Saturday, October 25, 2008

In Support of Auditor General Ibrahim Naeem

It will be a sad day for democracy if the DRP and PA uses their majority in the People's Majlis (parliament) to impeach the first independent Auditor General of Maldives, Ibrahim Naeem. The Auditor General Naeem has shown his sincerity and steadfastness by releasing a series of audit reports which show gross abuse of resources and power by various government agencies and deep-rooted corruption in state-run companies and government departments.

Idhikeeli has always advocated for separation of powers in the Maldives. The reason we lobbied for a presidential system in the country -- despite the opposition groups calling and campaigning vigorously for a parliamentary system -- is our belief that in Maldives the three branches of power should be strictly separated.

The current constitution gives unprecedented independence to the Parliament. However, that parliament will be in place only after the parliamentary election to be held in February 2009. Under clauses in the constitution that accommodates a transitional phase, the current Parliament constitutes of 8 members directly appointed by the President. In addition, there are some cabinet members in the current Parliament, another feature of the so-called 'transitional phase'. Thus the current parliament is heavily influenced by the Executive.

We appeal to the members of the parliament to respect the spirit of the constitution. The MPs should understand that the constitution relies strongly on the independence of the institutions such as Auditor General's Office. The 8 members appointed by the President and the cabinet members in parliament should note that the constitution does not give any provision for them to remain in the parliament in their current capacity after the election of February 2009. If they use their position as temporary MPs to remove Auditor General Naeem for their own political gains, they will be abusing the constitution. For they are temporary, while Auditor General Naeem's position is secured by the constitution beyond the current government's term and the term of current parliament.

There is no strong case against Auditor General Naeem. It will be a shame if the political parties, NGOs, pressure groups and concerned individuals let this blatant abuse of constitution and parliament happen in broad daylight without coming to Naeem's defense. The whole country must show their support to Ibrahim Naeem, because we want to root out corruption in this country.