Additional Reporting by Mohamed Naahii
Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed has claimed it is a religious obligation to bar former President Mohamed Nasheed from contesting the upcoming presidential elections, scheduled to take place on September 7.
Speaking at a rally held by Progressive Party of Maldives’ (PPM) presidential primary candidate Abdulla Yameen on Saturday (March 9), Jameel accused Nasheed of being a “coward” who ran away after resigning from power, adding that he no longer had the courage to lead the country.
Highlighting Nasheed’s recent stay in the Indian High Commission, Jameel stated that “it was a shame that Nasheed fled when he was supposed to face justice,” before claiming that he would not give the opportunity for someone like Nasheed to come to power.
“Nasheed of Canaryge does not have any chance to come to power. We would not give that chance [to him]. That is something we ought to do. It is both a national and a religious Farḍ (obligation),” he said.
According to local media, the Home Minister stated that “if we complete that task,” God would grant success to those leaders in the upcoming presidential election.
Jameel claimed the country had fallen into a “deep mess” in almost all areas, adding that the country is desperate for a determined leader who can revive the economy.
He contended that Nasheed did not have the qualities the country was expecting from its future leader.
“Unlike Nasheed, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom whom Nasheed is saying that he would beat easily, had the courage to appear before police for questioning when he was called in,” Jameel said.
He argued that anyone other than Nasheed possesses courage to face law and justice.
Jameel – a former Justice Minister under President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s 30 year autocracy – has previously expressed urgency in concluding Nasheed’s trial before the upcoming elections.
In January, Jameel told local media that it was “crucial to conclude the case against Nasheed before the approaching presidential elections, in the interests of the nation and to maintain peace in it.”
“Every single day that goes by without the case being concluded contributes to creating doubt in the Maldivian people’s minds about the judiciary,” the home minister said at the time.
In January 2012, Jameel – who served as vice president of Dhivehi Quamee Party (DQP) – was questioned by police after Nasheed’s government accused DQP of attempting to incite religious hatred.
A pamphlet released by the DQP called on the public to “rise up and defend Islam”, whilst accusing Nasheed’s government of “operating under the influence of Jews and Christian priests”.
Home Minister Mohamed Jameel Ahmed was not responding to calls from Minivan News at time of press.
Maldives must curb external interference in its internal affairs
Also speaking at the rally on Saturday (March 9), half-brother to former President Gayoom, Abdulla Yameen, claimed that there was no need to allow “outside influence” in the internal affairs of the country.
The PPM presidential primary candidate said that should he be elected, he would protect the independence and sovereignty of the Maldives against the most powerful of nations.
Yameen’s comments come after Nasheed sought refuge in the Indian High Commission in Male’ last month.
For 11 days the former President stayed inside the high commission building, subsequently avoiding a trial hearing at Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court.
The international community has since called for free, fair and inclusive presidential elections in the Maldives.
Earlier this month Nasheed, who exited the Indian High Commission on February 23, was detained by police and produced at Hulhumale’ court, despite an alleged “understanding” between India and Maldives that he would be able to compete in the upcoming elections.
Nasheed is facing criminal charges over the controversial detention of Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed during the last days of his presidency.
Speaking at the campaign rally, Yameen criticised the Prosecutor General’s (PG) statement made on March 7, which stated that the PG did not object to delaying the trial until presidential elections scheduled for later this year are over.
“The PG is not entirely an independent individual. The PG becomes independent when he executes his responsibilities in accordance with these procedures. The PG cannot say that he has no reservations in delaying Nasheed’s trial for four weeks.
“The PG cannot say for instance that it is alright to put off the trial after the elections. This is something that the PG cannot say,” Yameen was quoted as saying in local media.
Yameen stated that an impartial trial against Nasheed must be held for his actions, and that any other presidential candidate should be held liable for their actions at any given time.
“Why can’t the foreign ambassadors accept the fact that anyone [competing for the Presidential elections] who violates the law must be disqualified.
“We also might fail to meet the criteria. In such a society it is possible for us to violate an individual’s right. If so even I must spend the day in court. How can Nasheed be an exception,” local newspaper Haveeru quoted Yameen as saying.