State lawyers have challenged the legal capacity of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s former president Dr Ibrahim Didi to sign on behalf of the party, in an ongoing court case between the MDP and the Maldives Police Services concerning the dismantling of the party’s tsunami monument protest site.
In April, after more than two weeks of hearings, the Civil Court dismissed the MDP’s case against the state claiming that the party’s interim chairperson Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik did not have the authority to file the case on behalf of the MDP. Didi then signed the court documents and the case was resubmitted.
The state lawyer representing police raised the procedural issue, arguing that the MDP had failed to inform the Elections Commission (EC) after amending the party constitution.
State lawyer Ahmed Ushaam stated in the session that the MDP had changed the method of leadership election from a vote in a party congress to a direct vote by the entire party’s membership.
However, Usham claimed the MDP had failed to inform the EC of the change as required by the political parties regulation, and therefore the legal legitimacy of party president Didi.
In response, former Minister of Human Resources Youth and Sports, Hassan Latheef, questioned whether the judge would also consider the legitimacy of the current government, to which the judge replied that such matters would be decided by the Supreme Court.
Speaking on behalf of MDP, lawyer Hisaan Hussain argued that the court would not be able to proceed with the case if the state kept taking procedural issues every day, noting that the state had earlier accepted that there were no more such issues to take note of.
Speaking to Minivan News, Hussain alleged that the government was trying to delay the proceedings by making “petty excuses”, while the party was fighting for fundamental rights entitled to it by the constitution of the country.
“We have changed the constitution in the last congress, and I do not believe that the amended constitution does not have legal effect just because it was not presented to the elections commission. It is an administrative matter that every party has to send its constitution to the elections commission, and that does not mean that the constitution is not legally ineffective,” she said.
“The court needs to draw the line as to the extent they should accept procedural issues. The elections commission is in charge of regulating the political parties and before they make any statement regarding the party’s constitution, and can the court take procedural issues on the matter?”
During the MDP’s first attempt to submit the case, Judge Aisha Shujon argued that the court could not verify whether an interim chairperson had been elected and so did not see sufficient grounds to continue with the case.
On 25 April, MDP resubmitted the case with the signature of then party president Didi, who was Fisheries and Agriculture Minister under the former government.Civil Court Judge Hathif Hilmee presided over the second hearings.
However five days later, the MDP National Council passed a no-confidence motion in the leadership of the party’s President Didi, and its Vice-President, former Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) MP Alhan Fahmy, removing both from their positions with an almost unanimous majority.
After the Maldives Police Services (MPS) dismantled the party’s first protest camp at tsunami monument area in mid-March, MDP moved its protest site to Usfasgandu. Male’ City Council permitted the party to use the premises as a compensation.
However, the cabinet of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan has decided to take over the control of the area last week, giving the MDP a deadline of May 14.
In a press statement released by the President’s Office, the government stated that the city council had “breached” the agreement with Ministry of Housing and Environment in utilising the land plots and other properties handed over to the city council by the ministry.
Male’ City Council however decided that it would not hand over the premises to the Ministry in a letter sent by the council to the ministry, stating that that the ‘Usfasgandu’ area was “temporarily leased” to the former ruling party in accordance with the Decentralisation Act, contending that the ministry did not have the legal authority to reclaim council property.