JSC President Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla resigns

Judicial Service Commission (JSC) President Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla has resigned from the commission (January 18).

A JSC press statement released today explained that the Supreme Court justice had submitted his letter of resignation, saying that Adam Mohamed had requested to be excused, citing personal circumstances.

He has been a member of the JSC since 2010, when he joined as a High Court judge.

The resignation comes less than a month after the JSC found Adam Mohamed’s fellow judges on the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan, unfit to continue to serve on the bench, in a ruling made available to neither the public nor MPs.

The secrecy of the decision did not prevent the Majlis voting to remove the pair three days later, in a move described as having “severely jeopardised” the country’s judicial independence by Commonwealth groups.

The Civil Court and several prominent lawyers also condemned the JSC’s recommendation to remove the judges, saying that the People’s Majlis had “forced” the JSC to deem Faiz and Adnan unfit for the bench without due process, through an “unconstitutional” amendment to the Judicature Act.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and lawyers Gabriela Knaul also expressed serious concern over the removal of the judges saying that the decision will “have a chilling effect on the work of the judiciary at all levels”.

In a 2013 report, Knaul observed that the JSC had a “complicated” relationship with the judiciary due to competing claims with the Prosecutor General’s Office over jurisdiction regarding complaints against judges.

Knaul noted that political polarisation in the country had meant that the “commission has allegedly been subjected to all sorts of external influence and has consequently been unable to function properly”.

Adam Mohamed himself faced a number of challenges from within the commission during his tenure as president, with commission member Shuaib Abdul Rahman filing no-confidence motions against him in 2013.

Rahman accused Mohamed of failing to back the JSC’s investigation of Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed’s sex-tape scandal, and of abusing his power to release press statements on behalf of the commission.

Related to this story

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Removal of Supreme Court judges will have “chilling effect” on work of judiciary: UN special rapporteur

A justice system in crisis: UN Special Rapporteur’s report

JSC rejects no-confidence motion against Chair Adam Mohamed


Majlis removes Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz, Justice Muthasim Adnan from Supreme Court

The People’s Majlis has today removed Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan from the Supreme Court bench.

Of the 75 MPs who were present and voting at today’s extraordinary sitting, 53 MPs voted in favor, while 21 MPs voted against the move. One MP abstained.

The dismissal comes after the judicial watchdog, the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), found the judges guilty of gross misconduct and incompetence at an emergency meeting on Thursday.

The ruling has not been made available to MPs or to the public.

“Today marks the darkest day in the constitutional history of Maldives,” opposition leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed said prior to the vote, claiming President Abdulla Yameen was attempting to fashion the Supreme Court “into a coat to fit his shoulders.”

Six opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs – Yamin Rasheed, Abdul Bari Abdulla, Ismail Naseer, Mohamed Nazim, Ahmed Marzooq, and Reeko Moosa Manik – did not attend today’s sitting despite a three-whip line ordering all 23 MPs to be present and vote against the judges’ dismissal. Nasheed has suggested the MPs were offered bribes for their absence.

Speaking to the press after the vote, MDP Chairperson Ali Waheed said he has asked the part’s disciplinary committee to take action against the six MPs for breaking the whip line.

The MDP will continue to grow, he said, adding: “This is another wave in Maldives democracy. We will ride it out.”

Four Jumhooree Party (JP) MPs also voted against the dismissal. They include JP Leader and tourism tycoon Gasim Ibrahim, Ali Hussein, Abdulla Riyaz, and Hussein Mohamed.

Ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) MP Mohamed Nasheed abstained from the vote.

The new chief justice will be appointed at a second extraordinary sitting tonight. President Yameen’s nominee is most likely to be incumbent judge and Chief Justice of the interim Supreme Court Abdulla Saeed.

MPs attacked, threatened

During today’s sitting, several MDP and JP MPs condemned the Majlis secretariat’s failure to provide details of the JSC report, stating they have not been provided with a reason for Faiz and Muthasim’s dismissal.

Addressing Majlis Speaker Abdulla Maseeh, MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy said: “These days under your Speakership will be written down in history as the most undemocratic and violent in the Maldives.”

