An NGO led by three former cabinet ministers is seeking international legal advice to challenge President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s re-election bid, the group said on Thursday.
And the Social Liberal Party has said it will try to block Gayoom’s candidacy through the Supreme Court due to come into being shortly.
Both groups argue the President, in power for thirty years, has already exceeded the two-term limit set in the country’s new constitution.
But Gayoom called the argument an “unsubstantiated ploy”, saying opposition candidates raise the issue only because they are “afraid”, as they are “certain” he will be re-elected.
Many opposition politicians argue the constitution, ratified on 7 August, is “amended” rather than “new” – meaning Gayoom cannot stand for re-election as he has already exceeded the two-term limit it imposes.
He is now serving his sixth term under a one-candidate referendum system, and has said he will seek a seventh term at the country’s first multi-party elections, due by 10 October.
The Maldives Reform Movement NGO will seek a legal opinion from “an internationally renowned jurist” to contest his candidacy, said Dr Mohamed Jameel, one of three ex-cabinet ministers who head the group.
Jameel, former justice minister, leads the NGO along with former attorney general Dr Hassan Saeed and former foreign minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed. Saeed is also an independent presidential candidate.
Shaheed argues Gayoom cannot stand for a seventh term under the current constitution: “We are still under the second republic. Maldives has not declared a third republic.”
Meanwhile Malé MP and Social Liberal Party presidential candidate Ibrahim Ismail (Ibra) told Minivan News his party will contest the issue at the independent Supreme Court now due to come into being.
“We do not need a foreign expert’s advice” about Gayoom’s ineligibility, he added.
Gayoom replied on Friday in a statement, saying opposition arguments “do not have any legal weight” and are only “to deceive the truth of the matter.”
Pointing to Article 293 of the current constitution, Gayoom argues it is new rather than amended.
The clause reads: “Upon the commencement of this Constitution, the ‘Constitution of the Republic of the Maldives’ which came into force on 1 January 1998, shall be repealed.”
Gayoom continues: “The 1998 constitution has been repealed, it doesn’t exist any longer, and now we are acting on a completely new constitution…The term I continue to serve is not under the current constitution.”
Gayoom’s decision “violates spirit of democracy and the decision of the people for a presidential system with limited terms” in the referendum of August 2007, the Maldives Reform Movement press release says.
However, Jameel did not comment on future actions of the movement, saying: “This [legal advice] will show us the way forward.”
“Given the short time period ahead of the election and given the lack of an establishment of a Supreme Court, the Maldives Reform Movement believes the advice of experienced experts is very important,” the press release adds.
But Ibra said he would bring a case directly to the Supreme Court once it is formed.
The court is due to come into being within 45 days of ratification of the constitution, to deal with “all legal disputes.” But time is tight, with the constitution mandating an election by October.
Judges on the Court are appointed by the President in consultation with the independent Judicial Services Commission (JSC), and must also secure the approval of two-thirds of MPs present at the relevant session of parliament.
Members are now being elected to the JSC, with 35 days remaining for the establishment of a Supreme Court.
To Challenge Or Not
Opposition politicians argued during the drafting of the constitution that the two-term limit prohibited Gayoom from standing again.
But when the constitution was ratified on 7 August, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed (Anni) told Minivan News he personally did not want to take Gayoom to court.
“Our dilemma is, he’s the easiest candidate to challenge, so do we want to knock out our easiest opponent?” Anni said.
The newly founded Republican Party has also said it believes Gayoom cannot run. But at a Saturday press conference, executive committee member Hussein Rasheed Hassan said the party was currently undecided on mounting a legal challenge.
Maldives Opposition Groups To Challenge Gayoom Re-Election Bid In Courts
uploaded by BadrNaseem August 18, 2008 at 06:13 am
145 views | 0 comments | 0 recommendations
145 views | 0 comments | 0 recommendations
NP! ID: 1513745
Title: Maldives Opposition Groups To Challenge Gayoom Re-Election Bid In Courts
File Size: 292 × 219 – 19.72 KB
Created: Mon, 08/18/2008 - 6:13am
Modified: Mon, 08/18/2008 - 6:14am
File Type: image (jpeg)
Licence: None (All rights reserved)