Political parties remain at a deadlock over the composition of People’s Majlis standing committees after an attempt to hold a select committee meeting failed last night.
A parliamentary sitting was cancelled on June 17 after MPs disrupted the sitting, protesting against the “unfair” composition of Majlis standing committees.
The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had objected in particular to a ruling coalition majority in the government oversight committee.
The five member select committee was reconvened on Saturday night to review committee composition during which MDP MP Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef tabled a motion requesting the MDP and former ruling coalition member Jumhooree Party be given majority in key oversight committees.
Shareef requested four MDP members – two JP members and four ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) members – sit on the government oversight committee, independent commissions oversight committee, and public finance committee.
Ruling coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) MP Ali Mauroof submitted a motion to raise the total number of MPs in the independent commissions oversight committee and public finance committee from 11 to 13, and decrease number of MPs in the regulations committee and petitions committee to nine.
Mauroof’s proposition did not get sufficient support in the committee, before the MP walked out causing a loss of quorum just minutes before Shareef’s proposition was be put to the vote.
Three members are required for quorum. Only four of the five members were present last night. Adhaalath Party MP Anara Naeem was not in the country when the meeting was held.
MDA Council Member Nazeera Ibrahim told Minivan News the “only way forward” was to ensure a majority for the ruling coalition in all committees.
“Our coalition holds the majority number of seats in the parliament. So the only way to move forward now is for us to get majority in all the committees. That is the only solution,” she said.
However, the MDP and JP have called on the PPM to compromise and allow an opposition majority in oversight committees
MDP Parliamentary Group Leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih said that the only way forward is for PPM to allow the opposition party to fill the seats that they are ‘entitled’ to.
The MDP is entitled to four seats in three committees and three seats in nine committees as per regulations, Ibu said.
“After PPM, MDP holds the highest number of seats. So as per regulations, after PPM selects its committees, it is MDP that must get the second choice. However, in reality, PPM is allowing MDA – which holds only five seats – to have its say over that of the MDP. This is not how it should be done,” he explained.
“The question that has given rise to so much debate and disgruntlement is which three committees will the MDP get four seats in. We are saying we want the seats in committees with oversight functions,” he said.
Meanwhile, JP MP Ahmed Sameer accused the ruling party of being “undemocratic” due to their efforts to garner a majority in committees with oversight functions.
“We do not believe that the governing party has to have majority in the oversight committees, while it is alright for them to lead the bill drafting committees. It is highly undemocratic of PPM to attempt to get majority in oversight committees. It is not their role, but the role of the opposition to oversee their performance,” Sameer said.
He further stated that it is “neither democratic, healthy, nor beneficial to the people” that “PPM is trying to change all parliamentarians to share their beliefs and ideologies,” alleging that the PPM had used coercion and bribery to convince some MPs to switch parties.
Sameer said he believed the PPM had encouraged Mauroof to walk out from the select committee.
“The chair of the special committee is a member of PPM. Also, PPM’s parliamentary group leader sits in the committee. A coalition partner would not have walked out without the explicit approval of the ruling party, as I see it. We cannot at all accept the government’s efforts to bring the whole parliament under their control,” he stated.
Religious conservative Adhaalath Party Spokesperson Ali Zahir confirmed that the party – with one seat in the Majlis – has also requested to be included in specific committees, while he declined to reveal which committees they were.
“The matter needs to be resolved immediately. The parties need to come to some form of compromise, and parliamentary work needs to progress for the benefit of the people. The AP has not, and will not, disrupt the proceeding of any committee,” Zahir said.
PPM MP Ibrahim Sujau declined from commenting on the matter, redirecting the questions to the party’s Parliamentary Group Leader Ahmed Nihan, who was not responding to calls at the time of press.