Criminal Procedure Code Bill to include strong measures against hard-line offenders

The Chair of Parliament’s National Security Committee, MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik has said that the Criminal Procedure Code bill currently being drafted in parliament will include strong measures to protect witnesses and ensure successful prosecutions.

The Hulhu-Henveiru constituency MP told local media that the parliament’s National Security Committee – charged with reviewing the bill – had decided to restrict the rights of those accused of major crimes as well as introducing strict procedures during criminal investigations.

Among the measures to be made part of the legislation include setting a limit for the maximum detention period of such suspect, reducing the right to remain silent and the right to obtain legal counsel while in custody.

Furthermore, Moosa said that the bill, once ratified, would make it mandatory for a suspect to consent to urine tests and DNA tests, as well as submitting fingerprint and handwriting samples.

Moosa said that the National Security Committee members have also agreed that 135 days ought to be the maximum period a person can be detained by police for criminal investigations.

Under the new provisions included in the bill, explained Moosa, police would be expected to conclude investigations and file for prosecution within a 60 day period, while the Prosecutor General’s (PG) Office must press charges within a 15-day period.

“The bill also allows suspects of major criminal offences to be placed under custody during police investigation and up until the trial is over,” Moosa told local media.

Mandatory tests and restrictions on right to remain silent

The Criminal Procedure Code bill was originally proposed during the 16th parliament session under former ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, before being re-submitted by President Mohamed Nasheed’s administration during the next session.

The bill has been pending in parliament for the past five years, with the legislature coming under heavy fire from NGO’s and the public over the delay, particularly during the record high number of murder cases in the past three years that included the murder of former MP Dr Afrasheem Ali.

The Criminal Procedure Code bill identifies terrorism, murder and manslaughter, causing grievous bodily harm, offenses against minors, drug trafficking, money laundering and other similar acts as major criminal offences.

Those accused of less serious offences may be kept in detention for a period of 70 days – which includes 30 days for criminal investigations, 10 days for prosecution, and an additional 30 days to conclude the trial.

Moosa argued that, although the right to remain silent is enshrined in the constitution, no criminal suspect should have the liberty to refuse to undergo urine and DNA testing, which he argued would prove to be central for prosecutions.

“We believe the right to remain silent and consenting to taking urine and body samples are two different things.  This is the practice in all developed countries,” Moosa claimed.

Earlier this year opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor was sentenced to six-months in jail after he refused to cooperate with the courts investigation into an alleged refusal to provide a urine sample. The High Court, however, quashed his conviction on the grounds that the Criminal Court had not followed due process when deeming him guilty.

Witness protection

In order to safeguard possible witnesses to a crime, the committee members have also agreed to bar those accused of major crimes from privately meeting attorneys and family for a period of 36 hours from the time of arrest – a decision supported by both the police and the judiciary.

Both High Court Judge Abbas Shareef and Criminal Court Judge Muhuthaaz Muhsin have spoken in favor of such a provision during the committee’s discussions, which have also seen contributions from the PG’s Office, Human Rights Commission (HRCM), and the police.

“In 80 percent of the murder cases, witnesses were tempered through threatening and intimidation, after the accused meets with his lawyers and family members. This is something that is being talked about and this is how it is done,” Judge Muhsin told the committee.

Meanwhile High Court Judge Shareef told the committee that in some jurisdictions a suspect of a major criminal offence is denied of the right to obtain legal counsel or to meet their family and relatives for a period of three days, while in others family and relatives are not even informed of the suspect’s location.

“In some US States, [such a suspect] is not even at all allowed to meet family or obtain legal counsel. There are countries which have laws that allow a suspect’s location of detention be made confidential for a period of 72 hours,” Shareef explained.

HRCM member Jeehan Mahmood objected to the provisions, however, citing violations of fundamental human rights.


Three DRP MPs defect to Jumhoree Party

Three members of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) have defected to resort tycoon-turned-politician Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP).

DRP MPs Hussain Mohamed, Hassan Latheef and Ahmed Mohamed announced their defection during a meeting held by JP at its party headquarters last Monday night.

Meanwhile former DRP Leader MP Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, his wife MP Visam Ali and party’s Deputy Leader MP Rozeyna Adam defected to the opposition MDP last week.

The DRP backed opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s Presidential Candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed in the last Presidential Elections, shortly after the Supreme Court annulled the first presidential polls held in September, in which Nasheed won 45.45 percent of the popular vote.

