A ruling Progressive Party of Maldives MP has alleged that the leader of coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance, Ahmed Shiyam Mohamed, threatened MPs ahead of a vote to impeach Vice President Ahmed Adeeb.
Speaking during the budget debate on Monday, MP Mohamed Musthafa said Shiyam – owner of the Sun Siyam resorts – threatened to confiscate the property of MPs who vote against the impeachment motion and prosecute them on terrorism charges.
“We MPs have directly been threatened regarding a recent vote by Sun Travel Shiyam. He cannot threaten 58 MPs. He explicitly warned all 58 MPs that if you do not vote in a particular way, you will be included among the bomb suspects, your property will be searched and confiscated, and you will be tried as terrorists. These are elected MPs here, honourable speaker. He cannot say that,” he said.
Musthafa also said that MPs are being “held at gunpoint” through threats and intimidation.
Former Vice President Adeeb was impeached after his arrest on suspicion of plotting to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen with a bomb on his speedboat on September 28. Yameen escaped unhurt.
MDA MP Ali Mauroof told The Maldives Independent that Musthafa’s claims are “baseless.”
“Shiyam did not threaten any MPs. What Shiyam asked of the MPs is not to exploit the situation and demand money or favours,” he said.
“He asked the MPs to think about the situation sensibly and to vote in favour of the no confidence motion, in the national interest, with a sincere heart. Perhaps, Musthafa took this out of context and interpreted this as a threat.”
Adeeb was impeached with 61 votes in favour, four more than the two-third majority needed to remove a sitting vice president. All 49 MPs of the PPM-MDA coalition voted in favour of impeachment along with several Jumhooree Party MPs.
The impeachment vote took place a day after Yameen declared a nationwide state of emergency and gave sweeping powers to the police to arrest suspects and carry out raids without search warrants.
Adeeb’s lawyers say the vote was unconstitutional as he was not notified of the shortened seven-day notice period, which was part of the emergency measures enforced by a presidential decree.
He was also not brought to parliament to respond to the impeachment charges.
MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla, deputy leader of the PPM’s parliamentary group, told The Maldives Independent that he was “unaware of such a thing” and refused to comment on the alleged threats.
MP Ahmed Nihan, the parliament’s majority leader, was not responding to calls.
The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) meanwhile sent a letter to Commissioner of Police Ahmed Areef yesterday requesting an investigation of the alleged threats by the resort tycoon, describing it as an unlawful and unconstitutional attempt to “influence the vote”.
A video clip of Musthafa talking about Shiyam’s threats was also posted on Twitter last week by MDP MP Ali Nizar. The video appears to have been recorded inside the parliament building.
Musthafa is heard saying: “Look at the constitution, it clearly says votes cannot be influenced and MPs cannot be threatened.”
He also called ruling coalition MPs “idiots” for refusing to speak out against Shiyam.
Musthafa was elected to parliament on an MDP ticket, but had defected to the PPM shortly after the March 2014 parliamentary elections.
— Addu Politics (@addupolitics) November 12, 2015