election,” Nasheed said.
Neither the international community nor the Maldivian public would accept general elections boycotted by the MDP, he insisted.
In his speech at a campaign launching ceremony on Monday night for MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy, Nasheed said judicial reform was the most pressing issue facing the Maldives at present.
Neither the chief justice nor other judges should think that the public would cease calls for reform or stop criticising the judiciary “out of fear,” he said, declaring that the party would “not back down in the slightest”.
Referring to the alleged sex tape of Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed, Nasheed said the party’s concern was not with Hameed’s indiscretions but with the presence of “compromised” judges on the bench who were susceptible to “blackmail”.
While the new constitution was adopted to move away from the autocratic and unjust practices of the past, the Supreme Court has taken on powers to investigate, prosecute, conduct trial, and deliver verdicts on their own accord, Nasheed said.
“The fundamental basis of the reform that the Maldivian people wanted was ensuring that the prosecutor and the court that hears the case are separate. Persons must have the assistance of a lawyer to defend themselves from accusation of a crime,” he said.
“It is the prosecutor general who should prosecute on behalf of the state. We wanted to see separated powers of state [but] today we are seeing the Supreme Court negate the character of the constitution we wished for.”