Maldives president faces key parliamentary test

Lawmakers pictured at a parliament session. PHOTO/MAJLIS

Male: The Maldives opposition on Monday began impeachment proceedings against the parliamentary speaker in an attempt to destabilise the president after allying with his powerful half-brother — the former strongman leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

The move came a day after the exiled opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed announced plans to take control of the 85-member Majlis, or parliament, in a unity pact with Gayoom.

The alliance marks an extraordinary turnaround for Gayoom. He is still nominally the leader of President Abdulla Yameen`s ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) despite falling out with his half-brother.

On Sunday Gayoom appealed to members of the PPM to break ranks with the president and vote with the opposition on Monday to remove the speaker, Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed.

“In order to enable Majlis to fulfil its mandate in a democratic manner, I appeal to all MPs to vote NO to Maseeh tomorrow. Nation First!” Gayoom tweeted on Sunday night.

Gayoom retains influence over the party he once led, but it is unclear whether it will be strong enough to secure the impeachment, which would give the opposition more control over the legislative agenda.

Nasheed lives in exile in London after he was convicted on terrorism charges widely seen as politically motivated. He became the Maldives` first democratically elected president in 2008 but was narrowly defeated in 2013 elections by Yameen.

Last month he said he would return to the troubled Indian Ocean nation to run in 2018 presidential elections.

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