Majlis removes Prosecutor General at midnight vote

Majlis removes Prosecutor General at midnight vote
November 11 00:28 2015

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives dominated People’s Majlis has removed Prosecutor General Muhthaz Muhsin in an abrupt vote at midnight.

Some 57 MPs voted to remove Muhsin.

The no-confidence motion, submitted in the morning, was investigated by a select committee this evening. Muhsin was summoned at 5pm and a debate on the no-confidence motion was scheduled for 11pm.

The vote follows media reports that Muhsin had stalled charges of bribery against recently impeached Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, who is in police custody on suspicion of links to the September 28 explosion on President Abdulla Yameen’s speedboat.

Mushin, in a tweet yesterday, said: “It has not been decided not to prosecute any case against Ahmed Adeeb.”

PPM MPs Abdul Raheem Abdulla, Mohamed Waheed and Jumhooree Party MP Ilham Ahmed, in the no confidence motion, accused Muhsin of leaking confidential information, discriminating among criminal suspects, and failing to take action against his staff for political activities.

The press was not allowed in to the meeting.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Muhsin said ruling coalition MPs had failed to specify exactly what he had done wrong.

“They were unable to say how I abused my position… I told them since they have publicized the allegations against me, I must be given the opportunity to defend myself in an open and transparent committee.”

During the hour-long debate tonight, MPs of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, censured the PPM and Speaker Abdulla Maseeh for “yet another violation of the constitution,” by failing to provide Muhsin time to defend himself.

They noted Adeeb, too, was impeached on Thursday in a sudden vote after Yameen declared a state of emergency and suspended provisions on the removal of the vice president. Adeeb was not informed of the vote or allowed to appear at Majlis to defend himself.

MDP MP Ali Azim, before walking out, said: “This is a joke, this is not the People’s Majlis, we no longer abide by our own standing orders and our constitution.”

Ali Nizar, also of the MDP, said: “You are violating the constitution and the majlis standing orders, for your personal gain. You accused your own vice president of involvement in the bomb blast, and now you accuse the man you yourselves appointed to PG position of all this, again today! What is happening? What are you doing? The no confidence motion was submitted this afternoon and now there is a vote tonight? What are you doing with your parliamentary majority?

“Two years into Yameen’s administration he has failed… you will impeach your own president soon.”

In reply, PPM MP Abdulla, who sponsored the motion, said: “If the committee finds the allegations to be true, we do not have to give the PG the opportunity to defend himself. We don’t even have to summon him. We do not have to give him the opportunity to respond… we have to do this even at midnight, for our country.”

He noted MDP members had criticized Muhsin for the controversial prosecution of former President Mohamed Nasheed and former defence minister Mohamed Nazim.

“When he filed charges against President Nasheed, you found fault, now everything is okay?” he asked.

The rushed trials for Nasheed and Nazim drew widespread international condemnation over apparent lack of due process. The pair’s imprisonment triggered a prolonged political crisis.

A UN human rights panel has since ruled that Nasheed’s imprisonment was illegal and politically motivated.

Muhsin, a former criminal court judge, was appointed for a five-year term in July 2014.

The constitution allows for the removal of the PG on the grounds of “misconduct, incapacity, or incompetence”. A simple majority of the 85-member house must approve a finding to that effect by a parliamentary committee.

The PPM and coalition partners control a comfortable majority of seats in the Majlis, some 60 seats. Adeeb was impeached last week with 61 votes in favour.

Adeeb is now facing an array of charges including attempted murder, possessing illegal weapons, bribery and criminal property damage.

Yameen has also ordered an audit of the state-owned Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation, a company under Adeeb’s watch that was in charge of leasing islands for tourism.

The anti-corruption watchdog is investigating corruption in the lease of islands for tourism. The government also says the security forces believe that weapons are missing from a large arms cache seized from an uninhabited island leased to a businessman linked to Adeeb.

Additional reporting by Mohamed Saif Fathih