Vice President resigns as threat of constitutional crisis looms

Vice President Waheed Deen has resigned from the government, stepping down from the post he assumed shortly after February 7 2012’s controversial transfer of power.

His resignation comes on final day of President Mohamed Waheed’s term, and has prompted speculation that President Mohamed Waheed may similarly step down.

While the Supreme Court yesterday dismissed a parliamentary resolution that would have installed the Speaker of Parliament and reiterated that President Waheed’s government would continue after November 11, Waheed himself has previously indicated his reluctance to remain in the post “even a day after November 11”.

Senior and mid-ranking Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officers as recently as yesterday were appealing to their colleagues not to recognise the authority of the President and his cabinet after midnight November 10.

Should Waheed step down leaving both offices vacant, Article 124(b) of the Constitution would automatically pass power to the Speaker.

124 (b)In the event of the permanent incapacity, resignation, removal or death of both the President or the Vice President, and both offices becoming vacant at the same time, leading to an incapacity to carry out the duties of the President, until such time as a President and a Vice President shall be elected, the duties of both offices shall temporarily be carried out, in order of priority, by the Speaker of the People’s Majlis, or by the Deputy Speaker of the People’s Majlis, or by a member of the People’s Majlis elected by a resolution of the People’s Majlis, until successors in office are chosen.

The prospect of impending constitutional limbo was triggered following yesterday’s election, after second-placed candidate Abdulla Yameen refused to sign the voter lists ahead of the run-off vote scheduled for today, and insisted that the election be held after November 13.

In a stamped but unsigned ruling issued at 5:30am this morning the Supreme Court declared that the revote should be held on November 16, despite the Elections Commission and all candidates previously agreeing that it should be held today.

Elections Commission (EC) Director General Mohamed Shakeel told Minivan News this morning that the ruling meant no polling stations were allowed to open, no materials could be transported, or any other preparations to be made.

“It states that all institutions in the Maldives are ordered not to provide assistance to the Elections Commission,” he continued. “So then the police won’t help.”

The EC said the delay would cost the state a further MVR 30 million (US$2 million).

The US Embassy in Colombo meanwhile issued a new statement this afternoon slamming the behaviour of the Supreme Court.

“Efforts by the Supreme Court to repeatedly and unduly interfere in the electoral process subverts Maldives’ democracy and takes decision-making out of the hands of the people. It is imperative that Maldives proceed to a runoff election with no further interference so that the democratic process can complete the transition to new leadership,” the US embassy said in a statement.

“We are deeply concerned about the Supreme Court’s ruling today against the holding of the scheduled second-round election on 10 November. Because of the Supreme Court’s intervention, the Maldivian presidential elections will not be completed before the current presidential mandate expires at midnight on November 10, 2013.

“In situations of uncertainty, the people must have confidence in their Constitution and look to it for guidance. We urge all three branches of the government and the political parties to respect the letter and the spirit of the Constitution and halt the constant reinterpretation of the legalities involved,” the statement said.

“The November 9 election has shown the commitment of the citizens of Maldives to the democratic process and the ability of the Election Commission to efficiently hold free, fair and credible elections that reflect the will of the people.”

Commonwealth Special Envoy Sir Don McKinnon has also issued a damning statement on the conduct of the Supreme Court, and called for consideration of Article 124 – tacitly backing an interim government under the Speaker.

“In the absence of a political agreement, the people must look to their Constitution for guidance and have confidence in their Constitution. Article 124 makes clear the spirit and intent of the Constitution for situations such as the one the country is currently facing,” McKinnon stated.

“Article 124 reflects the basic democratic principle that the state’s power must always lie with the people and their elected representatives. This is the fundamental underpinning of the Constitution. Elected representatives speak for the people. I therefore believe that Article 124 offers the most appropriate guidance to avoid constitutional uncertainty and sustain the support of the people,” McKinnon said.

“As in most countries, an interim government would not be expected in any interim period, such as from 11 November to the swearing in of a new elected President, to take any significant decision or new policy initiative,” he added.

No role for international community: Yameen

Yameen lashed out at international pressure for elections during a press conference last night.

“There is no role for the international community in holding an election in any country, is there? An election is a domestic matter, isn’t it? What international organisations, ambassadors or foreign governments can do is appeal. But they will appeal to hold the election as soon as possible in accordance with Maldivian law, and we want to hold the election in accordance with the law as well,” Yameen said.

He accused the Elections Commission of not being properly prepared.

“At least 12 hours should be given to campaign for the election, shouldn’t it? The law provides time more generously than that. So for these reasons I said on behalf of PPM that I support holding the second round on November 11.”

