President Abdulla Yameen compared the landmark ruling issued by the Supreme Court on February 1 to the attempted coup of November 3, 1988, declaring that the two incidents had taught similar lessons.
The president made the remark at a function held late Wednesday in Kalhuthukkalaa Koshi to mark the 126th anniversary of Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF). Looking back at one of the bloodiest dates in the recent history of the Maldives when two conspirators had paid a Sri Lankan militant organization, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, to help overthrow the then Maldivian government, Yameen declared that February 1 with the Supreme Court’s verdict to free political prisoners was also a similar “attack”.
The verdict in question had been issued unanimously by the five justices of the Supreme Court. Subsequently it was alleged that some of the justices and parliamentarians had been bribed to manipulate the SC’s decisions to stage a coup, and President Yameen had declared a state of emergency on February 5. The same night, he had ordered the arrests of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed and Judge Ali Hameed under accusations of bribery and attempting to overthrow the current administration.
Soon afterwards, the remaining three justices of the top court had annulled their initial verdict.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Yameen raised rhetorical questions over who would have profited most if the “attack” had succeeded, and who were most distraught when the alleged coup did not unfold according to plan.
In his speech, Yameen stated that another lesson learnt from November 3 and February 1 was that high posts and ranks did not necessarily indicate allegiance to the nation.
“The people who sold our country’s sovereignty and honour for one or two million dollars on February 1 were the ones that should’ve been the most trustworthy,” he said, referring to Saeed and Hameed of the top court.
Recalling the events of that night, Yameen praised the Maldivian military, recalling that when he had visited the MNDF base of Kalhuthukkalaa Foshi then, they had greeted him with unwavering fortitude.
Yameen went on to claim that the mercy of external forces come only in the name of democracy. Noting that the Maldives is one of only 13 countries that deem apostasy a criminal offence, he stated that none of the entities that claim to advocate with integrity gives consideration to that. He appeared to have been referring to the recent report released by the European Union, in which they had urged the Maldivian government to amend the Constitution to ensure that Maldivians who leave the religion of Islam do not lose their citizenship and can vote in elections.
The president reiterated that the Maldives is attempting to become a nation that could stand on its own feet without relying on other countries.