Former President, and leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has described the opposition’s alliance to defend the Constitution as a “waste of time”.
Gayoom told reporters that the current government has in no way violated the Constitution and that there is no reason for any party to talk about defending it.
“Therefore, when some people have come out claiming to defend the Constitution, it makes me laugh,” Gayoom told reporters before travelling to the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit (DSDS) this morning.
The former 30-year ruler, who will participate in the summit as a panelist and a speaker, also questioned the intentions of the opposition, stating that “our President Abdulla Yameen pays special attention to follow the Constitution”.
Gayoom’s comments are the first from a high level member of the ruling party since the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Jumhooree Party’s (JP) decision to work together in defending the Constitution.
The parties are alleging that the government is narrowing civil liberties, intimidating political opponents, and destroying state’s checks and balances.
PPM spokesman MP Ali Arif told Minivan News that the opposition parties were unable to specify which part of the Constitution the government has violated.
“We have asked them which specific part or article of the Constitution the government has violated. They cannot seem to answer the question. This is just noise, all these claims are baseless,” stated Arif.
He also said that amendments to the Judicature Act – which saw the removal of two Supreme Court judges, and amendments to the Auditor General’s Act – which saw the reappointment of the auditor general, were all legislative changes brought by parliament.
Former Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim has suggested his removal – just days after an audit report implicated the tourism minister in a US$6 million corruption scandal – was not legal without changes to the Constitution.
The Civil Court has, meanwhile, said the People’s Majlis had “forced” the Judicial Services Commission to deem Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan unfit for the Supreme Court bench without due process, through an “unconstitutional” amendment to the Judicature Act.
“In a democratic society the parliament brings changes to laws,” Arif told Minivan News today. “If the president does not wish to gazette the law, he can send it back but then again if the parliament passes the bill, it automatically becomes law. How is the president or government at fault?”
Meanwhile, the MDP and the JP held a third round of discussions at Maafannu Kunooz on Sunday (January 1) night, agreeing to officially sign a document concerning their joint efforts to defend the Constitution.
The document, scheduled to be signed at a special ceremony on Thursday (January 5), will be followed by a joint rally that evening at the Carnival area in Malé.
Although the Adhaalath Party has decided against joining the alliance, the Maldives Trade Union has joined the opposition, claiming that the government’s persistent violations of the constitution have “eroded crucial checks and balances and accountability mechanisms”.
The MTU was inaugurated in May 2014, with 180 members aiming to provide an independent voice for the protection of small and medium sized businesses.
Zahir formed the group after clashing with authorities over the new tax regime – introduced by the MDP government. He was investigated the the Prosecutor General’s Office last year for tax evasion.
(PHOTO: PRESIDENT’S OFFICE)
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