The new change of sides, leaves the DRP – who won 29 seats in parliament during last parliamentary elections – downsized to just three MPs, with its interim Leader MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed, Parliamentary Group Leader MP Abdulla Mausoom and MP Mohamed Ramiz as remaining members.

However, since the fact that neither the MDP nor the coalition of parties supporting President Yameen Abdul Gayoom have the sufficient number of MPs to form a simple working majority of 39 MPs, means the DRP would still continue to be an influential swing party in deciding parliamentary matters.

This is because, the government coalition – even with the support of all independent MPs – would still be able to command just 35 MPs – four MPs short of a majority– while the opposition MDP commands 36 MPs.

The change in party compositions in parliament could also possibly jeopardize the opposition MDP’s majority in parliamentary select-committees, which they gained following DRP’s decision to back Nasheed in the presidential polls.

MP Abdulla Mausoom who took part in Monday night’s JP meeting told local media that although he had not formally joined the JP, he “now supports the JP”.  However, Mausoom said that he still intends to remain in DRP and follow the DRP’s whip-line.

Mausoom’s announcement of his support to the JP also coincides with his appointment to the position of General Manager of the Sun Island Resort and Spa – a resort owned by JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim.

“Tourism has always been very close at heart. I’ve taken over as the resort’s General Manager yesterday,” Mausoom told the press earlier.


In a press conference held this Tuesday morning, Interim Leader of DRP MP ‘Colonel’ Nasheed admitted that his party is now “in ICU” and appealed to the support of party members to revive the party.

“But, as a doctor who is attending to the DRP’s condition I shall not give up hope on her. I am sure that this party will be revived. DRP will again become a powerful political party in Maldives in a near future,” Nasheed told the press.

“I am not [former Maldives autocratic ruler for thirty years and founder of DRP] Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. I am not [former DRP Leader] Thasmeen.  So my strategy would be different,”

Nasheed also said that the DRP was currently in the process of an internal audit as it has standing debt of approximately MVR 10 million. He however said that the party would be taking the responsibility for debts it had incurred instead of blaming its former leaders.

“I won’t be able to sort this mess out on my own. This party has members across the country. We fell into this stage because we did not have the needed active members. So I am calling out to all party members to become more active,” Nasheed said.

He further added that the DRP will be fielding its candidates in the upcoming local council elections and the parliamentary election. The party’s target is, Nasheed said, to win the mayorship of Male’ City Council and win at least 10 seats in parliament.

Following the change, the DRP now has 3 MPs, opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has 36 MPs, Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has 20 MPs, the JP has 7 MPs, resort tycoon Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam’s Maldivian Development Alliance (MDA) has 2 MPs, the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) has one MP and five independent MPs.

Three out of the 77 seats are now vacant. The vacant seats include seats belonging to two former DRP MPs Ali Azim and Ahmed Nashiz – who were unseated after the Supreme Court held that they had unpaid debts – and the Mulaku Constituency seat which belonged to President Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

The Elections Commission earlier said that by-elections for the seats would not be held as the current parliament’s term will expire before six months, and as per the constitution, a by-election is required to be held if the parliament’s term has more than six months before expiration.


Names of five cabinet appointees sent to parliament for approval

President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has sent the names of five cabinet appointees to parliament for approval.

President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz told local media that the president had sent the names of the first five appointees to the cabinet.

The five Ministers are Minister of Defense and National Security Retired Colonel Mohamed Nazim, Minister of Finance and Treasury Abdulla Jihad, Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture Ahmed Adheeb, Minister of Transport and Communication Ameen Ibrahim and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dunya Maumoon.

“The government will send the names of other members of the cabinet very soon,” Muaz said.

After assuming power, President Yameen appointed a cabinet consisting of fifteen cabinet ministers.

All Ministers are constitutionally required to be approved by parliament in order to permanently remain in their positions as per the article 129(c) of the Constitution.

Furthermore, a Supreme Court ruling in December 2010 – made in response to requests from then-opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party’s (DRP) MPs – overturned then President Mohamed Nasheed’s argument that the provision was “ceremonial”, forcing him to replace seven of his cabinet ministers.

According the President’s Office Spokesperson Muaz, the president is expected to hold his first cabinet meeting this week.

