MNDF officers in ‘constitution appeal’ face disciplinary action

Four Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) officers – all signatories of an appeal calling on their fellow soldiers not to obey “unlawful” orders issued by the president following the expiry of the presidential term on November 10 – are facing disciplinary action.

Staff Sergeant Hassan Hameed of the Marine Corps is being held in the MNDF training facility at Girifushi Island, while Sergeant Ismail Sobeeh is being held in the military barracks at Bandaara Koshi, sources within the military have said.

Corporal Mohamed Rasheed and Lance Corporal Ahmed Anwar Ali have been barred from entering any military facilities.

The appeal signed by 73 mid-ranking officers – titled “An appeal to soldiers to maintain their oath to be professional and apolitical” – cites Article 107 of the constitution which limits a presidential term to five years and notes there will be no president and commander in chief at midnight on November 10.

“With reference to the aforementioned constitutional articles, we believe any order they make in the name of any institution on the army and police is unlawful. We call your attention to Article 245 of the Constitution which states that we do not have to obey such orders,” the appeal states.

MNDF spokesperson Colonel Abdul Raheem confirmed Hameed is being investigated on a disciplinary matter, but declined to comment on where he is being held.

The MNDF was not responding to calls when Minivan News called to check on the status of the three other soldiers.

An hour before the expiry of his presidential term, President Dr Mohamed Waheed declared he would stay on until the end of run off polls on November 16.

On the same night, police questioned suspended Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam who was removed from service in January this year.

The MNDF in October brought amendments to its regulations imposing punishments on officers found guilty of inciting upheaval and chaos.

The Military Act amendments came after senior officers sent a letter of concern over delays in presidential polls to Chief of Defense Forces Major General Ahmed Shiyam. The letter warned of political turmoil within the military should presidential elections be delayed and a new president not be determined by the end of the term.

Following the circulation of the letter on social media, First Lieutenant Abdulla Shareef, Sergeant First Class Ali Waheed and Lance Corporal Sharhaab Rashid were handed ‘indefinite suspensions’ for allegedly inciting disruptions in the military ranks.

Minivan News understands the three soldiers are still on suspension without pay and without permission to work elsewhere.

On the same day, Brigadier General Abdulla Shamaal was also removed from his position as the Commandant of Training and Doctrine.

The ‘anti upheaval and chaos’ amendment that has now become the 22nd chapter of the Military Regulation defines ‘upheaval and chaos” as

  • Making demands through petitions drawn among two or more officers
  • Displaying content that could sow discord and disorder amongst military flanks through speech, writing, graphical depictions, photographs or any other means
  • Speech or conduct that amounts to doubts and questions being raised about the legality of an order given to the officers or a group of officers and
  • Incitement of hatred and false allegations towards the upper ranks of the military.

Former Male Area Commander of MNDF Retired Brigadier General Ibrahim Mohamed Didi – publicly regarded as a hero for his exploits during the 1988 Tamil coup attempt – in a letter published on social media also advised military officers to uphold the law and constitution regardless of who attempted to undermine it.

“My advice to the military officers is: ‘Do not give the opportunity to anyone who plans to rule this country by taking the laws to their own hands and override the constitution and undermine the constitutional framework of this country’,” wrote the ex-Brigadier General.