Speaker of the People’s Majlis, Abdulla Shahid has expressed concern over the weakening of parliamentary privileges and fears over a return to how pre-2008 restrictions on politicians.
“As the speaker of the People’s Majlis I would like to say that all the constitutional rights guaranteed for the members of the parliament to express themselves without any fear in order to protect citizens’ rights have now been taken away,” he said, speaking at the inauguration of a campaign center for MDP Gaddhoo-Vaadhoo constituency candidate Ibrahim Ameer,
Shahid noted that Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim was imprisoned under President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s administration for expressing an interest to become the speaker of the People’s Special Majlis(constitutional assembly), after which Abbas Ibrahim -Gayoom’s brother in-law – was elected speaker.
He said it was to prevent such thing from happening that the Parliamentary Privileges Act had been designed in a way that no MP could be detained during a no-confidence vote against the president, cabinet, or institutions.
“We made that decision because such things have happened in the Maldives’ past. But this article has now been invalidated by the supreme court,” he said, stating that the government can now once again control votes by arresting MP s over petty charges.
Shahid also said that, if the government coalition wins a majority in the upcoming parliamentary elections, the constitutional mandate for the People’s Majlis to hold the government accountable will become ‘useless’, adding that was crucial for the opposition MDP to win the election for this reason.
“The Majlis has a duty to hold the government accountable, how can one hold oneself accountable? If those who control the government win the parliament, Article 70 (b) 3 of the constitution will become useless.”
The article in reference states that parliament has the power to supervise the exercise of executive authority and to ensure executive authority is accountable for the exercise of its powers.
Shahid said that, prior to the 2008 constitution, Maldivians never got the chance to hold their government accountable and that anyone who dared to do so faced suffering, pain, and torture.
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