PPM signals support for reappointing Supreme Court bench

The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) signalled the majority party’s support today for reducing the number of Supreme Court Justices from seven to five as proposed by opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ibrahim Shareef.

During preliminary debate on amendments (Dhivehi) submitted by Shareef to the Judicature Act, Majority Leader Ahmed Nihan said he believed all ruling party MPs would support the proposal, but a decision would be made following discussions at a parliamentary group meeting.

“The work of reforming the judiciary is not something that the PPM has not participated in or stayed away from,” said the PPM parliamentary group leader.

All pro-government MPs subsequently voted in favour of the bill, which was accepted for consideration with 43 votes in favour and 22 against.

Last week, the MDP’s national executive council decided not to support Shareef’s bill with former President Mohamed Nasheed warning that it would allow President Abdulla Yameen to appoint a bench biased in favour of PPM.

The opposition leader told the press that changing the number of judges on the Supreme Court bench would not amount to judicial reform.

Presenting the amendment bill at today’s sitting, Shareef said he believed the number of judges on the apex court was too high for a country the size of the Maldives.

The Supreme Court should maintain “legal consistency” or “uniformity” in its rulings, the MP for Addu Maradhoo said.

Confidence in the judiciary from both the Maldivian public as well as local businesses and foreign investors was essential to ensure development, he added.

Shareef also proposed establishing branches of the High Court in the north and south of the country.

MDP divisions

MDP MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik – who has announced his intention to contest in the MDP’s 2018 presidential primary – appealed for pro-government MPs to cooperate with the party’s efforts to reform the judiciary.

The PPM together with coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance has a majority of 48 seats in the 85-member house.

The current Supreme Court bench was appointed as a “shameful” political “bargain” between the MDP and then-opposition parties in 2010, Moosa said, noting that the MDP did not have a majority in the 16th People’s Majlis.

Moosa criticised Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz Hussain for swearing in former President Dr Mohamed Waheed following a “coup d’etat” on February 7, 2012 and for remaining silent while MDP MPs were unfairly stripped of their parliament seats.

Nihan meanwhile praised both Shareef and Moosa and suggested that the number of judges on the apex court was worth reconsidering.

Shareef was a “rare” politician, Nihan said, and defended Moosa for forming a ‘people’s court’ during street protests, which was part of the former MDP chairperson’s advocacy for judicial reform.

“If MDP members think about it, if there is one member in MDP’s front rank who wishes well for the nation, I don’t doubt at all that it is the honourable Hulhuhenveiru MP Moosa Manik,” Nihan said.

Nihan suggested that MDP MPs voting against the amendments would be against the party’s principles.

However, Minority Leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said he respected Shareef and Moosa, but the MDP’s national executive council has decided not to support the bill.

“So that is the MDP’s stand about this amendment,” he said.

Moosa had reportedly walked out of the national council meeting and pledged to stand behind Shareef.


Jumhooree Party Leader Gasim Ibrahim meanwhile contended that the proposed revisions were unconstitutional as Supreme Court Justices were appointed for life.

The Constitution specifies the process for removing judges, Gasim continued, and it could not be done by amending laws.

Gasim also criticised Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed for tabling the bill in the agenda, claiming that a controversial amendment submitted by the PPM requiring the reappointment of the auditor general was also tabled in spite of parliament’s counsel general advising that it could not be put to a vote.

While the MDP had also insisted that the amendments were unconstitutional, MPs Shareef and Moosa were among several MDP MPs who voted in favour of appointing former PPM parliamentary candidate Hassan Ziyath as the new auditor general.

Meanwhile, in June this year, the Judicial Service Commission cleared Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed of misconduct after sex tapes of the judge with three prostitutes in a hotel room in Sri Lanka emerged last year.

The room and date stamp in the sex tapes appeared to be the same as that in previously leaked footage of Hameed meeting local businessman Mohamed Saeed, the director of ‘Golden Lane’.

