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Rules changed on dismissing ministers

The change conflicts with a Supreme Court ruling that subjected impeachment votes to judicial review.



Parliament’s general affairs committee approved Tuesday changes to the rules on dismissing ministers, judges and members of independent institutions through votes of no-confidence.

The standing orders were amended to state the individual would be immediately removed from the post once a no-confidence motion is passed by a majority of lawmakers.

But the change conflicts with a Supreme Court ruling that subjected impeachment votes to judicial review. In May 2017, the apex court effectively declared that state officials dismissed by parliament would remain in office until a ruling on the validity or legitimacy of the no-confidence motion.

In the wake of the controversial ruling, no-confidence motions submitted against minister of the former government were halted  until the ruling could be incorporated into parliament’s standing orders.

Earlier this month, Speaker Gasim Ibrahim halted a no-confidence motion filed against Defence Minister Mariya Ahmed Didi, citing the need to amend the rules before proceeding to a vote. 

On Wednesday, the amendments were approved with the votes of MPs from the opposition Progressive Party of Maldives and Gasim’s Jumhooree Party, one of the four parties in the ruling coalition.

The JP’s status remains unclear after Gasim endorsed several opposition candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections in exchange for the PPM’s support for JP candidates.

The business tycoon has also repeatedly called for the release of former president Abdulla Yameen after the opposition leader was detained for a trial on money laundering charges.

Cracks appeared in the coalition after President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s Maldivian Democratic Party decided to field candidates in all 87 parliamentary constituencies, drawing accusations from the JP of reneging on an agreement to divide seats among the parties.

After the no-confidence rules were changed, MDP MP Eva Abdulla accused the JP and PPM MPs of conspiring to “threaten” ministers and “hijack the government.”

The MDP was opposed to “judicial encroachment into parliamentary powers” but the move was reminiscent of how parliament functioned under the former administration, she tweeted.