A no-confidence motion submitted by the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) against People’s Majlis Speaker Abdulla Shahid was disqualified while it was being debated on the parliament floor on Thursday.
According to the Parliament’s Standing Orders, a no confidence petition must have the support of 15 MPs. Today’s motion was disqualified when two of the 15 MPs who signed the petition withdrew their signatures while the debate on the motion was ongoing.
The two MPs were Ahmed Shareef and Ibrahim Ameen.
Speaking to Minivan News, Shahid said the no confidence motion was a “baseless, judgmental and a reaction to the broader political divide in the country.”
“I feel once again, that the MPs have recognised my contribution in a very politically turbulent time,” he said.
The PPM tabled the motion claiming Shahid was an “obstruction in the maintenance of law and order” alleging he had violated the sanctity of the People’s Majlis, abused the powers of his position, challenged the Supreme Court’s orders and helped MDP MP Hamid Abdul Gafoor evade justice by offering him refuge in the parliament building.
In response, Shahid said he welcomed the no confidence motion as the current Majlis is the only parliament in Maldivian history where MPs were allowed to express or withdraw support for a Speaker.
Before the ratification of the 2008 constitution, it was the president who had the authority to appoint or dismiss the Speaker.
Noting that the Maldives’ presidential system mandates an active political role for the Speaker, Shahid said: “In the aftermath of a very tight political presidential election, it is expected that one or more political parties may have grievances against the Speaker.”
He said he had upheld the constitution and the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act, reminding the Majlis that they had passed the act with a two thirds majority after the president vetoed the bill.
Parliamentary privileges are not duty free cars or diplomatic passports, but the privilege to speak on behalf of the people without any fear, Shahid said and noted that several MPs were in jail when the special assembly to write the new constitution held a vote to select the Speaker of the constitutional assembly in 2005.
Every MP is an elected representative and as such Shahid had facilitated every MP’s right to represent their constituency and express the citizen’s views within the law, he argued.
Pointing to the Majlis refusal to hold sittings when President Mohamed Nasheed had arrested MPs Gasim Ibrahim and current President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, Shahid said he had stood up for the rights of every single MP without regard to political party.
“I will not hold any enmity towards any of you for any action taken against me as I speak the truth,” Shahid said.
Shahid has been an MP since 1995 and had survived a no confidence motion submitted against him by the MDP in June 2012 with 45 MPs voting against the motion.
Shahid joined the MDP in April 2013.
The MDP has withdrawn a no confidence motion against Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim