Adhaalath Party President vows to dissolve parliament, force MPs to resign

Additional reporting by Neil Meritt

The Adhaalath Party has threatened to dissolve parliament for “not functioning constitutionally”, by pressuring members to resign “just as former President Nasheed was” in February 2012.

President of the Adhaalath Party (AP), Sheikh Imran Abdullah, claimed parliamentarians were not conducting themselves according to the constitution or serving the Maldivian people.

Imran was speaking during a ‘National Movement’ event held at the Artificial Beach in Male’ on March 19, reported local media.

“If the parliament continues to fail to function according to the wishes of the people, Members of Parliament will be pressured to resign in in a similar manner as former President Mohamed Nasheed,” Imran declared.

“God willing, we will dissolve the parliament if it is not conducted according to the constitution. If they don’t want that, they should follow the constitution. We want the parliament to be an honourable place,” he added.

Imran claimed the recently ratified Parliamentary Privileges Act and Political Party Bill are not constitutionally valid laws.

“The Supreme Court has the authority to declare void laws that are enacted in violation of the constitution. So the recently-made Privileges Act and Political Party Act for which protests have been held after they were returned without ratification, are void.

“No action can be taken based on the void articles in these laws. We are not concerned about being accused of violating MPs’ privileges,” he said.

President Mohamed Waheed ratified the two controversial bills – the Parliament’s Privileges Bill and Political Parties Bill – despite previous claims that the two bills had several lapses and “unconstitutional” elements.

Following the President’s initial vetoing of the two bills, parliament overruled the presidential veto by a house majority and forced the bill into law, giving the president no option but to ratify the bills – one of which would see the dissolution of his own political party.

“Not a pressing issue”: Deputy Speaker Nazim

During parliament’s session Wednesday (March 19) MPs presented the issue to the Majlis floor considering Sheik Imran’s comments, a parliamentary official told Minivan News.

“Deputy Speaker of Parliament, MP Ahmed Nazim, who was chairing the sessions, said the matter was not a pressing issue despite concerns the comments were contrary to immunity provided for Majlis members.

“Pointing to parliament’s rules of procedure, Nazim requested any concerns on the matter be forwarded to the parliamentary committee overseeing MP privileges and immunity,” the official added.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) both reflected the parliamentary sentiments that Imran’s remarks were of no concern.

MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor dismissed Imran’s remarks while speaking to Minivan News today.

“Sheik Imran has no understanding of public opinion. Parliament is very popular and the public looks to their elected representatives to solve problems,” claimed Ghafoor.

“As usual, he has got it wrong as he found out people do not like the coup he helped pull off by radicalsing groups of police and the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF).

“I think parliament is the only democratic institution left. The judiciary has been proven to be corrupt and my party has declared their intention to replace the supreme court bench,” Ghafoor added.

DRP Deputy Leader Ibrahim Shareef agreed, telling Minivan News that Imran’s comments were merely rhetoric.

“Imran is not serious, it’s all rhetoric with no meaning or substance. No such thing [as in the dissolution of parliament] is going to happen. All political leaders have rhetoric, it’s not something to worry about,” said Shareef.

“In fact our political climate is so polarised political leaders seek to please their constituencies. If things our political leaders said were true, we would have landed on the moon by now.

“This is not the way it should be. It does a lot of damage over the long term. It’s very sad, but has become a commonplace reality of life,” Shareef stated.

Unlike Ghafoor, Shareef maintained that the supreme court is a legitimate institution.

“The supreme court is one of the properly functioning institutions. It is not colored by the polarised political climate here,” claimed Shareef.

The “national movement” was born out of the unofficial December 23 coalition of eight political parties and an alliance of non-governmental organisations that rallied to “defend Islam” in late 2011 from the allegedly liberal policies and “secularisation agenda” of former President Nasheed.

The Adhaalath Party and Progressive Party of Maldives were not responding to calls at time of press.


EC announces by-election to replace dismissed Thulhaadhoo councillor

The main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) is preparing to mount a legal challenge to the dismissal of Thulhaadhoo Councillor Umaira Abubakur after the Elections Commission (EC) yesterday announced a by-election for August 20 to replace the party’s sole representative on the five-member island council.

The DRP contend that four councillors of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) conducted emergency meetings while Umaira was attending a workshop as part of “a planned effort” to remove her from the post.

Article 119(b) of the Decentralisation Act states that a councillor can be removed if he or she misses seven consecutive meetings “without offering a valid reason that is acceptable to the council.” Umaira did not attend ten meetings which took place while she was ostensibly participating in a workshop in Bandos Island Resort.

Speaking to Minivan News today, DRP Deputy Leader Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef lambasted both the MDP-majority Thulhaadhoo council for “abusing the law to silence a minority voice” and the EC for “failing to carry out their responsibility.”

“The dismissal was unfair, unjust and completely against democratic principles,” he said, warning that the EC’s decision to uphold the council’s dismissal could set “a very dangerous” precedent.

Island councils where one party had a majority might be encouraged to arbitrarily dismiss minority members, Shareef suggested, which could “plunge the nation into chaos and anarchy.”

Moreover, the MDP councillors’ dismissal of the only female member of the council amounted to “discrimination against women.”

Shareef said that a delegation from the DRP held a meeting with members of the EC today, “but what we saw from them was arrogance.”

“The mandate of the Elections Commission is not just holding elections,” he said, adding that the commission was “not independent anymore.”

Shareef claimed that as a result of the ruling party’s new majority in parliament, the EC was “forced” to act in the government’s interest.

“I will recommend the DRP council to look into the independence of the Elections Commission,” he said.

EC Chair Fuad Thaufeeq told Minivan News today that the commission had received letters of complaint from both the dismissed councillor and some members of the Baa Atoll Council.

“But this is not a concern of the atoll council,” Fuad explained. “It is up to the island council and in this case a member was removed by the other four councillors.”

Fuad added that the EC did not have the authority to either postpone or cancel the by-election unless ordered to do so by a court order.

“The law does not say that the atoll council can overrule a decision made by an island council,” he said. “Only a court of law can invalidate the decision. We will stop the election immediately if there is a court order.”

Thulhaadhoo Council Chair Ahmed Rasheed told Minivan News earlier this week that the decision to dismiss Umaira was taken after consultation with the Local Government Authority (LGA) and based on legal counsel from the Attorney General’s Office.

“She did not inform in writing as she was required by law either before she left or during her holiday,” he insisted.

While confirming that six of the ten meetings in question were emergency sessions, Rasheed however denied the DRP allegation of actively plotting to dismiss Umaira.