21 August 2017, MALE’: The joint opposition parties express deep concern over the Supreme Court’s inexplicable delay in announcing a ruling over the appeal by members of parliament, Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim, Mohamed Ameeth, Saud Hussain and Abdul Latheef Mohamed.
On July 18, the Elections Commission (EC) declared that the four MPs who defected from the ruling party to the opposition had lost their seats, and announced by-elections. On July 20, the four MPs appealed the EC’s decision at the Supreme Court.
One month since the lawmakers lodged their appeal, the apex court is yet to announce a ruling.
The EC’s declaration regarding the four MPs followed a controversial Supreme Court ruling of 13 July. That ruling stated that MPs who were elected on a political party ticket would lose their seat if the EC notifies parliament that the MP has either left their party, been expelled, or switched parties.
However, the Supreme Court also specifically clarified that the ruling could not be applied retroactively. MPs Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim, Mohamed Ameeth and Saud Hussain were expelled from the ruling party in March and April, while Abdul Latheef Mohamed quit earlier in July. The Elections Commission’s declaration that the MPs had lost their seats therefore contradicts the Supreme Court’s ruling.
We are concerned that the Supreme Court — and in particular, Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed — is subverting the parliamentary process by deliberately delaying its ruling. The Parliament has been in deadlock since the EC’s unlawful announcement removing the four lawmakers. We believe that the Chief Justice is effectively sitting on the judgment and exerting undue influence on the other four Supreme Court justices.
We are also troubled by reports that the Chief of the Defence Forces, Major General Ahmed Shiyam — whose troops stormed parliament last month — is also threatening the Justices to rule in favour of President Yameen.
Since the President’s support in parliament collapsed earlier this year,, he has resorted to increasingly illegal means to control the legislature. Most recently, the Prosecutor General has charged 13 opposition MPs with “obstruction of Police duty.” If found guilty, the charges carry a maximum sentence of 1 year in jail and the lawmakers stand to lose their seats.
We call on the Chief Justice to make public the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the four MPs; justice delayed is justice denied.
It is time for the apex court and the Chief Justice to show the Maldivian people whether they exist to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law, or illegally prop up an ailing dictator.