Prosecutor General Muhuthaz Muhsin has ordered the Elections Commission (EC) to take all legal action possible against the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) for its “irresponsible” resolution calling for Jumhooree Party’s Gasim Ibrahim to assume the presidency as an interim leader.
In a letter to EC President Mohamed Sulaiman, Muhuthaz said MDP’s call “is not the best for public order” as the Constitution clearly states how a head of state is elected and how the president’s powers may be delegated.
The decree proposed by MDP leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed during a severe water shortage in the capital Malé called on President Abdulla Yameen to hand over the reigns to Gasim.
Speaking to the MDP’s national council on December 7, Nasheed said: “The country is under a very dark cloud at the moment. The president is not fulfilling presidential duties and ruling in absentia. So it is better for him to handover governance to Gasim Ibrahim.”
Gasim polled third twice in last year’s presidential elections – successfully requesting the first vote be annulled before again finishing behind Yameen and Nasheed in a rescheduled poll. Gasim eventually threw his support behind Yameen, forming a coalition that saw the latter win the presidency before relations soured earlier this year.
President Yameen had been out of the country during when a fire at Malé’s desalination plant cut off water to the city’s 130,000 residents on December 4. He returned from Malaysia two days into the crisis.
Nasheed has repeatedly suggested Yameen’s frequent trips out of the country may be due to ill health and has called on the President to inform the public of his health.
Yameen’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) on December 8 said the MDP’s resolution “irresponsible and cowardly.”
“At a time when the government is carrying out urgent efforts to resolve the water shortage in Malé, this party believes that the [MDP resolution] is an activity planned by the MDP leadership to disrupt the country’s peace and security as well as the unity among Maldivians,” read the statement.
The PPM also characterised the national council decision as an “undemocratic and uncivilised” attempt to topple a legitimately elected government.
When asked about the MDP council’s resolution, Yameen on December 7 responded by saying “I do not pay much attention to what Nasheed’s says on such matters.”
Nasheed has also highlighted deteriorating public safety – with at least five fatal stabbings this year, and the disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan as a further reason for a changing the government.
The government’s failure to investigate and prosecute serious crimes is tantamount to “deliberate state-sponsored terrorism,” he contended in a statement on the occasion of International Human Rights Day on December 10.
He has also accused senior government officials and elements of the police of complicity in abductions, murder, arson attacks, and gang violence.
“I note that the government has not investigated such incidents that have occurred throughout the year and serious criminals are on the loose. The state has not pressed charges against them,” the statement read.
Nasheed argued that the government’s inaction has caused harm and undermined fundamental rights, calling on the public to “find courage from each other for justice and stand up against inhumane torture.”
Local NGO Transparency Maldives (TM) earlier this week, however, included the MDP’s call for Yameen’s replacement in a list of what is considered a growing trend of instances undermining democratic practices and institutions.
The other issues cited by TM were the removal of two Supreme Court judges this week, and the reappointment of the auditor general in November.
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