Supreme Court Motion: Political Suicide or Reality Check?

  • Motion filed on Sunday by opposition
  • Critics say motion is political suicide for opposition leaders
  • Pres. Yameen remains defiant in spite of circumstances against him

K. Male' | Rushdha Rasheed | 30-January-2018 | Tuesday 16:04 | rushdhar | Report | 2,325

President Abdullah Yameen: increasingly embattled? -- Photo by: president_office

For the first time in the nation’s history, the opposition filed a motion in Supreme Court asking for a ruling to relieve incumbent President Abdullah Yameen from his position, on grounds that an impartial and thorough review of his actions must be carried out on allegations of theft and corruption. It also asked the Court to temporarily grant Vice President Abdullah Jihad powers of state in that time period.

The allegations are serious. In a nation that it tough on petty crimes (for example hefty jail terms on individuals who had stolen, say cans of coffee) one hopes the motion will be, at least, taken into consideration.

Leaving aside political rhetoric, leaving aside whether this will pass or fail, the issue gives one plenty to think on.

One time allies: Presidents Yameen and Maumoon

Firstly, one of the co-respondents of the motion is former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Some pro-Government commentators have said the former President is power hungry to the extent that he may even attempt something rash, that his age is impacting his mental faculties.

Any politician worth his or her salt will never underestimate the former President. As a person who had ruled the nation for 30 years, President Maumoon has an unparalleled understanding of Maldives and Maldivians. He had begun his political maneuvering when most of those currently in the political field were in their diapers. To suggest otherwise, is a gross underestimation of the former President.

The other co-respondent in the case is former President Mohamed Nasheed. Arguably, he is one of the individuals who had suffered the most under the Yameen administration.

The other is Jumhooree Party Leader Qasim Ibrahim. For him to green light a motion of this nature when his businesses are at significant risk is no mean feat.

This is not to say the opposition is motivated by personal goals of once again ruling the nation. That will always be there; it is human nature to want power and the privileges attached to it. It also human nature to want it again, after having lost it.

However, it is still a significant risk. Such a motion would not have ended up the apex court of the nation, if the opposition had zero guarantees that, at the least, it will be accepted by the court. The fact that the Supreme Court had asked to make administrative changes in the filed motion, without having rejected it, also gives credence to rumors that the Supreme Court is split on the motion.

One can argue greed as the motivating factor. However, that alone does not help understand why the crisis had escalated to this level.

Let’s take a look back at the Parliament elections of 2014.

The echoing rally cry back then was that the Government needed majority in the Parliament to run their activities. A broad-based campaign was run by the coalition of Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), Jumhooree Party (JP) Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) and Adhaalath Party (AP). PPM won 33 seats, JP 15, MDA won five seats and AP won a seat. Independent accounted for five seats. The Progressive Coalition, as it was known then, claimed 53 seats or 62.4 percent of the Parliament.

Then came the transfer market of MPs and sale of votes for bills that, for the most part, impacted negatively on the nation and liberties granted under the Constitution.

When 2016 ended, President Yameen commanded the super majority in the Parliament. Only a handful MPs of the opposition parties dared to voice against the President and the ruling PPM-MDA coalition.

President Yameen with members of his Party

However, with the start of 2017, rumors began to spread. Dissent spilled over to public. A formidable opposition reared their heads armed with a motion of no confidence against Parliament Speaker Abdullah Maseeh.

In spite of the machinations that followed, even with the Government employing a scorched earth policy when in came to dealing with the opposition, the motions and the opposition gained traction. The no confidence motions, allegations against the present administration and the alleged duplicitous dealings of the First Couple and those around the duo, have undoubtedly revealed the cracks in the administration and support base for President Yameen.



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