Majlis removes MP Hamza from judicial watchdog

The People’s Majlis has removed MP Ahmed Hamza from the judicial watchdog body – the Judicial Services Commission (JSC).

Speaker Abdulla Shahid sent a letter to the JSC President and Supreme Court Judge Adam Mohamed informing him that Hamza is no longer a member of the commission following his decision to contest parliamentary elections.

Hamza is standing in the March 22nd election for the Bilehdhoo constituency in Faafu atoll.

Shahid said Hamza had lost his seat as Article 10 of the JSC Act states that a commission member will lose their seats if they stand for a political position elected under the constitution or a law.

Speaking to Minivan News, Hamza said he did not believe Shahid’s interpretation is accurate.

“But I accept the decision since Article 14 of the act states that the parliamentary representative can only be removed by the People’s Majlis,” he said.

Hamza has previously said that the speaker and Majlis representative should be exempted from Article 10 “as it creates a legal vacuum.”

Meanwhile, Shahid has also announced he will contest the Majlis elections. Hamza said his removal from the JSC meant that Shahid might also lose his seat.

Judge Adam Mohamed sent a letter to Hamza and President Abdulla Yameen earlier this week claiming Hamza’s position was now vacant.

Hamza responded by stating his belief that Adam Mohamed’s attempt to remove him was intended to reduce the number of members who advocated for judicial reform and an investigation into Supreme Court Judge Ali Hameed’s alleged involvement in a series of sex tapes.

Similarly, former Attorney General Husnu Suood has suggested his suspension from practicing law – handed down by the Supreme Court last month – was related to his role in the JSC’s investigation into the Hameed tapes.

Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman – the public’s representative on the JSC  – has also accused Judge Adam Mohamed of stalling the JSC’s investigation into the Hameed scandal.

Adam Mohamed had refused to schedule a vote on whether to suspend Hameed following his refusal to cooperate with the investigation, Hamza said.

“The JSC cannot be productive as long as Adam Mohamed remains the president,” he said. “I call on the public to pressure the JSC to table the motion to suspend Ali Hameed,” he said.

Hamza has previously accused judges of using legal loopholes to preventing the JSC from functioning.

The Supreme Court in January prevented a JSC attempt to shuffle judges in the superior courts, stating that the authority to do so was reserved by the Judicial Council – a body which had previously been annulled, and whose powers have been assumed, by the Supreme Court.


Comment: From confrontation to conciliation and coalition?

With the Maldives warming up for presidential polls slated for September and the Election Commission fixing July 15 as the date for opening nominations, the climate of confrontation from the past year is slowly but surely giving way to the possibilities of new coalitions, pointing to the inevitability of conciliation and/or reconciliation now and later.

If still some political leaders will still not talk about conciliation and nor talk to one another, and instead hold grudges against one another, it has have more to do with personal hurt and/or ego than politics and political philosophies.

Independent of the political implications involved, Parliament Speaker Abdulla Shahid’s decision to join the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), after quitting the Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP), is a case in point. At the height of the ‘power-transfer’ in February last year, the MDP charged him and the Majlis with impropriety in hurrying through the ‘succession processes’ after President Mohammed Nasheed gave way to Vice-President Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik in a surprising yet not wholly unexpected turn of events. Earlier, too, Speaker Shahid was locked in a series of procedural issues between the Executive under President Nasheed and the Majlis, where as the ‘minority party’ the MDP saw him more as an ‘opposition man’ than as an unbiased Speaker of the House.

A fortnight after Speaker Shahid’s formal announcement, no major party in the ruling coalition has demanded his resignation. Nor has any of them talked about moving a no-trust vote against him. Individual voices have been raised, but they have remained as such.

The DRP to which he had belonged until the other day and of which he was among the leading-lights, has since gone about its national congress as if nothing had happened. The party has enough worries on hand, in terms of its continued stability and future, starting with DRP Leader Thasmeen Ali contesting the presidential polls of September. Going by media reports, the national council has amended the party’s constitution, authorising the executive committee to formulate the internal laws for dissolving the DRP, if and when it so desired.

Army told to stay away

In a fitting and much-needed direction ahead of the polls, Defence Minister Ahamed Nazim has reportedly told the armed forces not to get involved in direct politics. They should stop with exercising their democratic rights as voters, and should not identify with individual political parties, the local media quoted him as telling the personnel of the Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF). A retired colonel of the armed forces, Nazim was at the centre of the controversy attending on the MDP charges of a ‘politico-military coup’ against President Nasheed in February 2012.