He also described every day under President Yameen as a threat to the Maldives constitution.

Fahmy and JP MP Abdulla Riyaz were attacked and doused with petrol on their way to the Majlis this morning.

Several MPs, including former Speaker Abdulla Shahid and MDP MP Rozaina Adam received texts stating: “If you fail to do what you must today, then prepare to die. Your children will be sacrificed for this as well.”

JP MP Hussein Mohamed repeatedly questioned Maseeh how the Majlis could vote to dismiss judges based on a three line letter from the JSC.

MP Ali Hussein, also of the JP, said the JSC had flouted due process and failed to provide judges an opportunity to speak in their defense. The Majlis must take responsibility if the move results in vigilante justice and anarchy, he added.

Rozaina said the world would laugh at Maldives’ “uncivilized” attempt to remove Supreme Court judges and questioned why the JSC had failed to find Justice Ali Hameed, implicated in three sex tapes, guilty of misconduct.

Demanding details of the JSC ruling, MDP MP Mariya Didi asked if the two judges were being dismissed because they have often formed the dissenting opinion in several controversial cases, including the decision to annul the presidential polls of September 2013.

MDP MP Rtd Brigadier General Ibrahim Didi repeatedly recited verses of the Qur’an prohibiting bribery and appealed to the Speaker to refrain from holding the vote.

Religious Adhaalath Party MP Anara Naeem voted for Faiz and Muthasim’s dismissal despite initially telling local media she would decide on a position only after researching the JSC ruling.

Meanwhile, approximately 100 MDP members led by Nasheed gathered on Fareedhee Magu, several meters away from the Majlis house, in protest of the Majlis vote.

Police had warned protesters they would be arrested and prosecuted within 48 hours of arrest if they attempt to cross police lines.

The Civil Court yesterday issued a resolution condemning the JSC’s ruling, stating that the People’s Majlis had “forced” the JSC to deem Faiz and Adnan unfit for the bench through an “unconstitutional” amendment to the Judicature Act.

“We believe we are obliged to comment on the issue for the sake of the democratic and judicial history of the Maldives, and we believe keeping silent at this juncture amounts to negligence” the seven member bench said.

The MDP has since sought an injunction to stop the Majlis vote from proceeding and asked the Civil Court to invalidate the JSC decision. The Civil Court has accepted the case, but the vote went ahead before a decision on the stay order could be reached.

Private lawyers have also taken up the case in the High Court, with Hasaan Maaz Shareef, Mohamed Faisal, and Shaheen Hameed also asking for the vote to be halted and for the annulment of “unconstitutional” amendments to the Judicature Act.

This article has been updated with the details of today’s vote and opposition’s response to the vote.

Related to this story

MDP asks Civil Court to halt Majlis decision on judges’ removal

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JSC recommends dismissal of Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan

Civil Court condemns move to dismiss Chief Justice Faiz and Justice Adnan


Majlis to vote on Chief Justice Faiz, Justice Muthasim dismissal on Sunday

The People’s Majlis is set to vote on the dismissal of Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan at an extraordinary sitting on Sunday.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has called for protests against the vote and issued a three-line-whip calling on its 23 MPs to be present for the vote.

The MDP has declared the Judicature Act amendment reducing the seven-member Supreme Court bench “unconstitutional” and announced it will challenge the move at the Supreme Court.

Faiz and Muthasim’s dismissal appear likely as ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) control 48 seats of the 85-member house.

Parties opposed to the move, the MDP and Jumhooree Party (JP) control 23 and 12 seats respectively.

Judges can be voted out by a two-third majority of MPs present and voting. Faiz and Muthasim have formed the dissenting opinion in several controversial cases, including the Supreme Court’s decision to annul the first round of presidential polls held in September 2013.

MDP divided

MDP chairperson Ali Waheed on Thursday called on the JP to stop “the attempt to bury democracy in the Maldives.”

Meanwhile, opposition leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed in a tweet today said the biggest threat to the Maldivian nation is MPs who accept bribes.

Reliable sources have told Minivan News opposition MPs are being offered MVR2.5 million (US$162,000) each to be absent from the Majlis during the vote.

