Four MPs of the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party’s (DRP) breakaway Z-faction were forcibly removed from the chamber today after Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim invoked the Speaker’s authority to evict disruptive MPs by force from the parliament floor.
Z-DRP MPs Ahmed Mahlouf, Ilham Ahmed and Ali Arif were forcibly taken out of the chamber by MNDF officers while MP Ahmed Nihan left of his own accord.
All four MPs had been ordered to leave by the Deputy Speaker after repeatedly advising disruptive MPs to return to their seats.
“I believe we have to find a solution to Majlis sittings being stopped because of this issue,” Nazim said this morning when Mahlouf refused to leave after about 15 minutes. “I intend to go ahead with getting the MP out under article 54(g). I am adjourning the sitting to do this.”
MPs of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) cheered and applauded the decision. The ruling party MPs had bolted the chamber doors and refused to let opposition MPs leave yesterday.
Article 54(g) of the parliamentary rules of procedure states that the Speaker has the authority to expel an MP who refuses to leave the chamber despite the Speaker’s ruling “in a way that does not undermine the sanctity of the People’s Majlis.”
Crowds of activists and supporters of both parties had gathered outside the parliament building to continue yesterday’s protest. However police had cordoned off the area and used pepper spray to control confrontations between rival supporters.
Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam told Minivan News that while “a few people were temporarily detained,” the scuffles and disturbances were not serious and no one was arrested.
Today’s sitting was meanwhile adjourned a number of times to evict the Z-DRP MPs. However following the expulsion of Vili-Maafanu MP Ahmed Nihan from the chamber, proceedings went ahead smoothly with the exception of disruptive points of order raised by some opposition MPs, notably People’s Alliance (PA) MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla and Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed.
The Z-DRP MPs had contended that a sitting held last week to approve the composition of committees was “unlawful” as MPs were informed via text message just two hours before it began at 8.30pm.
The vote to approve a compromise reached by parliamentary group (PG) leaders over the committee composition was taken while Z-DRP MPs were protesting in front of the secretariat desk. Following the vote, Z-faction MPs vowed to disrupt future sittings in protest.
10.00am: MNDF officers have reportedly entered the chamber and are pleading with MP Mahlouf to leave the chamber.
10.30am: Police have used pepper spray to control protestors and arrested some activists. Male’ City Councillors are reportedly among the crowd.
10:40am: Nazim’s party, minority opposition People’s Alliance (PA), alleged yesterday that the Deputy Speaker suffered an injury in a scuffle with Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs yesterday. “We consider this a criminal offence carried out by some members belonging to MDP and we condemn the act in the strictest of terms. We call on the authorities to investigate the matter,” the party said in a statement. Haveeru published a photograph of a cut finger. Nazim’s explained that his finger was caught between his desk and a chair placed by an MDP MP to block him from leaving the Speaker’s chair.
10:57am: MP Mahlouf has been removed from the chamber by MNDF officers on orders from Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim.
11:50am: Majlis sitting has been adjourned again shortly after it began when MP Ahmed Ilham was ordered to leave the chamber but refused to comply with Deputy Speaker Nazim’s order.
12:10pm: Z-DRP MP Ahmed Mahlouf has told Minivan News that the Deputy Speaker called out his name and ordered him to leave the chamber when he raised a point of order to inquire about some documents missing from his desk.
”I left an agreement and some very important documents on my desk last night and when I came this morning it was missing, so I took point of order to ask about it,” he said.
Mahlouf said that Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officers came inside the chamber and “dragged me outside using force.”
“Later while I was standing outside, MDP MP Ali Waheed (former DRP deputy leader) came at me, spit in my face and hit me on the face,” he claimed.
Newspaper Haveeru has reported that its journalists witnessed part of the altercation and saw Mahlouf strike Waheed in the back.
12:16pm: MNDF officers have reportedly removed Ilham from the chamber.
12:33pm: MP Ali Arif has also been removed by MNDF officers after he refused to leave the chamber when ordered by Deputy Speaker Nazim.
1:10pm: Majlis sitting has resumed at 1pm without the three evicted Z-DRP MPs. Deputy Speaker Nazim is proceeding with the agenda items. Debate on the government’s proposed amendment to the Import-Export Act of 1979 has begun. The amendment bill is being presented to the floor by MDP MP for Maafanu South Ibrahim Rasheed.
1:42pm: Deputy Speaker Nazim has repeatedly appealed for calm after Z-DRP MPs Ahmed Nihan, Abdul Muhsin Hameed and PA MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla raised points of order to protest the removal of opposition MPs by force. MP Ibrahim Muttalib resumed speaking in the debate but a number of opposition MPs are on their feet in protest. “I don’t believe I can continue speaking in this environment,” Muttalib has said.
1:45pm: Deputy Speaker Nazim has ordered Nihan to leave the chamber and adjourned the sitting.
2:00pm: The sitting has resumed after Nihan left the chamber without being escorted out by MNDF officers.
3:30pm: Today’s sitting of parliament has just concluded. Debate on the proposed amendment to the Import Export Act was completed while preliminary debate began on the Business Profit Tax Bill.