President Yameen’s cabinet:

  • Minister of Defense and National Security, Retired Colonel Mohamed Nazim
  • Minister of Finance and Treasury, Abdulla Jihad
  • Minister of Tourism, Ahmed Adheeb (PPM)
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dunya Maumoon (PPM)
  • Minister of Transport and Communication, Ameen Ibrahim (Jumhoree Party)
  • Minister of Home Affairs, Umar Naseer
  • Minister of Islamic Affairs, Sheikh Dr Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed (Adhaalath Party)
  • Minister of Housing and Infrastructure, Dr Mohamed Muiz (Adhaalath Party)
  • Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr Mohamed Shainy
  • Minister of Economic Development, Mohamed Saeed (Jumhoree Party)
  • Minister of Environment and Energy, Thoriq Ibrahim
  • Minister of Education, Dr Aishath Shiham (PPM)
  • Minister of Health and Gender, Dr Mariyam Shakeela
  • Minister of Youth and Sports, Mohamed Maleeh Jamaal (PPM)
  • Attorney General Mohamed Anil

MDP proposes bill allowing Speaker of Parliament to take charge after expiry of presidential term

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) yesterday (October 23) proposed a bill to parliament, which if passed would allow the Speaker to take charge of the government should no president-elect be determined by November 11.

The constitution only provides for a similar transition within the limits of the presidential term. The current Speaker of the House is MDP member Abdulla Shahid.

The bill (Dhivehi) sponsored by MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor – who is today seeking refuge from arrest in the Majlis chambers  – coincided with the party’s presidential candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed’s contention that incumbent Dr Mohamed Waheed could not remain in power after November 11.

Meanwhile President Waheed himself has maintained that he does “not want to stay in this position even a day beyond November 11”.

Despite the statements by the president – who obtained just 5 percent of the popular vote in the annulled September 7 presidential polls – the Supreme Court has previously ruled that Waheed would be able to remain in power even after the expiry of his presidential term, citing the continuity of government principle.

This principle, first developed by the British, establishes defined procedures for allowing a government to continue its essential operations in case of nuclear war or any other catastrophic event.

The new bill titled ‘Legislation underlining transitional arrangements in the event no president-elect and vice president-elect is not determined at the end of the 2008 presidential term’ states that the primary purpose of the bill was to prevent any constitutional void that could arise in case no successor to the president or vice-president was elected by November 11.

Section 3(a) of the bill states:

‘Until the new president and the vice president are elected, the duties and responsibilities of the President would be undertaken by the Speaker of Parliament. If the Speaker of Parliament is unable to take the duties and responsibilities, then Deputy Speaker of Parliament will take undertake the duties and responsibilities. If both the Speaker of Parliament and the Deputy Speaker Parliament are unable to undertake the responsibilities and duties, it would be undertaken by a member of parliament determined by a resolution passed by the parliament.’

The section 3(b) meanwhile states that any person who takes charge as per section 3(a), is required to take the “oath of office by persons temporarily discharging the duties of the office of President and Vice President” as stipulated in article 126 of the constitution.

The bill also demands that the new caretaker-president ensures the completion of the first round of presidential election or the run-off election as mentioned in the article 111 of the constitution within a twenty-one day period.

The bill states that the winner of the presidential polls must take the oath of the office within 18 hours of the Elections Commission announcing the final results of the poll.

It also states that the term of the new presidency would commence only after they take oath, resulting the renewal of the presidential term every five years would take place on November 11.

The section 6 of the bill – a sunset provision – states that the bill would automatically expire once the new president and vice president take the oath of their office.

The submission of the bill also coincided with the Civil Service Commission’s meeting with all the presidential candidates regarding the appointment of the director of transition – a temporary official selected among the civil servants to oversee the transition of governments – as stipulated in the Presidential Elections Act.

Although MP Ghafoor’s bill has been submitted to the parliament, a date has to hold the preliminary debate of the bill is yet to be scheduled.

Parliamentary procedures dictate that the bill gets formally accepted to parliament only if the majority of the MPs vote in favour after holding the preliminary debate.


Parliament fails to appoint new representative to JSC

The Parliament has failed to come to a decision in appointing a new representative to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) after all four proposed candidates failed to obtain the required majority.

The names of the four MPs proposed to fill the judicial watchdog’s vacancy included: opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ahmed Hamza, Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Abdul Azeez Jamaal Aboobakr, former MDP and currently Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Mohamed ‘Colonel’ Nasheed, and independent MP Mohamed Hussain.

