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#Maldives in constitutional crisis: President Nasheed and opposition politicians must step aside and let national interest and political experience rescue the country

Male', Maldives
President Nasheed's is still unable to provide Maldivians with a legally valid defense of his unconstitutional arrest of Judge Abdulla Mohamed, nine days after the act. All Nasheed and his mlilitant party Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) are doing day and night, publicly, privately and on social networks, is to repeat their old accusations of ex-President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom being a dictator and calling for his arrest. At the same time, the civic coalition movement and opposition parties appear to be reveling in their media exposure, but show no sign of moving towards concrete steps to resolve the constitutional crisis.

Nasheed's military arrest of Judge Abdulla, a senior judge of the Criminal Court, had been condemned as unconstitutional by the courts, the Chief Justice, Prosecutor General Ahmed Muizzu, Maldives Human Rights Commission, Maldives Lawyers Association and top legal experts in the country. Its unconstitutionality cannot be refuted. Yet, Nasheed is not willingly to release him. Nor is he willing to negotiate the issue with the civic coalition or opposition leaders. If so, Nasheed would already have begun such negotiations.

Similarly, the opposition has stated that it is not willing to negotiate with Nasheed on the issue until Judge Abdulla is released. At the same time, opposition parties and leaders appear to have differing agendas. Statements by leaders of opposition parties in the civic alliance show that the primary objectives differs between these leaders. Additionally, none of the leaders proposed any concrete steps to move forward in resolving the crisis. The meeting ended with an agreement to continue the protest, an act which does not give the Maldivian any real hope of rescuing the country from this crisis.

The Judiciary has failed in its attempts to put the whole issue on a legal track because the military and police continue to defy its orders to present Judge Abdulla for hearings on the case. Maldivian law prevent court proceedings in absentia of the either of the two parties to a case.

Prosecutor General Ahmed Muizzu, although very vocal in stating his intent to prosecute the perpetrators of the crime in arresting Judge Abdulla, has artfully dodged out by assigning the investigation to the Human Rights Commission. The Human Rights Commission, as all Maldivians know, will take months to complete any investigation, and the PG would take even longer to move a prosecution case against the government run by his school mate, Nasheed.

The Parliament has supported President Nasheed in this violation of the constitution, by refusing to hold the military and police accountable for these actions. The Parliament and most of the standing committees constitute of MDP majorities, plus an illicit alliance with Ahmed Thasmeen Ali's DRP in its major votes.

Top legal minds in the country have realised the futility of legal resolution of the case in a country where the Judiciary has been hijacked, and have submitted the forced disappearance of Judge Abdulla to the International Criminal Court. However, this too may take a long time. While the lawyers may eventually secure Judge Abdulla's release, their case offers no support into the resolution of the constitutional crisis in the country.

The media, sometimes called the fourth power of the state, has also been compromised. President Nasheed uses the state media channels as his propaganda machines, while owners of private media use their media to push forward political agendas, politicians and parties which they support. On top of this, in the past two months, President Nasheed has stepped up his efforts to curb the freedom of press by using his police and military to threaten and intimidate the press. The media council and media associations have proven powerless in the face of government and private co-opting of their rights.

In this context of the failure of all the organs of the state, including the Executive, the Legislature, the Judiciary, independent commissions, political parties
and civic institutions, it now remains for experienced individuals who will give primacy to national interest to step forward and rescue the country.

The Maldives has hitherto been a socially cohesive country, which awards respect to individuals and to community. Amongst this community, although hidden from the limelight of today's conflicting politics, are experienced individuals of political experience who command respect across a wide spectrum of political interests. Such respect has been earned through remaining incorruptible and and giving primacy to national interest.

A panel of such individuals can lead the way to an internal and sustainable resolution of the current constitutional crises that would be supported by the majority. It is time for such individuals to step forward. It is time for President Nasheed and other political leaders to step aside and let Maldivians working for Maldives take charge.

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