Minister of Defence and National Security Adam Shareef soothed the concerns of Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) over the opposition’s threats to separately sue military officers for their actions in the conflict between MNDF and opposition lawmakers on July 24.
The minister urged the military not to be anxious over the opposition’s threats during a secret meeting with the Special Protection Group (SPG), the military branch tasked with the security of Parliament.
In a leaked audio recording of the meeting, the military officers voiced their highest concerns for the opposition’s threats to sue individual officers for allegedly violating the law while the latter were acting in accordance with the orders of MNDF’s leadership.
Security forces had locked the gates to Parliament on July 24 and obstructed lawmakers from entering the premises, leading to conflicts between the officers and opposition lawmakers. After the military officers obstructed lawmakers from entering the parliament building and forcibly removed parliamentarians that forcefully broke into the premises, opposition lawmakers have been claiming that the actions of MNDF soldiers were unlawful and that the opposition will file lawsuits against individual officers.
In response to SPG’s concerns, Minister Adam Shareef responded that since officers in uniform are acting on the orders of their military leaders, individual soldiers cannot be held responsible. He said that the responsibility falls on the institution as a whole for which they are prepared.
The defence minister went on to say that the opposition’s threats do not carry much weight as their intentions are not to follow through with the threats but to weaken the soldiers’ mentality in carrying out their duties.
In his talk, Minister Shareef declared that security forces had not broken any laws in maintaining the security of Parliament on July 24 and the subsequent days. He guaranteed that MNDF’s leadership would not issue any unlawful orders.
While the defence minister has assured the military that individual soldiers cannot be held accountable, it is noteworthy that individual MNDF soldiers have been indicted over the arbitrary arrest of the Criminal Court’s then Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed during the administration of convicted former President Mohamed Nasheed. The criminal trial of the then Male area commander and Hithadhoo Central MP Ibrahim Didi is still ongoing.
Mihaaru was unable to reach the defence minister for comment regarding the leaked audio recording of his meeting with SPG.