Maldives AG resigns as parliament refuses to seat Supreme Court

[JURIST] Maldavian Attorney General Husnu Al-Suood [official website] resigned [press release] Sunday after the People's Maljis [official website] failed to approve legislation to make the fledgling democracy's interim Supreme Court [official website] permanent. In his resignation letter, Al-Suood accused the opposition-controlled legislature of having "deliberately not attended to its duties," making it impossible for the Attorney General's Office to function. Maldavian President Mohamed Nasheed [official profile] responded Sunday by issuing a decree creating a substitute interim body to fulfill the basic administrative duties of the Supreme Court. Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair chastised the legislative opposition for its failure to permanently institute the court:

The Majlis failed to get its work done on time. This left the President with two options: allow the country to have no Supreme Court at all, or issue a decree so at least the administrative functions of the Supreme Court can continue. The President chose the latter option. We hope Majlis members will hurry up and pass the required legislation so the court can function as envisaged under the Constitution.
On Monday, the nation's high Civil Court ruled [Miadhu report] that the interim Supreme Court cannot be disbanded before the establishment of a permanent Supreme Court and called on the Maldives National Defense Force [official website] to turn over the courthouse keys.

The Indian Ocean archipelago nation has continued to descend into legislative crisis since embracing Western-style democracy and ratifying a new constitution [JURIST report] in late 2008. Nasheed defeated longtime political opponent Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who had jailed him numerous times during his 30-year rule. However, Nasheed's ruling Maldavian Democratic Party holds only 32 of 77 seats in the parliament, while the opposition Dhivehi Raithunge Party [party websites] holds 36. Opposition legislators have stonewalled the ruling party's entire legislative agenda, leaving certain crucial provisions of the new constitutional system unestablished. The gridlock became so disruptive in June that Nasheed's entire cabinet resigned [BBC report]. Replacement appointments have been made, but have yet to be ratified by the parliament. The Maldives Constitution [text, PDF] provides for multi-party elections, an independent judiciary and a more powerful legislature. It also enumerates fundamental rights of citizens and establishes several special commissions on issues relating to human rights and corruption. The new constitution was drafted in response to international criticism [AI report, PDF] of 2003 government actions against protesters of prison conditions in the country.

 

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