Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim was elected Thursday night as the new speaker of parliament with the support of 62 MPs in the 85-member house.
The vote took place in a secret ballot among 80 MPs.
The other contender, MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives, was backed by 16 MPs. The PPM and coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance, however, have 40 MPs.
Two votes were declared invalid.
A five-member committee representative of all political parties was unanimously chosen to count the votes.
There were cheers and applause when Deputy Speaker ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik announced the results. Lawmakers congratulated the new speaker and took selfies.
Gasim, who also served as speaker of the Special Majlis that drafted the 2008 constitution, was nominated by president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, leader of the joint opposition parliamentary group.
He was seconded by vice president-elect Faisal Naseem, MP for Kaashidhoo from Gasim’s Jumhooree Party.
“Days of contentment for the public are ahead,” Gasim told the press after the vote.
The business tycoon vowed to restore democracy and support the incoming administration.
Abdul Raheem, the PPM’s deputy leader, said he was not “worried or despairing” over the loss and declared loyalty to President Abdulla Yameen.
The vote was scheduled after the resignation of former speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed earlier on Thursday, hours before he was due to face a vote on a no-confidence motion backed by a majority of lawmakers.
“You have done invaluable service to this country as the speaker of the People’s Majlis from 29 May 2014 to 1 November 2018. I congratulate you for your patience and courage as a team player of PPM,” parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan tweeted.
Several other PPM MPs echoed Nihan’s sentiments on social media.
Maseeh, PPM MP for Fuvahmulah South, was previously due to face the impeachment vote on November 8.
But on Wednesday, parliament’s general affairs committee decided to proceed with the second no-confidence motion submitted in July last year. It was tabled in the agenda for Thursday night’s sitting.
The disqualification of PPM MPs who backed Maseeh’s removal was used to quash the previous motion.
But the committee decided Wednesday that the motion was valid as the Supreme Court has ruled that its July 2017 anti-defection ruling was misapplied to unseat PPM MPs who crossed the floor.
On Wednesday, Deputy Speaker Moosa Manik accused Maseeh of lying about his intention to resign.
“Maseeh told me ‘I will resign tonight [Tuesday]’ so I should schedule a sitting for tomorrow [Wednesday]. I am announcing this because he lied to me,” the PPM MP said.
During his tenure, Maseeh was accused of turning the Majlis into a rubber stamp for President Abdulla Yameen and preventing the opposition minority from exercising oversight powers.
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.
A five-foot wall was later erected as a barrier between protesting MPs and the embattled speaker.
As Maseeh tastes his own medicine & is forced out unceremoniously, I recall the arrogance & despotic manner he conducted parliament, including my unconstitutional removal. Resignation isn't enough; I call for an investigation on him for alleged criminal activities & corruption. pic.twitter.com/XSh6V4mHVc
— Mohamed Jameel Ahmed (@MJameelAhmed) November 1, 2018
Speaker Maseeh has finally resigned.
He’d had MPs jailed, unconstitutionally stripped MPs of their seats, and allowed the military takeover of parliament. All to defend an untenable position. Hope to see Parliament functioning to its full mandate now. #Maldives pic.twitter.com/VRXPYzxyba
— Abdulla Shahid 🎈 (@abdulla_shahid) November 1, 2018
— Ahmed Mahloof (@AhmedMahloof) November 1, 2018
Congratulations Hon Qasim Ibrahim ! pic.twitter.com/gnX8tjOxxF
— Riyaz Rasheed (@riyaz_rasheed) November 1, 2018
Maruhabaa our Leader Hon @qasimibrahim ! Speaker ge maqaamgai qawmashaai rayyithunnah ikhulaastheri khidumatheh kohdhehvaane kamaaimedhu shahkeh nukuran. Miee coalition dhemehehtumah PE @ibusolih aai 4 Leadarun nimmevi harudhanaa nimmevumeh! pic.twitter.com/q7VxJCQCnQ
— Abdulla Riyaz MP (@riyazabdulla) November 1, 2018
“Congratulations our leader honourable Gasim Ibrahim! I have no doubt that you will sincerely serve the nation and the people in the post of speaker. This is a strong decision made by [president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih] and the four leaders to maintain the coalition!”
— Abdulla Shahid 🎈 (@abdulla_shahid) November 1, 2018
Congratulations to Hon. Qasim Ibrahim (@qasimibrahim) the new Speaker of the Parliament. Good luck with your new duties in defending democracy and the rights of the Maldivian people. pic.twitter.com/8XQfxZ1Afm
— Jameel Usman JU (@Jameel_Usman) November 1, 2018
— Abdulla Rifau Bochey (@RifauMP) November 1, 2018
Hon. @qasimibrahim is elected as the Speaker of the Parliament. Congrats, Sir! We wish you all the best!
— Dr. Abdulla Khaleel 🌐 (@abkhaleel) November 1, 2018
— Yamin Rasheed (@YaminRasheed) November 1, 2018
— MP Mohamed Nazim (@nazim790) November 1, 2018
— MP Ahmed Mubeen (@ahmedmubean) November 1, 2018
— Mohamed Ameeth (@MohamedAmeeth) November 1, 2018
Congratulations Elected Speaker of Peoples MAJLIS @qasimibrahim. Looking forward for a smooth function of MAJLIS in full scale & integrity. Due respect to MP’s should not be compromise irrespective of party they belong @ibusolih pic.twitter.com/5ldT6VNU7n
— ADK Nashid (@ADKNashid) November 1, 2018
Today is a happy day.
President @MohamedNasheed is back home including so many others who were in exile.
Sheikh Imran is back with us.
Maseeh is out.
MP Qasim is the new speaker.
Seeing happiness on almost everyone’s face. 😃😃😃 pic.twitter.com/Am8ffGQVdN
— 𝐌𝐏 𝐑𝐨𝐳𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐚 𝐀𝐝𝐚𝐦 🎈 (@Roxeyna) November 1, 2018
Maruhaba Rayyithunge Majlis Raees Hon Qasim Ibrahim pic.twitter.com/PQZi9hASMq
— MP lIham ahmed (@MP_ilhamahmed) November 1, 2018
— Ali Nizar (@DhekunuNizar) November 1, 2018
Mivaguthu Yameen ge aslu size akee 16. Adhives vanee kuda!
— Mohamed Abdulla (@mpmuhamma) November 1, 2018
“Yameen’s real size right now is 16. It will still go down!”