A no-confidence motion against Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed was defeated on Monday in the first battle of a political showdown between President Abdulla Yameen and the newly united opposition.
After 13 opposition MPs were forcibly expelled from the chamber, 48 ruling coalition lawmakers stood up and said No to removing Maseeh in a roll call vote.
The opposition alliance cried foul and western democracies expressed concern with “irregularities” but the government insisted that the vote was “free, fair, and transparent.”
A day after the vote, the United States embassy released a statement expressing concern about “irregularities that impeded a free and fair vote in the Maldives Parliament on March 27.”
We call on the Government to restore faith in democratic processes by ensuring free and impartial proceedings in Parliament, free and fair local elections, and basic freedoms of press, assembly, and speech.
The British embassy echoed concerns over “irregularities surrounding the vote”.
The United Kingdom believes that a clear and transparent parliamentary process that is open to public scrutiny is fundamental in a healthy democracy. Against the worrying backdrop of continued intimidation and harassment of media, political opponents and civil society, we urge the Government to respect parliamentary processes and to restore freedoms of expression and assembly.
The delegation of the European Union to the Maldives said in a tweet that the Maldivian government “must reassure people that democratic procedures in the constitution will be respected, including parliamentary rules.”
Canadian Ambassador Shelly Whiting tweeted: “Parliaments function by a system of rules with procedural safeguards and fundamental principles of democratic discussion. When these systems fail or are abused, democracies are the weaker for it and citizens therein done a grave disservice.”
The German embassy joined the chorus of concern on Friday.
The German Embassy is deeply concerned about the continuing erosion of democracy in the Maldives in recent days. The non-confidence motion against the Hon Speaker of the Maldivian Parliament was defeated after the vote had been conducted in a way that clearly violated the rules of procedure of the Parliament.
The disturbing news about the ensuing harassment of opposition politicians is contrary to democratic standards. The ongoing worrying developments are clearly not conducive to the sustainable economic development of the Maldives.
Germany strongly urges the Maldivian government to respect democratic norms and to stop the harassment of media, opposition parliamentarians and civil society.
In response to the US embassy statement, the government was adamant that the vote was free and fair.
The Government of Maldives expresses its unshakable commitment to uphold the rule of law and democratic principles, and to respect the democratic decisions taken by institutions of the State.
The Maldives Parliament, since its establishment in 1932, has been, and will continue to be, the strongest defender and the lead proponent of democratic values in the country. The vote in the Parliament yesterday was conducted in the most transparent manner and through a democratic process underpinned by the rule of law and specifically in accordance with the Constitution of Maldives and the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament.
The Government of Maldives is confident that the country’s international partners would respect the democratic decisions of State institutions, including the Parliament. The Government remains engaged with international partners in further promoting democratic values in the country and in strengthening the democratic institutions in the Maldives.
On Thursday, Fisheries Minister Dr Mohamed Shainee urged the international community to “to observe clearly the intricacies of the laws of the land in the Maldives as it relates to a free, fair and transparent vote, such as was taken on that day, before rushing to judgement.”
As an open and cooperative partner and representative of this administration, I ask those abroad to ascertain the facts, from all relevant agencies including the government.
The Maldives has a constitution, and set of laws, unique to the territory duly passed, and amended, by its legal and constitutional legislative body — which may be different from other democracies but are not, by any sense, less democratic.
The key issue of contention over the no-confidence motion was the decision to conduct voting through a roll call vote, where each MP was asked individually to stand up and declare his or her stance, instead of the normal voting through the electronic system.
Deputy Speaker ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, who presided over proceedings, told state media after the sitting that there are no grounds to question the legality of the roll call vote.
Full details are available from the link below:
Source URL: Maldives Independent