During the voting session held today, 39 MPs out of 73 who took part decided against appointing Hamza to the position, while 34 MPs voted in his favour.  

Meanwhile, 55 MPs opposed the proposition to appoint ‘Colonel’ Nasheed, and 42 MPs voted against Jamaal Aboobakr. Independent MP Mohamed Hussain withdrew his name.

Following the outcome, Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid announced that the Majlis would open the opportunity for parties to propose names in the next session.

Previously, resort tycoon and leader of Jumhoree Party (JP) Gasim Ibrahim was parliament’s representative at the JSC, but he had to give up the seat after he was officially declared a candidate in the upcoming presidential election.

In June 2011, Gaism Ibrahim was appointed to the commission after parliament voted out the former MP late Dr Afrasheem Ali.  In a close contest between then ruling MDP and the opposition parties, Gasim Ibrahim beat former MDP Chairperson MP Mariya Ahmed Didi by 38 votes to 36.

The current JSC composition includes speaker of parliament, a judge from Supreme Court, a High Court judge, a judge from trial courts, a member of parliament, a member appointed from the general public, the Civil Service Commission Chair, an individual appointed by the president, the attorney general, and a lawyer elected from those registered in the country.

During today’s session, parliament also appointed former Education Minister Dr Dr Mohamed Latheef as chair of Civil Service Commission (CSC) – a post that had been vacant since the parliamentary deposition of Fahmy Hassan.


MDP files motion calling government to address judicial issues highlighted by Special Rapporteur

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has filed a motion calling the government of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan to address issues highlighted in the report by United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, concerning the country’s judiciary.

Knaul’s final report to the UN Human Rights Council extensively outlined the political, budgetary and societal challenges facing the judiciary and wider legal community, as well as the politicisation of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) and its failure to appoint qualified judges under Article 285 of the constitution.

The Special Rapporteur also expressed “deep concern” over the failure of the judicial system to address “serious violations of human rights” during the Maldives’ 30 year dictatorship, warning of “more instability and unrest” should this continue to be neglected.

“It is indeed difficult to understand why one former President is being tried for an act he took outside of his prerogative, while another has not had to answer for any of the alleged human rights violations documented over the years,” Knaul wrote.

The motion, filed by MDP MP Imthiyaz ‘Inthi’ Fahmy, was debated during the parliamentary session held on Monday. The motion was passed by 23 out of 34 members present during the session, while nine members voted against it.

Presenting the motion, Fahmy said the judiciary was impaired after it appointed the judges for life, without considering the constitutional provisions specified in article 285 of the constitution.

He contested that the JSC, instead of ensuring that the judges met the required standards befitting an independent judiciary, had lowered the standards to ensure all existing judges were qualified to sit on the bench for life, plunging the whole judicial system into chaos.

Due to the JSC’s decision to lower the standards, judges accused and in some cases convicted of criminal wrongdoing had been reinstated, he contended.

Fahmy further contested that every citizen of the country was entitled to the right to get a fair hearing and that not even the Supreme Court could undermine such a fundamental right.

He noted that the judiciary disregards any remark made that highlight its own flaws, dismissing them as attempts to tarnish the image of the judiciary and lower its image among the public.

Parliamentary debate

Jumhoree Party (JP) MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla raised doubts over the legitimacy of the current membership of the JSC, highlighting that current Attorney General Aishath Bisham – who by virtue of her position is also a member of JSC – is yet to be endorsed by the parliament.

Local media alleged that Aishath Bisham had taken part in the vote taken during the JSC meeting in which it decided to indefinitely suspend the Chief Judge of High Court over a complaint filed a year ago.

Abdul Raheem Abdulla also questioned the legitimacy of the position of Civil Service Commission (CSC) President Mohamed Fahmy Hassan, who was removed from his post by parliament reinstated after the Supreme Court overturned parliament’s decision.

In March, the Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that Mohamed Fahmy Hassan would receive two punishments for the same crime if he was convicted at court following his dismissal by parliament (double jeopardy).

The doubts surrounding the legality of these people sitting in the JSC posed questions over how just a decision by JSC could be, Abdulla Abdul Raheem said.

He further contended that the JSC had been overpowered by political influence both internal and external, however maintained that no one should meddle with the affairs of the court.

JP’s own leader, resort tycoon and MP Gasim Ibrahim, also sits on the commission.

