President Waheed to leave Maldives indefinitely two days before elections

President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan is to depart the Maldives indefinitely on Thursday night.

Speaking to Haveeru, Waheed said he will be accompanying First Lady Ilham Hussein on a medical visit to Singapore. Although he said he would come back to the Maldives, he did not specify a return date.

On Sunday, an hour before his presidency expired, Waheed declared he would remain as head of state until run off polls take place on November 16.

“I do not think there is much I can do from here, things that I cannot do over the phone,” Waheed told Haveeru.

President’s Office Spokesperson Masood Imad said he “wasn’t aware of any upcoming trips”.

Waheed was President Mohamed Nasheed’s deputy and came to power after Nasheed resigned alleging coup d’état in February 2012.

Speaking to the press today, Nasheed said Waheed was unlikely to resign on Saturday as promised.

“Now, I do not think President Waheed is going to resign on the 16th. I hear he is leaving the Maldives on the 14th. I think he is leaving on the 14th and will not resign on the 16th. And while abroad, he will say say he is the head of state. And the Supreme Court, the police and military will govern here,” he said.

He pointed to the Maldives being ruled in the name of Abdul Majeed Rannabandeyri Kilegefaanu for eight years, starting in 1944, although the monarch was living in Egypt at the time.

The US, UK and the Commonwealth have condemned Waheed’s decision to stay on and called for the November 16 run-offs to proceed as planned.

“This action has endangered the Maldivian people’s right to elect a leader of their choice,” stated the US Embassy in Colombo.

Cabinet ministers revealed on Monday that Waheed had arrived at the President’s Office late on Sunday evening prepared to resign and hand over power to the Speaker of Parliament, as stipulated by Article 124 of the constitution, but claimed to have convinced him otherwise. His Vice President, Waheed Deen, had resigned that morning.

Minivan News understands that defence chiefs arrived at the President’s Office prior to Waheed’s address to the nation, initially scheduled for 10:30pm on Sunday. The address was delayed an hour, before Waheed appeared and said he would resign on November 16, the date scheduled for the delayed run-off vote.

After making the statement, Waheed and his wife were escorted off Male to the presidential retreat of Aarah, as violent protests erupted in the capital.

The couple returned to the Maldives on Monday, and moved out of the official presidential residence at Hilaleege. They are currently residing in the First Lady’s house in Malé.

Nasheed has accused Waheed of collaborating with former president of 30 years, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, to destroy the independence and sovereignty of the Maldives.

“Regardless, when the second round ends, due to the joy and hopes that come with the results, it will be very difficult for a few people to turn it in any another direction. This is what happened in 2008,” Nasheed said.


Waheed arrived at President’s Office with resignation statement but we advised him to stay, say ministers

Minister of Tourism Ahmed Adheeb and Acting Foreign Minister Mariyam Shakeela have said the cabinet advised President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan to stay on after the end of the presidential term at midnight on November 11 and despite international pressure to hand over the presidency to People’s Majlis Speaker.

Waheed gave a televised statement last night declaring he will stay in power beyond the conclusion of his presidential term, but will resign on the day of the presidential run off on November 16. His deputy Waheed Deen resigned yesterday morning.

Speaking to the press at noon at the President’s Office, Adheeb said Waheed’s decision to continue with the presidency “is the strongest, most courageous decisions taken in the history of this country.”

Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid has meanwhile sent a letter to Waheed informing him that he was no longer in command of the country and could only extend his term by amending Article 107 of the constitution, which limits a presidential term to five years.

The Majlis with the backing of 39 MPs approved a resolution for the Speaker to assume the presidency in the absence of a president elect on November 11. The government-aligned Progressive Party of the Maldives and Jumhoree Party boycotted the vote

The Supreme Court on Saturday struck down the motion and ruled that Waheed’s administration will continue until a new president is determined.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the Maldives Sir Donald McKinnon has also expressed “dismay” at Waheed’s decision to remain in office “against the letter and spirit of the constitution.”

Shakeela said Waheed had arrived at the President’s Office last night with two statements, one of which stated his resignation. However, the cabinet had advised him to stay on to keep the country from descending into “chaos and a constitutional void.”

“There was a lot of international pressure yesterday and a lot of quick decisions had to be taken. There were a lot of proposals up until the moment the president gave his statement,” Shakeela said.

