Parliament has narrowly voted to reject the appointments of two of President Waheed’s cabinet ministers submitted to the chamber for approval.
Transport Minister Ameen Ibrahim was approved by 33 votes in favour to 32 against, with one MP abstaining.
However Human Rights, Family and Gender Minster Azima Shukoor was rejected 33 votes against to 31 in favour, with no abstention, while her replacement as Attorney General, Aishath Bisham, was rejected 32-32, with Speaker Abdulla Shahid casting the deciding vote not to approve her appointment.
Waheed subsequently re-appointed Shukoor as Attorney General.
Ministers appointed by the President are required to be formally approved by parliament, However unlike no-confidence motions, parliament’s failure to approve cabinet ministers has not always led to their departure from office.
During the first few years of former President Nasheed’s administration, the then-opposition dominated parliament repeatedly voted to dismiss cabinet ministers submitted for approval.
On several occasions Nasheed immediately reappointed these ministers and again submitted their names for approval, with those individuals continuing in their posts undisrupted.
In mid-2010, following a tense political standoff between the Nasheed administration and members of the former dictatorship whom he had attempted to arrest on charges of corruption, Nasheed’s ministers resigned en-masse in a protest against what they contended were the “scorched earth politics” of the opposition-dominated parliament.
At the time parliament had levelled successive no-confidence motions against Nasheed’s ministers, and Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had accused these members of the opposition of attempting to buy the votes of six of its MPs to secure the two-thirds majority needed to impeach the new president.
With parliamentary regulation preventing the arrest of MPs while no-confidence motions against ministers were pending, Nasheed’s ministers suddenly resigned en-masse in protest over what they contended were the “scorched earth politics” of the opposition-dominated parliament.
The half-brother of former President Gayoom – Abdulla Yameen, currently the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM)’s presidential candidate – and Jumhoree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim – also a current presidential candidate – were arrested and detained by police on charges of bribery, treason, and “attempting to topple the government illegally”.
Yameen was defended in court by Azima Shukoor – whose appointment was today rejected – while Gasim was defended by Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) leader and current Special Advisor to President Waheed, Dr Hassan Saeed.
The Criminal Court, which had opened in the early hours of the morning to hear the cases shortly after Yameen and Gasim were detained, declared their arrests unlawful and ordered their release.
Later in 2010, after three weeks of political stalemate, parliament called an approval vote for all Nasheed’s ministers who had resigned in protest against its disruption of government.
Seven of Nasheed’s 12 ministers – Finance Minister Ali Hashim, Education Minister Dr Musthafa Luthfy, Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Shaheed, Fisheries Minister Dr Ibrahim Didi, Home Minister Mohamed Shihab, Defence Minister Ameen Faisal and Attorney General Dr Ahmed Ali Sawad – were dismissed after the MDP boycotted the vote in protest.