MDP MP and deputy Speaker Reeko Moosa Manik has said he will abstain from any vote on the Supreme Court bench reduction.

“I do not believe we have to come out in defense of the Chief Justice,” Moosa told newspaper Haveeru on Friday.

Pointing to the apex court’s stripping of three MDP MPs of their seats in the previous Majlis, the decision to annul the first round of presidential polls, and Faiz’s silence on Nasheed’s ouster in February 2012, Moosa said the Supreme Court had caused a lot of damage to MDP.

He had voted for the Judicature Act amendment against a three-whip line, claiming the move would facilitate judicial reform. Moosa has also announced he will contest the MDP primaries for the 2018 presidential polls, and has since accused Nasheed of excessive influence within the party.

MDP MPs Yamin Rasheed, Abdul Bari Abdulla, and Ibrahim Naseer are reportedly out of the country at present.

The MDP’s ‘In Defense of Democracy’ protest is to start at 9:00 am outside the People’s Majlis.

Dissent within PPM?

PPM MP for Kulhudhuffushi Mohamed Nasheed had abstained from the vote on the amendment on Wednesday. Haveeru has since reported of dissent within the PPM regarding the decision to reduce the Supreme Court bench.

When some PPM MPs spoke out against the amendment before it was put to vote, PPM Deputy Leader and Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb warned MPs that votes against the amendment would be seen as failure to support the government, Haveeru said.

Adeeb reportedly refused to answer why the government was seeking to reduce the bench.

Nasheed and Malé MP Ahmed Mahloof voted against a three-line whip on the amendment, an anonymous PPM MP told Haveeru.

PPM Parliamentary Group Leader Ahmed Nihan has said “there is no harm” in reducing the Supreme Court bench and described the move as a door to judicial reform.

Speaking to Haveeru, Nihan said: “The constitution does not explicitly state the number of judges on the Supreme Court bench. It doesn’t say whether it’s 13 or seven. There is no legal barrier to reducing the Supreme Court bench.”

The PPM and MDA had pushed the amendment through with 46 votes on Wednesday.

Within hours of its ratification on Thursday, the judicial watchdog Judicial Services Commission (JSC) recommended Faiz and Muthasim’s dismissal.

Article 154 of the Constitution says a judge can only be dismissed if the JSC finds the judge guilty of gross misconduct and incompetence and if a two-third majority of MPs present and voting votes out the judge.

The JSC has declined to reveal any details of Thursday’s meeting, claiming members had decided to keep proceedings confidential until the Majlis vote.

Nihan said he could not challenge the JSC’s decision to dismiss the judges.

“When they say these are the two judges who should be dismissed based on their standards, then we will have to go ahead with it,” he said.

He also expressed surprise at MDP’s opposition to the move, claiming former President Nasheed had called Chief Justice Faiz a liar.


JSC recommends dismissal of Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan

The Judicial Services Commission has today recommended Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Musthasim Adnan be dismissed from the Supreme Court bench.

The decision comes within hours of  President Abdulla Yameen ratifying an amendment to reduce the seven-member Supreme Court to five judges.

According to local media, several members of the judicial watchdog body boycotted today’s extraordinary meeting, claiming the amendment was unconstitutional.

JSC Secretary General Abu Bakr refused to provide details of today’s meeting stating the commission had decided to keep proceedings confidential until the Majlis reaches a decision.

According to the revised Judicature Act, the JSC must deem two of the seven judges unsuitable for the position within three days and the parliament must vote out the judges with a two-thirds majority of members present and voting within seven days. Dismissed judges will be provided a generous compensation package.

Article 154 of the Constitution says a judge can only be removed if the JSC finds a judge guilty of gross incompetence or misconduct.

Dismissal of the judges appear likely as the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) control 48 seats of the 85-member house.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Jumhooree Party (JP), who opposed the amendment, only control 23 and 12 seats respectively.

The amendment was proposed by MDP MP Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef, but the MDP issued a three line whip against the proposal with opposition leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed saying it would allow President Yameen to stack the Supreme Court bench in his favor.

JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim on December 2 called the amendment unconstitutional and an “atrocity.” He said the amendment will allow the executive and Majlis to change the Supreme Court bench at their whim.

