Maldives Opposition says govt. locked down Parliament

The Maldivian Opposition said that the military locked down Parliament on Monday on the orders of the country’s President in a bid to prevent lawmakers from taking part in a vote to impeach the parliamentary Speaker.

The main Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party said that on the orders of President Yameen Abdul Gayoom, the gates of the Parliament were padlocked by members of the armed forces on Monday morning and lawmakers “were forcibly prevented from entering the parliamentary compound”.

In a statement, the Opposition party called Mr. Yameen’s action “desperate, illegal and unconstitutional”. There was no immediate comment from the government. The government spokesmen could not be reached by telephone.

A no-confidence motion against Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed was scheduled to be taken up on Monday. The Opposition says the motion has gained the support of 45 lawmakers in the 85-member house.

Lawmakers disbarred

However, an uncertainty arose when the election commission announced last week that the four members who supported the motion had lost their seats because they left the ruling party.

The motion was considered a severe blow to Mr. Yameen, whose control over Parliament was threatened by a new understanding between the Maldives’ former strongman and its first democratically elected president, Mohamed Nasheed. The Maldivian Democratic Party routed Mr. Yameen’s party in local council elections earlier this year.

A similar Opposition bid to oust the Speaker was thwarted in March, when the government defeated it by 48 votes, with none opposing. At the time, Opposition lawmakers were either evicted or walked out from the vote, following a dispute over problems with the electronic voting system.

The coalition’s plan to wrest Parliamentary majority was aimed at reforming the judiciary, elections commission and other bodies perceived as being partial toward Mr. Yameen. In March, Mr. Nasheed and former strongman Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and two other parties formed an alliance. Mr. Maumoon runs a rival faction within the Progressive Party of Maldives, which is led by the current President, his half-brother.

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Source URL: The Hindu

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