Maldives Supreme Court to armed forces: Ensure opposition participation in parliament

ANI | Updated: Feb 02, 2018 18:43 IST

Dubai [U.A.E], Feb.2 (ANI): The Maldives Supreme Court has directed all institutions of the country, and the armed forces in particular, to honour its full and final decision to reinstate twelve opposition parliamentarians who were disqualified and detained earlier.

It said in a fresh order that all arrangements have to be made to ensure that they attend the first session of the parliament on February 5.

Exercising its powers under Article 141 and 145 of the Constitution of Maldives and also its position as the highest authority for the administration of justice in the Maldives, the Supreme Court said that alleged floor crossing charge levelled against the twelve opposition parliamentarians stands withdrawn and rescinded.

A five-member bench of the apex court, comprising of the chief justice and the four other judges, warned the government, parliament, the armed forces and the police, and all other relevant parties of the state that failure to implement its unanimous order would lead to their prosecution.

It said the cases against these members of parliament would be judicially re-examined in accordance with law. The court described the judgement as full and final, and ruled out the possibility of review or appeal.

Those ordered released include: Mohamed Nasheed, G. Kenereege, Mohamed Nazim, M. Seenukarankaage, Imran Abdulla, Malhaar, M. Kolhufushi, Ahmed Adeeb Abdul Gafoor, H. Saamaraa, Muhthaaz Muhsin, Rasmaage, Ga. Maamendhoo, Gasim Ibrahim, M. Maafannu Vilaa, Ahmed Faris Maumoon, M. Kinbigasdhoshuge, Ahmed Nihan, Venus, Hamid Ismail and M. Shoora Manzil.

In a tweet, the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Atul Keshap welcomed the ruling. "I urge the government and security services to respect this ruling, which bolsters #democracy and #RuleOfLaw for all Maldivians."

Police in the Maldives said through a tweet that they had decided to follow the court ruling after seeking legal advice and have had started to enforce it.

Supporters of the opposition cheered and clapped when this tweet was read out yesterday. Subsequently, there were clashes which led to the police firing tear gas shells to quell the disturbance.

"The Supreme Court's verdict effectively ends President Yameen's authoritarian rule," the opposition said in a statement. They called for his resignation.

The Maldives is a popular tourist destination and this sector had been hit hard when President Yameen ordered a major crackdown on dissent and oversaw the jailing of almost all political opposition members.

"While the ruling makes significant implications on various points of constitutional import and criminal justice procedures, it was issued without representation of the state from either the attorney general or the prosecutor general," President Yameen's spokesman, Ibrahim Hussain Shihab said in a statement.

The government has, however, confirmed that it will consult with the Supreme Court on how to apply the ruling through proper procedure and the rule of law.

Earlier this week, opposition figures jointly petitioned the court to remove President Yameen on charges of alleged corruption.

Among those who had petitioned the top court included President Yameen's half-brother and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, former president Mohamed Nasheed and former vice president Ahmed Adeeb.

Almost all key opposition leaders and a number of ruling party dissidents have either been jailed or gone into exile in the Maldives in recent years under Yameen.

The political crisis in The Maldives can be traced to ouster of Mohammad Nasheed, the country's first democratically elected leader in 2012. He was then sentenced to 13 years in jail on terrorism charges after a widely denounced trial in 2015. He was freed last year on medical and compassionate grounds. He initially travelled to the United Kingdom for medical treatment and then managed to get political refugee status.

Nasheed, who is now in self-exile in Sri Lanka, has consistently accused President Yameen, who has been in power since 2013, of widespread corruption and of amassing wealth through illegal means.

He has maintained that President Yameen has used his wealth to purchase the loyalties of members of the legislature, judiciary and special operations unit of the police.

There have also been reports of the widespread use of "fear and intimidation" as a political tool against the opposition, he said. (ANI)

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