Faiz and Adnan have formed the dissenting opinions in several controversial cases, including the decision to annul the first round of presidential elections held in September 2013.

Since then, the Supreme Court has been involved in numerous controversies both in and out of the court room.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court used a ‘suo moto’ proceeding – allowing the Court to act as both the plaintiff and the judge – against the Elections Comission (EC).

EC president Fuwad Thowfeek and Vice President Ahmed Fayaz were subsequently charged with contempt of court and disobedience to order, being sentenced to six months in jail after the court used testimony given in the People’s Majlis independent commission’s oversight committee.

More recently, the court employed a similar ‘suo moto’ proceeding against the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives (HRCM) after it criticised the judiciary in its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) for the UN Human Rights Council.

The court charged the HRCM with undermining the constitution and sovereignty of the Maldives by spreading lies about the judiciary.  It said that the UPR submission– based on a 2013 report by the UN Special Rapporteur for Independence of Judges and Lawyers Gabriela Knaul – was “poorly researched”, “irresponsible” and “dangerous”.

June this year also saw Judge Ali Hameed – a sitting judge at the Supreme Court – cleared of a sex tape scandal after three recordings surfaced allegedly showing Ali Hameed engaging in sexual acts with three different woman.

The revised Judicature Act also propose the establishment of two additional branches of the High Court in the northern and southern regions of the Maldives.

The two new branches can only adjudicate the rulings of the magistrate courts. The nine-member High Court is to be divided among the three branches with three judges in each branch.


Velezinee barred from Supreme Court trial

Former Judicial Service Commission (JSC) member Aishath Velezinee was barred from yesterday’s trial at the Supreme Court against members of the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM).

Although Velezinee registered at the reception to observe proceedings, she was later told by a court officer that she could be let into the court room for “security reasons”.

Other members of the public as well as journalists were allowed to enter after registering.

Velezinee subsequently wrote a letter to Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain in protest of the discriminatory treatment. Noting that she was even given a pass after registering, Velezinee asked for an explanation from the court for depriving her of a constitutional right to observe proceedings.

In 2010, Velezinee turned whistleblower and alleged the JSC was complicit in protecting judges appointed under the Gayoom’s government, and was colluding with parliament to ensure legal impunity for senior opposition supporters. In January 2011 she was stabbed twice in the back in broad daylight.


Sun Shiyam’s alcohol possession trial delayed again

The second hearing in the alcohol possession and smuggling trial of Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) leader and MP Ahmed ‘Sun’ Shiyam has been cancelled for the third time in two months.

According to the Criminal Court, a scheduled hearing was cancelled today as the court was unable to deliver the summons chit.

Media reports that the presiding judge has been changed have today been denied by the court.

In March 2012, customs officers at Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) discovered a bottle of alcohol in the MP’s luggage. After a police investigation, the case was forwarded to the Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office in August 2012 before being returned to police due to incomplete information.

The relative speed at which cases related to opposition MPs have travelled through the justice system prompted the Maldivian Democratic Party to seek a no-confidence motion against then PG Ahmed Muizz.

Muizz’s subsequent resignation last November has indirectly led to the current crisis in the country’s courts.

Shiyam was eventually charged – more than a year later – although a hearing scheduled for November 7 2013 was cancelled after a summons chit was not delivered to Shiyam.

The Criminal Court subsequently ordered police to present the MP in court, after which he appeared for the first hearing on March 13, 2014.

With local media reporting that Shiyam was kept in the guest area of the court – unlike other suspects – Shiyam denied the charges and requested more time to research the case.

A scheduled hearing for April 10 was again cancelled due to Shiyam’s absence from the capital, with the rescheduled hearing also cancelled as the court was unable to deliver the chit.

An unannounced hearing was attempted on March 27 prior to these official hearings, while Judge Ahmed Sameer Abdul Aziz – who is presiding over the case – was on leave. Citing an anonymous source at the court, local media outlet CNM reported that Criminal Court Chief Justice Abdullah Mohamed was behind this attempt.

“[Criminal Court Chief] Justice Abdulla [Mohamed]was to finish the case. In this regard he sent summoning chits to witnesses while they have not even been presented [by the state], and tried to hold a hearing today at 10am,” CNM quoted the official as saying.

