A day after its national cabinet resigned en masse, the newly democratic Maldives seemed heading towards a deepening political crisis with two opposition MPs being arrested on Wednesday on unspecified charges.
The resignations by cabinet followed a power clash between President Mohammad Nasheed (above) — he came to power in 2008 as the Maldives' first democratically elected leader — and the Parliament, where the opposition is in majority.
The cabinet quit saying the majlis, or parliament, was blocking all its efforts to govern the Indian Ocean atoll nation and undermining the authority of the executive.
The country -- one of India’s closest west coast neighbours with friendly ties with New Delhi -- is currently without an effective government after the 13-member resigned on Tuesday. The resignations followed a power clash between President Mohammad Nasheed – he came to power in 2008 as the Maldives' first democratically elected leader --- and the Parliament, where the opposition is in majority.
A statement from Nasheed’s office said the cabinet resigned ``protesting the behaviour of opposition MPs who were “hijacking” the powers of the executive and making it impossible for the cabinet Ministers to discharge their constitutional duties and deliver the government’s election manifesto.’’
“The Majlis (Parliament) is preventing the cabinet ministers from performing their legal obligations. Majlis members are behaving against the spirit and the letter of the Constitution,” Nasheed’s statement said.
Nasheed added that he would investigate the reasons why the Majlis is preventing cabinet ministers from performing their duties.
Soon after, police arrested two opposition MPs – Abdulla Yamin who heads People’s Alliance (PA) and Gasim Ibrahim, leader of Jumhooree Party.
Reports from capital Male did not specify the charges but Husnu Suood, who resigned as the Attorney General, said Wednesday that they were arrested in connection with corruption. “Police are investigating corruption following allegations of bribery in parliament to turn votes,” Suood said.
Maldives – country of hundreds of islands and around 3.3 lakh population -- has a Presidential system of government where powers are separated between the executive, the legislative and the judiciary, guaranteed under the new 2008 Constitution. The President and Vice President are elected directly by the people in a popular vote.
The Majlis has 77 directly elected members.
The opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party, which is aligned to the People’s Alliance party, has 34 seats in the Majlis and the support of a number of independent MPs.