Minister Nazim’s direction now should have a salutary effect on the morale of the Maldivian forces in the future, if it is taken to its logical conclusion. It could help ensure free and fair elections, which the constitution has promised every five years. More importantly, it could set the tone and tenor for the political class and the armed forces reconciling themselves to the division of the security requirements of the State between the MNDF (external security) and the Maldivian Police Service (MPS for internal security duties), when the unified National Security Service (NSS) was bifurcated for the very reason in 2006, during the relatively long run-up to the democratisation process.

The political executive not having kept its part of the deal, the MNDF and the MPS have remained extremely and excessively politicised with their top-rung getting a make-over with every change of government. Given to practices from the past and also the paucity of MPS personnel at the ground-level, successive Governments too commanded the MNDF to what essentially are policing duties, leading to a cycle of ‘mutual dependency syndrome’ and consequent controversies. The fact that the MNDF was involved in the arrest of political personalities by successive Governments even after the bifurcation, in the one-day closure of the Supreme Court, all escalating to levels in which the force and also the MPS got entangled in the ‘power-transfer episode’ of February 7, 2012, speaks volumes.

Coalition realignment

Coalition and conciliation have been the basis for the emergence of multi-party democracy in the country and its sustenance since. Elections-2008 became possible, and results became pronounced, thanks to the opposition coalition of the time, particularly in the second-round, run-off polls to the presidency, despite what otherwise may be parroted in public. The process went unacknowledged as such, but that was what it was. Despite the controversial circumstances for which the 2008 constitution had not provided for, the realignment of that coalition was a major factor in the ‘transfer of power’ in February 2012.

In the run-up to the September polls, there is a talk of further realignment. Every party is talking to every other party, or is possibly sending out feelers. Whatever the reason, senior leaders of parties which were supposed to have been after one another were known to have met over the past year of conflict, controversy and confrontation. Where some such meetings were supposed to have been private, affairs became public knowledge almost immediately, whatever the reason, whoever leaked it.

Thus, Nasheed had DRP leader Thasmeen Ali and PPM’s Abdulla Yameen, since elected as the party’s presidential nominee, calling on him on separate occasions over the past year, like Speaker Shahid would do months later. Their’s was however said to be either a courtesy call on a former President or was to discuss specific issues like deadlocks in Parliament, where the MDP is the single largest party and controls many House Committees. Yet, the ice was broken, post-February ’12.

Protagonists remain. Of the three, Maumoon Gayoom and Mohammed Nasheed were past Presidents. The third one, Mohammed Waheed Hassan Manik, is the incumbent. Waheed has since called on Maumoon, talking about a possible coalition still for the September poll, against Nasheed and his MDP. President Waheed has also been talking to ruling coalition partner and Jumhooree Party (JP) presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim and Gayoom’s PPM rebel, Umar Naseer. He already has the religion-centric Adhaalath Party (AP) and Presidential Advisor Hassan Saeed’s Dhivehi Quamee Party (DQP) in alliance with his own Quamee Iththihaad Party (QIP), all backing him for the presidency.

Gasim and Thasmeen Ali, leader of the DRP, founded by Gayoom before he split away and launched the PPM had once projected themselves as partners. There are also reports from time to time that the MDP has been sending out feelers or receiving them to and from partners in the ruling coalition. For them, Gayoom not contesting the primary even while retaining the party presidency and Yameen becoming the PPM’s presidential nominee should blunt some of their misdirected angst from the past, near and far.

The MDP is the single largest party, both in Parliament and outside now, going by the numbers. The recent cross-over by Speaker Shahid and a few others has added to the party’s parliamentary strength. MDP leaders claim that it is a reflection of the public mood ahead of the presidential polls. Candidate Nasheed has declared since that the party would not opt for a coalition as it was unworkable under the Maldivian constitutional scheme, which provided for Executive Presidency.

