The joint opposition parliamentary group Wednesday approved Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim as its candidate for speaker of parliament.
Opposition lawmakers, including president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, voted to endorse Gasim hours after a no-confidence motion was submitted to oust Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed.
“The best way would be for Maseeh to step aside. Otherwise, we would go for a no-confidence vote,” Solih told reporters after the parliamentary group meeting.
The vote has been scheduled for November 8.
The third impeachment motion against Maseeh has the support of a strong majority in the 85-member house, including 15 MPs from the ruling coalition.
Some MPs from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives who signed the motion have insisted that they remain loyal to President Abdulla Yameen.
The PPM should no longer focus on defending Maseeh, MP Yameen Rasheed told Mihaaru.
In a further sign that the ruling party has abandoned Maseeh, MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla declared his intention to seek the speaker’s post.
If elected, the PPM deputy leader pledged to raise the monthly salary of MPs to MVR150,000 (US$9,700), a proposal that sparked public outrage.
MP Abdulla Khaleel, the PPM’s former secretary general, has been appointed his spokesman, Abdul Raheem tweeted Wednesday.
Khaleel told Raajje TV that the PPM has temporarily halted its nightly protests to focus on Abdul Raheem’s campaign.
PPM MP Ahmed Mubeen, who signed the no-confidence motion, observed that the campaign shows Abdul Raheem also wants to remove Maseeh.
The new speaker will be elected by lawmakers in a secret ballot.
The joint opposition stands to gain a 45-seat majority if the Supreme Court reinstates eight former PPM MPs before the no-confidence vote.
Earlier this month, the court reinstated four out of 12 former PPM MPs who were deemed to have lost their seats for crossing the floor.
Their disputed removal in July last year was used to quash a previous no-confidence motion against Maseeh.