Opposition parties condemn “dangerous” MDP protest against judiciary

Opposition parties have strongly condemned a protest launched by the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) against the judiciary and Supreme Court last week, warning of “dangerous” consequences for the nation.

At a press conference today, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Deputy Leader Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef argued that with its campaign against the judiciary the ruling party was risking the Maldives becoming “a failed state.”

“We are starting to see in our country scenes similar to what we saw in countries like Rwanda and Uganda which became failed states, plunged into unrest and bloodshed,” he said.

If judges were accused of misconduct or corruption, said Shareef, complaints could be filed at the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), the oversight body for the judiciary.

“Trying to undermine the eminence and dignity of the whole judiciary cannot be seen as efforts to reform judges and put the courts back on the right track,” he contended.

The courts, police and Prosecutor General must take “legal action” against those who undermine the judiciary’s honour and prestige, Shareef said.

The DRP was “very concerned” with fears that the “whole system of justice in this country could fail,” he added.

Following the MDP’s national council approving a resolution to protest against the judiciary, DRP put out a joint press statement with its coalition partner Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) condemning the planned protest as an attempt to “influence the judiciary, intimidate judges and bring the courts into disrepute.”

In response to the MDP protest, the newly-formed Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) led by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom organised a demonstration at artificial beach Friday night to protest the MDP’s “intimidation of judges” and vowed to defend the judiciary.

The religiously conservative Adhaalath Party meanwhile issued a press statement yesterday characterising the MDP protest as “a dangerous warning from the MDP to Maldivian citizens who are against its ideology.”

Adhaalath claimed that the “true purpose” of the MDP’s campaign was to “nullify Islamic shariah, introduce common law to the country and bring foreign judges into the Maldivian judiciary.”

Adhaalath also accused the ruling party of using “bribery, undue influence and intimidation” to threaten separation of powers and “bring all the powers of the state into the President’s fist.”

Echoing a criticism made by other opposition parties, Adhaalath criticised police for failing to protect the former President’s residence. “This shows that the police as an institution is shackled by political influences,” the party said.

“Seven idiots”

In its statement, the Adhaalath Party called on the Supreme Court to take action against the President’s advisor Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail for saying at an MDP rally Friday night that the judiciary should be freed from “seven idiots” on the apex court.

Ibra recently filed a defamation case against the Supreme Court after it reprimanded him for calling on the public to “rise up and sort out the judges”.

In response to Ibra’s calls, the Supreme Court and the JSC demanded authorities investigate the former Male’ MP and chairman of the Special Majlis’ constitution drafting committee, claiming that “making such statements in a free, democratic society under lawful governance goes against the principles of civilisation.”

The Supreme Court subsequently issued a writ of prohibition and took over the case against it from the Civil Court, as a result of which, said Ibra, “I now have to go before the Supreme Court and say to them, ‘You have defamed me, now please decide in my favour.'”

Speaking at MDP Haruge on Friday night, Presidential Commission Spokesperson Abdulla Haseen noted that judges were not independent under the former government and had to follow instructions from the President or the Justice Minister on how to issue verdicts.

A majority of judges on the bench today were appointed by the former President and lacked educational qualifications to enforce the new constitution, he argued.

Haseen said the Presidential Commission was reluctant to send cases for prosecution as a number of cases against opposition MPs remained stalled at the Criminal Court for over two years.

MDP MP Mohamed Nazim said the party was powerless to prevent the contentious reappointment of judges without a parliamentary majority.

In August 2010, the JSC reappointed 160 of the judges appointed by the former government, despite a quarter of the bench possessing criminal records and many others with only primary school level education.

The Supreme Court meanwhile sent the President a letter claiming it had ruled itself tenure for life.

“The only thing we were able to do was [include a provision in the Judges Act] stating that lower court judges must obtain a diploma in seven years,” Nazim said.

Nazim accused the courts of partisan behaviour when it summoned Independent MP Ismail Abdul Hameed to court 45 minutes before a crucial vote on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) legislation. Hameed was found guilty of abuse of authority in his position as former director at the Male’ municipality and sentenced to one year’s banishment.

In his remarks, former Attorney General Dr Ahmed Ali Sawad observed that political parties neglected the development and modernisation of the judiciary during the reform movement that led to the adoption of a liberal constitution and multi-party democracy.

Criticism and civic action was necessary because of the current state of the judiciary and lack of public confidence in the institution, Sawad said, adding that criminalising persons who criticise the judiciary was contrary to “principles of democracy.”

The public should be able to criticise and comment upon court verdicts, individual judges and perceived failings of the judiciary, he insisted.

In May this year, the JSC abolished its Complaints Committee citing “efficiency”, with complaints against judges subsequently forwarded for review by the legal section and Commission Chair Adam Mohamed, a Supreme Court Justice.

