President Abdulla Yameen has defended the nomination of his nephew Maumoon Hameed to the vacant post of prosecutor general (PG), announcing his intention to nominate the lawyer to parliament for a second time.
Parliament rejected Hameed – son of former Atolls Minister Abdulla Hameed – on April 14 after the nominee fell three votes short of securing parliamentary approval.
Addressing supporters in the Feydhoo ward of Addu City last night (May 18), President Yameen insisted that Hameed was chosen based on competence and qualification rather than family connection.
“I don’t want in any case for the People’s Majlis to appoint Maumoon Hameed to the post of Prosecutor General because he is my brother or a member of my family,” Yameen said.
“But even tonight, I want to say proudly, standing before the public, that yes, it is true, there are educated and competent persons in my family. They want to serve the Maldivian government and the Maldivian people. They will be brought before the law when they violate the law. I am sending Maumoon Hameed’s name [to parliament] this time as well.”
He added that he wished for parliament to approve “approve a trustworthy and experienced person as prosecutor general.”
Opposition members of the Majlis involved in the previous approval process have suggested that he had failed to meet the oversight committee’s assessment criteria, suggesting that he had shown a poor understanding of current legal issues concerning the country’s legal system.
Yameen observed that the nomination of his nephew has been the subject of criticism in the media, noting that the names of other applicants would be forwarded to parliament as well.
Earlier this month, the President’s Office invited applications for the PG post for a third time after too few candidates put forward their names.
President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz revealed this week that the applicants included four judges in addition to former Tourism Minister Mariyam Zulfa and state prosecutor Aishath Fazna Ahmed.
The PG’s post has been vacant since November following the resignation of Ahmed Muiz ahead of a scheduled no-confidence motion in parliament.
The criminal justice system was meanwhile temporarily brought to a halt with the resignation on May 4 of Deputy Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem – who had been fulfilling the responsibilities of the PG – citing “obstruction” by the Criminal Court.
In the wake of Shameem’s resignation, state prosecutors refused to attend trials in the absence of both the PG and his deputy. However, the prosecutors resumed work after a week-long hiatus following a Supreme Court order last week.
18th People’s Majlis
Following parliament’s rejection of Hameed last month, opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor suggested that the failure to secure a simple majority of 39 votes was down to either poor organisation on the part of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) or a sign of discord within the governing coalition.
“MP Gasim Ibrahim [Jumhooree Party leader] was openly lobbying against the PG nominee 30 minutes before vote but voted with PPM,” Hamid claimed, noting the conspicuous absence of a number of prominent government-aligned MPs for the vote.
Hamid predicted that Maumoon Hameed’s name would be resubmitted to the newly-elected parliament as the Progressive Coalition secured a comfortable majority in the March 22 polls.
Tension has however arisen between the PPM and coalition partner JP over the post of speaker. While Gasim announced his intention to stand for the post, President Yameen said the speaker should be a member of the ruling party as it won the most number of seats in the 18th People’s Majlis.
The Progressive Coalition won a combined total of 53 seats in the March 22 parliamentary polls, well above the simple majority of 43 required to approve presidential nominees and pass legislation.
In his speech last night, President Yameen strongly criticised the outgoing parliament, reiterating the importance of parliament’s cooperation for implementing the government’s policies and carrying out infrastructure projects.
“I want a member of our party to become speaker of the People’s Majlis in this term. I don’t want a member of another party to hijack our party,” he said.
Speaking at the function, former President Gayoom also said that the PPM needed to ensure public backing for the government.
“The government needs the sincere support of the Maldivian people at this time. We can provide that support to the government by increasing the number of members in our party,” he said.
The PPM leader launched a recruitment drive to increase party membership earlier this month.