However, tourism magnate Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam’s Maldivian Development Alliance (MDA) MP Ahmed ‘Aims’ Amir spoke in favour of JSC, stating that he saluted the commission for completing the appointment of judges within the time frame required by the constitution.

Amir claimed that the two parties had agreed with the appointment of the permanent Supreme Court bench, but were now criticising the bench because it did not work to their pleasure.

Government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Parliamentary Group Leader, Ahmed Mausoom, said Special Rapporteur Knaul had asked to resolve the issues through dialog between the authorities, and noted that her recommendations included amending the constitution.

Other recommendations, Mausoom said, included changing the composition of the JSC, and calling on political parties to work on creating awareness among the public of the laws of the country and its constitution, and speeding up the legislative process.

Opposition MDP Deputy Parliamentary Group Leader MP Ali Waheed meanwhile accused the JSC Chair Justice Adam Mohamed of being a “gang leader”, and said the only way to reform the judiciary was through direct action by the people.

Another MDP MP, Abdul Ghafoor Moosa, claimed that presidential candidate of the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Abdulla Yameen, and JP MP Gasim Ibrahim were key conspirators behind the sabotage of the judiciary.

Government’s response

Following Knaul’s report, the government of President Waheed responded with a statement that “international actors should not undermine national jurisdiction and the court system of any country”.

The statement was issued on May 28 via Permanent Representative at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Iruthisham Adam, who further said that the Maldivian delegation, in light of the report, “wishes to discuss specific matters contained in the report with the Rapporteur”.

At the same time the statement “welcomed” the UN Rapporteur’s report and “fully acknowledge[s] that the various challenges she has identified and raised in her report are in fact the residue challenges present in a system in the midst of democratic consolidation.The Maldives judicial system continues to be hampered by structural deficiencies and resource constraints in addressing the difficult challenges facing the country in general.”


“Supreme Court bench will prevail as long as Maldives remains a democracy”: Chief Justice

Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain has said the current seven-member bench of the Supreme Court cannot be abolished and will continue to remain as the highest court of the country as long as the Maldives remains a democracy.

The Chief Justice’s remarks come at a time where the Supreme Court has come under heavy criticism from the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Last week following two controversial rulings issued by the court, the MDP’s National Council passed a motion calling on its parliamentary group to seek to abolish the existing Supreme Court bench and replace it with a new panel of judges, including foreign judges.

The party subsequently launched peaceful street protests last Friday against the court rulings. Protesters led by former President Mohamed Nasheed also called on the Supreme Court to refrain from undermining parliament and its decisions.

Speaking during a ceremony held at the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on Sunday to swear in five new Magistrate Court Judges, Justice Faiz Hussain contended that the only way a judge from the Supreme Court could be removed was if the judge’s position became vacant.

“By the will of Allah, the Supreme Court bench will prevail as long as the Maldives remains a democracy. The bench cannot be changed. A change to the Supreme Court bench can only be brought if a judge’s position becomes vacant,” he said.

The Chief Justice also called upon all the judges to not to fear what the “people from other institutions” say, and advised the judges to not let their emotional sentiments get in the way of fulfilling their legal duties.

He added that every person is entitled with the right to file a case at the court if the person feels that his rights had been compromised, and when the highest court decides on a matter, that decision will be final and binding, and cannot be changed.

Faiz Hussain also said that the court will look into cases filed with them, and the court process would not stop.  He added that while there remained the option to settle matters out of court, if a matter came to the court, it would look into that matter.

“A very noble jihad”, says JSC President Adam Mohamed

Meanwhile President of JSC and member of the Supreme Court bench Adam Mohamed followed Chief Justice Faiz Hussain in condemning the efforts of some parliament members to dissolve the court bench.

Justice Adam Mohamed contended that article 54 of the Constitution clearly states as to how a Judge can be removed from a court. Therefore, Mohamed said the efforts led by MDP MPs to change the bench through legislation were unconstitutional.

“While the constitution very clearly mentioning as to how a judge can be removed, It remains very clear that efforts to remove a sitting judge in contrast with the principle laid down in Article 54 of the Constitution is clearly unconstitutional.

The JSC President also called on state institutions to refrain from interfering with the work done by the courts or do anything that could “impact the fairness and impartiality” of the JSC.

“I call upon you not to forget the fact that you are carrying out a very noble jihad in the name of Allah in delivering justice to the people,” he told the judges.

