The ruling party-dominated parliament on Monday pushed through controversial changes to the rules of procedure to require a minimum of 42 signatures from the 85-member house to submit a no-confidence motion against the speaker or the deputy speaker.
The move came a day after the opposition coalition submitted a second no-confidence motion with 31 signatures to remove Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed. An impeachment vote against Deputy Speaker ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik was also due to take place on Tuesday.
After the rules change was approved with 46 votes from ruling coalition lawmakers, Maseeh announced that both no-confidence motions have been “invalidated in line with the amended regulation”.
MPs from the opposition coalition boycotted the vote in protest, calling the changes “arbitrary and unconstitutional” as the speaker can be removed with fewer than 42 votes if the attendance is low.
“The [President Abdulla] Yameen faction’s behaviour in parliament demonstrates the panic measures the president is willing to undertake in order to try and maintain his increasingly precarious grip on the legislature,” the opposition alliance said in a joint statement.
“President’s Yameen’s actions are a contemptible attempt to further erode the separation of powers by undermining the independence and effectiveness of the legislature. With these underhand tactics, President Yameen has shown, once again, that he is prepared to subvert the institutions of state to maintain his increasingly fragile and illegitimate hold on power.”
The changes were approved by the general affairs committee on Sunday evening, hours after the opposition resubmitted the motion to remove Maseeh, and states that it will apply retroactively.
The rules previously required 15 signatures to move a motion of no-confidence against the speaker or deputy speaker. The constitution states that a motion to impeach the president can be submitted with signatures from one-third of members or at least 29 MPs.
Immediately after Monday’s sitting, the opposition coalition announced that it will re-submit the no-confidence motion against Maseeh with 42 signatures.
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Source URL: Maldives Independent