Maldives attorney general quits

By Saroj Pathirana
BBC Sinhala Service

Image caption,
President Nasheed became the Maldives' first democratically elected leader in 2008

The Maldives' attorney general has quit in protest at parliament's refusal to appoint a new Supreme Court.

The court's mandate expired at the weekend, under the charter adopted when President Mohamed Nasheed came to power in the Indian Ocean nation in 2008.

The country has been in political chaos since the cabinet quit in June, accusing the opposition of undermining Mr Nasheed by blocking every motion.

But the opposition accuses the government of suppressing it.

Supporters of President Nasheed, who became the country's first democratically elected leader in 2008, alleged the Supreme Court was biased towards the former regime.

'Constitutional void'

However, parliament, known as the Majlis, has not yet ratified the legislation required to enact the new Supreme Court. It has also yet to confirm the president's nominee for the new chief justice.

Attorney General Husnu Suood, an ally of the president, resigned on Sunday, blaming a "constitutional void" for his decision.

The court was dissolved at midnight on Saturday under the new constitution, although President Nasheed has set up an interim body to keep some of its administrative affairs functioning.

Foreign Minister Ahmed Shaheed told BBC Sinhala that the lower courts were operating as usual, but admitted that the Maldives was in a "kind of a legal void".

The government has invited the Commonwealth and the International Committee of Jurists (ICJ) to help reform the atoll nation's judiciary.

Basil Fernando, of the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission, told BBC Sinhala the judicial crisis might encourage some extremist groups to take the law into their hands.

President Nasheed's cabinet resigned en masse in June saying parliament was blocking their work.

The 13 ministers have since been restored by the president, although parliament is yet to ratify the new appointments.

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