One of the proposals included the Speaker assuming the presidency on conditions such as the international community guaranteeing the ensure safety of all cabinet members and their families. But Waheed’s final decision was of his own volition, the ministers said.

“The next four days is not the time to let the country descend into a void and chaos. Especially given the Supreme Court’s verdict. Actually, we did not pressure the president. We told him we remain steadfast with him,” Adheeb stated.

Waheed is currently on presidential retreat island Aarah and will come to the President’s Office only if needed, the ministers said. Over the next four days, the government will only carry out day-to-day operational tasks and will not start any new projects.

Adheeb accused the Shahid of committing “mini coups” through the Majlis and said the Speaker had attempted to overtake the presidency with international backing.

Arguing that the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of the constitution, and since the constitution did not envision a situation where a president-elect is not determined at the end of a presidential term, Adheeb claimed the Supreme Court’s rulings take precedence over any Majlis decision.

Adheeb said the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) – which emerged the front-runner in Saturday’s presidential polls with 46.93 percent of the vote – was scared to contest elections after Saturday’s results. Elections that had taken place under Waheed had been free and fair, he said.

The PPM has assured Waheed in writing that they will not delay run off elections on November 16, Adheeb said. Adheeb is one of the four Vice Presidents of the PPM, which gained 29.73 percent of the vote.

Adheeb alleged former President Mohamed Nasheed had left the Maldives on the verge of bankruptcy, and Waheed had returned it to “safe shores”.

“We brought this country this far, to these shores, from a state of bankruptcy. I am not saying we have solved everything. We did not have the time. But we have taken it in the right direction,” he claimed.

Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad told parliament just last week that tourism growth had flat-lined due to “political turmoil”, declining 0.1 percent in 2012 after years of double figure growth, while political instability meant outside banks had stop lending to the Maldives at rates less than 11 percent, forcing the government to draw on dwindling central bank reserves.

At the same time the State Trading Organisation (STO) warned that the Maldives was imminently about to run out of oil unless it was immediately bailed out with US$20 million to pay debtors.

The Maldives Monetary Authority Governor Fazeel Najeeb reported that the Maldives was on the verge of having to print money to pay its recurrent expenditure.


International community obliged to delegitimise President Waheed: Nasheed

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed has called on the international community not to recognise President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan should he stay in power beyond the end of the current presidential term at midnight tonight.

The Supreme Court in a ruling yesterday said Waheed’s presidency continues until a president elect is determined, invalidating a People’s Majlis resolution authorizing the speaker to assume the presidency in the absence of a president-elect.

Speaking to the press today, Nasheed said, “In my view, the international community is partly responsible for the messy situation here in the Maldives. We had a perfect well-oiled government in 2012. They came and they recognised my Vice President as the head of state. They have an obligation not to recognise him after the end of that period.”

Nasheed has called on Waheed to resign, allow Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid to assume the presidency and conduct the second round of presidential elections on November 16.

“We would hope that Dr Waheed will resign tonight and we are seeking for an election held with Shahid, the speaker of parliament, as head of state,” he said.

Waheed was Nasheed’s second in command, and came to the presidency on February 7, 2012, after elements of the police and military mutinied against Nasheed. The first democratically elected president publicly resigned, later alleging that he was ousted in a coup d’état.

Nasheed emerged as the frontrunner in yesterday’s presidential polls with 46.93 percent of the vote. He is set to compete against Progressive Party of the Maldives’s (PPM) Abdulla Yameen who won 29.73 percent.

A second round of elections was scheduled for today in order to ensure a president elect is determined by the end of the presidential term, but the Supreme Court in the early hours of the morning rescheduled the vote to November 16, reiterating the continuity of Waheed’s administration.

Beyond November 11

Speaking to the press on multiple occasions, Waheed has previously said he does not wish to stay on as president “even a day beyond November 11.” The President’s Office has not responded to the Supreme Court’s ruling on continuity of Waheed’s administration.

Nasheed described the Supreme Court as “vested interests”, and called on the international community “not to entertain” the apex court.

The Supreme Court annulled the first round of presidential polls held on September 7 despite unanimous praise of electoral conduct, and delineated 16 guidelines on electoral processes, limiting the independence of the Elections Commission and effectively giving veto power over elections to presidential candidates.

