After a long hiatus, parliament sittings will resume Sunday with a vote to decide when the next presidential term should begin, Deputy Speaker ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik told the press Thursday.
“The Election Commission announces the presidential term every time as five years starting from November 11, so we need to clear this up. I want to see how the parliament sees this since this question has been posed to me,” Moosa told reporters.
The constitution does not specify a date for the swearing-in ceremony but states that the presidential term is five years.
Maldivian presidents were historically sworn in on Republic Day, November 11. But President Abdulla Yameen took the oath of office on November 17 due to multiple delays to the 2013 election.
The opposition wants president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih to take the oath of office on November 11 – the 50th anniversary of the republic – but the ruling party contends Yameen’s five-year term would end six days later.
The debate has been raging since Solih’s decisive victory over Yameen in the September 23 election. The Elections Commission says there are “no legal barriers” for Solih to begin his term on November 11.
Moosa said he personally favours allowing Solih to assume office on November 11.
“The responsibilities of an incoming president is bigger than an outgoing president. Since president-elect wishes to swear in on November 11, we have to proactively make decision on this,” he said.
The deputy speaker was authorised to resume sittings after a no-confidence motion was filed Wednesday against Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed.
The no-confidence vote is scheduled for November 8.
Moosa said Maseeh has stepped aside to let him preside over sittings until the vote.
“Since this year is an election year and parliament has a lot to do to begin president-elect Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s term – with the budget, and laws and many other things – many members are requesting that we begin sittings,” he said.
The first item on Sunday’s agenda will be a resolution calling for the authorities to free former president Mohamed Nasheed, Moosa said.
Bills have also been submitted to repeal the controversial anti-defamation and anti-defection laws.
Moosa said he has also asked the Supreme Court to expedite rulings on eight lawmakers deemed to have lost their seats.
“There are some cases in Supreme Court, maybe in lower courts too. So I asked the chief justice to deliver a judgment on these cases,” he said.
The long-running dispute over the unseated lawmakers should be resolved before the “two very important sittings” the deputy speaker has to preside over, he said, which include the no-confidence vote and an election for the next speaker.
Formerly a parliamentary group leader and chairman of the Maldivian Democratic Party, Moosa joined the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives in July 2017.