Party leaders attribute Nasheed’s declaration to the MDP’s confidence in being able to win the presidential polls by itself. Critics remain. They say, there are no takers for a coalition with the MDP after the 2008 experience, and that the MDP was making a virtue of a necessity. Yet, through the past year there have been occasion in which the MDP, and some of the leading partners in the ruling coalition like the PPM and the DRP, voting together on crucial pieces of legislation, reflecting the need and possibilities of ‘bipartisanship’, which is an inherent, yet unpronounced element of the Executive Presidency scheme.

End to ‘negative politics’

It is but natural for any nation that has continued with and under the same political leadership for three long decades, and a history of sorts before it, to suffer the effects of ‘anti-incumbency’ afflicting the regime. The 2008 Constitution and the presidential polls were the cause and effect of the anti-incumbency finding a democratic expression, leading to the most controversial of ‘transfers of power’ that the nation had anticipated or others had gone through. There is no reason why 2013 could not be a repeat of 2008, pushing 2012 to the background and permanently so, at least as far as the process are concerned and independent of the results, which rests with the people of the country.

If Elections-2008 were thus won and lost on ‘negative votes’, it may not be any different in 2013. In most democracies the world over, ‘anti-incumbency’ rather than the ‘promised moon’ has been at the bottom election-driven power-transfers. In some of those nations, palpable in the Third World than in the First, internal dynamics of individual political parties have been driven by their inherent belief in ‘anti-incumbency’ – and not their ‘positive’ politics, policies and programmes – putting them (back) in power.

So complete has been the belief that some leaders in some of the parties would rather fight to keep the party leadership with them, ready to be catapulted to power by the externality of anti-incumbency against the ruler of the day. This throws up the problem of the newly-elected not having thought of working out and working with a ‘positive programme’ to endear him and his party to the people at large, who thus end up crying ‘anti-incumbency’ before long.

Democratic over-heating

It is under these circumstances that post-poll governments in these democracies have often been driven to stick to their electoral promises which are mostly confined to ‘exposing’ those that they had replaced and bringing them to justice for whatever offence that they might have been said to have committed while in power and abusing that power. This ‘eye-for-an-eye’ merry-go-round, if it could be called so, has only made every one blind to the power that they have come to enjoy and enforce, rather by default than any other way.

This alone has had the potential to defeat the people’s faith in democracy, as they get to feel little or no positive contributions and consequences of democracy touching their everyday life. Despite hopes to the contrary at birth, Maldives has proved to be no exception. However, in this case, over the past five years of democratic over-heating Maldives has proved that popular democracy has come to stay. So has coalition politics, in power and/or out of it.

‘Coalition-compulsions’, a new phrase that Maldives and Maldivian polity will have to come to terms with even while practising it already, would imply that all stake-holders should be ready for future cross-over by individual parties and their individual leaders and should not say or do things that they might regret on a later date. In a nation where the total registered membership of all political parties does not add up to half the electorate, it is saying a lot.

It is a message to the political parties that they need conciliation processes and reconciliation procedures in their own larger and future interest than their short-lived present, which the first five years of democracy has proved to each one of them, individually and collectively. If at a critical stage in the nation’s history, Presidents Gayoom and Nasheed could ensure a smooth power-transfer through a promise of give-and-take in 2008, there is no reason why the un-kept promises as perceived by various stake-holders cannot be revisited in the run-up to the second presidential polls under the multi-party democracy scheme.

There is thus a need for finding institutional solutions for ending mutual conflict and consequent confrontation that the nation can ill-afford in times such as these — when political stability is threatened alongside by economic downslide. It can blame the economy on the external world. Political problems are a Maldivian making just as the transition to democracy was a boon earlier. Both have had the ‘Made in Maldives’ brand sealed all over them.

The writer is a Senior Fellow at Observer Research Foundation

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


Comment: Hope rekindled

It was with some trepidation that I awaited the Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP’s) announcement of a ‘big gathering’ on 19 April 2013 and the news of parliamentary speaker Abdulla Shahid making his maiden speech that night after joining the party.

But, as on many other occasions before, the event was organised and carried out with such precision and grandiose style that it far exceeded any events, national or otherwise, that I had ever witnessed in the Maldives.

In fact, I don’t think it would be wrong to say that it was the largest gathering ever in the Maldives, certainly one held by a political party.

Watching, observing and listening to the speeches that night has certainly rekindled lost hope, at least for me personally, and I am sure there are many others who feel the same way I do.

The MDP showed that they as a party understood what democracy is through their maturity in willingly to embrac and welcome Shahid to their party and giving him a place of honour among their ranks.