The attempt eventually failed after after a number of court officials were absent from work, CNM was told.

While the case was not on the hearing schedule published on their official website, the court’s spokesperson told CNM such arrangements were not unlawful.

Replacing the judge

Meanwhile local media has reported that the court has now replaced Judge Abdul Aziz with Judge Shujau Usman upon Shiyam’s request.

The Criminal Court has denied these reports, saying that today’s hearing had also been scheduled to be conducted by Judge Abdul Aziz.

The media has published contents of a letter attributed to Shiyam which requests the removal Judge Abdul Aziz from the case stating the he has a personal grudge against the Meedhoo MP.

The letter, dated 24 April 2014, and addressed to to Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz is said to states that, during the first hearing, Judge Abdul Aziz displayed hand gestures and facial expressions which suggested the possibility of acting impartially against Shiyam.

It stated that Judge Abdul Aziz was also displeased with the MDA leader following his complaints, and that Shiyam had received information the judge may be considering a hastened and strict verdict against him.

The letter described the case against Shiyam as “a devious plot by some powerful people” and a politically motivated lie invented by Shiyam’s enemies.

If found guilty, Shiyam could lose his seat in the parliament as per Article 73(c)(2) of the constitution which states that members will be disqualified upon receiving a criminal sentence of more than twelve months would.

Import and possession of alcohol without a special permit form the Ministry of Economic Development is is a criminal offence in the Maldives. The penalty for the crime under the Unlawful Imports Act is 1-3 years imprisonment, banishment or a fine between MVR1000 – 5000.


Chief Justice Faiz previously alleged bribery in interim Supreme Court: Nasheed

Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz alleged in 2010 that judges on the interim Supreme Court “openly accepted bribes”, advising then-President Mohamed Nasheed to “bring the interim court to a halt,” Nasheed has claimed at a campaign rally in Male’ last night.

In 2010, then-interim Supreme Court Justice Faiz requested an audience with the president, Nasheed explained, noting that it was the first time he had met with a sitting judge.

“Faiz came and said the judges on the interim Supreme Court were openly accepting bribes and that Faiz knew of it,” Nasheed said.

He named the judges who were accepting bribes, Nasheed added.

“Faiz told me that the work that went on in the interim Supreme Court was not establishing justice but buying and selling. He said the court must be brought to a halt,” he continued.

Faiz advised the president that he was obliged to rein in the interim court, Nasheed said.

Interim bench

Nasheed referred to the five-member interim Supreme Court – headed by interim Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed – declaring that it was permanent ahead of the constitutional deadline for the interim period on August 7, 2010.

Apart from Faiz, the interim bench sworn in on September 18, 2008 consisted of Justice Abdulla Saeed, Justice Mujthaz Fahmy, Justice Abdulla Areef, and Justice Yousuf Hussain.

Nasheed noted that the then-ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) did not have a majority in the People’s Majlis, through which the permanent Supreme Court was to be instituted.

Referring to Justice Ali Hameed’s sex tape scandal, the former president revealed that his first seven nominees to the apex court did not include “disgraced judges.”

The original candidates included sitting MPs and a relative of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, he added.

Nasheed alleged that Jumhooree Party Leader Gasim Ibrahim offered an unlimited amount of money to MDP parliamentary group leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in exchange for confirming Ali Hameed to the Supreme Court bench.

On August 7, 2010, when the constitutional interim period expired, President Nasheed ordered the military to confiscate the keys of the Supreme Court after the interim court declared itself permanent.

Three days later, parliament hastily passed the Judges Act and approved Nasheed’s nominees to the new Supreme Court bench in a deal reached with the then-opposition parties who controlled parliament.

The president’s member on the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), Aishath Velezinee, described Faiz at the time as “a well-respected man amongst the judges. I have never heard anybody question his independence or impartiality. He is a learned man and amongst all the politicking and hanky-panky going on, he has maintained his integrity.”

Nasheed meanwhile went on to severely criticise Faiz for issuing a harshly worded statement condemning international partners who expressed concern with the Supreme Court’s controversial removal of the Elections Commission’s chair and deputy chair.

