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Supreme Court may ask for president’s impeachment

The political crisis in Maldives, just 600 km south-west of Indian shores, is deepening with President Abdulla Yameen not complying with the Supreme Court’s order for getting the jailed opposition leaders including former president Mohamed Nasheed released.

Different media outlets in Male, the country’s capital, indicate that Supreme Court has hit back President Yameen’s refusal to free his jailed opponents amid security forces sealing off the parliament and arresting two opposition lawmakers.

Judges at the Supreme Court have said that there should be “no legal barrier” to releasing the nine opposition leaders, whose terrorism and corruption convictions were overturned last week.

Supreme Court statement came after Attorney General Mohamed Anil raised concerns about freeing convicted people for their involvement in terrorism, corruption, embezzlement and fraud.

The recent rulings of Supreme Court has plunged Maldives into a political crisis, considered to be a blow to President Yameen who is criticised for alleged corruption, misrule and human rights abuse.

Earlier, President Yameen wrote a letter to Supreme Court asking to revoke its decision to terminate the arrest warrant for Hassan Saeed, the judicial administrator of Department of Judicial Administration (DJA).

In one of his tweets on Saturday former President Mohamed Nasheed said that disobeying Supreme Court is tantamount to a coup.

Meanwhile Mihaaru, english daily based in Male reports that country’s ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) leader and Member of Parliament Ahmed Nihan, responding to late Sunday rumours of the SC preparing to issue an order to impeach President Abdulla Yameen.

While addressing PPM’s parliamentary group, he said that an attempt to impeach a democratically elected President would be a “declaration of war on the Maldives”. He said that such an act, whether domestic or not, would never be accepted by Maldivians, he said.

Supreme Court had earlier sided with President Abdulla Yameen. However the current SC verdict has exerted unprecedented pressure on the president to free his opponents before country goes ahead for presidential election scheduled later this year.

On Sunday, the attorney general, flanked by the Chiefs of army and police, while appearing on state TV  said the government has received news of an imminent order by the Supreme Court to impeach Yameen.  “I have informed all law enforcement agencies they must not obey such an illegal order,” Mohamed Anil said.

The army chief Ahmed Shiyam  said the security forces would follow the attorney-general’s advice and “will not wait and watch as the Maldives descends into crisis”.

PPM leader Ahmed Nihan said that while police and military would naturally join forces to defend the nation, the people themselves would take the initiative to march ahead as the first line of defence against impeachment of their elected president.

Maldives: President Yameen may face impeachment

PPM’s deputy leader Abdul Raheen Abdulla also censured SC judges saying that top court cannot sieze and hoard a power that does not belong to them. He was quoted saying, “Impeaching the president is not a power accorded to the Supreme Court. To force a power you do not own is to violate the Constitution.”

On late Thursday SC issued its verdict ordering the immediate release of nine political leaders, reinstated 12 suspended lawmakers and lifted its previous ban on floor-crossing.

The opposition now have a majority in the 85-member house as the SC ruling has reinstated the suspended 12 members of parliament who were stripped of their seats last year.

Meanwhile, two of the 12 reinstated lawmakers were arrested at the Male airport on Sunday, shortly after they returned to the Maldives after spending several months in exile.

Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, an opposition parliamentarian, condemned their arrest saying, “We call on the police to release the MPs immediately, and to stop following unlawful orders, to stop obstructing the lawful mandate of parliamentarians.”

“In a desperate attempt to cling onto power, President Yameen has illegally overrun the state. His attorney-general has illegally assumed the powers of the apex court, while the military has overrun the legislature,” he added.

On Sunday, former president Mohamed Nasheed, while speaking to a private television channel from neighbouring Sri Lanka,  has called for protests and urged rank-and-file members of the security forces to arrest the attorney-general as well as the chiefs of the army and police.

Parliament’s secretariat head Ahmed Mohamed has resigned after the speaker, a Yameen ally, canceled the opening of the parliament, scheduled for Tuesday, over unspecified “security concerns”.   The heads of the Maldives’ main high-security prison and the elections commission have also resigned in recent days.

Several countries and world bodied including, UN, EU, US and India have urged incumbent President Yameen to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling.

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