The Parliament

The Parliament

30 June 2010. Former Attorney General Husnu Suood, who resigned yesterday together with the rest of President Nasheed’s cabinet in protest against the supposed “scorched earth” politics of opposition MPs, has confirmed that the government has arrested two MPs on charges of corruption relating to vote buying in parliament.

When asked if the government has solid evidence to substantiate these allegations, Suood replied that “there are reasons to believe that some corrupt activities have taken place.”

Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim, also the MP of Maamigili, and leader of the People’s Alliance (PA) Abdulla Yaameen, the MP for Mulaku, were arrested last night.

Gasim and Yameen appeared at the high court today following a police appeal against the conditions of the warrant issued last night by the criminal court.

Speaking at a press conference this morning at the President’s Office, Suood expressed strong concern at the amendments to the Financial Bill proposed by the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), highlighting article 7: “Any state asset should be given, sold or leased or any subsidy or aid to any person only under legislation approved by the parliament”, and article 10(a): “any aid given by the state to any persons or to a specific person should only be given under legislation approved by the parliament.”

If the Financial Bill was ratified and parliament gained the authority to dictate aid and subsidies, “it will [jeopardise] all sorts of subsidies and aid the government provides to people, except for the elderly allowance,” Suood claimed.

Suood added that the government could not resort to the Supreme Court to overturn parliamentary rulings, “because we filed two cases in the Supreme Court, and they ruled it was not the position of the government to file cases in the Supreme Court.”

State institutions had failed, Suood said, senior officials of the judiciary were “irresponsible”, and the independent commissions were operating like “small governments.”

Meanwhile, parliament this morning was also brought to a standstill after DRP MPs insisted that parliament could not go ahead without the presence of the two arrested MPs, as legally mandated.

Speaker Abdullah Shahid read out a letter to parliament from Police Commissioner Ahmed Faseeh, which stated that the MPs could not be released for the sitting or to attend committee meetings as required by parliamentary rules due to “security concerns”.

DRP MP Ali Waheed said there was “no rule of law” remaining in the country after police refused to comply with the court order to bring the MPs before court.

The Attorney General’s Office has appealed the court order at the High Court this morning.

The mood in parliament  today was “very nervous,” said Independent MP Mohamed Nasheed.

On the subject of the vote-buying allegations against MPs Yameen and Gasim, Nasheed said he did not know “why the Attorney General is singling them out with allegations of vote buying.”

Nasheed said he hoped parliament would be able to resume next week when the matter of Gasim and Yameen’s detention had been resolved.

“It is a very sad development. If Nasheed felt so strongly about the Financial Bill, he could have returned it to parliament and his party could have prevented it from being passed. The President has the power to veto bills, and parliament could have tried to override his veto.

If that had happened, the President could have challenged it in a court of law. For cabinet to resign saying the bill is unconstitutional is unreasonable.

While Gasim and Yameen were taken before the criminal court last night, the MDP Council resolved to terminate its coalition agreement with Gasim’s Jumhooree Party.

This afternoon there were reports of MDP-led protests against parliament near the tourist street of Chandanee Magu, the crowd including a number of former ministers and MPs. The opposition is reportedly planning a protest later this evening.