The departure of seven members of the Maldivian cabinet following Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling that ministers cannot retain their posts without endorsement by the opposition-majority parliament has prompted President Mohamed Nasheed to reshuffle the cabinet.
The Supreme Court ruling came after opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) leader took the government to court on the matter after using its majority to disapprove the reappointments of seven cabinet ministers. MPs of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) boycotted the vote in protest.
President Nasheed appointed Political Advisor Hassan Afeef as Home Minister, replacing Mohamed Shihab, who has been appointed Advisor on Political Affairs.
Shifa Mohamed has been promoted from Deputy Minister of Education to Minister in place of Dr Musthafa Luthfy. Both Afeef and Shifa received letters of appointment last night.
Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed has meanwhile resigned and been replaced by Minister of Housing and Environment Mohamed Aslam, in the post of acting minister.
Attorney General Dr Ahmed Ali Sawad, formerly the Tourism Minister, has also resigned and been replaced by Minister of Human Resources, Youth and Sports Hassan Latheef, as acting Attorney General.
Minister of Health and Family Dr Aminath Jameel has been appointed acting Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture in place of Dr Ibrahim Didi.
Minvan News understands that no acting minister has currently been appointed to the Defence portfolio, which will instead be directed by the President with the assistance of security advisors.
It’s not cricket
During a press conference held on Saturday evening at the President’s residence ‘Muleaage’, Nasheed briefly discussed the Maldives’ cricketing triumph over Saudi Arabia in the Asian Cricket Council’s (ACC) 2010 Trophy Challenge, before opening the floor to questions.
Nasheed denied that the parliament had impacted the functioning of government or that the Supreme Court’s ruling had crippled the executive’s ability to appoint cabinet in a highly partisan political landscape.
Instead, he stated, the ruling “makes interpretation of the Constitution much more clear, and should therefore assist governance. Other than giving us clarity, I don’t really see as an obstruction to governance. I see it as giving more clarity as to how go about it.”
The President said he did not regret the decision in June for cabinet to temporarily resign en masse in protest against obstruction by parliament, which opened the executive to a Majlis counter-attack by its refusal to approve ministerial reappointments.
There was, he said, “a bigger picture.”
“I do not regret what happened in June. Try to understand the political landscape and what was happening at that time – which became quite clear through the [leaked] telephone conversations.
“Elements in the opposition were bent on disrupting the government. In very many words we heard that they wanted to topple the government, and remove many cabinet ministers. Cabinet at that time felt it had enough justification to say it was very difficult to govern because of parliamentary obstruction.”
The political instability and “looming uncertainties” created in the resultant vacuum “created an environment where a Supreme Court could be established.”
“For us to be able to come up with a Supreme Court was a fair achievement,” Nasheed said, “and we were able to get that primarily because of a number of political uncertainties that were looming at that time.”
“Now that we have a Supreme Court, it is clear on how we have to proceed with affairs and implement the Consitiution. I think it is a fine experience and I really think that once we step back and have a look what has actually happened, we will be able to understand that there are many many silver linings.”
As for the resigned ministers, “they are very capable people and we will be using their services – if they are willing. I have already had conversatinos with them. I believe they are willing to serve the country and the people, and will continue to serving in the government. But they won’t be serving in cabinet.”
While the president was looking for “silver linings” in the dismissal of more than half his cabinet, Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair indicated that the rest of the executive was not quite as sanguine.
“The Supreme Court has returned the verdict that the opposition can use its ‘brute majority’, without citing any reasons for the disapprovals,” he said. “But it’s not the Supreme Court that refused consent, it was parliament, and people who were involved in the former dicatorship.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling, he said, had set a “disturbing precedent” for a any particularly vindictive majority opposition to perpetually refuse the appointment of ministers not of its choosing.
“Of all the ministers, [those disapproved] were the ones who had worked very hard to establish the Supreme Court and separation of powers, and do away with authorative power. And now it seems like the very same former establishment is punishing those forces,” Zuhair said.
