President Yameen’s plans for a new deputy unclear

President Yameen’s plans for a new deputy unclear
January 12 12:53 2016

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives says it does not know if President Abdulla Yameen’s plans to appoint a new deputy, but said MPs are considering amending the constitution to reduce the number of votes required to impeach the vice president.

The vice presidency has been vacant since November 5 when former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb was impeached in a sudden and controversial vote called under a state of emergency.

MP Abdulla Abdul Raheem, the vice president of the PPM, said Yameen had not discussed the appointment of a new vice president with the party.

“Frankly, it is not something president has to even discuss with the party. According to constitution of Maldives, in the event the office of the vice president becomes vacant the, president himself shall appoint a vice president. We are certain President Yameen will think about it and do it accordingly,“ he said.

Adeeb was impeached within days of being arrested on suspicion of links to a mysterious blast on Yameen’s speedboat in September. At the time, Adeeb had been vice-president for just three months.

He assumed the post after PPM impeached his predecessor Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed in July.

Ahmed Nihan, the leader of the PPM parliamentary group, said PPM MPs had discussed abolishing the post of the vice president or limiting the vice president’s mandate or requiring the vice-president to call elections within 60-90 days of a vacancy in the presidency.

Talks are still ongoing on the best approach, he said.

“I was one of the people who called for a constitutional amendment, but according to our political situation, changing a practice that is stated in the constitution is not something that could or should be done so quickly.”

Another option is to reduce the number of votes required to impeach the vice president from two-thirds of the parliament to just one-third. This is the most popular view among MPs, he said.

“If a president is dissatisfied with a vice-president or if the vice-president disrupts the president’s work, there needs to be an easier way to remove the vice president from office. It is the opinion of myself and several PPM MPs as well,” Nihan said.

He described the post as problematic, saying he believed that it was his duty to solve the “problems that had risen from the post of vice presidents in recent history.”

The MP had previously questioned whether the post is suited to the Maldives, referring to the role the Maldives’ first Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan had played in ousting the country’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Nasheed.

A final course of action would be decided on consultation with the president, the PPM council and the party’s members, he added.

Ibrahim Muaz Ali, the president’s spokesman, echoed MPs’ statements when asked for a comment, saying the appointment of a new deputy is solely the president’s choice.

Both Muaz and the PPM dismissed legal concerns over the office remaining vacant, with Muaz arguing that the constitution does not specify a time frame for the appointing a new vice president.

Article 122 of the Constitution states that “the president shall appoint a new vice president to serve the remainder of the term” if the post becomes vacant.

Some MPs have suggested that the Constitution does not obligate the president to appoint a new deputy.