World Bulletin/News Desk
The Maldives Supreme Court on Sunday dismissed the country's top elections officials for failing to follow its guidelines during last year's presidential polls and for disbanding eight political parties ahead of a parliamentary election this month.
The court ordered the head of the commission, Fuwad Thowfeek, and his deputy, Ahmed Fayaz, removed from their posts and asked the parliament to appoint replacements within six days. Thowfeek received a six-month jail sentence, suspended for three years.
The election commission came under the seven-member court's scrutiny last year when it went ahead with a presidential run-off after three previous attempts were annulled or postponed by the court.
Mohamed Nasheed, the country's first democratically elected president who was ousted in February 2012, narrowly lost a Nov. 16 run-off to the current president, Abdulla Yameen. Nasheed's opposition coalition is challenging Yameen's ruling coalition in a March 22 poll.
Last month the election commission disbanded eight political parties with less than 3,000 members in line with a parliamentary act passed last year, despite the Supreme Court asking it not to go forward with the move.
The court, which tried the two men and other members of the commission last month, said it had determined that Thowfeek and Fayaz must bear responsibility for "disobeying and challenging" Supreme Court judgments and order, which were issued in its capacity as "the guardian of the constitution."
It said the two officials had "lost the right and legal status to remain members of the commission."
Thowfeek confirmed the verdicts and said he did not know how their replacements would be appointed.
Nasheed, while campaigning in Haa Alif Dhidhoo island, criticized the Supreme Court's judgments and called on Maldivians to protest.
"This is the saddest day in the history of Maldives' constitutional life. Gain courage from each other, come out and protest. If you stay quietly at home tonight, our children and our children's children will not see a good future," Nasheed said.
Eduard Kukan, the chief observer of the European Union's election observation mission to the Maldives, said the Thowfeek-led election commission had played an important role in ensuring transparent, inclusive and credible electoral processes.
"The mission will study the verdict carefully, including the reasoning upon which the ruling was based," Kukan said.
Ganira Pashayeva says western countries tolerate groups like PKK who have killed thousands in Turkey
Xi told some 2,300 delegates at the imposing Great Hall of the People that the party must "resolutely oppose" any actions that undermine its leadership as it steers a course through a high-stakes period in its development.
Suspect is widow of slain Filipino terrorist leader and former wife of Daesh-linked Singaporean
Military hunting for around 20 fighters holding hostages
A truck carrying police officers was targeted in Quetta, capital of southwestern Balochistan
Jeepney operators and drivers held nationwide strike Monday and Tuesday
New satellite imagery shows at least 288 Muslim villages partially or totally burned since Aug. 25, Human Rights Watch says
Dr. Mahmud Bin Ahmad, a former university professor, is believed to have channeled PHP30 million to fund Daesh assault
First presidential-level meeting on occupied Karabakh in over a year takes place in Geneva
30 militants, 5 troops killed in Maruf district of southern Kandahar province
The five-yearly congress, which opens Wednesday, will give Xi an opportunity to enhance his control over the world's second largest economy by stacking the halls of power with loyalists.
The incident happened near the Kharlachi checkpoint in Kurram district in the restive tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.
Voting began at 0200 GMT and will end at 1400 GMT. But after a tough campaign and with the electorate split, a second round of voting is a strong possibility, analysts say.
ARMM governor: Need continues to grow for more counterterrorism strategy
Pyongyang slams Australia for standing by the United States on Korean Peninsula tensions
The US navy said Friday that a US aircraft carrier will lead the drill in the coming week, a fresh show of force against North Korea as tensions soar over the hermit state's weapons programme.