He suggested that the opposition’s stubborness on the matter of endorsement by parliament, and lack of reasons giving for the dismissal of each minister, signalled a political grudge match “after they lost four key appointments when the cabinet resigned: the Chief Justice of the [interim] Supreme Court, who was known to be endorsed by them, the chief of the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM), who was also endorsed by them, chief of the Civil Service Commission (CSC) who was also endorsed by a DRP majority house, and the JSC Chief Mujthaz Fahmy, who appeared to be supportive of them. That may have rankled.”
“And there are other reasons – for instance, they have accused [Defence Minister] Ameen Faisal of involvement in the coup attempt of 1988, which he denies. [Former President] Gayoom’s judiciary at the time saw rebellion as a high crime, whereas in today’s multi-party democracy, someone going against the government is not a rebel.”
Deputy Leader and spokesperson for the DRP, Ibrahim Shareef, said the opposition was willing to give the President “the benefit of the doubt” and endorse any minister nominated, “as long as they can do the job.”
Shareef said it was too early to comment on whether the party would be endorsing the ministers currently pending parliamentary approval, including last night’s appointments to the Education and Home Affairs portfolios, Shifa Mohamed and Hassan Afeef.
13 thoughts on ““Silver linings” says President, as Supreme Court ruling prompts Cabinet reshuffle”
Why do u say they "resigned" while it is not a case of resignation? It is in fact a case of parliament not approving them for the ministerial posts they were appointed by president and the supreme course upholding that. Therefore, in this case, there resignation is not required because under these circumstances they had to go home any way.
the spokesman Zuhair need to be replace by Dr. Shaheed. Zuhair may be good to work behind the screen. with his unapproved bashing on the opposition and the MDP oppostion leader Moosa Maniku is the problem. We hope Presidnet Nasheed.s silver linings will bring this changes. MDP love to ask for trouble and take on opposition all the time when they dont have the majority. The result is bitter for MDP and the Government.
The press secretary is crazy... He is saying traitors are acceptable in the present regime ... What a statement,
So what will happen if the Majlis continues to reject everyone that is proposed ?
Zuhair is the most unqualified employee of the governent he shouldnt be allowed to make a cup of tea let alone speak for the accidental president!?!! He starts blabberin about someting or another what happened to the cabinet members can stay even if parliament rejects them stand huh, bundch of amateurs these MDP clowns.
Zuhair has achieved the "silver pen" of journalism. How can he be unqualified? He has served jounalism for years. What he is saying is true. How can anybody who speaks against the existing government be a traitor?
Zuhair is right. The trouble with the 1988 Coup trials were that Gayoom bunched together the terrorists and his political opponents, including anyone who may become a future opponent. Amin , DB Shahid, Umar, Karo were in that group. He is also right about rebellion, termed bagaavath, which has little room in a multi party system.
I dont think this is good. the government will not be able to address the major issues in the country and cannot focus on development, instaed they put all the efforet to safeguard the power. the country, ceonomy and people will suffer
Zuhair is talking bollocks. It's not a “disturbing precedent” set by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court finally settled the dispute on what is stated in the Constitution.
If people don't like the status quo, stop blaming the Supreme Court, the Jinni, or other dark forces! Amend the Constitution, if you can!
The Constitution clearly states that the Cabinet has to have Parliament approval. Now, everyone knows that this was a direct result of autocrats like Gayyoom appointing all of his family to Cabinet posts. The designers of the Constitution wanted to ensure that could never happen.
Parliament doesn't have to give a reason for its disapproval of the appointees; it's not required to do so. It's the responsibility of the President to garner enough support for his appointees in Parliament.
The meaning of the Constitution has now been cleared once and for all. Lets get on with it!
Its a bit relief that the president is not discouraged from this political game. The opposition may have scored a goal and gained weight this time. However there is an ever overcautious public who will keep this in mind if ever DRP rules in the country and brings the family and allies as cabinet. Thank god this clause was in the constitution as it will prevent nepotism. DRPA people will loose this battle ultimately as their plans of Golha becoming president and Yamin becoming VP and all Hameeds sons and daughters becoming ministers will not be possible anymore. hahahahhhaaa. Its not too far to see these fools trying this out if they win next big race.We will then see who laughs.
