The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has withdrawn no-confidence motions in parliament against Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim as well as a motion to remove MP Gasim Ibrahim from the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
The parliament secretariat released a statement yesterday (April 14) confirming the move, explaining that MPs had the discretion under parliamentary rules to remove no-confidence motions before they are put to a vote.
Speaking to press before departing for Denmark last night, former President Mohamed Nasheed said the MDP parliamentary group made the decision in the interest of averting political turmoil and ensuring calm and order in parliament ahead of the presidential election on September 7.
The MDP presidential candidate added that the party would “always consider public interest”.
MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, parliamentary group leader of MDP, told local media that the decision was made to avoid strife caused by the dispute among MPs over secret voting.
Voting on the no-confidence motions tabled for the parliament sitting on April 8 was postponed after MDP MPs insisted on conducting voting through secret ballot.
With 29 MPs out of the 77 in parliament, the formerly ruling MDP needed the support of at least 10 MPs to pass the no-confidence motions.
At last week’s sitting, MDP MPs claimed that the government-aligned Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) agreed to vote in favour of the motions before reversing the decision at the eleventh hour.
MPs of the government-aligned Jumhooree Party (JP) and DRP had voted in favour of secret ballot for no-confidence votes in December 2012.
However, on March 16, the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the amendment to parliamentary rules stipulating that no-confidence motions must be conducted through secret ballot.
In its judgment (Dhivehi) on the constitutionality of secret ballots for no-confidence votes, the Supreme Court majority opinion contended that the rule contravened article 85 of the constitution as well as parliamentary principles and norms of free and democratic societies.
The Supreme Court also ruled in March that parliament’s removal of Civil Service Commission (CSC) Chair Mohamed Fahmy Hassan was unconstitutional.
Both rulings were criticised at the time by opposition, government-aligned and independent MPs as an unconstitutional “challenge to the separation of powers.”
On March 19, parliament’s Independent Institutions Committee voted to seek a replacement for Fahmy at the CSC despite the Supreme Court judgment reversing his dismissal.
“The committee decided today that he [Fahmy] should go and we should continue looking for another person. Effectively we are ignoring the Supreme Court’s decision. The MDP will continue to raise this issue in parliament, it is a policy and it is legally non-negotiable. We cannot compromise on that,” MDP MP Hamid Abdul Gafoor told Minivan News at the time.
The committee’s decision has since been approved at the parliament floor, passing with 42 votes in favour during last Wednesday’s (April 10) sitting.
On the following day, the Supreme Court released a press statement declaring that judgments, orders and rulings of the apex court with their attendent legal ramifications must be accepted “without further debate or interpretation.”
The Supreme Court called on all persons and institutions subject to the Maldivian constitution to comply with and respect its decisions.
The statement referred to article 145(c) of the constitution, which states, “the Supreme Court shall be the final authority on the interpretation of the Constitution, the law, or any other matter dealt with by a court of law.”
The press release also noted that article 141(b) establishes the Supreme Court as “the highest authority for the administration of justice in the Maldives.”