Chief Justice Faiz previously alleged bribery in interim Supreme Court: Nasheed

Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz alleged in 2010 that judges on the interim Supreme Court “openly accepted bribes”, advising then-President Mohamed Nasheed to “bring the interim court to a halt,” Nasheed has claimed at a campaign rally in Male’ last night.

In 2010, then-interim Supreme Court Justice Faiz requested an audience with the president, Nasheed explained, noting that it was the first time he had met with a sitting judge.

“Faiz came and said the judges on the interim Supreme Court were openly accepting bribes and that Faiz knew of it,” Nasheed said.

He named the judges who were accepting bribes, Nasheed added.

“Faiz told me that the work that went on in the interim Supreme Court was not establishing justice but buying and selling. He said the court must be brought to a halt,” he continued.

Faiz advised the president that he was obliged to rein in the interim court, Nasheed said.

Interim bench

Nasheed referred to the five-member interim Supreme Court – headed by interim Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed – declaring that it was permanent ahead of the constitutional deadline for the interim period on August 7, 2010.

Apart from Faiz, the interim bench sworn in on September 18, 2008 consisted of Justice Abdulla Saeed, Justice Mujthaz Fahmy, Justice Abdulla Areef, and Justice Yousuf Hussain.

Nasheed noted that the then-ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) did not have a majority in the People’s Majlis, through which the permanent Supreme Court was to be instituted.

Referring to Justice Ali Hameed’s sex tape scandal, the former president revealed that his first seven nominees to the apex court did not include “disgraced judges.”

The original candidates included sitting MPs and a relative of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, he added.

Nasheed alleged that Jumhooree Party Leader Gasim Ibrahim offered an unlimited amount of money to MDP parliamentary group leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in exchange for confirming Ali Hameed to the Supreme Court bench.

On August 7, 2010, when the constitutional interim period expired, President Nasheed ordered the military to confiscate the keys of the Supreme Court after the interim court declared itself permanent.

Three days later, parliament hastily passed the Judges Act and approved Nasheed’s nominees to the new Supreme Court bench in a deal reached with the then-opposition parties who controlled parliament.

The president’s member on the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), Aishath Velezinee, described Faiz at the time as “a well-respected man amongst the judges. I have never heard anybody question his independence or impartiality. He is a learned man and amongst all the politicking and hanky-panky going on, he has maintained his integrity.”

Nasheed meanwhile went on to severely criticise Faiz for issuing a harshly worded statement condemning international partners who expressed concern with the Supreme Court’s controversial removal of the Elections Commission’s chair and deputy chair.

The Supreme Court was “destroying the future of generations to come,” he said.


Parliament sitting scheduled for Saturday

A sitting of the People’s Majlis has been scheduled for Saturday following a request by President Dr Mohamed Waheed for parliament to find a solution to legal issues that will arise if a president is not elected by the end of the current presidential term on November 11.

“In a letter to the Speaker of the People’s Majlis, President Dr Mohamed Waheed has requested the People’s Majlis to take initiative in finding a solution to any legal issues that will arise if a new president is not elected by the end of the current term. In his letter the President noted if the presidential election is to be held on the dates set by the Elections Commission, there was a possibility of such a situation,” reads a statement on the President’s Office website.

Parliament’s Secretary General told newspaper Haveeru today that the only item on the agenda for Saturday’s sitting would be the President’s letter.

Meanwhile, MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor submitted a bill on Wednesday (October 23), which if passed would allow the Speaker of Parliament to assume the office of the presidency in the absence of a president-elect on November 11.


MDP proposes bill allowing Speaker of Parliament to take charge after expiry of presidential term

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) yesterday (October 23) proposed a bill to parliament, which if passed would allow the Speaker to take charge of the government should no president-elect be determined by November 11.

The constitution only provides for a similar transition within the limits of the presidential term. The current Speaker of the House is MDP member Abdulla Shahid.

The bill (Dhivehi) sponsored by MDP MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor – who is today seeking refuge from arrest in the Majlis chambers  – coincided with the party’s presidential candidate and former President Mohamed Nasheed’s contention that incumbent Dr Mohamed Waheed could not remain in power after November 11.

Meanwhile President Waheed himself has maintained that he does “not want to stay in this position even a day beyond November 11”.

Despite the statements by the president – who obtained just 5 percent of the popular vote in the annulled September 7 presidential polls – the Supreme Court has previously ruled that Waheed would be able to remain in power even after the expiry of his presidential term, citing the continuity of government principle.

This principle, first developed by the British, establishes defined procedures for allowing a government to continue its essential operations in case of nuclear war or any other catastrophic event.

The new bill titled ‘Legislation underlining transitional arrangements in the event no president-elect and vice president-elect is not determined at the end of the 2008 presidential term’ states that the primary purpose of the bill was to prevent any constitutional void that could arise in case no successor to the president or vice-president was elected by November 11.

Section 3(a) of the bill states:

‘Until the new president and the vice president are elected, the duties and responsibilities of the President would be undertaken by the Speaker of Parliament. If the Speaker of Parliament is unable to take the duties and responsibilities, then Deputy Speaker of Parliament will take undertake the duties and responsibilities. If both the Speaker of Parliament and the Deputy Speaker Parliament are unable to undertake the responsibilities and duties, it would be undertaken by a member of parliament determined by a resolution passed by the parliament.’

The section 3(b) meanwhile states that any person who takes charge as per section 3(a), is required to take the “oath of office by persons temporarily discharging the duties of the office of President and Vice President” as stipulated in article 126 of the constitution.

The bill also demands that the new caretaker-president ensures the completion of the first round of presidential election or the run-off election as mentioned in the article 111 of the constitution within a twenty-one day period.

The bill states that the winner of the presidential polls must take the oath of the office within 18 hours of the Elections Commission announcing the final results of the poll.

It also states that the term of the new presidency would commence only after they take oath, resulting the renewal of the presidential term every five years would take place on November 11.

The section 6 of the bill – a sunset provision – states that the bill would automatically expire once the new president and vice president take the oath of their office.

The submission of the bill also coincided with the Civil Service Commission’s meeting with all the presidential candidates regarding the appointment of the director of transition – a temporary official selected among the civil servants to oversee the transition of governments – as stipulated in the Presidential Elections Act.

Although MP Ghafoor’s bill has been submitted to the parliament, a date has to hold the preliminary debate of the bill is yet to be scheduled.

Parliamentary procedures dictate that the bill gets formally accepted to parliament only if the majority of the MPs vote in favour after holding the preliminary debate.