Regarding the removal of judges, Adam Mohamed echoed Chief Justice Faiz Hussain’s remarks stating that claiming that a judge could only be removed by either retirement, resignation or if the parliament successfully removes the judge by a two thirds majority.

Every effort will be made to bring the necessary changes – MDP

During the MDP’s emergency national council meeting held last week, the motion proposed by MDP national council member Mohamed ‘Sanco’ Shareef – which concerned the removal of the existing Supreme Court bench – received unanimous support from all attending members, including former President Mohamed Nasheed.

“The Supreme Court is acting in such a fashion that it has now begun overtaking the powers of the parliament and in the process undermining the constitution of this country. [Therefore] this motion calls on MDP’s parliamentary group to make formal requests to parliament to immediately abolish the current bench of Supreme Court and establish a new bench that consists of honest judges.

“Also as the Maldives Constitution does not bar the Supreme Court having foreign judges, [this motion also calls] to seek qualified and educated judges from abroad,” read the motion (Dhivehi).

The meeting was called in following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn parliament’s removal of Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chair Mohamed Fahmy Hassan on sexual harassment charges, and a decision to conduct no-confidence votes through secret ballot.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed during the meeting stated that it was more important that there be a proper justice established in the country rather than him being elected as President.

“To reform the judiciary and bring the justice system of this country into the right course is something I must do,” he said. “We will come out to the streets, we will protest. I will not take a single step back until the bench is replaced with better judges.”

Meanwhile, MDP’s Parliamentary Group and Parliament’s Majority Leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih assured the council that the party’s parliamentary group under his leadership would do everything at its hand to ensure the dissolution of the existing Supreme Court bench.


Political Parties Act was fabricated to destroy GIP: GIP

Minister of State for Finance and Spokesperson for President Mohamed Waheed’s abolished Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP), Abbas Adil Riza, has said that he does not accept that the party has been dissolved despite the Elections Commission saying otherwise.

During a press conference held at Nalahiyaa Hotel on Wednesday, Riza said the elections commission had not informed them of the party’s dissolution.

Following the ratification of Political Parties Act, only five political parties remain registered in the Maldives. Remaining parties include: opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and government-aligned parties Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Jumhoree Party (JP) and Adhaalath Party (AP).

Vice President of Elections Commission (EC) Ahmed Fayaz told Minivan News on Tuesday that a total of 11 political parties had now been removed from its political party registry in accordance to the new Act.

President Waheed’s own party, GIP was among the 11 parties dissolved following the bill’s ratification, despite the president’s claims that it had reached 10,000 members.

EC Vice President Fayaz said that whilst GIP and the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) had both submitted enough forms to meet the 10,000 minimum, many of those forms were still pending and so could not be counted.

“There are two parties who have submitted close to, or over the 10,000 membership minimum, but just because the parties have 10,000 membership forms submitted, it does not mean they have 10,000 party members,” he said at the time.

It had been previously reported that upon ratification of the bill, political parties with fewer than 10,000 members would have three months to reach the required amount or face dissolution.

When asked about the clause, Fayaz stated it only applied to registered parties in accordance to the bill, and that therefore if a party does not meet the 10,000 limit it cannot be classed as such and is therefore exempt from the three-month clause.

Meanwhile Abbas Adil Riza contended that a high priority was given by parliament members in drafting the Political Parties Bill which became law on Tuesday, claiming that the bill was fabricated to destroy the party.  Riza also accused Parliament Speaker Abdulla Shahid of playing a pivotal role in making sure the bill got passed into law.

Last week, both parliament’s minority leader and majority leader unanimously supported to overrule the vetoed Political Parties bill without any amendments, forcing it through. Out of the 67 members present during the vote, 60 voted in favour of the passage of the bill while six voted against the bill and one MP abstained.

During the press conference, Riza also contended that Maldives’ political party system was “significantly in need of smaller political parties” and that all major political parties had “betrayed the nation” because it had the support base needed to do so.

He also contended that the party would file a petition in Supreme Court challenging the Political Parties Act and the Elections Commission in its decision to abolish the party.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad – who is also a member of GIP – echoed similar remarks earlier, claiming the government had decided to take measures to “rectify” the decision to dissolve all but five of the country’s political parties.

He argued that the dissolution of the parties is seen by the state as an infringement of people’s right to form political bodies which he maintained was a constitutional right.