The Supreme Court was “destroying the future of generations to come,” he said.


Supreme Court initiates contempt charges against EC, begins surprise trial

Read this article in Dhivehi

The Supreme Court has pressed contempt of court charges against the Elections Commission (EC) and held an unannounced hearing today under new regulations that allow the apex court to initiate charges and hold trial.

“The [Supreme Court] judges believe comments made by the Elections Commission in various forums on the court’s decisions and orders are contemptuous of the court. Today’s hearing is on our own initiative,” Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz said.

In addition to allegations of contempt of court, the EC is being charged with allegedly violating a Supreme Court order by dissolving eight minor political parties.

All four EC members were handed summons yesterday to attend the Supreme Court. However, Minivan News understands EC members and lawyers were not informed the Supreme Court would hold trial today. Case documents were only given to the commission a few minutes before trial began.

EC lawyer Hussein Siraj requested the Supreme Court to allow the commission an opportunity to research case documents and respond accordingly.

After a five-minute discussion break, Faiz agreed to the commission’s request and adjourned the hearing. He said a date for the next hearing would be announced later.

Five of the seven Supreme Court judges presided over today’s hearing, including Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz, Judge Ali Hameed, Judge Abdulla Saeed, Judge Ahmed Abdulla Didi, and Judge Adam Mohamed Abdulla.

Sumoto regulations

New regulations, titled ‘sumoto’ and publicised on February 6 allow the Supreme Court to initiate trials against any organisation or individual.

The defendants must be allowed the right to defend themselves, the regulations state.

The seven-member judge panel will preside over sumoto cases unless the Supreme Court decides otherwise.

“[The Supreme Court] must refer to how free and democratic countries act in such cases, in a manner that does not contradict the constitution of the Maldives,” the regulations state.

Contempt of court

Faiz said that the EC had made remarks in various press conferences that amounted to contempt of court, and which violated Article 145 of the constitution which states that the Supreme Court shall be the final authority on the interpretation of the constitution.

EC President Fuwad Thowfeek has previously criticised evidence used by the Supreme Court in annulling the first round of September’s presidential elections.

Four of the seven judges claimed that dead and underage voters had been allowed to vote, though it later emerged that several of those listed as deceased were in fact alive while several individuals listed as minors were in fact eligible to vote.

The EC has also said a 16-point electoral guideline imposed by the Supreme Court was “impractical”.

A leaked report by the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives has also questioned the evidence, noting that the Supreme Court does not have the authority to delineate guidelines.

Political Parties Act

The EC is also being charged with violating a January 9 Supreme Court order, which invalidated an EC order to smaller political parties requiring raising their membership to 10,000.

The EC had sent the letter as per Article 27 of the Political Party Act that states that it must give political parties a three-month deadline to increase party membership to 10,000.

The Supreme Court on January 9, however, ruled that the letter was invalid as the apex court had in September struck down Article 11 of the Political Party Act. Although the Supreme Court had not expressly struck down Article 27 in its initial verdict, the January 9 order said Article 27 was no longer functional.

Speaking to Minivan News before today’s trial, Fuwad said the EC had not disobeyed the Supreme Court’s order, saying that he believed the court may be referring to the EC’s decision to dissolve eight parties on February 6 for failing to reach the mandatory minimum of 3,000 members.

“While most of these parties are not active at all, the Elections Commission made a public announcement in 2013 to find out where their offices were located as letters and other documents sent to the parties were not being delivered,” the EC stated in a press release at the time.

“We also note that these parties to whom funds have to be released every year from the state budget have not been regularly submitting audit reports to the Elections Commission.”

As inactive parties were provided large amounts of state funding, the EC noted that dissolving the parties would alleviate the strain on the state budget.


MDP should boycott polls unduly influenced by Supreme Court, says Nasheed

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) should not participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections if the Supreme Court exerts undue influence over the Elections Commission (EC), former President Mohamed Nasheed has said.

Speaking at a campaign event in Male’ last night, Nasheed contended that the Supreme Court’s summoning of EC members over alleged contempt of court was an attempt to “intimidate” the independent institution.

