Opposition MPs withdraw no-confidence motion against speaker

Opposition MPs withdraw no-confidence motion against speaker
March 27 14:53 2016

Opposition MPs have withdrawn a no-confidence motion submitted against Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed, two days before the motion was up for debate at the People’s Majlis.

Confirming the move to The Maldives Independent, MP Mohamed Rasheed Hussain ‘Bigey’ from the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party said: “The decision was taken by the parliamentary group as we found the current political atmosphere and conditions to be inappropriate for such a proceeding.”

The MDP’s parliamentary group will discuss the issue further in its next meeting, he added.

The motion was tabled for debate and voting at Tuesday’s sitting of parliament. Maseeh, a ruling party MP, was assigned 30 minutes to respond after a debate of one and a half hours.

The motion was submitted on March 8 with the signatures of some 22 MPs, including 19 MDP MPs and Independent MP Ahmed Mahloof. The parliamentary rules require a minimum of 15 signatures for a motion seeking the removal of the speaker.

Following the withdrawal of the motion, Majority Leader Ahmed Nihan said in a tweet that the move would save the parliament’s time from being “wasted”.

“22 votes cannot defeat 52 votes,” he added, referring to the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives and coalition partner Maldives Development Alliances’ unassailable majority in the 85-member house.

The MDP had contended that Maseeh violated the Majlis rules or standing orders in pushing through controversial amendments to the constitution, the impeachment of two vice presidents, and the government’s flagship Special Economic Zones Act.

The party also accused Maseeh of facilitating several arbitrary changes brought to the standing orders of the Majlis to marginalise opposition MPs and rubber stamp government-sponsored legislation.

The motion stated that Maseeh also discriminated against opposition MPs and encouraged disorder in the chamber with his inaction.

Maseeh came under fire last month for his failure to halt a sitting after Nihan spit on MDP MP Rozaina Adam’s face. The incident occurred during a heated exchange over the Maldives’ biggest corruption scandal, which the opposition insists was carried out on the orders of President Abdulla Yameen.

In late February, anti-corruption NGO Transparency International slammed Maseeh for his silence and inaction over allegations of MPs’ involvement in the embezzlement of nearly US$80 million from resort lease payments.

“While investigations reveal that massive embezzlement from the state treasury have taken place, and while MPs and companies linked to them are rumored to have benefited, why hasn’t the Majlis investigated these allegations and taking action against all involved?” TM asked the speaker in an open letter.