The 18th People’s Majlis concluded its final sitting on Monday and broke for a one-month recess before the end of its five-year term.
Several pieces of government-sponsored legislation and amendments proposed by outgoing lawmakers to grant new benefits upon leaving office remained unfinished when the final legislative session drew to a close. The unfinished bills would have to be resubmitted after MPs-elect are sworn in on May 28.
Concluding the sitting, Speaker Gasim Ibrahim noted that the outgoing parliament’s productivity was 94 percent with 177 bills completed during the past five years.
Earlier on Monday morning, President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih joined his former colleagues and Majlis staff for a maahefun, a traditional pre-Ramadan gathering for a meal before the month of fasting.
Solih represented his native Hinnavaru constituency in the 18th parliament. He was accompanied by other former lawmakers who resigned to join his cabinet last November, including Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid and Defence Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi.
The final sitting ended with the passage of a controversial bill to grant privileges to former chief justice Mohamed Rasheed Ibrahim, who served in the post prior to the adoption of the 2008 constitution.
Proposed by outgoing MP Riyaz Rasheed last week and fast-tracked to the floor for a vote, the bill passed narrowly with 25 votes in favour, 20 votes against, and two abstentions.
MPs from the Maldivian Democratic Party voted No to the amendments to the Judges Act.
Last week, the ruling party’s lawmakers criticised the rush to push through new laws in the last days of the term.
The bills included amendments proposed by lawmakers who failed to win re-election in the April 6 polls.
Velidhoo MP Yameen Rasheed proposed paying 30 to 45 percent of monthly salaries and allowances for MPs who leave office after one or two terms. Dhihdhoo MP Abdul Latheef Mohamed sought to grant health insurance to outgoing MPs, their spouses and children.
A third bill proposing VIP service at the airport for retired MPs was withdrawn by Thimarafushi MP Mohamed Mustafa.
MDP MP Eva Abdulla condemned the push to pass new laws after “the Maldivian people said No to 70 percent of this parliament.”
“I wonder is this not the reason the fact that things were done in here like this in the past years, is this not the reason people said no to 70% of us?” she said during the debate last week.
The new parliament with the MDP super-majority would repeal the controversial privileges, she warned.
MDP MP Mohamed Aslam, the party’s presumptive nominee to become the new speaker, criticised Gasim for scheduling back to back sittings to rush through bills.
MP Imthiyaz Fahmy, an outspoken critic of the judiciary, accused opposition lawmakers of trying to curry favour with judges.
“No matter how hard you try to please the judges, they’ll stab you in the back. Members here and speaker yourself faced a lot of agony from them,” he said.
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Source URL: Maldives Independent