On October 19, the police brought elections to a halt after two of the three presidential candidates refused to sign the voter registry.

“[I]t is very clear to them now that the Supreme Court does not resemble any idea of a court. So I don’t believe the international community actually seriously takes the Supreme Court into account. And I would want them to very clearly indicate to the people of the Maldives, that they are with the constitution of the Maldives and not with the vested interests,” Nasheed said.

Further, an election conducted under Waheed’s leadership would be unconstitutional and “it would be very difficult” for the MDP to participate in such an election as such an election is open to interference from the Supreme Court, he added.

“We do not believe that if President Waheed continues in government that he would – or people aligned with him, working with him, in alliance with him – would want an election in the country. I think it is very clear that elections would go our way. If they do not intend to transfer power legally, then we do not see how they would want to have an election. So we don’t think there could be a conducive environment for elections. The Supreme Court will come out with another ruling upon the military or upon the police to definitely obstruct the elections. Come 16th of November, we will be back to square one,” he added.

Speaker to reach out

Meanwhile, Waheed’s Vice President Waheed Deen has stepped down today and a petition by mid ranking officers of the Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) calling on the army not to obey any order made by Waheed or his political appointees after November 11 has been circulating on social media.

The Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has come out in support of Waheed assuming the presidency.

Speaking to the press last night, the PPM’s presidential candidate Yameen said: “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.”

But Nasheed said the spirit of the constitution was for the People’s Majlis speaker to assume the presidency in the absence of a president and vice president as Article 124 (b) confers presidential powers to the Speaker if the presidency becomes vacant for any reason.

The speaker is expected to reach out to the different arms of the government and the security forces today, he said.

Speaking to Minivan News last week, Shahid said that if the reigns of power are taken over by an unelected body on November 11, it would mark the death of democracy in the Maldives.

Should he assume presidency, his role would be to ensure an election as soon as possible, Shahid said.

“To make sure that we hold an election as soon as possible and that the country is put back on track. That the opportunity for the people to have their say is provided and an elected leader is put in place. And then my job is done. The sooner the better. This is not an opportunity I cherish at all, to be an interim caretaker for this country,” he said.


Q&A: People’s Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid

On October 27, the People’s Majlis passed a resolution to hand over executive powers to the Majlis Speaker if there is no president-elect at the end of the current presidential term on November 11. Subsequently, 15 MPs of the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), the Jumhooree Party (JP), Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) and Adhaalath Party (AP) filed a no confidence motion against Speaker Abdulla Shahid. The vote has been scheduled for November 20.

Meanwhile, the International Parliamentary Union (IPU) is in Malé after the prosecution of several MPs and the Supreme Court’s removal of two MPs from parliament over decreed debt. Furthermore, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor has taken refuge inside the Majlis following efforts to prosecute him for refusal to provide a urine sample. He has now been sentenced in absentia to six months in jail for non-compliance with court summons.

The Majlis secretariat has now appointed an independent Sergeant At Arms and is recruiting an additional 104 security officers to oversee security of the Majlis – a task carried out by the Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) at present.

Minivan News spoke to Speaker Abdulla Shahid on his views regarding presidential polls scheduled for November 9, interim arrangements, parliamentary privileges and and security of the Majlis.

Zaheena Rasheed: What are the biggest challenges to come if elections are delayed again and there is no president elect by November 11?

Abdulla Shahid: The biggest challenge for the country will be if there is a situation in which the 2008 constitution is completely and totally undermined. The fundamental aspect of the constitution is that the people have the final say. The people have the right to express their opinion and elect a leader, a president every five years. If this does not happen, and the power holders of this country, in order to ensure the continuity of the state, decide to give reigns of power to the military or any other unelected body, then we have nailed the final nail in the coffin. Democracy will be buried. The 2008 constitution is done with then. That is my biggest concern.

ZR: If and when you take over the presidency on November 11, what is your course of action going to be, for this time period?

AS: It will be an interim role. To make sure that we hold an election as soon as possible and that the country is put back on track. That the opportunity for the people to have their say is provided and an elected leader is put in place. And then my job is done. The sooner the better. This is not an opportunity I cherish at all, to be an interim caretaker for this country. I think it is going to be a very challenging situation for the country and I would do anything to have an elected president by November 11. For the sake of this country, what we are going through is not worth it.

