Parliament security committee meeting to resolve political instability breaks down as MPs argue

Opposition protests continued on the streets of Male’ on Saturday night, while parliament’s National Security Committee (NSC) meeting to resolve the political instability was dismissed abruptly after heated arguments broke out between opposition and ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) parliamentarians.

Opposition protests have continued every night since January 16, after the Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed was arrested by military forces and detained at a training facility in Kaafu Atoll Girifushi – an unprecedented move that has led to a judicial impasse, intensified by political polarisation.

Home Minister Hassan Afeef and Defence Minister Tholhath Ibrahim Kaleyfaanu were summoned to the first session of the meeting and questioned by the opposition MP’s about the arrest of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed on January by military forces, which has subsequently led to consecutive opposition protests calling for his immediate release.

In response, the Defence Minister interjected that the judge is not under arrest, and that he is being “supervised to ensure national security”.

He avoided MP’s repeated requests to explain the reasons for the judge’s arrest, claiming that reasons have been explained in a previous public statement which was aired on state TV channel three days after the arrest. Afeef at the time had accused the judge of “taking the entire criminal justice system in his fist”, stating that the executive had been compelled to act to protect the constitution. The judicial watchdog – the body mandated to investigate and act on such allegations – had complied with a civil court injunction filed by the judge against his own investigation.

Several opposition MPs walked out of the meeting, complaining that the ministers did not answer their questions.

In his statement the Defence Minister revealed that police sent a letter to the armed forces on January 16 “requesting assistance to carry out its legal duty under article 71 of the Police Act, stating that the Criminal Court was not cooperating with police and that as a consequence of Judge Mohamed’s obstructing police work, the country’s internal security was threatened and police were unable to maintain public order and safety.”

Therefore, Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) exercised authority under chapter nine of the constitution and the Armed Forces Act of 2008 to take the judge into custody, he said, disputing that the judge’s detention was unconstitutional.

Tholhath added that MNDF would provide assistance to ensure public safety, and that the consecutive protests and unrest had jeopardised it.

Meanwhile, Afeef observed that those accused of causing the current unrest and destroying public property were swiftly being released by the judges, thus encouraging more unrest.

“Public safety is being lost because of judges’ actions,” Afeef concluded.

However, speaking at the NSC meeting’s second session, Judicial Service Commission (JSC) President and Supreme Court judge Adam Mohamed insisted that the current crisis had not been caused by the incompetence of the commission.

He claimed that the commission was executing its duties duly. The “earlier environment did not allow the commission to work,” Mohamed claimed – a comment directed at the former President’s member of the JSC, Aishath Velezinee, who had openly protesting against the unconstitutional appointment of unqualified judges, delays in investigating allegations against judges – including the chief judge – and politically biased decisions of the JSC. She was dismissed from the position in May 2011.

Velezinee  attended the committee meeting with a box full of papers on the judiciary, and maintained her stance that public has “lost confidence in the courts due to the JSC’s failure to take action against the chief judge”, and due to the reappointment of judges with life time tenure in violation of the constitution.

Velezinee has previously alleged that Abdulla Mohamed was at the heart of a “silent coup to hijack the judiciary”, with the complicity of opposition MPs seeking to prevent cases against them moving through court.

The NSC meeting heated up, after opposition MP Abdu Raheem objected to the summoning of JSC members to the national security committee.

Raheem claimed that the JSC must be summoned to parliament’s independent commissions committee, and the NSC’s meeting should be continued under the advice of Consul General.

Committee chair MDP MP Ali Waheed interjected that anyone can be summoned to the committee for questioning and adjourned the meeting after repeated attempts to maintain order failed as MPs continued arguing.

Meanwhile, out on the streets, the opposition continued to call for the release of Judge Mohamed and the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed. The protests began near the Progressive Part of Maldives (PPM) camp, as pockets of MDP activists obstructed the rally, leading to mild confrontations which were controlled by the police.

The police comfirmed 16 were arrested last night.

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12 thoughts on “Parliament security committee meeting to resolve political instability breaks down as MPs argue”

  1. 2012

    1- Arrested and kept in custody: supervised to ensure national security.

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  2. Doesn't matter what legal acrobatics Tholhath or his advisers want to go through to justify the Judges arrest, what we have is a civil and political crisis.

    It should be solved similarly and as I never supported the use of security forces by the Qayyoom government when they were in power against the then opposition; MDP, I refuse to accept that Nasheed may be allowed to do the same.

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  3. Isn't it time we realize this system of govt has failed. We do not have people w the right competencies and capacity to fill vacancies in judiciary, councils, parliament,soe's and executive. So let's give this country to the elite who are both experienced, mature and capable of establishing a benevolent dictatorship. I'm sick and tired of all these clowns and hooligans who do not fit the bill playing hickory dickery in this country

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  4. The reason why this country is in a mess is because of 30 years of cronyism imbedded in the system by the previous regime. It will get worse before it gets better, but it will get better! Stick with it MDP, you are the only hope for the common man!

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  5. people should stop thinking that democracy is a rosy perfect system. it is not? it is a system always in the making, based on change and the empowerment to change. it is never perfect and complete. It is based on the assumption that what is complete cannot remain perfect. A complete system is based on the assumption that we humans are static and unchangeable.

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  6. Agree with Shiyam. What the Opposition is actually worried about is not the rights of the Judge, but rather just how much of their dirty tricks will come out, as time goes on. Hang in there MDP! We are behind you in this and we DEMAND our right to a fair judicial system and not one full of old, corrupt and under qualified cronies! It is about time that the judges in this country learned the gravity of their responsibilities. Those who fail to understand that, are simply not qualified to be a Judge, which in itself is a very esteemed and respected position. Only those with the right qualifications, character and a passion for justice should be allowed to fill in such positions, DEFINETLY NOT corrupt evils like Judge Abdulla and his partners! Today the protesters we see on the streets are not those who love justice or those who are concerned about the rights of the citizens of this country, but rather those whose sole mandate is to protect the dirty secrets of the previous government and their leaders! Too bad these protesters never had the guts to call for justice when our children were being abused, when our women were being raped and when our fellow citizens were being murdered on the streets! Protest all you like, but you can't fool us!

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  7. I think we need to send some of these clowns to Girifushi for a vacation. Can"t you guys just do something for the best interest of the country instead of fighting on petty issues.

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  8. We have competent people to lead this nation and take care of it, given the opportunity!

    I would give benefit of the doubt to @ Haleema Yousuf's view rather than be taken for another ride!

    There is no way Maumoon, Gasim, Yaameen, Thasmeen, Dr. Hassan Saeed, The Lolly duo, The many Sheikhs who are nodding to the sweet talks of these people or the many lawyers surrounding this bunch can be trusted.

    Personal greed is too clearly evident in all their sweet talk and advocations!

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  9. In this committee Some are acting like wild dogs.They cant control their temper and are acting like people without any brain.
    Wondering how bad it is to see for the people who elected those mad people.Defenitely some of them are not working to solve the problem but to create it. They dont have quality and capabilties to listen and to come for a conclution.The live cast of this so called commitee is crazy to watch and it shows how narrow minded they are!
    Maybe most of them are not civilised but they pretand to be.The way they see somethings are always right in their concept.So they are not ready to accept anything against their wills.
    I urge all those people to think twice and not work for their own interest and try to understand the real image of what they appointed for by the people.Be a role madels and act for the good of people.If not resign from the positions.

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