Saturday, October 18, 2008

Snapping at the Snap Election



Wathan Edhey Gothah Coalition candidate Mohamed Nasheed (Anni) has thrown a spanner in the works by announcing a snap mid-term election if he becomes president. The news was greeted by a flurry of condemnatory terms ranging from 'unconstitutional', 'against the spirit of the Constitution', 'undependable' and 'untrustworthy'. Is this a mere storm in the tea cup or is there something more than meets the eye?


Not being Constitutional experts, most of us will not be able to understand the 'spirit of the Constitution.' But fortunately it's rather easy to read the letter of the Constitution, which is in plain Dhivehi. Here are the translations of some relevant clauses.


Clause 124 (b)


"In the event of the permanent incapacity, resignation, removal or death of both the President or the Vice President, and both offices becoming vacant at the same time, leading to an incapacity to carry out the duties of the President, until such time as a President and a Vice President shall be elected, the duties of both offices shall temporarily be carried out, in order of priority, by the Speaker of the People's Majlis, or by the Deputy Speaker of the People's Majlis, or by a member of the People's Majlis elected by a resolution of the People's Majlis, until successors in office are chosen."


Clause 125 (a)


"If any of the instances specified in Article 124 (b) of this Constitution occur and both the office of the President and the Vice President become vacant at the same time, a Presidential election shall be held within sixty days of both offices becoming vacant and appointments shall be made to both offices."


In major democracies of the world such as the UK, Germany, France, Italy and India, it is quite common to see mid-term elections for the post of head of government. USA is a notable exception to this practice, with Vice President's taking over when the Presidency falls vacant. The US practice however comes at a cost. Someone can become President without ever facing a national election (even as a running mate). This is not just theory. In real life Vice President Gerald Ford became the 38th President of the United States when Richard Nixon resigned in 1974. Earlier in 1973 he had become Vice President when Spiro Agnew (who was Nixon's running mate) resigned. Thus Ford never faced an election either as presidential candidate or running mate. The way the current Constitution of the Maldives is written, a similar incident could occur.


Since the Maldives has held presidential swearing ceremonies on November 11th once in 5 years since 1968, one could be forgiven if one mistook that as the spirit of the Constitution. However it had nothing to do with any spirit. It was just coincidence. If any of the incumbents had resigned or died in office, a fresh election would have been held within 60 days of the event and the new president would have gone for a full 5-year term beginning from the new date, thus upsetting the November 11 routine.


What then is the spirit of the Constitution? Is it to permanently set the timings of Presidential and Majlis elections to October and February of the following year respectively? Is this the ideal timing? Given that timing, would the newly elected President be in a stronger position to influence the Majlis elections coming just 4 months later? Would this affect the separation of powers? These are some questions one must consider.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

very well written.
i salute ya, sire !!

Anonymous said...

who ever the president is, you are what you believe.
it's not a 100% muslim country anymore...
just look at the
crime rate, drug addicts, alcohol consumption,
numb of ppl committing adultery,
even getting pregnant...
If maumoon is saying that this is 100% muslim country, i question him why all this is happening...

only ppl who have less faith in religion will use religion as a tool of war.....

specially in things like politics...
i ask maumoon where in our religion states that getting women to dance on stage for campaign reasons is a muslim tradition......
get your facts straight.
we're trying for a better change...


a change that would help our future...
think about it before you vote.
you're not voting for ANNI you're voting for a CHANGE
insha allah a better one.
Go for it...

PLS PASS n let others know why they need to VOTE FOR CHANGE

Shareef said...

I’m not a constitutional expert either but even I can tell mid-term elections arent unconstitutional. I don’t think that’s even an issue to discuss. However, I find it very disturbing that a mid-term election is already announced by a presidential candidate only to ‘increase his electoral appeal’.