ZR: How would you characterize the current situation? What are the root causes of the present gridlock and what is the way forward?

AS: It is selfishness. Politicians have put themselves above the interests of this country. They have created this situation to fulfill their egos. That is it. The solution is for the people of this country to come out in large numbers on November 9 and win this election for the country in one round. The will of the people to participate in the democratic process is immense. Last time around, during the cancelled elections on October 19, only 24 hours were given for voter registration, but 71,000 people re-registered. The people of this country are not tired, they are not dismayed. They are still hoping, yes, we will get an opportunity and we will vote. I think people are going to come out in large numbers and vote.

ZR: Do you have any fears that the Majlis resolution handing over executive powers to Majlis Speaker may not be respected on November 11?

AS: I hope President Dr Waheed will respect it. Because it was he who initiated it. He wanted the parliament to initiate and tell him what the parliament thinks. The parliament is the representative body of the people of this country. And the parliament overwhelmingly, with the majority of the total parliament, adopted this resolution. So we have told the president what the elected representatives of this country views the situation. And I hope he respects it.

ZR: Some MPs have been calling for the Supreme Court to decide on interim arrangements. What do you think about that?

AS: We have had some MPs calling on the military to take over. I think these individuals are very unfamiliar with democracy. And democratic principles. And it is a shame they sit in a house which is supposed to represent the people.

ZR: If presidential polls are not held on November 9, how will it effect the parliamentary elections scheduled for next year?

AS: I think this will continue to effect the parliamentary elections, the local council elections. I think we have to do a major overhaul of how we deal with elections in this country. And how we deal with the current situation or the situation that will arise on November 11. Just for arguments sake, some are saying the sitting president will continue on November 11. This is happening because certain candidates are refusing to sign the voter registry.

My proposition is come parliamentary elections – and I for one, if I contest – I will perhaps refuse to sign the voter registry. Will I continue in my seat until such time that I feel the voter registry is OK? And if I feel that I may not win this seat, I may continue to refuse to sign for the next five years. Because it is guaranteed that I as sitting MP will continue with this seat. So I do not see elections happening for parliament or local councils because whatever precedent we set on November 11 is what is going to be the standard that will be used for local councilors as well as parliament. The 77 MPs will be more confident of their seat if they do not sign the voter registry. They get to sit for the next five years, ten years.

ZR: What kind of work have you been doing with the IPU? What do you think about the criminal charges pending against several MPs?

AS: We have an IPU delegation in town as we speak. They are trying their best to impress on the institutions in the Maldives the privileges of elected parliamentarians and the international norms in dealing with parliamentarians. In the Maldives, there is a lack in understanding of the privileges of parliamentarians, purposefully or unknowingly. The Parliamentary Privileges Bill was vetoed by President Gayoom twice, President Nasheed once, and President Waheed once. It was finally adopted by the parliament with a majority overruling the veto. It is one of the most criticized pieces of legislation in the country. It has been challenged in the Supreme Court by the Attorney General. And the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) lawyers.

I think the way things are going in the country today, all the privileges enshrined in the Privileges Act are going to be taken away. At least for the time being, from what I hear and from the way things are happening, I think that is what is going to happen. People don’t believe that members of parliament should stay in parliament to take part in parliamentary work, including the right to vote in their name. They believe they could be summoned to court and investigative authorities at any given period of time.

But this is a country where we have had a parliament since 1932. And I think – off the top of my head – 97 members of parliament have been convicted and removed from office during their tenure. Including President Nasheed. So if you are outspoken enough, you are removed. There would be some excuse to remove you. The 2008 constitution tries to guarantee that this does not happen. It projected parliamentary supremacy. For the first time in history, the chapter on parliament comes first and not the President. But still, in the mentality of our country, we cannot accept it. For us as a country, we still look down on the parliament.

I have been in parliament since 1995. I have seen what the people call the good old days, where we would come in at 9 o’clock. The minister to submit a bill would come in, probably the Attorney General. He would read out the bill. There would be half an hour debate. There would be a vote and the bill would be adopted. The job is done by 10:30 and we would have tea and go back to our offices and work. In the good old days, a parliamentary session would never be held without the president and the speaker in town. Even a parliamentary committee will not be held if the president is not in Malé. Even if he was traveling in the atolls, a parliamentary committee will not be held. This is how disciplined, if I may say so.

