The Deputy Parliamentary Group Leader of the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Abdulla Mausoom has stated that there is no ‘spirit’ within his party to support the no-confidence motion against Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim.
Mausoom said although the DRP would support no-confidence motions against cabinet ministers where it thought such actions were justified, he believed the party would not back the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in trying to remove Nazim as defence chief as part of a “personal vendetta”.
In opposing the motion filed by the MDP, the MP said that while not speaking officially on behalf of the DRP whip line, he was nonetheless expressing the views of party members and MPs.
MDP Spokesperson MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor stated that the MDP did not wish to make a comment on Mausoom’s remarks but said that it was rather “surprising” for a person in such a high position to “speculate on a party’s whip line”.
“We would really like to see DRP follow a strict recipe rather than a random salad in their whip line. They ought to be clear of what their stand is,” Hamid added.
However, Mausoom dismissed Hamid’s statement, claiming that the MDP’s no -confidence motion against Defence Minister Nazim had been forwarded for “personal and emotional” reasons. The Kelaa constituency MP added that the DRP would not assist anyone in settling personal scores.
“The DRP believe that we have had enough of President Gayoom and President Nasheed. We are not in the mood to support anything that is not in the interest of this nation,” he told Minivan News.
Mausoom contended that MDP would not be able to pass such “personal-vendetta based motions” and repeated his claim that the motion lacked sufficient grounds to support its cause.
“DRP would not be reluctant to support a no-confidence motion of a cabinet minister if there are sufficient grounds to pass a no-confidence motion. We would vote anyone out if we had to, but not on personal grounds,” he said.
Asked if his comments were influenced by some DRP MPs and councillors quitting the party over its recent stand in supporting a decision to take an impeachment vote against President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan via secret ballot, Mausoom denied the suggestion.
DRP MPs Mohamed Hussain and Ali Saleem announced in the media that they have quit DRP over the party’s stand on the vote to make impeachment vote a secret ballot. The parliament passed the motion by a 41 to 34 majority after several DRP MPs chose to vote with the opposition in favour of the motion.
“Recent events that took place did not affect DRP. We have not got any reports that DRP councillors are quitting the party. It is just PPM councillors who had been working in the name of DRP that are leaving the party following the recent Supreme Court ruling,” he explained.
The Supreme Court recently struck down a clause in Decentralisation Act that barred councillors who had been elected under a party ticket from defecting to another party while in office.
“We believe that the current constitutional system greatly distinguishes the threshold of power between the executive and the parliament. We will not support motions to remove cabinet ministers for personal vendettas, because we believe that it is a duty of all political parties to safeguard the democratic values in the constitution,” he added.
Speaking yesterday to local media, Mausoom stressed that his party would aim to leave behind the country’s political past.
“The parliament has done a lot of things with regard to the emotional sentiments of 30 years [of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom] and three years [of former President Mohamed Nasheed]. Several bills, resolutions and cases have been filed. Lots of time has been wasted. DRP will not support any such thing submitted to parliament, be it PPM or MDP,” he said
Mausoom also warned the MDP of an impending “humiliation” should the main opposition party continue its pursuit of the defence minister’s dismissal.
“If the MDP parliamentarians do not want be humiliated in the parliament floor, if they do not wish to upset their grass root members, I call upon the party to withdraw the no-confidence motion filed against Defence Minister Nazim,” he said.
Mausoom, who previously served in the position of Tourism Minister during the Gayoom era, added that the no-confidence motion lacked a rationale in proposing to impeach the cabinet minister, alleging that the MDP sought to intimidate the government.
“The real motive of the MDP in filing the no confidence motion is to intimidate the government and to waste the time of parliament,” he said.
Mausoom stated that despite his remarks, the party had not yet decided on the matter. However, he claimed that the “general conscience” of the members of his party was “not in favour of impeaching Nazim”.
“Desperate attempt to weaken the government” – Defence Minister Nazim
The opposition MDP filed a no-confidence motion against the Defence Minister last Thursday, alleging he had misused his authority as the Acting Transport Minister by using the military to influence termination of civil contracts involving the government outside of due legal procedure.
The motion followed the government’s decision to void the agreement between itself and Indian infrastructure giant GMR over developing Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA).
Defence Minister Nazim, who temporarily took over the transport ministry following the sacking of former Transport Minister Dr Ahmed Shamheed, played a pivotal role in the eviction of GMR agreement.
In a brief interview given to local media following the MDP’s decision to push a no-confidence motion against him, Nazim stated that move was a “desperate” attempt to weaken the government of President Mohamed Waheed Hassan.
“I believe such votes are taken to weaken this government. I do not believe such votes or motions could weaken this government. I believe the current government is very firm and united. There is a very strong between the partners of the government coalition; therefore I must say they won’t be able to succeed in such votes. This government is functioning far better than that,” he told local media outlet Sun Online.
Nazim also contended he had not done anything for which the opposition should impeach him, adding that his appointment to cabinet was unanimously decided by parties in the coalition government.
The defence minister also expressed confidence that the parliament members from government-aligned parties would defend him in a vote.