The Maldivian Democratic Party’s parliamentary group has rejected a proposal by Speaker Mohamed Nasheed to form a “super committee” to evaluate nominees for independent institutions.
The new committee was to be chaired by the speaker and comprised of the chairs of other standing committees and leaders of political parties.
A majority of MDP MPs voted against the proposed change at a meeting on Monday, according to media reports.
Nasheed proposed the amendment to the parliamentary rules or standing orders earlier this month. Some media reports suggested the amendment was later revised to have the MDP’s parliamentary group leader as the super committee’s chair instead of the speaker.
The proposal divided opinion among ruling party lawmakers. Some MPs were reportedly opposed to the speaker chairing a committee.
The president’s nominations for ministers, ambassadors, Supreme Court justices, prosecutor general, central bank governor, auditor general and members of independent commissions are presently evaluated by the relevant oversight committee, which interviews candidates and assigns marks based on experience, qualifications and integrity.
Nominees recommended by the committees are then put to a vote on the parliament floor. Oversight committees also have the authority to launch investigations and recommend dismissals on the grounds of misconduct, incapacity or incompetence.
Nasheed’s proposal came after criticism of the evaluation of candidates for the Anti-Corruption Commission. Former auditor general Niyaz Ibrahim – who was contentiously sacked after exposing corruption during the previous administration – scored below the 75 percent threshold for recommendation.
Niyaz was among 12 candidates shortlisted by the president’s office and nominated for parliamentary approval after 68 people submitted applications. When the nominees were put to a vote in the order of the marks assigned by the committee, both Niyaz and the second highest ranked candidate failed to win approval as MDP MPs voted against them.
With 65 MPs, the ruling party controls nearly a three-quarters majority of the 87-member house.
The five new members approved to the anti-graft watchdog on August 7 were Ibrahim Shakeel, Fathmath Anula, Mariyam Shiuna, Aishath Abdulla and Ali Ashraf.
Shakeel formerly worked at the central bank and Shiuna was the executive director of NGO Transparency Maldives. Fathmath Anula and Aishath Abdulla were former staff of the ACC and Ali Ashraf was the marketing director at Villa College.
The five-year term of the current ACC members are due to expire next month.
The practice of appointing office bearers to key oversight agencies of the state through a super committee is commonly practiced in both well established democracies and as well as emerging democracies. Here is how AG is appointed in USA and Bhutan. pic.twitter.com/aClX9kLFSY
— Niyaz Ibrahim (@niyaz_ibrahim) August 19, 2019