A parliamentarian of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has called on vice president Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed to resign before he is impeached by the parliament.
Accusing Jameel of incompetence, MP for the Baarah constituency, Ibrahim Sujau said: “We do not want a vice-president to be a monument at the President’s Office.”
His comments, the first public declaration of MPs intent to impeach Jameel and were made at a dinner hosted by tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb for the party’s young supporters last night.
“We do not want to hide what we want to do anymore. We are going appoint tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb as the vice-president of Maldives before July 26,” said Shujau.
July 26 is the 50th anniversary of Maldives’ independence from the British.
To impeach Jameel, a two-thirds majority or 57 votes will be required. The PPM and its ally Maldives Development Alliance hold 48 seats in the 85-member house.
The parliament on Wednesday passed the first amendment to the constitution setting age limits of 30 to 65 years for the presidency and vice presidency, with overwhelming tripartisan support.
Adeeb is 33 and ineligible for the position as the constitution states presidential candidates must be 35 years of age.
Some 78 MPs of the ruling PPM-Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) coalition and the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Jumhooree Party (JP) voted in favor of the proposed change.
The opposition’s backing was widely perceived to be part of a deal made in exchange for jailed ex-president Mohamed Nasheed’s transfer to house arrest.
While pro-government MPs have publicly accused Jameel of disloyalty and incompetence, opposition politicians and some media outlets have claimed that President Abdulla Yameen is seeking a loyal deputy ahead of a life-threatening surgery. The government, however continues to deny rumors over the president’s health.
Adeeb, however, last night dismissed allegations that the amendment is designed to help him assume the presidency, and said it is a measure by President Yameen to provide “more opportunities for the youth.”
He appeared to issue a warning to Jameel saying that the government needs officials who are loyal to President Yameen. “We do not want people with degrees, who stay with their degrees at home, and heat up their rooms. I want to say, [you] cannot just go on living in this country, by tucking your shirt in, walking in a proper manner, and have your boots polished by the army.”
MPs who had voted against or been absent from the Majlis vote yesterday will be sidelined from the political arena. These include MP Faris Maumoon, son of PPM leader and former president of 30 years Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Gayoom, who is also half-brother to President Yameen, has previously said he rejects the constitutional amendment. He is now in his early 80s and will be ineligible for the next presidential polls.
President Yameen gained the presidency on Gayoom’s popularity and on JP leader Gasim Ibrahim’s backing, but has since carved out his own base of power with hand-picked MPs and ministers.
The amendment will bar Gasim, a long-time presidential hopeful, from contesting in the 2018 presidential elections.