Jumhoree Party (JP) MP Abdulla Jabir has revealed he is “confident” that the vote on secret balloting for no-confidence motions against the President will pass in parliament.
The Kaashidhoo MP’s comments follow Parliament’s General Committee’s decision to pass the proposed amendments to establish secret voting.
The same amendment was voted on just over a week ago in parliament, but was defeated by a narrow margin of 34 to 39 votes.
The proposed amendment to Article 167 of the Standing Orders states that secret ballots should be taken at the parliament and parliament committees for removing the President, Vice President and members of independent institutions from office.
General Committee Chairman Abdullah Abdul Raheem said that the bill was passed today with four votes in favour, out of the nine MPs present at the meeting. The remaining MPs did not participate in the vote.
The amendment was filed by Maldivian Democratic Party’s (MDP) Maanfannu-dhekunu MP Ibrahim Rasheed, who stated there is an importance to establish an independent and secure environment for members of parliament during voting.
JP MP Jabir further iterated the need for protection of MPs when voting, alleging that President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik is “unlawfully” operating the country and that the secret vote will protect MPs from abuse.
“I am confident [the vote] will pass, especially with all the developments that have taken place since the last vote. This brutal executive of the government that Waheed is operating is a military government now, and he is why this vote is being made,” Jabir told Minivan News.
MDP International Spokesman and MP for Henveiru South Hamed Adbul Ghafoor believes that the proposed amendment will obtain the full 39 votes, alleging that “cracks” are appearing in the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP).
“The Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) also voted to make the ballot secret at committee stage, and the parties who were involved in the coup are now becoming unstuck, we will get out 39 votes this time,” Ghafoor claimed.
“Politically motivated attempt to disrupt parliament ahead of the vote”: MDP
A number of MPs were arrested prior to the previous vote on secret balloting, in what opposition parties alleged was an attempt to disrupt parliament ahead of the vote.
In a police raid on the island of Hondaidhoo in Haa Dhaal Atoll, both Jabir and Ghafoor were detained along with several opposition figures including former SAARC Secretary General and Special Envoy to the former President, Ibrahim Hussain Zaki, former Press Secretary Mohamed Zuhair and his wife Mariyam Faiz, for the alleged possession of alcohol.
Police claimed to have found large amounts of “suspected” drugs and alcohol upon searching the island.
The arrests were made “based on information received by police intelligence,” police said. Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Haveeru that the suspects were arrested with alcohol and “hash oil”.
Following the arrests made around midnight, the suspects were taken to Kulhudhufushi in Haa Dhaal Atoll, and Zaki was hospitalised.
Despite a police attempt to extend the detention periods, both Jabir and Ghafoor were released by the Kulhudhufushi Magistrate Court.
In an investigation into allegations of police brutality towards MPs, a delegation from the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) revealed that they found it “difficult” to believe the arrested MPs were not targeted for political reasons.
Philippine Senator Francis Pangilinan from IPU’s Committee on Human Rights of Parliamentarians, said: “The circumstances of the arrest are very worrying. An impressive team of unidentified police and an army of officers allegedly carried out the arrests, reportedly without a warrant and ill-treated the MPs.
“We are well aware that the consumption of alcohol and drugs is forbidden in the Maldives, but we find it difficult to believe in light of the circumstances and timing of the arrests that the parliamentarians were not targeted for political reasons.”
Days prior to the secret voting motion, DRP MPs Mohamed Nashiz and Ali Azim were ordered to appear in court over Funaddoo Tuna Products’s failure to repay loans worth MVR 117 million (US$7.5 million) to the Bank of Maldives.
Allegations made by DRP MP Ali Azim claim that the president and other senior members of the executive had approached him, offering to cancel the court summons if he agreed to vote for the secret balloting in a way they preferred.
Azim alleged that in addition to Waheed, his Political Advisor Ahmed Thaufeeq and Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza had called him and made similar statements.
The court order was later cancelled, on the grounds that the judge presiding over the case was out of the country.