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Majority leader spits at female opposition MP

Majority leader Ahmed Nihan spat at a female opposition MP over allegations of corruption prompting screaming matches, issuing of threats and fistfights between MPs today.



Majority leader Ahmed Nihan spat at a female opposition MP over allegations of corruption prompting screaming matches, threats and fistfights between MPs today.

During a heated argument on the parliament floor, Nihan spat out a large mouthful of water at MP Rozaina Adam’s face. The Maldivian Democratic Party MP then threw water at Nihan’s face from a water bottle.

Nihan, who heads the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives’ parliamentary group, later claimed the spitting was an accident, and that Rozaina’s comments had made him choke.

Minority leader Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih branded the move “the most vulgar act” in the parliament’s history. The dispute prompted a heated argument between Independent MP Ahmed Mahloof and PPM MP Ahmed Assad.

PPM MP Ali Mohamed then attacked MDP MP Ahmed Falah causing a shallow cut on his face, according to several MPs who witnessed the scene.

But Mohamed has denied the allegation, saying the cut was caused by accident by another MP’s key set.

Speaker Abdulla Maseeh called the sitting off after another 20 minutes.

Tension is high in Malé with President Abdulla Yameen’s regime mired in a historic corruption scandal. The opposition and officials of former watchdog bodies claim that money stolen from the state-owned tourism promotion firm was used to enrich MPs and steal elections.

Yameen acknowledged today that his MPs had received money from his former deputy, now detained pending trial on corruption and terror charges. But the president denied having any knowledge that the cash came from stolen funds, and claimed that he thought the money came from gifts given by friendly businesses.

The fight in Majlis today was triggered by MDP chairperson Ali Waheed claim in an interview last night that Nihan had benefitted from the stolen funds. Just minutes after today’s session began, Nihan denounced Waheed’s comments, causing MDP MPs to heckle him.

Nihan then accused Rozaina’s father of theft from the state during the 1970s. Rozaina, raising a point of order, said that Nihan’s insulting of her parents would not absolve him of corruption.

She went up to Nihan’s table when the secretariat disabled her mic. The spitting occured in a subsequent heated exchange. A video of the aftermath showed Nihan saying he would do it again.

The spitting has sparked outrage online. Opposition MPs have also condemned Maseeh’s failure to halt the sitting right away.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed accused Nihan of cowardice and called for justice for Rozaina.

Additional writing by Zaheena Rasheed