Maldives under President Abdulla Yameen is witnessing the worst form of dictatorship in which he has thrown all democratic norms to winds in an attempt to safeguard his own position including his illegitimate hold over the country.
Subsequent to submission of No Confidence Motion against Parliament Speaker Abdullah Maseeh Mohamed on July 3, signed by 45 Opposition members of Parliament in 85-member house, it has become apparent to the international community, particularly Maldivian electorate, that Yameen has lost moral legitimacy to rule the country any longer, as he has lost Parliamentary majority. As many as 15 MPs of his party have left since March 2017 to join the United Opposition, which is running a brave campaign against all odds to dislodge Yameen from power, even at the cost of being put behind bars on trumped up and concocted charges. President Yameen has been in power for nearly 3 years and this period would be testimony to the darkest days of democracy in Maldivian history.
To sustain his hold over the country, President Yameen has demolished all vital institutions of the State, most importantly the Judiciary, which is expected to be not only the most significant pillar of democracy but also its saviour. Every time Opposition came up to expose Yameen’s increasing unpopularity, strong arm tactics were used to silence their voices. Even constitutionally approved methods of protest were crushed by changing the rules of the game using State institutions such as, Judiciary, Election Commission, Police and Defence Forces. He not only suppressed the democratic convergence in the form of first No Confidence Motion submitted in March 2017, but also shifted goal posts by arbitrarily changing the criteria of submission of such motion in a way that it almost became impossible for the Opposition to reach the figure of 42 signatures of MPs.
But disgust against Yameen had been brewing so strongly even within his own party MPs that 10 of them bravely broke the ranks and signed the No Confidence Motion, reflecting Opposition’s majority in the Parliament. But this time, even as the UO was expecting Yameen to imprison signatory MPs on framed up charges to demolish the opposition’s consolidation, he resorted to a pliable Judiciary, whose Chief Justice is said to be on the payrolls of Yameen to scuttle the move. Not surprisingly the Judges obliged him by bending backwards.
Within 4 days on an ex-parte constitutional case put forward by the Attorney General to rule on conditions under which an MP could be disqualified, a 3-judge bench of Supreme Court pronounced the verdict as desired by Yameen that those MPs who would quit the party or join another party or get expelled by the party will be disqualified. This order completely disregards the prevailing norm in the country that Supreme Court verdict of such political implications should be delivered by the full bench of 5 judges. But under President Yameen, who cares for the democratic or judicial norms, if it does not suit the man in power. Supreme Court judges, as was expected, surrendered their judicial independence in pronouncing such verdict that would now help Yameen in shooting down the No Confidence Motion very easily. It may be noted that there is no anti-defection legislation in Maldives.
While the fate of PPM MPs who resigned from the party would be known in coming days, the destiny of No Confidence Motion appears to be sealed in its failure and thereby another attempt of the Opposition to rid the country of a slimy dictator, who would damage the institutions so much till he remains in power that rectifying them would take massive effort. The question every democracy loving Maldivian should ask is whether their country would ever break the shackles of Yameen to make it a democratic country as was the dream of people when new constitution was promulgated in 2008.
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