Vice president labels impeachment a ‘constitutional coup’

Vice President Dr. Mohamed Jameel has called his party’s attempt to remove him a “constitutional coup” and suggested that the international community should intervene.

Speaking to the New Indian Express from London on Tuesday, Jameel said, “This is a constitutional coup in the guise of constitutional reforms.”

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) submitted a resolution to impeach Jameel with cross-party support. A two-thirds majority or 57 votes is required to impeach the president or the vice-president.

The petition was submitted with 61 signatures. PPM MPs have publicly accused Dr. Jameel of incompetence and disloyalty.

“There is a complete disregard for parliamentary procedure just to get the tourism minister after me. This is personal vengeance,” Jameel said.

Jameel, who reportedly sounded anxious, told the New Indian Express: “Friends of Maldives should step in..They understand what’s happening.”

When asked if he meant Indian government should intervene, he added: “I don’t need to spell it out. But, it is clear what their role should be”.

The vice president broke his long silence on the imminent impeachment with a statement on Twitter yesterday. “It is a violation of the people’s rights when a party or an organization, at their whim, without any legal basis, removes an officer directly elected by them,” he wrote.

He was not responding to calls at the time of going to press.

Senior party officials have said that they are seeking to replace Jameel with Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb.

Jameel denied allegations of incompetency and told the New Indian Express that he had been carrying out his duty as the President Abdulla Yameen had ordered him to.

“The President has to tell me that I have not performed properly, but he never told me that,” he said.

Opposition politicians have meanwhile claimed President Yameen is fatally ill and wants a more loyal deputy ahead of a life threatening surgery. The government continues to deny rumors of the president’s health.

In the statement on Twitter, Jameel accused the PPM parliamentary group of greed and said that MPs have arbitrarily amended the constitution for their personal interests.

The parliament last week passed the first amendment to the constitution with overwhelming multi-party consensus to set the new age limits of 30-65 years for the presidency and vice presidency. Adeeb is now 33. The constitution previously stated that candidates must be 35 years of age.

Dr Jameel left to Sri Lanka last week after President Yameen authorised a medical leave. A senior PPM MP told Minivan News that Jameel had departed to the UK without informing the president’s office.

The MP said President Abdulla Yameen has asked the vice president to return to the Maldives and answer to the party’s parliamentary group about his impeachment.

However, Jameel told New Indian Express that he obtained permission before travelling to the UK and that he was attending a human rights seminar in London.