Opposition MPs continue Majlis protests

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs have continued protests at the People’s Majlis, disrupting proceedings for the fifth consecutive parliamentary sitting since the Majlis opened on March 2.

However, ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) accepted an amendment to the Prisons and Parole Act amidst opposition protests. The amendment, submitted by Gemanafushi MP Jameel Usman, bars individuals serving prison sentences from holding a leadership position within political parties or other associations.

MDP MPs have been protesting over the arrest and terrorism charges against opposition leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed. If convicted, he faces a jail term or banishment between ten and 15 years.

If the amendment is passed and if Nasheed is convicted, it could effectively strip Nasheed of his presidency with the MDP and his membership.

When Majlis began at 9am, MDP MPs gathered at the secretariat’s desk calling for the the immediate release of President Nasheed and other political prisoners including former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim.

Some MPs were blowing stadium horns while MDP MP Ali Azim was calling for Nasheed’s release through a megaphone.

Crossing the line

Speaking to Minivan News, PPM parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan said that he understands the opposition’s need to protest, however saying that they are “crossing the line.”

“Freedom of expression is granted to fullest extent on the People’s Majilis floor,” said the Vilimalé MP.

“Members are allowed to express themselves freely unless they contradict a tenet of Islam. However, that does not mean members are allowed to do whatever they want on the floor,” he continued.

Nihan said MPs should follow due procedure and lodge a complaint at the secretariat’s desk, saying that the floor will become a “battleground” if the opposition MPs keep on protesting every day.

“We understand their need to protest. Their leader is under arrest and standing trial so it is obvious that they would protest. But we want them to do it in a manner which does not prevent parliament proceedings,” Nihan said.

On March 2, ruling party Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MPs also protested, with several carrying placards which read: “Nasheed deserves to be in prison,” “Nasheed supports terrorism” and “MDP must learn democracy.”

MDP MP Imthiyaz ‘Inthi’ Fahmy said that the opposition would protest “indefinitely” until the state addresses the issues highlighted at the parliamentary protests.

“The current defense minister has been accused of being a terrorist. The most popular politician is being tried at a Kangaroo Court and is going to be put in jail. We will not stop the protests,” Fahmy said.

Fahmy accused PPM members of inciting violence within the parliament.

Meanwhile, PPM MP Ahmed Thoriq has written to the Parliament speaker Abdulla Maseeh alleging that former PPM MP Ahmed Mahloof hit PPM MP Riyaz Rasheed during the presidential address on March 2.

Nihan also accused MDP Medhuhenveiru MP Ali Azim of hitting Nihan with his elbow during yesterday’s parliamentary session. Fahmy has dismissed claims of assault as lies.

Related to this story

President Yameen delivers presidential address amidst opposition protests

President Yameen should apologise for thumbs down gesture, says MDP chairperson

10,000 protest in Malé, call for President Yameen’s resignation

Police arrest former President Mohamed Nasheed ahead of terrorism trial


JSC President Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla resigns

Judicial Service Commission (JSC) President Justice Adam Mohamed Abdulla has resigned from the commission (January 18).

A JSC press statement released today explained that the Supreme Court justice had submitted his letter of resignation, saying that Adam Mohamed had requested to be excused, citing personal circumstances.

He has been a member of the JSC since 2010, when he joined as a High Court judge.

The resignation comes less than a month after the JSC found Adam Mohamed’s fellow judges on the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and Justice Muthasim Adnan, unfit to continue to serve on the bench, in a ruling made available to neither the public nor MPs.

The secrecy of the decision did not prevent the Majlis voting to remove the pair three days later, in a move described as having “severely jeopardised” the country’s judicial independence by Commonwealth groups.

The Civil Court and several prominent lawyers also condemned the JSC’s recommendation to remove the judges, saying that the People’s Majlis had “forced” the JSC to deem Faiz and Adnan unfit for the bench without due process, through an “unconstitutional” amendment to the Judicature Act.

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and lawyers Gabriela Knaul also expressed serious concern over the removal of the judges saying that the decision will “have a chilling effect on the work of the judiciary at all levels”.

In a 2013 report, Knaul observed that the JSC had a “complicated” relationship with the judiciary due to competing claims with the Prosecutor General’s Office over jurisdiction regarding complaints against judges.

Knaul noted that political polarisation in the country had meant that the “commission has allegedly been subjected to all sorts of external influence and has consequently been unable to function properly”.

Adam Mohamed himself faced a number of challenges from within the commission during his tenure as president, with commission member Shuaib Abdul Rahman filing no-confidence motions against him in 2013.

Rahman accused Mohamed of failing to back the JSC’s investigation of Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed’s sex-tape scandal, and of abusing his power to release press statements on behalf of the commission.

Related to this story

Majlis removes Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz, Justice Muthasim Adnan from Supreme Court

Removal of Supreme Court judges will have “chilling effect” on work of judiciary: UN special rapporteur

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

JSC rejects no-confidence motion against Chair Adam Mohamed


MDA leader ‘Sun Travel’ Siyam maintains worst attendance record in third session of 18th Majlis

The People’s Majlis has published an attendance report for its third session of the 18th Majlis, with MP Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Siyam – leader of the government-aligned Maldives Development Alliance – with the worst record.

According to the report published on the Majlis website, Siyam attended only 10 of the 29 parliamentary sittings for the third session. He did not provide any reason for not participating in 17 of the sittings, and was on leave for two.

The Dhaalu Meedhoo MP was also at the bottom of the 17th Majlis’s attendance records.

Jumhooree pary MP Ilham Ahmed was second in attending the least parliamentary sittings, participating in 15 of the 29 sittings. Next was ruling Progressive Party of Maldives MP Ahmed Nazim and opposition Maldivian Democratic Party Rozaina Adam – both participated in 16 sittings.

Out of the total 85 members, 22 were present at all of the Majlis’ sittings.