Masood contended that Attorney General (AG) Azima Shukoor had on Tuesday afternoon sought to file motions with the country’s Supreme Court raising concerns with the decision to dissolve the parties following the ratification of the Act.

However, it remains unclear as to whether the Supreme Court has accepted the case or not.

Addressing the impact of President Waheed’s own party being dissolved, Masood said the decision would not be a problem for the functioning of the present government.


Former military, police intelligence chiefs claim Nasheed had no choice but to resign

The former Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) chiefs have claimed that former President Mohamed Nasheed had no choice but to resign on February 7, 2012, following a police and military mutiny.

The allegations were made public after meeting minutes of Parliament’s Executive Oversight committee were published in the parliament’s website.

The committee is currently conducting an inquiry into the controversial transfer of power that took place. It has so far interviewed senior military officers, police officers and senior officials of both the current and former government.

Among the interviewees were  former Chief of Defence Force (retired) Major General Moosa Ali Jaleel, former Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh, and former MNDF Male’ Area Commander (retired) Brigadier General Ibrahim Mohamed Didi.

Others interviewed included former intelligence heads of the MNDF and police: Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam and Superintendent Mohamed ‘MC’ Hameed.

On February 7 2012, a continuous 22 day protest led by then opposition politicians, religious scholars and later joined by mutinying military and police officers, led to the sudden resignation of President Nasheed. The protests were fueled following Nasheed’s controversial detention of Chief Judge of Criminal Court Abdulla Mohamed.

The ousted President subsequently alleged he was forced out of office in a coup d’état.  However, this claim was challenged in report by the Commonwealth-backed Commission of National Inquiry (CNI), which found the transfer of power legitimate and constitutional.

“No other way for Nasheed” – former Chief of Defence Force Moosa Ali Jaleel

Chief of Defense Force Moosa Ali Jaleel told the committee that the circumstances leading up to the resignation of former President gave rise to the fact that resignation was obtained by “illegal coercion”.

“I fully believe that President [Nasheed] resigned under duress,” he said.

Jaleel refused to describe the transfer of power as coup, stating that this should be decided by the court. However, he claimed that the transfer of power only took place because it involved assistance from the military.

“What I am saying is that the military was there when about 15,000 protesters gathered during protests of August 12-13 2004, but the government did not topple. There was a armed attack by the Tamil Tigers on November 3, 1988, and the government did not topple. But on February 7, 2012, during a protest of 2500, the government was toppled. I am referring to the statistics,” he said.

He added that the circumstances and the violent environment around the MNDF headquarters meant that “there was no other way for President Nasheed [than to resign].”

“The control of the MNDF Headquarters was not with the president, but it was exactly the way the Defense Minister wanted,” he alleged.

Jaleel added that no president could be sure of his safety when those officers who were supposed to look after his security began to call for his resignation. He would know his power no longer exists and his command no longer followed, added Jaleel.

“It is a coup” – former military intelligence head Ahmed Nilam

Former MNDF intelligence chief Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam echoed Jaleel’s remarks. Asked whether the toppling of Nasheed was a coup or a revolution, he claimed it was a coup.

“Academically speaking, the events on February 7 fulfilled all the essentials of a coup. It involved all the features of a coup that are widely accepted around the world. Some of the elements take place before the toppling of a president. Others take place spontaneously,” he said.

Nilam said he studied the events after the incident took place, which fitted an academic’s definition of a coup. However, Nilam also highlighted that it was up to a court to legally determine whether it had been a coup or not.

Asked if he had given the same details to the CNI, Nilam said he did given the same statement to the commission but it had not been reflected in its result.

He also reiterated that had not for the military assistance in the toppling of the government, there would have been no coup and Nasheed would not have been forced to resign.

“Police officers disobeyed their orders” – former Commissioner of Police

In his statement to the committee, Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh alleged that police officers who gathered in Republican Square on February 7 had disobeyed orders and their actions were grossly inconsistent with the Police Act, as well as professional standards established within the police.

Recalling the events, Faseeh said that he had done everything he could to control the situation but said there came a point where the officers had openly mutinied and disobeyed his orders.

“The actions of the police officers that night were unlawful. I am not a lawyer, so I can’t go into the details. But a lot of unlawful activities were carried out by the police,” he claimed.

However, Faseeh said that he did not know whether Nasheed had resigned under duress because he had not been present with him in  the MNDF headquarters.