And now we have a parliament, according to many people, there is shouting, there is disruption, disagreement, and in many cases fist fights. But democracy as we have received at this initial stage, is something of that nature. We have given the opportunity for disagreement for the first time in parliament. When a bill is submitted, even within a party itself, we see differences in opinion. So, we have received for ourselves a system whereby we provide the opportunity for disagreement and through disagreement we come to an agreement. This has been so foreign to this country that people cannot accept the parliament to be functioning like this.

They accuse us, the media and many other well wishers of the parliament, they accuse us of not working. But in the history of all parliaments – this is the 17th parliament – we have been the parliament that has adopted the most bills. The parliament that has had the most number of parliamentary committee meetings and parliamentary sittings. The parliament that has been charged by the constitution with many other mandates that we are fulfilling. But this has been brushed aside, because some people want to project the parliament as undisciplined.

Yes, I do not agree with fighting on the floor. I do not agree with some of the language that is used. But this is a phase we are going through. It’s like a clogged drain. We have been blocked for so long. It has been opened now and it will take some time to flush this out. My estimate is that the next parliament, which will hopefully come in on May 29 – if we are able to hold elections – will be better. But it will not be a perfect parliament.

ZR: What is the rationale behind hiring a Sergeant at Arms and hiring an additional 104 security officers? The Ministry of Defence has condemned it already.

AS: I am surprised the Ministry of Defense has come out against it. Because this is something we have already talked about. Number one, MNDF personnel are very uncomfortable when they are asked to come into the parliament floor and physically remove MPs. This is something MNDF did not want to do and they have been forced to do and they do it very reluctantly. I personally believe that the MNDF personnel should not be asked to come into confrontation with politicians, especially Members of Parliament. MNDF is a much higher institution.

On many occasions, the former Chief of Defense Forces, has come and seen me and we have discussed the appointment of a sergeant at arms. This is included in the Standing Orders. It just so happened that we have been able to start up this process at this time. This has nothing to do with the current political climate, crisis or recent developments. It is just a process that needs to be completed for the smooth functioning of the parliament. The security forces are mandated by the constitution to protect the parliament. But I do not believe this includes the day to day running of the parliament. It is a higher calling. I believe article 105 is a higher calling on the security forces.

You would have heard of the incident recently where some medical pills were discovered at the coffee machine. I personally believe the MNDF should not be called on to guard every individual coffee machine or equipment inside the parliament. We should have our internal security to look after such matters. Having the military to look after these types of matters, belittles the military itself and it does not go well with the democratic principles either. They are not in combat fatigues inside the parliament. Nevertheless, having the military inside the parliament itself is not good for democracy. I think the military should be in the barracks.

ZR: You’ve criticized the MNDF storming the parliament when Ali Azim was arrested. What happened on that day?

AS: I have not only criticized it. I have sent a letter to General Ahmed Shiyam that he has violated the sanctity of the parliament. According to the constitution and standing orders, the speaker commands the parliament. I was never informed of Ali Azim’s removal; I was never informed by any authority that Azim is not a member. I read many stories on news websites and Twitter. And one of them was that Ali Azim and Mohamed Nashiz had been removed from their seats. Until the following day, I did not receive any written communication from any authority. In the absence of written document, I cannot be going around removing Members of Parliament. I think it was badly handled by the military.

ZR: The Parliamentary Privileges Committee in response to the Supreme Court ruling said Azim and Nashiz’s membership continues. When you have a situation such as this, where the parliament says one thing, and the judiciary says the other, how does one proceed? What are your concerns?

AS: It is very bad for the system. It is deeply sad. Because we as a country should be able to accept the final ruling by the ultimate authority. Be it the parliament, or the judiciary or the executive. The Constitution is very clear on the mandates of the three arms of the state. And once again, I sincerely believe this fight between the judiciary, the parliament and executive will continue for many years. This is because the system we have accepted for ourselves, we are at an infant stage and we get excited too quickly. In the United States they go through it almost every day. The Supreme Court comes out and says they do not accept the actions of the executive or this piece of legislation. It will continue. But we should have a system where people accept that the people in authority are making decisions not because of personal grievances, but because the constitution says so.

