The 19th People’s Majlis held its first regular sitting Wednesday after new lawmakers took their oath of office the previous night.
Former president Mohamed Nasheed was elected speaker at a special sitting on Tuesday night, securing 67 votes in a secret ballot after he was unanimously chosen by the Maldivian Democratic Party’s 65-member ‘super-majority’ parliamentary group. Former speaker Gasim Ibrahim, who was nominated by opposition MP Ahmed Thoriq, received 17 votes.
MDP MP Eva Abdulla was elected deputy speaker with 76 votes in favour and nine against, becoming only the second woman to serve in the post. She was the only nominee.
The special sitting was presided over by MP Ahmed Siyam Mohamed as the longest-serving lawmaker. The chair did not vote and opposition MP-elect Ibrahim Riza was absent from the swearing-in ceremony as he was in Saudi Arabia to perform the Umra pilgrimage.
Assuming the chair after the vote, Nasheed thanked his predecessor Gasim and urged lawmakers to uphold the honour and integrity of the country’s second oldest institution. He announced the beginning of regular sittings the next day and assured opposition lawmakers they would have the opportunity to debate and carry out oversight duties.
The first order of business on Wednesday morning was a resolution on inviting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address parliament during his upcoming visit from June 7 to 8.
The resolution was approved unanimously with 80 votes in favour.
In the second vote, MDP MP for Thulhaadhoo Hisaan Hussain was unanimously approved to represent the legislature in the Judicial Service Commission, a 10-member oversight body tasked with investigating complaints and taking disciplinary action against judges.
The JSC is comprised of three judges nominated by their peers from the Supreme Court, the High Court, and the trial courts as well as the attorney general, a presidential appointee, the chair of the Civil Service Commission, the speaker of parliament, a lawmaker nominated by parliament, a member of the public chosen by parliament, and a lawyer elected by licensed practitioners.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih appointed Nasheed to the watchdog after the midnight inaugural sitting of parliament. The president departed on an official visit to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday morning.
After Solih presented the letter of appointment, the JSC’s oath of office was administered by Chief Justice Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi, who also oversaw the swearing-in of the new MPs early that night.
As the final order of business at Wednesday sitting, an 11-member ad hoc committee was tasked with revising the standing orders or rules of procedure within 30 days.