Disasters Politics

Parliament restroom catches fire again

The military’s firemen put out flames inside the parliament building in the early hours of Sunday after a dustbin and tissue box at a restroom caught fire.

The fire was reported around 3:53 am, according to the Maldives National Defence Force, which is also responsible for maintaining security at the People’s Majlis.

The fire incident occurred in a first-floor restroom used for ablutions before prayer. No one was harmed and the police have launched a probe, the MNDF said.

The Majlis is due to reconvene after a one-month recess next week for the final session of the year.

In early August, parliament sittings were suspended for three weeks after a minor fire incident inside a restroom, which the opposition said was staged as a pretext for the cancellations.

The fire occurred a day after a tumultuous sitting that saw soldiers surrounding Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed as opposition lawmakers protested in the chamber.

Opposition lawmakers continued to protest when sittings resumed after a three-week hiatus but Maseeh conducted the Majlis under military guard, leading to an egg fight and heated exchanges that descended into brawls.

Parliament sittings were previously suspended on July 3 after the opposition coalition secured the backing of a majority of MPs to impeach Maseeh.

On July 24, the day when the constitutionally-mandated deadline for voting on the no-confidence motion expired, opposition lawmakers were manhandled and dragged out of the parliament house by police officers and soldiers in riot gear, drawing widespread international condemnation.

Maseeh’s impeachment would have sealed the loss of President Abdulla Yameen’s previously unassailable majority and challenged his grip on power ahead of the 2018 presidential election.

Seven former ruling party lawmakers have since been contentiously unseated, a dozen opposition lawmakers put on trial, and Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim sentenced in absentia to more than three years in prison.

On Saturday night, MP Ahmed Mahloof alleged that the MNDF has been building a “stage to keep Maseeh 10 feet high” inside the Majlis chamber.

The opposition coalition’s spokesman also posted photos on Twitter of construction material in the courtyard of the parliament house.

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