ZR: You just spoke about accepting the authority of the judiciary. Hamid Abdul Ghafoor is currently taking refuge inside the Parliament. How do you plan to proceed with this case?

I’ve asked the IPU to assist me in dealing with this situation. Hamid has been sentenced for contempt of court. He has been issued court summons in violation of the Privileges Act. He has been issued a sentence because he took the privileges he is legally afforded as an MP. I have written about this matter to the Prosecutor General. The Prosecutor General agrees with me. He has written a letter to the Supreme Court. He feels that the judiciary in this case has gone out of its way to punish Hamid. One can see that things are being done unfairly and injudiciously –  it is very difficult to come to a solution. I have written to the Chief Justice to assist me in finding a solution. I am hoping that the Chief Justice will take up my appeal.

ZR: Would you extend the same assistance to any other political party MP?

AS: Definitely. I have in the past. You would recall when Yameen Abdul Gayoom and Gasim Ibrahim were arrested. I refused to conduct parliament without them because the parliament’s Standing Orders are very clear that any member who is under detention must have access to parliament. General Moosa Jaleel wrote to me then advising not to conduct parliament. I wrote to him, I told General Jaleel that it is none of his business. I will conduct my house as I would want to within the Constitution and the Standing Orders. His job is to make sure that people under his custody are brought to parliament. And he did. He did. And only then did I continue.

So my decisions will always be based on the constitution, the Standing Orders and now the Privileges Act. It is unfortunate that some MPs are trying to label me with political affiliations. Yes, I am a member of MDP. I want MDP to win this presidential election. But that is allowed in the system – the American system of government – that we have. The speaker has an active political role. The system is the Maldives is not the Westminster model where the Speaker is totally independent of any political affiliation. In our system – the American system which we are trying to simulate, the speaker is one of the most active politicians. But when I sit in my speaker’s chair, my only role is to defend the constitution, the Standing Orders, the Privileges Act and all other laws. And I will do it.

ZR: Do you think you will survive the no confidence motion tabled against you for November 20?

AS: I will. I think even PPM members, they have come out and saying all these nasty things. They sincerely believe I have done a good job as speaker under very difficult circumstances. When I was a DRP member, and the MDP submitted a no confidence motion against me. I got more votes in favor of me than when I was elected. It was an open vote, several MDP members voted for me, defying a three line whip. The current political situation is even more polarized now. I do not think any of the PPM members may support me openly. But many of them have come to me and said we appreciate what you are doing, but we on party lines, we may be forced to vote. Many of the independents have come to me and pledged their support. I am confident I will survive.

ZR: Do you feel threatened at all in this time period?

AS: Yes. I have received many death threats. My security is guaranteed by the Constitution. The MNDF is in charge of my security. And I think overall they do a fairly good job. But the latest incident has been little bit worrying. You would recall the resolution passed in the parliament on elections. There was a crowd of PPM supporters who gathered near the parliament. They were threatening to hang me, kill me, all sorts of nice things they would like to do to me. They were threatening my residence. So I called General Shiyam, the MNDF chief, and informed him of the situation. He assured me all action would be taken. Before I came back to the residence, General Shiyam called me and told me he had already informed the police commissioner and that my residence is protected.

But unfortunately around 4 o’clock I was awakened by one of the people downstairs who said the car in the garage had been torched. We have footage of someone coming in, with his face covered, and torching the cars. There were two cars. One was totally burnt. We were lucky that the fuel tank did not burst. Or else the whole building would have gone up in flames. I wrote to General Shiyam and his reply is in the parliament that he had informed the police commissioner, and the commissioner had guaranteed my house would be under surveillance. But nothing of that sort happened. Until today, I have not been informed of anybody being caught. Also, if it was under surveillance, that would not have happened in the first place. Now, the MNDF is guarding my residence.

I have received death threats in the past. On March 1, this year I received a text and forwarded it to the police and checked through the 131 service that Dhiraagu [Caller ID] has. To my surprise, this was sent by a mobile phone owned by the father of the Deputy Commissioner of Police. Mr Hussein Waheed’s father. The matter has been referred to the Police through the parliament. I don’t know what actions they have taken.

