We value our development partners, invite them to the Maldives: Envoy to India

The call by Maldives envoy Ahmed Mohammed follows an India-backed proposal at the UN, in which New Delhi is urging the world body to send a fact-finding mission to the Indian Ocean country.

Maldives Embassy photo
Maldives Embassy photo
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Dhairya Maheshwari

Amid criticism from the United States, India and the United Nations (UN) over its failure to follow the Supreme Court order, the Maldivian envoy to India, Ahmed Mohammed, has asked the country’s international partners to send representatives to the country to “experience the ground reality.”

The call by the diplomat follows an India-backed proposal at the United Nations (UN), in which New Delhi is urging the world body to send a fact-finding mission to the Indian Ocean country. According to news reports, India’s offer is being considered at this stage.

In an interview with National Herald in which the diplomat gave the Maldives’ government’s version of events, Ahmed defended the decisions of President Abdulla Yameen following the SC order on Feb 1 in the lead-up to the imposition of 15-day emergency on Feb 5.

“The Maldives Police has unearthed a money trail that was allegedly used to bribe a certain section of the judiciary whose subsequent actions led to the President imposing a 15-day state of emergency,” Ahmed said.

The envoy also slammed former President Mohamed Nasheed for calling on the Indian government to send troops to the

"His call for external military intervention into the Maldives amounts to high treason against the State," Mohammed said.

Edited excerpts from the interview:

  • What’s the current political situation in the Maldives? Do you believe that the current political crisis has affected the Maldives’ relations with India for the worse?

The current political situation is that a plot to overthrow the elected government has been thwarted. The Maldives Police has unearthed a money trail that was allegedly used to bribe a certain section of the judiciary whose subsequent actions led to the President imposing a 15-day state of emergency.

Indo-Maldivian relations date back to antiquity and have stood the test of time. It would not be correct to say that these relations have been effected by the current situation. The Maldives has always maintained its India First policy. In fact, we requested India as the first port of call for the Special Envoys who were going to India, Pakistan, China and Saudi Arabia after emergency was declared.

  • Could you specify the reasons behind the imposition of an Emergency?

On 1 February 2018, the Supreme Court issued a ruling creating a Constitutional crisis, dismantling Constitutional mechanisms which ensures the balance of power enshrined in the Constitution and thereby requiring drastic action to safeguard the democratic norms and ideals contained therein.

The ruling of 1 February 2018 by the Supreme Court overstepped the provisions of the Constitution. It usurped absolute judicial authority unto itself, by invalidating powers and responsibilities assigned to the Judicial Services Commission under Article 157(b) and 159(b) of the Constitution. In addition, the ruling was issued from Chambers, without any hearing; in contravention to the Constitutional mandate of the Supreme Court; and contrary to the basic norms of the legal system ensured under the Constitution and the Judicature Act of the Maldives.

The ruling also ordered the Executive to immediately release nine individuals, whose cases are at different stages of the criminal justice system. Some of the cases have already been decided by the Supreme Court and this ruling raises Constitutional and legal concerns including the finality of Supreme Court judgements and the prohibition of double jeopardy.

Despite numerous attempts by the Attorney General and the Prosecutor General to confer with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he refused to give them an audience or address their concerns.

Following the refusal of the Supreme Court to accept appeals by the Prosecutor General and then by the President regarding the above mentioned concerns, the President exercised every legal, professional and personal avenue to engage with the Chief Justice.

On the advice of the National Security Council, that the inalienable rights of the citizens of the Maldives, as well as the integrity of the Constitution itself were at risk, and after serious consideration of the crisis at hand, the President had no alternative but to declare a State of Emergency. This was necessary to guarantee that the checks and balances enshrined in the Constitution, which were degraded by the Court ruling, would be restored. It is imperative that the investigation of multi-million-dollar bribery allegations against these Judges is conducted without interference. The right to a fair, transparent trial and to legal counsel remains inviolable.

  • What’s the Maldivian government doing to normalise the situation? Are there talks happening between the Opposition and the government lawmakers?

The Maldivian government has already called for all-party talks. There has not been a response from the opposition as yet. The government wants to end the impasse. In the best interest of Maldivians, the Maldivians themselves need to make a decision.

  • Former President Mohamed Nasheed has been asking for India’s military intervention on the island. How does the Maldivian government view his role in the current scheme of things?

Nasheed is a convicted criminal and has a sentence to serve. His call for external military intervention into the Maldives amounts to high treason against the State.

  • The opinion of global powers seems to be divided as to what should be the way forward. While the US, the UN and India are asking President Yameen to respect the rule of law, China is advising that the matter is for the current government to decide upon. How are you balancing the expectations of your major allies?

The government of Maldives upholds the rule of law and anyone with vested interest to derail the democratic setup in the country will not be entertained. This is our internal matter, and we will do our best to end the impasse in a democratic manner. Having said that, we value our development partners and have invited them to come to the Maldives and see the ground reality.

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