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Gasim elected speaker of parliament

The Jumhooree Party leader was elected with the votes of 62 MPs from the 85-member house.



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.

The opposition parliamentary group, which now make up the majority with 45 MPs, endorsed Gasim as the speaker last week after submitting a no-confidence motion against Maseeh for the third time.

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.

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.

“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!”

“Yameen’s real size right now is 16. It will still go down!”