In that video, Hameed declared that he was one of then-PPM presidential candidate Abdulla Yameen’s “back-ups”, and that his stand was “to do things the way Yameen wants”.

Images and symbols depicting scenes from the sex-tape formed a prominent part of the MDP’s protests against the apex court’s repeated interference in last year’s presidential election.

In a controversial 4-3 ruling – with Justice Hameed in the majority – the Supreme Court annulled the results of the first round of the polls conducted on September 7 despite unanimous positive assessment of the polling by more than a thousand domestic and international election observers.

Related to this story

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Constitutional disaster averted as Parliament approves Supreme Court

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


MDP resumes political activities with reopening of haruge

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has resumed political activities with the reopening of a new haruge (meeting hall) in the capital Malé last night (June 11) after a hiatus in the wake of successive electoral defeats.

The main opposition party announced that weekly gatherings will take place on Sunday and Thursday nights at the new haruge in Galolhu Aaras, located near the Television Maldives (TVM) studios.

The meeting hall was officially opened by founding member and artist, Ahmed Abbas, at a ceremony attended by former President Mohamed Nasheed, MDP MPs and city councillors.

Speakers at last night’s rally – the party’s first public gathering since the March 22 parliamentary polls – severely criticised the current administration over alleged failure to fulfil campaign pledges as well as the state of healthcare in the Maldives.

The meeting hall would become an outlet for public opinion and grievances, said MP Ibrahim Shareef, vowing that the party would ensure that fundamental rights and freedoms are protected.

Shareef also contended that the government has not undertaken any significant development projects in the atolls since assuming office in November last year.

In her remarks, Malé City Deputy Mayor Shifa Mohamed referred to the ransacking of the MDP’s previous meeting hall on February 7, 2012, by mutinying riot police, soldiers, and opposition protesters prior to the controversial resignation of President Nasheed.

Shifa said the party had remained quiet in order to see what President Yameen could accomplish with a parliamentary majority and control over other state institutions.

The former education minister contended that the current administration has not introduced new services or launched new social security programmes, noting that universal health insurance and other benefits were introduced by the MDP government.

Shifa also claimed that single parents were not receiving their monthly allowance.

President Yameen’s administration was “top heavy” with an excessive number of political appointees, she argued, while no progress had been made in fulfilling the campaign pledge of creating 94,000 jobs.

The government was holding ceremonies and functions – in lieu of carrying out development projects – to create false headlines and mislead the public, she said.

Meeting halls in the atolls would also be opened in the near future, Shifa continued, inviting members to a maahefun (traditional celebratory feast on the eve of Ramadan) on the night of June 19.

The MDP’s inactivity in recent weeks does not mean that the party accepted defeat in the presidential election, Shifa said, referring to the Supreme Court’s annulment of the first round of the presidential polls last year based on a secret police forensic report.

“Don’t think that we have forgotten all of that,” she said.

The MDP “single handedly” winning over 105,000 votes in the presidential election was testament to the party’s strength, said MP Imthiyaz Fahmy ‘Inthi’, noting that all other political parties were forced to form an alliance to compete against the party.

The MDP’s main task was overcoming the effects of a 30-year dictatorship, Inthi suggested, contending that the MDP was the only hope the Maldivian people had for democracy and good governance.

Former MP Ali Waheed meanwhile advised members to raise awareness and educate and inform their friends, relatives, and associates with renewed resolve to return to power.

He observed that the country has come full circle ten years after former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom launched a democratic reform agenda as the president was once again “an Abdul Gayoom”.

“God willing, the work we are beginning here today will end with the election of the MDP’s presidential candidate as the president of the Maldives,” he said.

The former MDP parliamentary group deputy leader announced his intention to contest for the party’s chairperson post today.

Former President Nasheed also announced his candidacy for the post of party president earlier this month.

Elections for the party’s leadership posts are due to take place on August 29.