Shahid had been in the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) before and being the Speaker of Parliament, should, as many MDP supporters have previously alleged, be held responsible for at least some of the difficulty that the MDP Government experienced in getting much needed legislation passed through parliament.

But, as was befitting a mature democratic party, MDP supporters set aside their differences and welcomed him with open arms – something which should have been the hallmark of the current government that keeps claiming they are responsible for bringing unity to the country.

What Shahid expressed in his speech about young technocrats joining the MDP will no doubt depend on the way that MDP treats Shahid and others like him. For it is no secret that, among his many other talents, Shahid is also one of the most highly experienced technocrats in the Maldives.

In the past, when the MDP had been in the government after winning the 2008 elections, it had acquired a reputation for being too hasty in throwing out well-educated, skilled, and highly competent staff whose only wrong-doing had been that they did not belong to MDP and had been in government service during Gayoom’s time.

But what MDP supporters had failed to recognise then, is that these people had very little choice of contributing to their country unless they worked with the then government.

What MDP also failed to recognise is that most of them were simply technocrats who had no political ambitions and therefore chose not to join any political party. As Shahid so eloquently stated in his speech, “there are many of us who firmly believe that MDP is the only party that can move the country forward and bring development through its policies and democratic values”.

What many may fail to recognise is that MDP’s strategies of focusing on the individual needs of citizen’s rather than targeting highly visible projects for gaining votes, places them far ahead of their rival parties in terms of protecting the human rights of Maldivian citizens.

Maldivians have over the years experienced a number of developmental activities which have not had any significant impact on improving either their livelihoods or their living conditions as had been stated as the objective of the many National Development Plans since 1985. Instead, these plans have been a wish list which the government had used to shop for donor financing.

However, the MDP Manifesto has shown quite clearly to the people that realistic plans to achieve equity goals are possible and implementable even within a short span of time, as was demonstrated within the three short years of the MDP Government.

There is no doubt that the average Maldivian, when they think about their situation rationally, would be extremely grateful to the MDP Government’s implementation of their inter-island transport network, the adequate housing policy, the single-session schools education policy, the technical and vocational skills development programme, and the social protection programs for the elderly, the disabled and single mothers, as well as the Aasandha health insurance scheme for all.

Similarly, there is no doubt that the new policies that the MDP is proposing for the 2013 elections will go a long way in consolidating the economic and social rights of many Maldivians.

Examples of these can be seen in their proposed expansion of guest houses policy and the development of mariculture in selected regions of the country — something that had in fact been suggested by the first UN fact-finding mission to the Maldives, way back in the late 1950s when the Maldives had not even gained its independence.

What I would like to see further is for MDP to announce their policies on how to tackle some of the pressing social issues as economic development needs to go hand in hand with social development for the people.

For instance, I would like to hear from the MDP on how they propose to bring back another Second Chance programme for reformative justice which has been proven overseas to be far more effective than incarceration, especially in the case of young offenders.

Additionally, I would also like to know how MDP plans to deliver a more effective and efficient public service that is befitting a modern Maldives in the globalised world of the 21st century.

As Maldives is highly dependent on its service sector, and given its geographic vulnerabilities, it is important in this modern era of internet communications to expand this technology for providing faster and efficient services to both its citizens and non-citizens who visit the country.

Efficient and effective service delivery should also take into account that a number of Maldivian tax payers reside overseas and in order to protect their rights and avail themselves of the services offered, it is important for them to be able to access services from where they reside. In certain instances this might mean making exceptions for them to be able to personally collect important documents such as national ID cards and passports.

I sincerely hope and pray that MDP can bring hope back and keep the window to democracy open for the many of us who are disillusioned and disgusted at the recent turn of events in our beloved country.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


“I have joined MDP to prevent window to democracy from being closed”: Speaker Shahid

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) held one of the largest political rallies in the country’s recent history on Friday (April 19) to celebrate the signing of Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid as a member.

Shahid announced he was joining the opposition MDP Thursday (April 18), after resigning from the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) earlier in the week.

He yesterday addressed thousands of supporters gathered at the Alimas Carnival area of Male’ in his first address since signing with the party at a special rally entitled ‘A New Strength’.

