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Majlis continues over din of opposition protest

Speaker Maseeh concluded Tuesday’s brief sitting after calling votes on approving new vice presidents for the Civil Service Commission and the Human Rights Commission.



Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed conducted Tuesday’s sitting of parliament over the din of protesting opposition lawmakers, paying no heed to the disorder and adjourning proceedings after calling two votes.

MPs clamouring for Maseeh’s resignation as he went through the day’s agenda could be heard in the live-feed provided to TV stations. Reporters and members of the public are no longer allowed to observe sittings from the Majlis gallery.

Opposition lawmakers have been protesting in the chamber since the contentious disqualification of defectors from the ruling party was used to quash a majority-backed no-confidence motion against Maseeh last July.

Their protest continued Monday when the Majlis resumed after a one-month recess. A five-foot wall was erected during the break as a barrier between the protesting MPs and the embattled speaker, whose desk was also elevated by about five feet.

Before the protective wall was built, Maseeh was surrounded by soldiers who shielded him from the opposition MPs, leading to clashes and brawls in the parliament house.

According to Majority Leader Ahmed Nihan, the wall was designed by Deputy Speaker ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik, who joined the ruling party in July.

Opposition lawmakers say Majlis sittings presided over by Maseeh and conducted in the absence of the unseated lawmakers are illegitimate and unlawful. At a press conference Monday, MPs from the allied parties vowed to continue protesting until the no-confidence motion against Maseeh is put to a vote.

Wearing earphones, Maseeh meanwhile concluded the 26-minute sitting today after calling votes on approving new vice presidents for both the Civil Service Commission and the Human Rights Commission of Maldives from among members of the independent bodies.

MPs of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives proposed and seconded Shaheed Mohamed as vice president of the CSC, who was approved with 26 votes in favour from the 85-member house.

Mohamed Zahid was approved as the HRCM vice president with 27 votes as recommended by the independent institutions oversight committee.

Speaking during a brief debate on the committee report, pro-government MPs Riyaz Rasheed and Mohamed Ismail vowed to continue Majlis proceedings despite the opposition’s protests in the chamber.

Ismail called on the public to “erase the [main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party] from the country”.

Zahid’s appointment to the five-member human rights watchdog was approved in June. He was the commission’s vice president during its previous five-year term that ended in August 2015 and was the deputy gender minister when he was nominated to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Shifaq Mufeed ‘Histo’ in early May.

Mufeed was later appointed state minister for home affairs.