Maldives parliament speaker Mohamed Nasheed has come under fire for representing Sri Lanka at COP27, the UN’s climate change summit which kicked off Sunday in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm El Sheikh.
Nasheed left the Maldives on Friday morning for the COP27 summit. Regarding his visit, the parliament issued a statement the same day stating that he will attend COP27 as a representative of the Sri Lankan national delegation.
One of the first to criticise Nasheed was former Attorney General Dr Mohamed Munawwar. He questioned Nasheed’s representation of another country while being paid by the people of Maldives as speaker.
“Where’s the country? What about being loyal to the state?,” Munawwar said in a tweet.
Munawwar’s comments were echoed by former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom on Twitter.
Former Attorney General Diyana Saeed also defended the tweet and said Munawwar’s remarks were not personal.
“It’s a matter with legal burden, it’s actually a legit issue,” said Diyana, the first attorney general of Nasheed’s government. As justification, she cited Articles 73 and 75 of the Constitution.
“In view of what these two articles say, the question is whether this is permissible (the Speaker of the parliament representing another country),” Diyana said in a statement.
Addu Maradhoo MP Mohamed Shareef also said that the constitution states that citizens of another country cannot be a member of the Maldives’ parliament for certain reasons. One of the reasons, he said, was to reduce the space for the interests of another country to take precedence over the interests of Maldives. Shareef believes that Nasheed’s conduct is against the spirit of the constitution.
“A foreigner cannot be the Speaker or member of a Maldivian parliament,” Shareef tweeted in response to Munawwar’s tweet.
Former assistant commissioner of police Abdullah Fairoosh, in a series of tweets, also reiterated the statements made by the two former AGs. He also questioned whether Nasheed’s prioritisation of another country while acting as speaker of parliament posed a conflict of interest.
“The question that arises now is whether he [Nasheed] represents and promotes the interests of another country or any other group in parliament,” Fairoosh had tweeted.
Some also questioned whether the state had spent any money on Nasheed’s visit. Those who expressed their views said it needed to be cleared, and that they did not approve of any budgetary expenditure on Nasheed’s visit to represent another country.
Parliament’s Communications Director Hassan Ziyau said that all expenses of Nasheed’s trip are taken care of by the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), a group of countries most affected by climate change.
Responding to the criticism, Nasheed’s supporters said that environmental issues are related to humanity as a whole and it is not a problem for Nasheed to represent and advocate for another country in such a humanitarian matter. Those who expressed such views said the Maldives and Sri Lanka share the same policy on climate issues.
“Nasheed’s representation of Sri Lanka also protects the interests of the Maldives. There’s nothing wrong with it; he is advocating for humanity. This criticism is politically motivated,” said a Twitter user who expressed his opinion in response to the criticism.
Another said Nasheed was the climate change advisor for Sri Lankan Ranil Wickremesinghe. Some also said that Nasheed was fulfilling his responsibility at the COP27 summit, which is also being attended by Ranil.
Others said that not only Nasheed, but others holding political positions in different countries represent and advocate for other countries on different platforms for the cause of combating climate change. Some are also saying that it is not anything new in universal climates.
“It’s a story about not knowing how the world works. This is not something Nasheed is doing alone,” said a Twitter user who defended Nasheed. (Courtesy Atoll Times)