“I am here today with renewed resolve to give new hope to the Maldivian people. I am here with you brave warriors to do all I can to find the best means for the people of the Maldives,” said Shahid,

“In 2008, a flicker of hope was kindled in the hearts of the Maldivian people. A window to democracy was opened. Maldivians used the light of this flame and the opportunities of this window to experience the beautiful gardens of democracy,” Shahid continued.

“As our hearts yearned to stay in these gardens for good, an attempt was made to try and close this window. An attempt was made to extinguish that glow of hope in people’s hearts. It was the courageous members of MDP who obstructed the powerful forces that tried to close this window to democracy.”

“Today, I am here with all of you brave, steadfast warriors to prevent that window from being closed,” Shahid stated.

In his first speech at a MDP podium, Shahid stated that many of his supporters, as well as “many young, assertive technocrats” who have worked with him, were now in the process of joining MDP alongside him.

“People from all over the Maldives called me upon hearing that I have joined the Maldivian Democratic Party. They told me that this decision of mine is in the best interests of the nation at this moment, and assured me that they will join this party with me,” he added, to loud applause from party supporters.

Will not them enslave us in the name of religion and nationalism: Shahid

“The strongest tool used to oppress citizens is to instill fear in their hearts, to make them weak psychologically, to create mistrust between each other, to create a culture of doubt and unrest. It is not surprising that these tactics are being used in our Maldives today,” Shahid said, criticising the present government and its coalition parties.

“The aim of these tactics is to make people lose faith in the democracy that rose in the Maldives, to delude people into thinking that democracy is a useless concept. And along with this, to utilize the ensuing chaos to usurp the power of the people, and to prevent the establishment of an administration that will work for the betterment of the people.”

“I want to say to those orchestrating such actions, that today, the Maldivian people will not give you the opportunity to pull that off. Today, Maldivians will not move away from democracy. They will not give up the powers of the people,” Shahid stated.

Shahid, who has previously spoken out against the MDP and its supporters, stated his reasons for now joining the party on Friday.  He claimed that he had taken the decision as the MDP was the only party that can move the country forward and bring development through its policies and democratic values.

“Allegations that [MDP] is working to undermine the religion of Islam, and the independence and sovereignty of the country are made with the intention of spreading such fear,” Shahid said of the criticisms, which continue to be levied against MDP by its political opponents.

“The easiest way out [for them] is to talk about the fear of losing independence or sovereignty. The minute anybody says a word, they are labelled a traitor, or an enemy. That’s all there is to it. In a space like this, we must question why this happens. In some other countries which are now developed, we saw people being enslaved under the name of religion and nationalism. We will not give them the opportunity to do that to us here,” he stated.

Shahid said that at a time when the Maldives had “more scholars than ever before seen in Islamic history”, rather than spread fear, it is vital to disseminate information that Islam is the religion of science, progress and development.

“Be it independence, or sovereignty, they only exist because of us citizens. They are things that exist for the sake of citizens. Those that speak of protecting sovereignty and independence today, without shedding light on the significance of the citizens, do so because they have nothing more they can speak of, because they do not have any plans or policies for the people. This is something that the Maldivian people will no longer accept,” he continued.

“We are now interconnected with the world. We will not let them isolate us from the world, and take us backwards.”

In conclusion of his speech, Shahid echoed the words of MDP leaders and stated, “The Presidential Elections are right in front of us. I can assure you with certainty that we will win that election from the first round itself. The reason why I am so sure of this is because of the immense support for this party that we see today.”

“Taking off at high speed”

MDP Presidential Candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed stated at the rally that the party was now taking off at high speed to win the September 7 elections.

Gesturing at the thousands of supporters which filled the rally grounds on Friday night, Nasheed stated that this was the sight of victory that was being witnessed at that moment.

Welcoming Shahid to the party, Nasheed stated that he is one of the most experienced politicians the country has ever seen.

“This day will be marked in history. This country’s historians and researchers will emphasize the reason why Shahid joined MDP,” Nasheed stated.

“We will not stay still or take half steps. Tighten your seatbelts. We are taking off at high speed and will stop only after taking oath as President once again this coming November. Shahid has left a campaign that proceeds in slow-motion to join one that moves much faster. We won’t go in slow motion. We take 3 feets steps and move with speed,” he said.

