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Cross-party support for bid to oust speaker

The 51 MPs who signed the no-confidence motion include 15 from the ruling coalition.



A third push to impeach Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed was launched Wednesday with the support of a strong majority of lawmakers.

The 51 MPs who signed the no-confidence motion include 15 from the ruling coalition.

Briefing the press after filing the motion, opposition lawmakers blamed the speaker for parliament not functioning and urged him to resign before the motion is put to a vote after a 14-day notice.

“Today is the first step to free the People’s Majlis during this period for the change of government,” said MP Rozaina Adam from the Maldivian Democratic Party.

Joint opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won “a huge mandate from the public” in September’s election and the coalition wants to get started on its legislative agenda, Jumhooree Party deputy leader Abdulla Riyaz said.

The work ahead includes constitutional reforms, amending laws and parliamentary inquiries of the outgoing administration’s corruption scandals, he said.

The opposition coalition previously secured a majority to remove Maseeh in July last year.

But an anti-defection ruling from the Supreme Court was sought to disqualify a dozen ruling party lawmakers who joined the opposition.

Their disputed removal was used to quash the motion and restore a pro-government majority.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court reinstated four out of the 12 MPs. The court is due to wrap up the cases of the other eight by Thursday.

The no-confidence motion was submitted without the signature of those eight lawmakers. Their inclusion would increase the majority to nearly three-quarters of the 85-member house.

“In the future, you will see the number of our MPs above 60 when we work in the Majlis,” MP Riyaz said.

According to Riyaz, the opposition approached Maseeh after collecting the signatures but he refused to step aside.

– ‘Military siege’ –

The opposition says parliament has been under “military siege” since July last year.

Lawmakers were manhandled and dragged out by police officers and soldiers in riot gear when they tried to force a vote on the previous no-confidence motion.

There was a wave of arrests and charges were raised against several lawmakers.

When sittings resumed, Maseeh was surrounded by soldiers who shielded him from opposition MPs, leading to clashes and brawls in the parliament house.

five-foot wall was later erected as a barrier between protesting MPs and the embattled speaker.

With 12 constituencies deprived of representation, opposition MPs boycotted votes but Maseeh continued to push through controversial pieces of legislation, including an anti-defection law.

It was approved despite the lack of the constitutional quorum of 43 MPs needed to pass laws.

The 15 ruling coalition lawmakers who signed the latest no-confidence motion were Riyaz Rasheed, Ahmed ‘Redwave’ Saleem, Ibrahim Shujau, Hussain Manik Dhon Manik, Ali Fazad, Ahmed Rasheed, Azhan Fahmy, Nazim Rashad, Ahmed Rasheed Ibrahim, Umar Hussain, Ahmed Assad, Hussain Mohamed Latheef, Muaz Mohamed Rasheed, Ahmed Mubeen, and Yamin Rasheed.

MP Fazad, who represents the mid-Fuvahmulah constituency, was expelled from the Progressive Party of Maldives in September after he joined the opposition campaign.

According to the anti-defection law passed in March, Fazad would have been stripped of his seat once the Elections Commission removed him from the PPM registry.

However, the EC has informed parliament that Fazad remains a PPM MP as it was reviewing the legality his expulsion.

The electoral body has also decided not to accept requests from the PPM to remove lawmakers from its registry until the civil court rules on the party’s leadership dispute, EC chief Ahmed Shareef told the press Monday.

The first no-confidence motion against Maseeh in March 2017 was defeated in a controversial roll call vote after 13 opposition MPs were forcibly expelled from the chamber.