The Maldives’ recent history has shown that the post of the vice president is unsuited to the country, ruling party MP Ahmed Nihan has said, suggesting that political turmoil arising from the vice president’s ambition needs to be addressed through a constitutional amendment.
The majority leader of parliament told The Maldives Independent that he is planning to hold discussions with other MPs, political parties, and the media before submitting amendments.
“One way is to abolish the post. The other is to limit the mandate, like appointments of cabinet ministers, and require the vice president to hold elections within 60 or 90 days after the president dies or resigns,” said the parliamentary group leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM).
The constitution states that the vice president assume the presidency “if the office of the president becomes vacant for any reason” and serve for the remainder of the five-year term.
A three-quarters majority or 64 votes will be needed to amend the constitution. The ruling coalition controls 49 seats in the 85-member house. In July, amendments on lowering the age limit for the presidency and vice presidency and authorising foreign freeholds were passed with the support of opposition MPs.
The age limit was lowered from 35 to 30 years to facilitate the appointment of then-Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb as vice president. He was 33 and ineligible for the post.
Adeeb was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of plotting to assassinate President Abdulla Yameen. The government says a blast on the president’s speedboat on September 28 was caused by a bomb targeting the president.
The PPM has since submitted a motion to the parliament to impeach Adeeb with 52 signatures, just five short of the 57 votes needed to remove him from the post.
The vice president was given a 14-day notice yesterday to respond to the motion. He will have the opportunity to speak in his defence at a parliament siting before the impeachment vote.
Appearing on state broadcaster Television Maldives on Tuesday night, Nihan said Adeeb will be impeached before November 11.
A three-line whip has been issued for PPM MPs to vote in favour of the motion, Nihan said, adding that some Jumhooree Party MPs have also backed the motion.
He noted that the impeachment motion was submitted just three months after former Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed was removed from the post. He was accused of disloyalty, incompetence, and collusion with the opposition ahead of a mass anti-government demonstration on May 1.
Following his resignation in the wake of a police mutiny on February 7, 2012, former President Mohamed Nasheed had also accused his deputy of conspiring with opposition parties to orchestrate a coup d’état, sparking months of unrest and turmoil.
The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has long called for amending the system of governance from a presidential system to a parliamentary system.
In the 2008 and 2013 elections, the winning candidates won with the backing of third parties, and went on to form coalition governments that dissolved within months of assuming power.