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Maldives top court overturns order to reinstate 12 MPs



The Maldives Supreme Court on Wednesday rescinded a ruling to reinstate a dozen lawmakers, but announced separate rulings are needed to decide whether the MPs have lost their seats.

A shock ruling by the top court in February ordered the release of political prisoners and the reinstatement of opposition lawmakers, resulting in a state of emergency used by President Abdulla Yameen to arrest and imprison top judges, his half brother and members of the opposition.

Less than a day after former chief justice Abdulla Saeed and justice Ali Hameed were detained on charges of terrorism, the remaining three justices of the Supreme Court overturned the part in the order to release political prisoners.

They later ordered to stop the reinstatement of the 12 MPs, after Attorney General Mohamed Anil challenged the constitutionality of the order concerning the lawmakers.

Wednesday’s ruling was delivered by the full bench of the court with new chief justice Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi and Justices Abdulla Areef, Abdulla Didi, Adam Mohamed Abdulla and Abdul Ghanee Mohamed.

They ruled to cancel the February 1 order for the reinstatement of the MPs and cancelled the order to hold a majlis (parliament) sitting with the reinstated MPs.

The verdict read that the February 1 order was “formed without a valid basis” and that separate cases were lodged with the court to determine whether the MPs had lost their seats.

It announced that hearings have been concluded for four cases and eight more cases have been registered while the top court believes separate rulings must be delivered in these cases.

Mohamed Ameeth, one of the dozen lawmakers affected by both Supreme Court decisions, told the Maldives Independent the ruling made it clear that the 12 MPs have not lost their seats.

“Supreme Court orders are being used for political reasons and this is affecting the rights of more than 60,000 people.

“This is a state that has been put in disorder. Majlis is one state power and 85 constituencies are represented there. We must stop this silencing of 12 constituencies,” he said.

The MP for Maduvarri also said that any order to strip the MPs of their seats “will have no legal basis and will be unlawful.”

Mohamed Musthafa, another of the 12, said “the 12 MPs are still alive.”

The Elections Commission was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

Opposition lawmakers have been boycotting votes since the disqualification of defectors from the ruling party was used to quash a majority-backed no-confidence motion against the speaker last year.

Photo: Mihaaru