ZR: What is your appeal to the political parties in the context of the current crisis?

AS: My message to the political parties is that a political party exists to contest elections. And elections are the only way of knowing what the people want. That is the spirit of the 2008 constitution. To find out what the people of this country want. That is viable and possible only through elections. So let us have elections. If not, there is no need for political parties, no need for politicians to exist if they do not want to contest an election.


Parliament approves MDP proposal for speaker to assume presidency after November 11

Parliament today approved a proposal by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) parliamentary group leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih for the speaker of parliament to assume the presidency in the absence of a president-elect by midnight on November 10.

Today’s sitting was held in response to a letter to Speaker Abdulla Shahid from President Dr Mohamed Waheed requesting parliament “to take initiative in finding a solution to any legal issues that will arise if a new president is not elected by the end of the current term [on November 11].”

As a possible second round of the presidential election has been scheduled by the Elections Commission (EC) for November 16, President Waheed’s letter (Dhivehi) noted that “there is a possibility there might not be a president elected in accordance with article 111 of the constitution.”

Solih’s proposal, seconded by MDP Chairperson and Hulhuhenveiru MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, was passed with 39 votes in favour and one abstention. MPs of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Jumhooree Party (JP) did not participate in the vote, claiming that the proposal was unconstitutional.

In the event that a new president is not elected by November 11, the motion states, “The Speaker of Parliament shall carry out the duties of the President until a person can be elected to the office.”

As interim president, the speaker “shall have all powers granted to the President by the constitution.”

The motion added that if the speaker cannot assume the office, the duties shall pass to the deputy speaker. If both are unable, a member of parliament elected by a resolution shall assume the presidency.

Moreover, the motion stipulates that a presidential election and, if necessary, a second round run-off election should take place within 21 days of the speaker assuming the role of caretaker president.

The new president-elect and vice president-elect must take the oath of office no more than 18 hours after the EC announces the official results of the election.

A second motion proposed by MDP MP Ali Waheed to grant authority and discretion to the speaker to expedite decisions required by parliament “to prepare for  the interim period” was passed with 37 votes in favour, two against and one abstention.

Speaker Shahid joined the MDP in April.

“State of necessity”

Article 124(b) of the constitution states, “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.”

During today’s parliamentary debate, PPM MPs contended that the Speaker cannot assume the presidency without amending the constitution as there was no constitutional provision for the state of affairs in the absence of a president-elect after the expiry of the five-year presidential term.

Dhivehi Qaumee Party MP Riyaz Rasheed said if parliament passed the MDP’s proposal, he would file a case at the Supreme Court to invalidate it.

JP MP Ilham Ahmed meanwhile proposed that the military should take over if presidential elections are not concluded by November 11.

As the constitution states that the security services are established “to enable all Maldivians to live in peace, security and freedom,” Ilham said he believed executive powers should be handed to the security services, consisting of the police and military.

The JP deputy leader added that he could see “as clear as broad daylight” an impending takeover “by the benevolence of Allah.”

PPM MP Ahmed Shareef recommended referring the matter to the Supreme Court for legal advice, while MP Ali Arif declared the PPM’s support for President Waheed remaining in the post after November 11.

Speaking at a rally on Friday night, PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen reportedly said it would be “irresponsible” for President Waheed to resign before a new president was elected.

The PPM parliamentary group leader called on President Waheed to remain in the post and cease making statements about resigning, adding that it was the PPM that “maintained your government.”

MP Arif noted that the Supreme Court stated in its judgment annulling the September 7 election that the current president could remain in the absence of a president-elect.

“If extra time beyond that given by the constitution is needed, under the principle of necessity, to complete a specific task as specified in the constitution, it does not necessitate the end of a legal government in place. That such a government will continue to exist under the doctrines of ‘state of necessity’ and ‘continuity of legal government’ under such circumstances is recognised by both constitutional and legal jurisprudence,” the Supreme Court stated in the case summary of its judgment.

Independent MP for Kulhudhufushi Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed said that the current administration could not continue after November 11, suggesting that a constitutional amendment was necessary to specify a process to be followed in the absence of a president-elect.

Nasheed cautioned that any motion or resolution passed by parliament in lieu of a constitutional amendment could be overruled by the Supreme Court. The independent MP abstained in both votes today.