As we get closer to the date of polling, we are seeing presidential candidate Anni being manipulated by his coalition partners. Sometimes it makes me wonder if it’s Gasim who is leading the coalition or/and if Anni has to do everything to please Dr. Hassan. This tug of war taking place behind the scene now, will surface immediately after the election, if Anni wins. If the coalition wins, they will be putting together a government of former and future presidential candidates who ran a bitter campaign against each other just weeks ago and will do the same some months later. The mid-term election itself is one of many reasons to expect a government of this coalition will not survive even until the proposed mid-term election nor can they work together in one common goal. Dr. Hassan resigned from this government in ‘shock and awe’ style paving way for his presidential bid. When Mr. Gasim resigned his party was registered, his candidacy was almost announced, his campaign posters and buttons were already printed.

I need to ask a constitutional lawyer if Anni would still be allegeable to run again for presidency which he resigned from.

Stable thinking process said...

The Coalition cabinet:

Foriegn Minister : Ibrahim Hussein Zaki(alcoholic)

Gender Minister : Jaabiru (know who to handle women affairs)

Attorney General : Dhiyana Saeed(can take care of Jabir's issues)

Education minister : Aishath Velezinee (this lady was very vocal in supporting for freedom of reliion when Asma Jahangir visited Maldives)

Information minister : DO Sappe (expert in propaganda and character assasination)

Anonymous said...

An excellent comment from Shareef. It will be really interesting to have a legal opinion on whether Anni can compete in the election after resigning. In parliamentary democracies, that is of course quite routine. But in the presidential system?

loamaafaanu said...

Please remember that it was Dr. Shaheed who said the mid term elections were a 'suggestion' to increase Anni's electoral appeal. i think he forgot that Anni's electoral appeal was still higher than his own candidate, Hassan Saeed. Either way, we're all in it together now, bitter or not, and there's only one important thing to focus on, beating Maumoon.
I do however have another questions, would Maumoon also be eligible to contest in the mid term elections? Or are we getting rid of the man for good on Oct. 28th? Lets hope so.

Anonymous said...

Putting aside a dictator of 30 years, in which the nation has come to think he is the only one, Funny and weird things will surface.But lets work towards one goal. Put aside a dictator above 70 years of age.

Ehen meehun muskulhi kuraa iru is he an exception.In which way is he an exception?

Anonymous said...

This is United States.....(mother of all democracy)

Mass Fraud Fears In US Election
James Cheyne, Sky News Online

US election officials believe they have uncovered massive attempted voter fraud less than a month before the country goes to the polls to choose its new president.

FriendinChina said...

Critics criticised Anni for not doing enough to bring the opposition on-board. Now that he is flexing his muscles to bring them on-board, he is being criticised!I have this to tell Anni. Please follow your conscience and do what you think is in the best interest of the country, for you will be criticised anyway. In this election it is not important who manpulates who. Whate is important in this election is to get rid of the brutal dictator. My prayers are with you, Anni.

Anonymous said...

A agree with Shareef on the coaliation conflicts that will surface after Al usthaaz Mohamed Nasheed takes the office.
Why did we give so much votes for some phonies (you know who i meant).

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Waheed

Please have a look at this video. It is a newly released video which Hon Ibrahim Shihab endorses Anni for 2008 presidency.

Anonymous said...

This article is my idea of living proof of our incumbent president's ignorance of the constitution. May be knowing what's in the constitution is not worth for him, as he does not give a damn what's written there when he does something.

Anonymous said...

One thing is clear for me. Everybody is selfish, but there is none as selfish as the "liar of the century" and his supporters so, he must be removed from office as soon as possible.

Anonymous said...

I like the comment of shareef very much... why couldnt they get together a little earlier?... greed... what else? - be

Anonymous said...

Ask your wife if she would have married to you if you have told her that you will divorce her after one year....constitutional!!!??

We love our country and we dont want to spend our money for nothing.

If Anni has an issue between maumoon, deal with it in a diffrent way.

This country doesnt belong to Maumoon or Anni alone.

Badeeu

Anonymous said...

Badeeu, for your info, Maldives has the highest rate of Divorse!
its funny what you have tried to express using wife as country.