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Majlis breaks for recess after approving central bank governor

After heated exchanges descended into brawls Wednesday morning, opposition and pro-government lawmakers accused each other today of throwing eggs.



The People’s Majlis broke for a one-month recess Thursday after voting on the president’s nominee for central bank governor amid continuing protests by opposition lawmakers.

Ahmed Naseer was approved to the vacant post with 33 votes in favour from the 85-member house as opposition lawmakers protested behind a wall of soldiers surrounding embattled Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed.

Maseeh has been conducting the Majlis under military guard since a no-confidence motion against him was controversially deemed invalid by the disqualification of four lawmakers. Several lawmakers have also been jailed and put on trial after the four-party opposition coalition secured a majority for Maseeh’s impeachment with defections from the divided ruling party.

Adjourning the brief sitting, Maseeh declared that he would remain resolute and steadfast “for the sake of Islam and the nation” in the face of intimidation, difficulty or attempts to exert influence. He also announced that a no-confidence motion against the attorney general could only be tabled after the Majlis standing orders are amended in light of a Supreme Court ruling.

The apex court ruled in late May that no-confidence motions must follow stringent impeachment procedures and declared itself the final authority to determine the validity of the parliament’s removal of senior state officials.

After heated exchanges descended into brawls Wednesday morning, opposition and pro-government lawmakers meanwhile accused each other today of throwing eggs.

Opposition MP Ahmed Mahloof was alleged to have pelted the speaker’s desk with eggs before the sitting began while Deputy Speaker ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik was accused of throwing eggs inside the minority leader’s office.

Both MPs have denied the allegations. Mahloof later uploaded a video showing ruling party MP Ahmed Assad carrying a bag of eggs.

The parliament’s second session of the year ended today with only 11 out of a possible 39 sittings held during the past three months.

The Majlis was suspended after the opposition submitted Maseeh’s no-confidence motion on July 3.

On July 24, the day when the constitutionally-mandated deadline for voting on the no-confidence motion expired, opposition lawmakers were manhandled and dragged out of the parliament house by police officers and soldiers in riot gear, drawing widespread international condemnation.

Maseeh’s impeachment would have sealed the loss of President Abdulla Yameen’s previously unassailable majority and challenged his grip on power ahead of the 2018 presidential election.

In early August, parliament sittings were also suspended for three weeks after a minor fire incident inside a restroom, which the opposition said was staged as a pretext for the cancellations.

After the no-confidence motion was controversially dismissed, Maseeh only conducted four brief sittings with the help of military security to push through the president’s nominees for ambassador to Sri Lanka and the central bank’s governor.

On Wednesday, the Inter-Parliamentary Union also condemned “in the strongest possible terms, the military’s interference in the business of the Maldives parliament.”

IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong and the IPU President Saber Chowdhury called for calm and “for the parliament to be allowed to carry out its functions without intimidation.”

The secretary-general confirmed that he would bring up the matter before the IPU governing bodies when they meet in October.