Surprisingly Zuhair's irrational nonsense does not reflect the President's view (something that's quite usual with him). How very incredible? This guy is supposed to be the "Spokesman" of the President, yet goes out uttering rubbish completely against what the President said on the very same day on the same topic!
Mr. President, please replace this guy and find a better person. Some one worthy of being the public voice of the Government.
Zuhair aka. Juha called the Supreme Court verdict "a disturbing precedent" when the President himself declared that the Supreme Court's decision only made the interpretation of the Constitution much clearer.
Zuhair grumbles about the "stubbornness" of the Majlis using its "brute majority" in disapproving seven Ministers without giving any reason! C'mon Mister Spokesman. Don't you know that we MDP had fought hard to obtain a "brute majority" in the Parliament ourselves? Our President is also elected by a "brute majority" against the wishes of the rest of the population, if one were to look at your twisted logic.
Endorsement of any public official (including Ministers) by the Majlis is a political process and doesn't require the parliament to give a reason as such. But of course if one were to listen to the debates one might get an insight into the views of the members.
The reason why the framers of our Constitution adopted a US style Presidential System (with checks and balance) and separation of powers was mainly to reduce the power of the Executive branch.
This was was due to the bitter experience from our past where monarchs and "Presidents" abused powers and ended up as Dictators. The New Constitution was designed to give the Parliament more powers unlike in the past when the Majlis was just a rubber stamp for the President.
Our New Constitution was DESIGNED specifically to empower the Majlis (people's representatives) to such an extent whereby it would be impossible for any government to function without Majlis approval. This is what the people of this country decided. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The Constitution is our guardian to ensure that no future Dictator ever rises in this country. This is no reference to President Nasheed. He is the true father of this democracy and it is the MDP who introduced these elements into our Constitution against all the objections of Gayyoom and his members in the Special Majlis.
What bothers me most about what Zuhair said, is the way he dismissed the Coup Attempt of 1988 by declaring that "rebellion was considered a high crime in the days of Maumoon but a person going against the Government today will not be considered a rebel". Are you suggesting that if anyone were to take up arms against the Government or tries a coup that it will be accepted?
While I believe that Ameen Faisal had no role in the failed Coup Attempt of 1988, no one should dismiss the aggression launched against this nation in 1988.
As HEP said there is a "Bigger Picture" and we can turn around this case (of Ministers being dismissed) as an opportunity to bring in fresh new faces who could do a better job. At half way through his term, this is an excellent opportunity for the President to shuffle his existing Cabinet to consolidate the Administration.
Cabinet positions are not rewards for service. Ministers should not see their positions as granted for life, but understand that if they do not perform the President will not keep them around.
If MDP with the majlis leadership under some one like Ibbu who has some brain should have worked with the opposition and did not worked our an boycott the proceeding, they (MDP) should have saved many more ministers. Under Reeko boy, always try to twist others arms and get things done. not only majlis, even if he dont get any contract he wants he (Moosa) try the same with all government ministries including Finance Ministry. What a ruggeeeee person is he. What we see is not MDP policy, few infuencial guys hijack MDP. Now its doesnt have a party policy or stand. These guys try to enforce what they feel right. Never refer to its Qawmee Majlis. Even the resignation of the Majlis approved minister went the same way. no consultation with its memebers. If this system continues it will be very sad for the people who sacrify so much for the party and the changes. Hope these few guys will talk less and try to find solution to crises and serve the people as promised not only for MDP few. Its not late to change the style of governance. Stop giving proiority always what President and the few feel right. Including working hard to have the Jews station up in Maldives. for what? Isnt there better issues then that. God knows.
moosey is spot on when he says "what we see is not MDP policy, few infuencial guys hijack MDP". Thats exactly what happened. This is not the reform we voted for. We did not vote Anni to the top office in the country to distribute our wealth to a few vocal ppl like reeko & maria. Adugadha meehaa rugginavaa usoolu mi onnanee.
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