Hundreds of protesters have today gathered near parliament to call on the abolition of the Majlis, citing anger over the passing of a bill to extend MP privileges within the state budget.
Activists, which sources have claimed support a number of political parties, joined civil servants, NGOs and other workers near the parliament building to protest against the actions of the Majlis, leading police to restrict access to some streets around the area.
The outrage was said to have been sparked yesterday when parliament passed allowances for parliamentarians that the protesters believe is ‘’way too much’’.
According to the new bill, parliamentarians will receive an additional Rf20,000 to their salary for attending committees, while also being allowed to import vehicles without paying any duty on them. The parliament also approved measures to reinstate the salaries of independent commissions, while failing to address the reduced salaries of civil servants.
This decision has led protesters to claim that MPs were working for their self-interest in the name of working for the nation and citizens in their work.
By this afternoon, a group of protesters brought a box written “Majlis Fund” that was passed beyond the police barrier, before they joined others in heavily criticizing the country’s MPs.
As a result, local media reported that tempers also flared within parliament, as rival MPs clashed with each other forcing speaker Abdulla Shahid to cancel today’s sitting. Haveeru said that some MPs had argued to withdraw the bill for amendment, with Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Ahmed Maloof one of the names said to support a repeal of the privileges bill on claims that it was against the “pulse of the people”.
Today’s street protests follow on from similar action undertaken last night by the ‘Tortured Victims Association’, which was disrupted after some people present clashed with the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) parliamentarian group leader Moosa ‘Reeco’ Manik, verbally assaulting him over the issue of budget.
The protest, which involved around 20 to 30 people over practices of torture allegedly committed under the rule of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, ended up as a protest against all the parliamentarians. A few protesters then marched towards the house of Speaker of the Parliament Abdulla Shahid later in the evening.