Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid has expressed regret over “false” allegations by MP Ibrahim Muttalib claiming that parliament was planning to establish a 100-strong military force armed by India for the speaker to assume the presidency on November 11 in the absence of a president-elect.
A press release by the parliament secretariat on Saturday (November 2) stated that Shahid “regretted” the Adhaalath Party MPs’ remarks, which could “incite fear among the public and sow discord.”
“The Speaker of the People’s Majlis said that he assures the Maldivian people at this opportunity that he would not do anything in violation of the constitution of the Republic of Maldives,” the statement read.
Muttalib’s allegations at an Adhaalath Party press conference on Saturday followed the swearing-in of retired Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) first lieutenant Mohamed Haleem as the parliament’s sergeant at arms, who would be in charge of overseeing security of the Majlis premises – a task presently carried out by the military.
Parliament also announced plans to hire two deputies and four assistants to the sergeant at arms as well as 100 security officers to form a security unit that would take over from the MNDF.
The decision to set up the unit has since been slammed by the Defence Ministry, contending that overseeing security of parliament was among the security services’ constitutional duties.
The parliament’s press statement meanwhile noted that the post of sergeant at arms was among the Majlis officers listed in provision 11(a) of the parliamentary rules of procedure.
It added that Mohamed Haleem was appointed to the position following interviews conducted by the General Affairs Committee with interested candidates, after which it had proposed three names to the Majlis floor.
Haleem’s nomination was approved with 56 votes in favour out of the 57 MPs who participated in the vote, the statement noted, which included MPs from the government-aligned Progressive Party of Maldives, Jumhooree Party and the Maldivian Development Alliance.
The structure of parliament service employees to assist the sergeant at arms was determined by the General Affairs Committee, the statement added.
On October 27, parliament approved a proposal by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party for the Speaker of Parliament to assume the presidency in the absence of a president-elect at midnight on November 10.
At the Adhaalath Party press conference, Muttalib claimed that the purpose of establishing the security unit was to prepare for an attack if the police and military refuse to cooperate with Speaker Shahid becoming caretaker president on November 11 if there was no president-elect.
The Fares-Maathoda MP also alleged that the Indian government and GMR could provide weapons to parliament, adding that the formation of “two governments” would inevitably lead to bloodshed.
“Shahid is preparing to get himself sworn into office on November 11. So they are establishing a military force of 100 armed officers. India is heavily involved in this plot. Otherwise we wouldn’t be concerned about this. Given the present actions of India, we cannot rule them out being involved in such a thing. So this is a Majlis orchestrated coup to facilitate that,” Muttalib was quoted as saying in local media.
The governments of India, Britain, Canada and Denmark would then recognise the new administration, Muttalib claimed, after which Indian troops would arrive to protect Shahid’s government amidst the resulting chaos.