A petition to remove President Abdulla Yameen has been thrown out by the Supreme Court, the latest blow to the opposition as it faces a crackdown under a state of emergency.
The court said Monday it was rejecting the petition because it was not filed under Article 113 of the constitution, which states that it has “sole and final jurisdiction to determine all disputes concerning the removal of the president” by parliament.
It is unclear why the court cited this reason because parliament has not discussed impeaching the president and its opening session after recess has been postponed for security reasons.
The petition was filed last month, to much fanfare, by former presidents Mohamed Nasheed and Maumoon Abdul Gayoom as well as other opposition figures.
It argued that Yameen’s government had “committed grave acts of corruption, theft, and appropriation of state-owned properties and funds” and that laws have changed under his government “paving the way for corruption and reaping unjust enrichments for political gains.”
The top court’s latest decision is another setback for the opposition after Yameen had a ruling amended to disallow the release of prisoners including two of those who had submitted the petition: Nasheed and opposition leader Gasim Ibrahim.
Both men remain in exile, while Gayoom has been arrested and stands accused of orchestrating a coup against his half-brother Yameen.
“We see it as yet another decision made by the government after hijacking the Supreme Court,” the opposition alliance spokesman Ahmed Mahloof told the Maldives Independent. “Rejecting this case and the order to amend the February 1 (ruling) was given with only three justices.
“The opposition’s stance is it must be enforced, even before we were not happy with a lot of rulings, but we accepted it and we moved forward,” he said, referring to Monday’s decision. “When they jailed leaders, we tried to set them free. But when it’s an order that this government doesn’t like, it’s not even acceptable, it is not enforced.”
Yameen said it was impossible for him to investigate the attempted coup without declaring a state of emergency.