“The international community would want to expedite the election. That is because there should be a President as early as possible at the start of a new constitutional term. Having an elected president on November 11 is what we Maldivians want as well, not just foreign parties. They will press for that but there is no role for international parties in elections,” he insisted.

The PPM candidate – half brother of former autocratic President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom who ruled the Maldives for 30 years – claimed a constitutional amendment would be required for the Speaker to assume the presidency in the absence of a president-elect at the end of the presidential term.

“So even if it has been passed by Majlis, we don’t believe either then or now that it has any legal weight,” he said.

He said the Supreme Court has provided legitimacy for President Waheed to remain in office after the conclusion of his term, declaring that Waheed was willing to stay “to the extent that the public wants,” something which was noted “very clearly” at the meeting last week.

“Now the Supreme Court verdict has come the way President Waheed hoped for or wanted. So I am certain that President Waheed will stay with the Maldivian people at this most difficult time we are facing. I have no doubt about that,” Yameen said.

Deen’s phone was switched off at time of press.

Meanwhile third-placed candidate Gasim Ibrahim’s running mate, Hassan Saeed, a former Special Advisor to President Waheed, announced his retirement from politics to local media.


17 thoughts on “Vice President resigns as threat of constitutional crisis looms”

  1. Hate to pick nits but re-read Article 124 of the Constitution.

    The reference clearly is to the situation where the office of the President becomes vacant which means within a presidential term. The Constitution naturally provides no solution for the unforeseen situation where a new President is not elected before the end of the outgoing President's term.

    The Supreme Court has ruled that the in this unforeseen situation, the incumbent will remain for a reasonable period of time until extra-Constitutional elections can settle the issue. Although here the Supreme Court is stretching its authority a bit thin by giving its opinion outside the Constitutional framework.

    The real solution to this problem must be political. It must come through negotiation and compromise. The legal aspect of such a Solution must manifest itself by an amendment to the Constitution - although enshrining a rare situation that must be avoided at all costs within the Constitution does not itself bode well for the future.

    However a solution where media outlets and political parties interpret the Constitution themselves is not the best option either.

    Instead of issuing statements of concern and alarm the international community can truly play a constructive role by getting the major players to the table and working out interim arrangements that would be accepted by the majority. Yes, allowing Waheed to remain in power is not desirable because of the deep mistrust between MDP and the current government. However allowing Shahid to oversee elections will not work either for the same reason - the deep mistrust between MDP and the other parties.

    This will not be an easy task but solving this crisis can begin with responsible reporting. First things first cite the source which gave your publication the interpretation of the Constitution you have published. Or if the interpretation is yours then do say so and let the public judge.

  2. Well, the SC acted as predicted although they didn't anul the current election as I thought they might.
    Interesting points.

    1. The court order is stamped not signed. This suggests a lack of resolve. Also lack of personal accountability on the bench when it goes pear shaped.

    2. Vice President resigning. This actually suggests The President himself may do the same. He would be a fool not to.

    3. Gay Yoom in Singapore. I find this very odd at a crucial time like this but from his point of view if the tide is changing, it may be safer for him to remain there.

    4. The appeal signed by the army not to obey orders after 11th.

    How will it pan out?

    The question hangs over the future actions and role of the army. If the SC remains robust over the date of the next election and if Waheed resigns as President, the army may step in and run the country until the 16th and protect the EC. Likewise they may help rig the voting process to put PPM in power. This is the unknown.

    My guess is, and this is purely because Gayoom is in Singapore, that HE knows the game is up. The SC have made a token and lukewarm and (unsigned and thus invalid) court order before they too finally catch the plane to visit sick relatives in Singapore.

    The army may announce special measures and place the Speaker in control.

    The army will take over the Judiciary of the SC.

    The elections will take place on the 16th.

    I still do not see a clear winner emerging, the PPM is catching up fast.

  3. How about the American Embassy ask Dr Waheed why he has not endorsed Dr latheef as the Chair of the Civil Services Commission and the representative of the Peoples Majlis on the JSC Hamza? This is a violation of the constitution. For me it is clear that these two people have not been endorsed by Dr Waheed because they both represent the Civil Service and the Majlis on the Judicial Services Commission.It is embarassing for the nation that a judge whose sexual exploits have gone viral on the internet and whose rulings have been severely compromised is still sitting on the bench of the Suopreme Court and signing these insane rulings.

  4. In most countries, the government makes the laws, and the courts uphold and/or interpret them. It is not normal for a court of any level to override a law made by a government, how is this being allowed to happen in the Maldives?

    Democracy is dead in the Maldives. All the recent elections are meaningless if the Supreme Court can just ride roughshod over the government and institutions such as the EC.