The apex court, in collusion with the ruling coalition, was planning to “play the same game they played in the presidential election,” the MDP’s former presidential candidate alleged, adding that the ‘Progressive Coalition’ was certain of facing defeat.

“In my view, an election conducted with the Supreme Court exerting influence over the Elections Commission to deliberately commit electoral fraud or rig the vote will not be a legitimate election – in my view, MDP should not participate in such an election,” Nasheed said.

Neither the international community nor the Maldivian public would accept general elections boycotted by the MDP, Nasheed said.

Nasheed referred to new regulations (Dhivehi) formulated by the Supreme Court last week to specify procedures for initiating cases on their own accord, correctly predicting that the court was planning to prosecute EC members.

“If the Supreme Court delays the election, meddles with the voters list and commits fraud after summoning the Elections Commissioner tomorrow [Wednesday] and intimidating Elections Commission members, I would say that the damage to our democracy and our country from participating in such a election would be greater [than not participating],” he said.

Nasheed claimed that the MDP lost last year’s presidential election because of “fraud and deception”.

“In my view, if we give up the Majlis election the same way, we are losing our future, the future of our children and children’s children,” he added.

A free and fair election in which the public has confidence is the foundation of democratic governance, Nasheed stressed.

“When there is no justice in voting, everything loses legitimacy,” he said.

Nasheed concluded his remarks by calling on the Supreme Court not to “muddle the entire future and hope of this nation.”

Meanwhile, appearing on MDP-aligned private broadcaster Raajje TV last night, MP Ali Waheed claimed that the government was conspiring to postpone the parliamentary elections scheduled for March 22.

The MDP parliamentary group’s deputy leader said he had learned of plans to delay the polls in certain constituencies in a bid to ensure that the ruling coalition secures a majority.

“If they carry out these efforts again this time, we will bring the whole country to a halt,” he warned.

Troubled polls

Last year’s presidential election was marred by repeated delays, cancellations and police obstruction.

On October 7, the Supreme Court annulled the results of the first round of the polls conducted on September 7 in a controversial 4-3 decision – citing a confidential police report – despite unanimous positive assessment of the polling by more than a thousand domestic and international election observers.

While the secret police report alleging irregularities – which was not shared with the EC’s defence lawyers – was dismissed by a UN expert review, the credibility of the evidence cited by the apex court was also questioned by the Human Rights Commission of Maldives.

Following the first round in which Nasheed emerged the frontrunner with 45.45 percent of the vote, third-placed candidate Gasim Ibrahim sought annulment of the results alleging widespread electoral fraud.

Pending a ruling on the business magnate’s appeal, the Supreme Court indefinitely suspended the second round scheduled for September 28 and issued a supplementary midnight ruling ordering the police and military to forcibly prevent the EC from conducting the polls.

The EC had said it intended to comply with the constitutionally-mandated deadline for the run-off, but was forced to capitulate after it was surrounded by special operations police with orders to storm the building, arrest officials and confiscate ballot papers.

The eventual revote on October 19 was also obstructed by police, after Progressive Party of Maldives candidate Abdulla Yameen and Gasim refused to sign the voter registry – a requirement from a 16-point guideline imposed on the EC by the Supreme Court judgment.

The guidelines also compelled the EC to consider the Department of National Registry’s (DNR) database as the primary source for compiling the eligible voters registry.

While the revote was eventually held on November 9 and a second round was due to take place the next day, Yameen refused to sign the voter lists hours before polls were to open and the Supreme Court ordered the EC to conduct the run-off election on November 16.

In what was the EC’s sixth attempt in two months to conduct polls, Yameen narrowly defeated Nasheed with 51.39 percent of the vote (111,203) to the MDP candidate’s 48.61 percent (105,181).

Meanwhile, on January 18, Nasheed told reporters that the MDP suspected electoral fraud using fake national identity cards in November’s polls.

Nasheed contended that non-existent people were added to the database at the DNR as part of “efforts to rig the election through the Supreme Court.”

EC President Fuwad Thowfeek told the press last month that the commission was was forced to consider the DNR list as legitimate despite errors, such as citizens deemed deceased while alive.