The People’s Majlis resumed after a three-week hiatus Tuesday morning with soldiers surrounding embattled Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed as opposition lawmakers called for his resignation.
Speaking over the clamour of protesting MPs, Maseeh adjourned the sitting after announcing that President Abdulla Yameen’s nominees for central bank governor and ambassador to Sri Lanka have been sent to committee for evaluation.
Opposition MPs say a no-confidence motion submitted against Maseeh with the backing of 45 MPs from the 85-member house must be put to a vote. Shortly before a constitutionally-mandated deadline for the impeachment vote expired on July 24, the deputy speaker announced that the motion was rendered invalid by the disputed disqualification of four lawmakers.
The opposition MPs also demanded that the four unseated MPs, as well as detained MP Faris Maumoon, must be allowed to attend sittings.
Maseeh’s impeachment would have sealed the loss of Yameen’s previously unassailable majority in the Majlis.
As with the unprecedented expulsion of lawmakers from the parliament house by the police and military last month, Tuesday’s events have been reported internationally as a military lockdown of parliament.
MP Imthiyaz Fahmy from the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party posted a video of soldiers barring entry to opposition lawmakers until 10 minutes before the sitting was due to begin. Opposition MPs Ahmed Mahloof and Rozaina Adam also live-streamed the chaotic scenes on Facebook.
Military security personnel in grey uniforms were also inside the chamber surrounding the speaker’s well before Maseeh arrived.
“You are trained soldiers. This is not Bandaara Koshi [military housing block]. This is the parliament. We, the elected MPs, are the people who are supposed be here,” MP Eva Abdulla is heard telling the mute soldiers.
MPs erupted into shouting when Maseeh entered with his security entourage.
“Where is your dignity Maseeh? Forty-five members signed the petition against you! You have stolen the speakership,” MP Mahloof yelled.
“Whatever happened inside the parliament today was controlled by the military. Soldiers were ordering MPs around,” MP Hussain Mohamed of the Jumhooree Party told Raajje TV outside the parliament building.
“Lawmakers were outnumbered by soldiers”.
But speaking to the Maldives Independent, MP Ibrahim Falah, deputy leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives’ parliamentary group, blamed opposition lawmakers for the Majlis deadlock.
“Members of the opposition alliance does not want the government to continue development projects. This is the reason why they are disrupting the parliament,” he said.
“The opposition has got to learn manners and work in a peaceful manner. Otherwise current problems will not go away.”
Military in plainclothes blocking MPs entering chamber.Said MPs cannot enter before 8:55am.Proceedings begin at 9:00,surrounded by military. pic.twitter.com/hJHdxPkdkm
— 𝐈𝐦𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐲𝐚𝐳 𝐅𝐚𝐡𝐦𝐲 (@Imthiyazfahmy) August 22, 2017
Parliament still under Military. Speaker conducts sitting surrounded by military, refusing to table the no confidence motion against him. pic.twitter.com/J47kWyrYxl
— Abdulla Shahid 🎈 (@abdulla_shahid) August 22, 2017
— Eva Abdulla 🎈❓ (@evattey) August 22, 2017