  5. Can anyone also answer these questions?

    1. If article 124b of the constitution clearly states that power passes to the Speaker in the event of no president or vice president, why did Parliament have to vote a resolution on it? It should have been automatic.

    2. Surely, then the SC would have had to rule against the constitution and not a resolution? That would put them even more outside their remit.

    3. On the run off, does a candidate have to still achieve 50% plus 1 or merely win by any majority?

  6. @ what supreme court, tsk tsk? The "supreme" Supreme Court has no moral authority to issue any rulings. It is a disgrace that the Judicial Services Committee, the watch dog of the judiciary has taken NO action against Judge Hameed after videos of his sexual exploits have gone viral on the internet. Gasim, Presidential candidate representing the Majlis on the JSC apparently thinks the videos are photo-shopped and blocked the investigation when he sat on the committee. We all why now.So the SC can rubberstamp every insane request Gasim files in the SC!!

  7. This is exactly the sort of thing Anni tried to prevent from happening; a power-mad judiciary poking their sausa- uh I mean noses where it doesn't belong.

    There is no real 'legal' method to deal with those criminals (note that Ali Hameed's case is literally dusted under the rug). The only remaining way to deal with this very real threat to the people of Maldives, is to outright exterminate them.

    Let's see how well their man-made 'laws' hold up against a hail of bullets, bombs and a deluge of fire.

    PS: We don't negotiate with imperialists.

  8. @tsk tsk pardon my ignorance but could you please tell me of a situation where both the president and the vice president become permanently unable to perform their duties of office. Resignation, Death, permanent disability, removal from office are examples given. I want you to tell me of another situation please because the constitution is covering another situation but has not explicitly stated that situation which I presume is the expiration of their term of office.

  9. Why does Gasim just not realize that he has LOST in both rounds and give up he is not helping matters.....

    The Supreme Court needs to allow the government / parliament get on with running the country, all it shows is that the right individuals are not actually allowed to do their duty and are merely puppets in a game of corruption along with contradicting their own country rules when on any resort!

    They are destroying this wonderful country....

  10. @tsk tsk

    The Article 124 refers to an eventuality within a Presidential term. Based on this premise, the new term starts tomorrow and our new President is good to go - unless he is incapacitated from fulfilling his duties. The reason for his incapacitation could be health, death, even change of heart after elections. It's a good thing the Article 124 of the constitution provides for such an eventuality.

    The new President for the term (2013-2018) will be incapacitated from fulfilling his duties tomorrow, because he is unelected. So, in accordance to the constitution, the Speaker must be sworn in.

  11. @tsk tsk and his ilk are brain dead if he can't get that without a president elected for the next term a situation arises where by both offices of President and Vice President becomes vacant. The Supreme court has clearly ruled out its bound, infringing on the rights of Maldivian electorate, when their verdict was to keep the Kaalhu Waheed.

  12. @tsk tsk on Sun, 10th Nov 2013 2:28 PM.

    I just cannot see the need, or just cannot understand, why the meaning of what is written in Dhivehi need to be told and explained to Maldivian after every four or five words. Because the literate can read and understand it. The illiterate will know when it is read and heard!

    Lawyer/s who drafted the Constitution in the first instant must be really cunning to write it such that even the people of the tongue need their kind to read in between the lines for them!

    The real problem to what is going in the country will come to an end when old gunners hang their gloves and the those who do injustice, hang their pants!

  13. Well Mr. VP a bit too late for you to resign. Just let the Maldivian public know what you have done to help your fellow citizens since you took office
    You on the other hand got Kuda Bandos and you can develop the island as a tourist resort. Well done!!!!!!
    Go fuck yourself

  14. After 12 tonight it's every man for himself. If Waheeddeen can have the only picnic island in vicinity then anything we grab belongs to us.

    There will be no election on the 16th. Waheed has said he will not permit a situation where any one party gets sidelined. Should Yaameen boycott the election then Waheed will cling on until he is forced out. If MNDF does not act the people should act.

  15. The SC is exceeding it's authority all the time lately. And because the SC, the police and army are all in the pocket of PPM, the SC's unlawful rulings (ordered by PPM) can be enforced. Things will go in whatever way is in the best interest of PPM, not in the best interest of the Maldivian people.

    It's at the end because of an unlawful SC ruling we are now in a constitutional void by giving none elected political figures the power to boycott elections. Signing the voters registry servers no real purpose other than that anyway.

    But whoever holds the title of president right now, doesn't matter anyway. The real power lies with PPM, through the control of the police and army. Even after a new president is elected it will be a huge and difficult task to take real control over the country.

  16. The American administration's stand is to let Maldivians learn to walk through fire without their assistance.


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