Deputy Speaker of the Majlis MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik has condemned his expulsion from the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), describing the move as a plot by former President Mohamed Nasheed to bar him from contesting the party’s 2018 presidential primaries.
“I am certain the expulsion was to bar me from contesting the presidential primaries. President Nasheed must accept there are other political leaders within the party,” Moosa told Minivan News today.
Moosa, a founding member of the MDP and a vocal critic of the 30-year authoritarian ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, announced his intent to contest MDP’s 2018 presidential primaries on October 25.
The MDP’s disciplinary committee expelled Moosa on Monday after he repeatedly breached the party’s three-line whips including the vote on the 2015 state budget, the amendments to the Judicature Act – which reduced the seven-member Supreme Court bench to five judges, and the removal of former Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz and former Justice Muthasim Adnan.
If Moosa wishes to rejoin the party, he is required to issue a public apology and obtain 50 new members for the party, but he will be barred from standing for any leadership position or contesting in party primaries for five years.
He described the disciplinary committee’s decision as “undemocratic” and “discriminatory” pointing out that five MDP MPs who were absent from the vote to dismiss the Supreme Court judges were given lesser penalties.
Moosa said he does not trust the party’s appeal process, and said he has now requested the Elections Commission to review the decision.
He also dismissed local media reports which had suggested he may join the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM): “I will not sign onto another party. I am not one who can be part of another party. Where will I go other than the MDP? There is no second ideology that can fight against the dictatorship.”
Moosa, a prominent figure in the Maldives’ pro-democracy movement, said a faction within the MDP has continued to harass him on social media since he announced his intent to contest the presidential primaries.
“I did not think they would expel me. I did not think [the party] would treat me so badly. I’ve served MDP with sincerity. On February 8, I was severely brutalised while acting as a bodyguard to Nasheed,” he said.
Moosa had to be flown to Sri Lanka for medical treatment for injuries sustained during a brutal police crackdown on MDP supporters a day after Nasheed’s ouster on February 7, 2012.
He described Nasheed as dictatorial, claiming the former president had systematically sidelined rivals within the party including Dr Mohamed Munawar, Dr Ibrahim Didi, and former MP Alhan Fahmy.
“Nasheed is a green dictator, championing the environment to get attention on the international front, but look at what he has done to Dr Munawaar, Dr Didi and Alhan Fahmy. He wants to keep the MDP under his control,” he said.
On Monday, a group of ten Moosa supporters staged a protest outside Nasheed’s residence, Kenereege, calling the MP’s expulsion “unfair”.
Moosa suggested Nasheed was behind the rumour that he may join PPM the next day.
“There are a lot of members who support me within the MDP. The rumour that I would join the PPM on the next day at a ceremony at Nasandhura Palace Hotel at noon, at a time when I was out of country, was engineered to make my supporters believe I would leave the MDP and thereby dissipate their criticism of the party’s decision,” he said.
The news was first reported in pro-government newspaper Vaguthu and later on opposition-aligned Raajje TV.
Explaining his decision not to participate in the vote to dismiss Faiz and Muthasim, Moosa said the former chief justice had caused enormous harm to the MDP.
On Nasheed’s resignation on February 7, Faiz had sworn in then Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed “without raising a single question on whether Nasheed was coerced,” Moosa said.
During Faiz’s tenure, the Supreme Court bench had stripped three MDP MPs of their membership and annulled the first round of presidential elections held in September 2013, he continued.
The Supreme Court’s removal of former Elections Commission President Fuwad Thowfeek and Vice President Ahmed Fayaz in March was a deliberate attempt to “damage MDP’s chances in parliamentary polls,” Moosa said.
“But that day [December 14], MDP came out to defend Faiz. I did not participate in the vote because I do not support Faiz. I do support Muthasim, but their names were put up together for a single vote. I did not want to remove Muthasim,” he explained.
He also criticised the party’s three-line whip calling on MPs to be present at the sitting, claiming a whip can only be issued on the vote itself, not on MPs presence at the Majlis.
He contended the MDP had failed to take action against MPs Eva Abdulla, Abdulla Shahid, and Rozaina Adam for their absence from the vote on the Special Economic Zone bill. Eva and Shahid had been in Geneva for a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union at the time.
Moosa also condemned Minivan News’ inclusion of a Raajje TV report on his company Heavy Load Pvt Ltd receiving islands for resort development in compensation for a terminated reclamation deal in its previous report on his expulsion from MDP.
He did confirm that Heavy Load Pvt Ltd has received islands, but said the deal was a transaction between the company and the government after the company threatened to file charges at the court for the termination.
The MDP has said the sudden removal of the two Supreme Court Judges is an attempt to stack the judiciary in President Abdulla Yameen’s favour.
Commonwealth groups have described the judges’ removal as unconstitutional, saying it constituted a clear breach of the Commonwealth Principles to which the government of Maldives has subscribed.
“As a result the independence of the judiciary and the Rule of Law have been “severely jeopardised”.
The International Commission of Jurists said the Maldivian parliament and executive “have effectively decapitated the country’s judiciary and trampled on the fundamental principles of the rule of law and separation of powers in a democratic State.”
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