Among other speakers at the rally were MDP Chairperson ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, Parliamentary Group Leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, MP and former Chairperson Mariya Ahmed Didi and Raa Atoll Councillor Mohamed Waheed.

Shahid’s switch comes almost exactly one year to the day that the opposition MDP submitted an unsuccessful no confidence motion against the speaker, accusing him at the time of making decisions relating to significant parliamentary issues without discussing them with various political parties.

Fall out

Speaking following the announcement of speaker’s switch on Thursday (April 18), DRP Deputy Leader Abdulla Mausoom told Minivan News at the time that the party had no present plans to pursue a no-confidence motion against the speaker as a result of him defecting to the opposition.

However, he claimed that in cases where any politician – whether a speaker or cabinet minister – was deemed to be compromising national issues, then the party “would not hesitate” to take action against them.

Meanwhile, Abdulla Yameen, Parliamentary Group Leader of the government-aligned PPM – the country’s second largest political party after the MDP and minority party of parliament – had his phone switched off today.

Earlier this week, PPM MP Ahmed Nihan said he had worked with Shahid for many years and personally found him to be very capable in his position as speaker.

However, he added that he was not sure how his fellow party members or other government-aligned MPs might view his decision to switch to the opposition.


JSC Chair refuses to be answerable to parliamentary oversight committee

The Judicial Services Commission (JSC) has informed Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid on Wednesday that it will not be held answerable to the Majlis’ Independent Commissions Oversight Committee.

As the country’s judicial watchdog, the JSC has been summoned by the commission concerning the appointment of judges in the trial against former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Nasheed is being tried over his controversial detention of Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed during the final days of his presidency.

In response to a summons from the parliament committee, JSC Chair and Supreme Court Judge Adam Mohamed responded in a letter stating that the JSC refused to discuss any matters concerning the Hulhumale’ Magistrate Court, as it related to an ongoing case.

According to local media, the letter stated that the commission would not abide by the parliament summons, citing a Supreme Court ruling that nobody could influence an ongoing case. The letter justified refusing the commission’s request by noting that the Supreme Court ruling also stated any decisions made against the ruling must be considered void.

JSC is legally required to attend committee: Parliament Speaker

Meanwhile, Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, who is also a member of the JSC, has responded to the letter stating that the JSC is legally required to attend and be answerable to its oversight committee.

In the letter, Shahid quoted Article 99 of the Constitution of the Maldives and Article 69 of the Parliament Regulations, adding that as per the constitution, it is parliament which has legal powers to decide on matters concerning independent institutions of the state.

“The Judicial Services Commission, established under Act 10/2008, is required under that law and the Constitution of the Maldives to be answerable to the parliament. Hence, it is mandated to attend the parliament and the relevant permanent parliamentary committee, and to be answerable and accountable for any work that they are doing, or have done,” local media quoted the letter as reading.

Shahid added that as he is incidentally also a member of the JSC, he held no reluctance to attend the parliament committee, even if in a personal capacity, to be held answerable for decisions made by the JSC.

Commission must be answerable to parliament: JSC Vice Chair

JSC Vice Chair, Criminal Court Judge Abdulla Didi, has meanwhile spoken out against the commission’s official response to parliament, stating that its refusal to attend the Independent Commissions Oversight Committee was not a decision of the majority members of the commission.

“From what I know, only three commission members attended the meeting where this decision was made. That doesn’t even meet the minimum required quorum to make a decision,” Didi stated.

“I, myself, could not attend the meeting because of the extremely short notice we were given,” he continued.

“All and any member of the commission must be accountable and answerable to the oversight committee at any time. No one can refuse to do so. As a member of the JSC, I am perfectly willing to attend the parliament meeting and answer to any questions they put to us,” Didi stated.

JSC members summoned

Following the JSC’s official refusal to attend, and the responses in conflict to that decision from the commission’s Vice Chair Abdullla Didi and Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid, the parliament’s Independent Institutions Oversight Committee has once again summoned individual JSC members to a meeting scheduled for Thursday night.

JSC members summoned to the meeting are Vice Chair Abdulla Didi, Speaker Abdulla Shahid and member appointed from the public Sheikh Shuaib Abdul Rahman.

Sheikh Rahman on Wednesday publicly aired concerns about the politicisation of the commission, alleging that the commission had ‘handpicked’ magistrates for Nasheed’s trial and openly planned to eliminate him from the September 7 elections.

