Opposition MPs snub Gasim's plea to vote for new top court judges

The now united opposition lawmakers have rejected a plea made by self-exiled opposition Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim's plea to end the opposition boycott on parliament sittings to to vote in favour of approving the new chief justice and two new additions to the apex court bench.

Maldives' government controlled parliament on Wednesday rubber-stamped an approval to appoint a sitting Supreme Court judge as the new chief justice.

A day after the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) had recommended top court judge Ahmed Abdulla Didi to replace the now jailed Abdulla Saeed as the chief justice, incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom forwarded the nomination for parliament approval.

The parliament now only attended by government coalition lawmakers amid the ongoing parliament boycott by the opposition had praised the chief justice nominee before unanimously voting in favour.

In addition, the parliament had also approved two High Court judges Abdulla Didi and Abdul Ghanee to the top court bench. The duo would replace Saeed and the now jailed former top court judge Ali Hameed on the Supreme Court bench.

AVAS understands that the business tycoon who now lives in self imposed exile in Germany had made a last minute request to opposition lawmakers to attend the parliament sitting on Wednesday and vote in favour of the new top court appointments.

Opposition lawmakers have been boycotting parliament sittings ever since the ruling party disqualified a dozen MPs in a bid to quash an opposition led move to unseat the parliament speaker Abdulla Maseeh. The opposition has refused to attend sittings as they believe that Maseeh has already been impeached.

Following Gasim's request, the opposition parliamentary group had held an emergency sit-down but had decided against ending the boycott. The lawmakers argued that if they were to attend Wednesday's sitting, it would violate their stand on the parliament speaker.

Gasim appears to have softened his stance after the ruling party extended an invite for him to work with the government.

The business tycoon's party had been integral to incumbent president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's election win in 2013. But soon after the coalition fell apart and the now former lawmaker has joined the opposition coalition following his jailing over bribery charges last year.

The business tycoon now lives in self imposed exile in Germany after he was convicted of bribery and sentenced to over three years in prison in August last year.

Gasim was granted medical leave to travel to Singapore where he had undergone a minor heart surgery in September before travelling to Germany.

However, the opposition coalition appears to have fractured after talks of nominating a single candidate for the elections stalled.

Self-exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed who is also part of the opposition alliance has already launched his own campaign for the elections much to the dismay of the JP leader.

Ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) deputy leader Abdulla Khaleel who had extended the invitation to Gasim on behalf of the party said that the business tycoon had been "double-crossed" by MDP.

"No matter how hard Gasim tries, MDP won't give any leeway to any other party. MDP has again double crossed him. So I urge Gasim to join president Yameen who is the only leader loyal to the country," the Nilandhoo lawmaker stressed.