Live blog: Debate underway on speaker’s no-confidence motion

March 27 09:03 2017

Amidst heightened tension in Malé, Monday’s historic no-confidence vote against the speaker of parliament pits President Abdulla Yameen against the new opposition alliance formed between former Presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Mohamed Nasheed along with Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim and Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla. 

With Maseeh unable to vote, Deputy Speaker ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik presiding, and Independent MP Ahmed Mahloof in jail, 42 votes will be enough to pass or defeat the motion.

For the opposition, success hinges on the number of lawmakers from the ruling Progressive Party who abandon Yameen to form a new majority in the 85-member house. 

The PPM has 48 MPs and coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance has six MPs.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party has 21 MPs, the Jumhooreee Party has seven MPs, and MP Anara Naeem is the sole Adhaalath Party lawmaker.

Of the PPM’s 48 lawmakers, four have openly sided with Gayoom, including his son MP Faris Maumoon, Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim, Mohamed Musthafa, and Mohamed Ameeth. The MDA has meanwhile decided to expel MP Hussain Areef for backing the no-confidence motion.  

The debate will last two hours and Maseeh will have 10 minutes at the beginning, middle and end to speak in his defence. 

9:50 am – About 50 opposition supporters clad in yellow t-shirts with anti-Maseeh slogans have gathered outside the MDP office in Sosun Magu, a short distance from the parliament building.

9:44 am – With no MPs left to speak, the deputy speaker has declared that the debate is over. The sitting will resume at 1:30 for the vote.

9:42 am – PPM MPs Nihan, Abdulla Khaleel, Abdul Raheem Abdulla and Riyaz Rasheed have spoken so far. All of the senior ruling party lawmakers dismissed the no-confidence motion as motivated by “jealousy” of the government’s achievements and expressed confidence that it will be easily defeated.

9:35 am – PPM MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla has seconded Nihan’s proposal for a roll call vote, which would involve calling each member’s name and asking for their vote.

Citing rumours about tampering with the voting system, JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim also backed a roll call vote.

9:30 am – Speaking first during the debate, MP Faris said lawmakers are unable to fulfil their responsibilities due to the unfair conduct of the speaker.

Majority Leader Ahmed Nihan proposed a roll call vote in order to avoid allegations of fraud through voting machines.

9:23 am – Riot police have closed all roads surrounding the Majlis building and set up barricades. Journalists and members waiting outside parliament were forced to leave.

9:21 am – Speaking in his defence, Maseeh has dismissed the grounds for his dismissal as “utterly baseless”.

He addressed each of the seven reasons stated in the no-confidence motion and insisted that parliamentary proceedings were conducted in accordance with the rules of procedure.

The parliament’s productivity has been 98 percent, he said.

9:03 am – The sitting of parliament is now underway with 64 MPs in attendance. MP Faris is introducing the no-confidence motion.

Maldives National Defence Force personnel in charge of parliament’s security barred media and civil society organisations from observing the sitting. A security official told the Maldives Independent journalist that “orders came from above.”

The roads around the People’s Majlis have not been closed to traffic or cordoned off with police barricades. But groups of  Specialist Operations police officers in riot gear are active in the area.

Late on Sunday night, the police and military called a press conference and claimed to have learned of plans to incite unrest in Malé by gathering people from the atolls to the capital. Chief Superintendent Hamdhoon Rasheed warned that the “police’s legal powers will be used to the highest degree” to protect national security.

An MNDF officer said the military is in a state of readiness to provide assistance to the police.

Full details are available from the link below:

Source URL:  Maldives Independent

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