President’s legal affairs secretary appointed as new prosecutor general

President’s legal affairs secretary appointed as new prosecutor general
November 23 14:24 2015

The People’s Majlis has appointed President Abdulla Yameen’s legal affairs secretary to the vacant post of prosecutor general.

Some 66 MPs voted yes to Aishath Bisham.

Bisham was the only applicant for the position, which was made vacant after former Prosecutor General Muhuthaz Muhsin was removed in a sudden no-confidence vote on November 13.

Bisham was vetted in a closed-door meeting, but an MP present at the meeting said none of the MPs from ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives presented questions.

An opposition MP, however, asked Bisham for her opinion on President Abdulla Yameen’s state of emergency decree in which he reduced the 14 days of notice guaranteed by the constitution for the vice president prior to his impeachment to seven days.

The MP noted that the president is not authorized to amend constitutional provisions even in an emergency.

In reply Bisham had reportedly said the measure was legal as she did not believe the measure amounted to a change to the constitution.

Bisham’s appointment comes amidst a crisis triggered by an explosion on Yameen’s speedboat on September 28. Then- Vice President Ahmed Adeeb was arrested on suspicion of links to the blast and impeached in an abrupt vote on November 5, without the opportunity to speak in his defence.

Muhsin was sacked when he stalled charges of weapons possession against Adeeb, citing lack of sufficient evidence. A day after he asked the police for more evidence, on November 10, the PPM filed a no-confidence motion, conducted a hurried inquiry and held an extraordinary parliamentary sitting for the vote.

Charges against Muhsin included leaking sensitive information, discriminating among criminal suspects and failure to take action against his staff. Muhsin was summoned to the parliament and questioned in a closed-door meeting, which ended after a row broke out between MPs.

Speaking to the press afterwards, he said MPs had failed to specify exactly what he had done wrong.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party, who had criticized Muhsin for prosecuting former President Mohamed Nasheed on terror charges, boycotted the no-confidence vote.

Human rights groups, including the International Commission of Jurists, have criticized the vote over due process violations.

In a tweet on Saturday, Muhsin said it was now time to stand up.

Muhsin’s predecessor resigned ahead of a no-confidence vote, leaving the post vacant for months.

Bisham had briefly served as Attorney General in the administration of former President Dr Mohamed Waheed. She failed to secure parliamentary approval and was later appointed special advisor to the president.

She had also previously served as deputy solicitor general at the AG office.

Shortly after assuming power in November 2013, Yameen appointed Bisham legal affairs secretary at the president office at the level of state minister.