The manner in which Maldivian National Defence Force (MNDF) and police personnel dealt with elected members of People’s Majlis on July 24 would reverberate in the minds of Maldivians for a long time. The day witnessed the extent to which President Yameen could be dictatorial to suppress people’s voices and rights of democratic representatives. Executive and judicial actions during July 2017 under directions of President Yameen consequent to the filing of No Confidence Motion against the Speaker were not only aimed at preserving his authoritarian rule but also subverting vital organs of the State. While security apparatus by and large follows the dictates of the ruler of the day, but the real blame would lie with the judiciary that facilitated the No Confidence Motion to be buried by allowing ex-parte hearing on an unconstitutional request of Attorney General to pronounce anti-defection ruling, which was prerogative of the Legislature.
To this extent, the “honorable” judges of the Supreme Court, who pronounced the verdict on disqualification of parliamentarians, were the main perpetrators as instead of protecting democratic norms they connived with the dictator to ensure its suppression. By not discharging their responsibilities to preserve democratic system, the judiciary betrayed the Maldivians. The conscience of neither President Yameen nor the Attorney General and also not even the Supreme court was pricked when Jumhooree Party and MDP MPs were crossing the floor to join the ruling PPM’s bandwagon earlier. But when the tide turned against Yameen for right reasons, the subverted Judiciary came to his rescue.
In the midst of prevailing authoritarian environment and subverted state institutions, the people should take solace in the fact that a major section of their elected representatives are courageous and are of high conviction to fight against all odds to keep democracy alive in the country. The opposition parliamentarians did not take suppression of the No Confidence Motion lying down and resolved to raise their voices at the premise of the ultimate monument of democracy – the People’s Majlis. But President Yameen, intoxicated with unhindered power, did not hesitate desecrating the Majlis by sending MNDF and police personnel to manhandle parliamentarians and their supporters. The visuals of the day showing Members of Parliament lying on the floor and being dragged out by security forces displaying their humble existence in front of massive troop presence must be haunting people’s mind raising questions as to are they living in the modern democracy or under ruthless dictator who does not care for any norms of the civilized polity except his own grip over power. There is no let up in the ongoing repression as besides arresting few MPs for manifestation of their courage to defy the dictator at the Majlis compound, the authoritarian regime is now after journalists to gag the media so that the truth does reach out to people.
Although on face of it one may be surprised that why President Yameen is going to this level of brutality to protect the Speaker of the House, but in reality he is protecting himself. He knows very well that he has lost parliamentary majority and thereby legitimacy to rule the country. Yet, he is unwilling to leave as he is sucking the country using his position to benefit himself and his cronies. But how long he would sustain his illegitimate power must be the question in everyone’s mind. The answer lies in the history of mankind, which witnessed many such autocrats and it was people’s will that threw them out of power. The choice is not to despair but to resolve to dislodge the tormentor. What course of action people would chose ultimately – to confront the dictator to regain dignity or to accept subjugation without resistance – only time would tell.
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