Last year the JSC received 143 complaints concerning the conduct of judges. By its own statistics none were tabled in the commission, and only five were ever replied to. Chair of the former complaints commission, Aishath Velezinee, was meanwhile stabbed in the street in January this year.


10 thoughts on “Opposition parties condemn “dangerous” MDP protest against judiciary”

  1. "If judges were accused of misconduct or corruption, said Shareef, complaints could be filed at the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), the oversight body for the judiciary."
    And what exactly would be the point of filing that complaint Ibrahim? Please do elaborate.

  2. Its ridiculous that MDP guys protest when their MP is dragged to the court. Is MDP above the law?

  3. What was held that fateful day was NOT a protest.

    It was mob violence, terrorism or organized crime - call it what you will.

    If the MDP sets the example that anyone and everyone can bash up institutions when things don't go the way they want then law and order will regress even further back in the future.

    Rules, regulations and systems are hard things to manipulate. Politics also involves swallowing bitter pills at times. However if we let ourselves descend into open violence there will be no turning back.

  4. fact is MDP had a parliamentary majority. it is aslo a fact that MDP faces a fragmented opposion.

    Despite all the advantages of being the ruling party, it is also MDP that is protesting and thus more powerless.

    MDP either has no imagination or being mislead by some. Could this be Ibra's way of destroying MDP from inside. Remember what Shaheed did to Maumoon

  5. The protests were long overdue. Political affiliations aside, it sets a dangerous precedent when courts drop even a pretence of impartiality.

    Nasheed and his MDP "dictatorship" can be replaced in an election, unlike these judges appointed for life.

    By all means please do replace Nasheed, bring back the Pharaoh or perhaps Prince Yameen. We need fresh blood, the octogenarian who drove us into the ground during the last 30 years is the answer to all our problems- give him an opportunity, its not like he has had one before- after all this is a new constitution and he should not be considered an ex president, except of course when it comes to benefits for ex presidents.

    Maybe the protest wasn't for a good enough cause for you people, we should bring Male to a standstill in protesting for something more worthwhile and achievable - like say- a demand to defy market forces in fixing desired value to our currency.

  6. The exchange regime shift requires more than just a simple breaking of the peg. The protest was certainly political as all protests are. However, mismanagement of the economy is a glaring fact that the opposition rightly uses to their benefit.

    The Pharaoh you speak of managed to rule this country for 30 years not simply because he denied the right to oppose him. People were well-fed and the country did progress at a fast pace under his leadership. There were issues - I do not deny that. However, he was not unseated in a mere 4 and a half years like Nasheed is going to be because he managed it.

    How is Yameen a wrong choice? His party, small though it is, accepts his leadership. Nasheed was a black sheep even in the MDP. None of us ever wanted him to be the Presidential candidate. He managed it simply by flooding the party with yes-men. Such is the power of the democratic vote.

    The lack of administrative skills in Nasheed is what allows his colleagues to drive his government into the ground. True the 2004 tsunami and political fervor drove Qayyoom's government down. However, a lot of the media hype against Qayyoom involved exaggeration, half-truths and overblown bombast.

    A lot of the educated elite in this country speak as if we Maldivians are idiots for making a gem like Nasheed step down. However colored glass is just colored glass no matter if the painting is done by the climate change mafia, Dr. Shaheed or Hoara.

  7. I support this demonstration against the Judiciary be it from any party. Adhaalath and other parties should come to terms that the Judiciary needs to be dismantled and changed sooner than later. So it is better for you to be a part of this. If good Muslims in all parties do not lobby properly against the Judiciary, than the weak hearted ones will be the ones that later on picks the process of appointing Judges and that could be dangerous. Than you will have people rising again against an MDP led judiciary initiative in the future. So lets think ahead because demonstration against the Judiciary is needed and that is a fact of life in Maldives. Lets be part of a movement to get rid of corruption and demand transparency. Situation in Maldives is currently too dangerous to even walk around at night due to the Judiciary just releasing criminals here and there. Ofcoz the parliament has some blame for the years of delay in doing absolutely nothing for the people. People should not forget the MPs who spent most of their time talking big and wasting time. These MPs needs to be changed or the same laziness will be a cycle for years to come. But for now, lets get rid of the corrupt Judges. It has to be started somewhere. The ones opposing it should give a short term logical alternative because people demand a solution today, not tomorrow.

  8. I do not agree with the method employed but the judiciary needs to be reformed. That is a fact! We have turned into society that favors conflict and aggression rather than intelligent debate.

  9. The disease that our Judiciary is suffering from is Maumoon-back-in power (MBP) so naturally the best treatment shall be MDP Protest

  10. We begged for the change. We prayed for it.

    Put a sock on it and drink the bitter medicine that you wanted so badly.


Comments are closed.