Maldivian crisis: Opposition calls for release of ex-President, CJ

Male [Maldives]: The opposition on Tuesday demanded the immediate release of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Maldivian Chief Justice Abdulla Sayeed, Justice of the Supreme Court Ali Hameed and pressed for the immediate lifting of the state of emergency.

The decree, which came into effect on Monday after President Yameen Abdul Gayoom declared a state of emergency in the country, suspended all basic fundamental rights and gives the security forces sweeping powers of search and arrest.

Amongst the suspended constitutional rights include the right to privacy, freedom of information, right to strike, right to assembly, right to no unlawful arrest or detention, the right to appeal.

The decree also suspended a number of articles interfering with the parliamentary and judicial mandate. The power of Parliament to summon people, impeach the President and the Vice President, and the power to pass no-confidence motions on cabinet ministers and the Prosecutor-General has also been suspended.

“Article 113 of the Maldivian Constitution (Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court) has been suspended. The Supreme Court, sitting together in the session, shall have sole and final jurisdiction to determine all disputes concerning the qualification or disqualification, election, status, of a presidential candidate or running mate or removal of the President by the People’s Majlis (parliament),” the opposition said in a statement.

“The Supreme Court shall be the final authority on the interpretation of the Constitution, the law, or any other matter dealt with by a court of law. The decree also suspended the Criminal Procedure Act and Articles 12 and 14 of the Judges Act,” it added.

“With the suspension of these articles, President Yameen has effectively obliterated all the powers of the Parliament and the Supreme Court. The suspended articles on the powers of the Supreme Court also render void the constitutional power of the Supreme Court to act as the final arbiter,” the statement continued.

In the early hours of Tuesday, the Special Force of the Maldives Police Service, in riot gear, entered the residence of former president Gayoom and arrested him along with his son in law Mohamed Nadheem. Both were arrested on charges of “bribery”.

Late Monday evening, the military stormed the premises of the Supreme Court of the Maldives and the Special Force of the Police without warrants arrested Chief Justice Abdulla and SC Justice Ali.

Calling the decree unconstitutional, the opposition criticised the arrests that were made saying that President Yameen abused his political powers to carry out a witch hunt of the opposition, the judiciary and the Parliament.

“The decree is being used to bypass due procedure, and prevaricate guarantees against arbitrary arrest and detention, especially of the Supreme Court Justices,” the statement read.

“By suspending the powers of the Parliament and the Judiciary, President Yameen is encroaching on all checks and balances, separation of powers, and is tantamount to a break down of the entire democratic system,” it stated.

“We call our international partners to do all they can, to ensure the release of the detainees, and to restore the Maldivian constitution,” the statement concluded.

The Maldivian capital remained tense as opposition leaders across the Maldives were being rounded up and placed under detention as Yameen, who has been refusing to obey SC’s orders directing him to release nine prominent leaders from prison, has given sweeping powers to security forces.

Last week, the Maldivian SC acquitted former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed, former Maldivian Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and ordered the reinstatement of the 12 other parliamentary members. (ANI)