US asks Maldives to restore democracy after chaotic vote

MALE: The United States on Tuesday (Mar 28) asked the Maldives to restore faith in democracy after the government deployed troops to parliament to forcibly remove opposition politicians, sparking chaotic scenes.

The US expressed concern about “irregularities” that impeded a free and fair vote in parliament, after plain-clothes soldiers evicted MPs as they attempted to impeach the speaker.

“We call on the government to restore faith in democratic processes by ensuring free and impartial proceedings in parliament,” the US embassy to Sri Lanka and the Maldives said in a statement.

It came as the Maldives’ ruling party sacked the country’s former strongman president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom as its leader, after he led an unsuccessful rebellion against his half-brother, who is now in power.

Gayoom’s sacking followed an abortive bid to impeach the speaker and take control of parliament, as part of a pact he entered over the weekend with exiled opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed.

National President Abdulla Yameen had recently taken executive control of the party, but his half-brother was its nominal president.

“Gayoom has been accused of sympathising with the opposition,” said a Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) official who asked not to be named. “His ideology no longer aligns with that of the PPM,” the official told AFP.

Gayoom had urged PPM legislators to vote with the opposition on Monday to impeach the speaker of the house, a move aimed at undermining Yameen’s hold on power before 2018 elections.

Nasheed had hoped that the surprise alliance with Gayoom would provide enough parliamentary support to oust the speaker.

Instead there were chaotic scenes in parliament as opposition legislators staged a rowdy protest before losing the vote as some of their members were physically carried away by troops.

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Source URL: Channel News Asia

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