The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs have continued protests at the People’s Majlis, disrupting proceedings for the fifth consecutive parliamentary sitting since the Majlis opened on March 2.
However, ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) accepted an amendment to the Prisons and Parole Act amidst opposition protests. The amendment, submitted by Gemanafushi MP Jameel Usman, bars individuals serving prison sentences from holding a leadership position within political parties or other associations.
MDP MPs have been protesting over the arrest and terrorism charges against opposition leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed. If convicted, he faces a jail term or banishment between ten and 15 years.
If the amendment is passed and if Nasheed is convicted, it could effectively strip Nasheed of his presidency with the MDP and his membership.
— Rozey MP-AdduMeedhu (@Roxeyna) March 10, 2015
When Majlis began at 9am, MDP MPs gathered at the secretariat’s desk calling for the the immediate release of President Nasheed and other political prisoners including former Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim.
Some MPs were blowing stadium horns while MDP MP Ali Azim was calling for Nasheed’s release through a megaphone.
Crossing the line
Speaking to Minivan News, PPM parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan said that he understands the opposition’s need to protest, however saying that they are “crossing the line.”
“Freedom of expression is granted to fullest extent on the People’s Majilis floor,” said the Vilimalé MP.
“Members are allowed to express themselves freely unless they contradict a tenet of Islam. However, that does not mean members are allowed to do whatever they want on the floor,” he continued.
Nihan said MPs should follow due procedure and lodge a complaint at the secretariat’s desk, saying that the floor will become a “battleground” if the opposition MPs keep on protesting every day.
“We understand their need to protest. Their leader is under arrest and standing trial so it is obvious that they would protest. But we want them to do it in a manner which does not prevent parliament proceedings,” Nihan said.
On March 2, ruling party Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MPs also protested, with several carrying placards which read: “Nasheed deserves to be in prison,” “Nasheed supports terrorism” and “MDP must learn democracy.”
MDP MP Imthiyaz ‘Inthi’ Fahmy said that the opposition would protest “indefinitely” until the state addresses the issues highlighted at the parliamentary protests.
“The current defense minister has been accused of being a terrorist. The most popular politician is being tried at a Kangaroo Court and is going to be put in jail. We will not stop the protests,” Fahmy said.
Fahmy accused PPM members of inciting violence within the parliament.
Meanwhile, PPM MP Ahmed Thoriq has written to the Parliament speaker Abdulla Maseeh alleging that former PPM MP Ahmed Mahloof hit PPM MP Riyaz Rasheed during the presidential address on March 2.
Nihan also accused MDP Medhuhenveiru MP Ali Azim of hitting Nihan with his elbow during yesterday’s parliamentary session. Fahmy has dismissed claims of assault as lies.
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