20 February 2018, Male: President Yameen today failed to gain the constitutionally mandated quorum in parliament to vote on the State of Emergency decree.
Article 87b of the Constitution states that 43 MPs (out of 85 MPs) must be present in parliament when voting on a matter of public compliance; a State of Emergency is a matter of public compliance.
With the Joint Opposition boycotting today’s sitting, the ruling party could not get the required 43. In a flagrant violation of the Constitution the Speaker bypassed the Constitution, and instead cited a parliamentary regulation to arbitrarily change the quorum to 20. The Emergency decree was voted on with 40 MPs in attendance, and 38 approvals.
The State of Emergency that the President declared on 5 February is therefore void, and the 30 days’ extension sought by the President is also illegal.
All acts conducted by the Yameen regime invoking the State of Emergency are also therefore invalidated; and all persons arbitrarily detained under emergency powers must be immediately and unconditionally released. Former President Maumoon Abdul Qayoom, Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, and Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed were arrested under State of Emergency powers.
Over the past two weeks, President Yameen also arbitrarily detained 3 MPs, the Vice President of the Maldivian Democratic Party, council members of the MDP, family members of opposition leaders, and a number of opposition activists. President Yameen also ordered the military to seal off parliament, citing State of Emergency powers. All these acts must now be immediately reversed; the detainees must be released and the Parliament must be allowed to function freely and democratically.
Parliamentary group leader of the Joint Opposition, Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, said:
“President Yameen failed to muster the required number of votes to pass his emergency legislation. And so Yameen has ratified and extended the Emergency illegally. This State of Emergency is illegal, and void. All acts undertaken with Emergency powers are illegal. By entirely circumventing the Constitution, President Yameen has, in effect, hijacked the entire state and is ruling the Maldives like a military dictator. President Yameen must also implement the Supreme Court ruling of February 1st, and immediately release the political prisoners.”