President-elect Mohamed Muizzu has said that his administration will prioritise efforts to enhance the independence of the judiciary and remove external influences from the judicial process.

Speaking on Al Jazeera’s ‘Talk to Al Jazeera’ programme, Muizzu, in his first interview to an international media outlet since being elected, said he aims to change the composition of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and exclude politicians from the commission.

Muizzu, in response to questions posed by Al Jazeera on his motivations to vacate former president Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom’s 11-year prison sentence for bribery and money laundering convictions in the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) corruption scandal, framed his response as one of a wider attempt to reform the judiciary.

While characterising the conviction and charges against Yameen as ‘politically motivated,’ Muizzu described the current judicial process in the Maldives as neither free nor fair.

“… I will make sure that it is free and fair from day one and I will definitely put in measures to make sure it is free and fair,” the president-elect said.

He expressed his intention to amend the law to ensure that the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is clearly removed’ from political influence, he said, going on to reinforce outside observations, echoed by the interviewer, that the JSC should not have any political figures within its composition.

The 10-member JSC currently has two Members of Parliament and the Attorney General.

When quizzed about the perceived inconsistency between his call for judicial non-interference and his support for moving Yameen to house arrest, the president-elect clarified his position, saying that while the President has the power to influence where a sentence is served, he did not intend to interfere with a court-mandated sentence. The decision to vacate the sentence should entirely depend on an impartial judiciary, free from political influence, Muizzu added.