JSC has used the same justification to refuse to answer the parliamentary oversight committee in November 2012.

The oversight committee has previously determined that the JSC’s creation of the Hulhumale Court – in which Nasheed is being tried – is illegitimate. However this was overruled four to three by the Supreme Court bench, on request of the JSC. Supreme Court Judge Adam Mohamed – the JSC chair – threw the casting vote.


Speaker no-confidence motion scheduled for hearing on June 5

The Secretariat of the Majlis had announced that a no-confidence motion against Speaker of the House Abdulla Shahid has been scheduled to be heard on June 5, the day after the parliament reconvenes, reports Haveeru.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) passed the motion on April 17 alleging that Shahid had been making decisions relating to significant parliamentary issues without discussing them first with various political parties.

The motion was signed by 27 of the MDP’s then 32 representatives in the Majlis. The MDP currently has 31 members in the house after Shifag ‘Histo’ Mufeed defected to the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).

The party claimed that Shahid had been acting outside of his mandate by deciding to suspend certain parliament regulations, whilst opting to follow others that were alleged to be to his personal benefit.

Haveeru reports that the Parliament’s general committee must now decide on the number of MPs that will be involved in that debate, the extent of that debate and the time allowed for the debate.

The speaker has been targeted by MDP protesters following the motion, with large groups gathering outside Shahid’s residence to call for his resignation on April 21.


MDP to boycott Majlis sitting to approve VP, cabinet nominees

Ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has said it will boycott Wednesday’s Majlis sitting scheduled to approve President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s vice-president nominee and 14 member cabinet.

The MDP alleges President Waheed came to power through a coup d’état, and has called for fresh elections and an independent investigation into the transfer of power on February 7.

“We continue to believe the transfer of power occurred through a coup d’état. We do not believe any cabinet Dr Waheed appoints to be lawful. Therefore we believe the sitting scheduled to approve such a cabinet is also an unlawful sitting,” MDP parliamentary group (PG) leader Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday.

The MDP had sent a letter requesting cabinet approval be postponed to a later date, but did not receive a reply, Ibu said.

MDP deputy PG leader Ali Waheed said the decision to boycott Wednesday’s sitting was “not defeat,” but a “courageous decision.”

He also said the Speaker could not schedule approval for the cabinet until an independent investigation into the transfer of power is complete.

President Waheed has set up a three member Committee of National Inquiry (CNI), but the commission has come under fire from international bodies such as the Commonwealth, the MDP and local civil society group for lack of independence.

MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik said the establishment of the CNI was proof that President Waheed himself questioned the legitimacy of his administration. Further, even if the cabinet nominees were approved, Waheed’s administration could not submit bills as Waheed’s Gaumee Ithihad (GI) does not have representation in the Majlis.

Article 71 of the parliamentary rules of procedure states the government can only submit bills, including tax bills, to the parliament through the party it represents.

The MDP also sought to obstruct Waheed from addressing parliament on March 1 and March 19. Waheed only managed to deliver a shortened version of the presidential address amidst loud heckling by MDP MPs in the Majlis chamber while MDP supporters and police clashed violently outside. During the speech an MP held up a placard declaring Waheed a ‘coup boss’.

Meanwhile, the MDP has also tabled a no-confidence motion against speaker Abdulla Shahid claiming the speaker follows the house rules at his discretion and does not seek advice from political parties when making major decisions.

In response, Shahid has said: “I was elected as Speaker through a parliamentary majority. Since then, I have upheld and in the future will continue to uphold the Constitution and laws of the Maldives and the Parliament’s regulations.”

The MDP commands 32 of the 77 seats in parliament.


2010 to be a productive year at parliament, promises speaker

Parliamentary Speaker Abdulla Shahid said he will work to make 2010 a productive year at parliament, reports Miadhu.

Out of 77 MPs, 64 were present at yesterday’s meeting, the first parliamentary session of the year.

Shahid said 2009 was also a productive year. Since the new parliament was sworn in on 28 May 2009, the Majlis have conducted 33 deliberations and adopted 6 legislations.

There will be priority given to those issues that were being discussed when parliament was called into recess in December 2009.

Kulhudhuffushi South MP Mohamed Nasheed has criticised the parliament for taking a two month long recess, arguing that it will be difficult to complete the parliament’s work in the six remaining months of the transition period.