Date to resume parliamentary sessions “yet to emerge”, claims MDP

An exact date for resuming parliamentary sessions in the Maldives has “yet to emerge” following the suspension of the Majlis Speaker, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has said, as government-aligned parties request for the chamber to be reopened to MPs.

MDP MP and spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Minivan News today that the decision by Speaker Abdulla Shahid to suspend parliament “indefinitely” on July 31 had been the correct course of action, adding that MPs were on the “right track” to finding a potential resolution during the final 10 days of Ramazan.

Despite the claims, government-aligned MPs have continued to criticise the conduct of the MDP over the Majlis suspension.  The Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) has this week urged that parliamentary sessions continue with the assistance of security forces to remove any members attempting to disrupt hearings.

Speaker Shahid at the time of announcing the suspension of parliament said that MDP MPs had confronted him in his private chambers after party member Mohamed Rasheed ‘Kubey’ was forcibly removed at the beginning of sitting.

“Moreover, confrontations occurred between MPs in the chamber to the point of becoming dangerous,” an official statement read, adding that “an atmosphere of calm necessary to conduct sittings could not be assured” as all recent sittings had to be cancelled due to disorder.

Shahid explained that he decided to invoke the Speaker’s authority under section 213(e) of the rules of procedure to cancel sittings indefinitely as he believed a political solution had to be sought through dialogue among parliamentary group leaders.

However, local media yesterday reported that DQP Vice President and Vilufushi MP Riyaz Rasheed had sent a letter to the speaker citing the conduct and perceived role of the MDP in having parliament suspended as an “infringement” of democratic rights in the country.

As well as calling for notification of the present situation to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) and the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU), Riyaz was quoted by local newspaper Haveeru as calling for parliament to press ahead with its work to amend and enact national legislation such as through the various parliamentary committees.

“The work of the committees is stalled due to the suspended parliament. Hence as the laws to combat the rising crime rates, unrest, violence and acts of terrorism are held up at the committees, we request [the Speaker] facilitate the resumption of Parliament sessions and Committees,” a letter attributed to Riyaz read.

“Article 105 of the Constitution obligates the security forces to assist the speaker.”

When contacted today, DQP Secretary General Abdulla Ameen forwarded Minivan News to Riyaz himself for a response to the letter, however the MP was not answering calls at the time of press.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the DQP’s coalition partner the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) said it had not been involved in any talks to resume the Majlis sessions.

DRP Parliamentary Group Leader and MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom nonetheless called on the MDP to give up on its “stubbornness” and respect democratic rights in the nation in order to facilitate parliament resuming its work.

Dr Mausoom did not elaborate on the exact commitments he believed the MDP should make regarding addressing its “stubbornness”.

Meanwhile, MDP MP Ghafoor contended that the suspension of parliament had been the result of an understanding with the speaker concerning “internal security” in the Majlis chamber.

“The Majlis is not a place where you should be forced to remove an MP from chamber, it was not feasible to continue like that,” he said, concerning the atmosphere in parliament leading to the institution’s suspension.

Ghafoor contended that the speaker had decided under existing parliamentary regulation to discontinue holding sessions in the Majlis until a solution to the current unrest could be found through proposed talks between parliamentary leaders.

“Dr Waheed is also invited to join the discussions,” he said. “As far as I know talks are on track.”

Ghafoor claimed that the party had nonetheless committed to calling off it’s “direct action” street protests – conducting on consecutive nights last month as part of aims to “topple” the present government of President Waheed. The MDP alleges the administration of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan came to power on February 7 in a “coup d’etat”.

“Although we are within our right to protest, we have suspended these protest for the last ten days of Ramazan,” he said. “We have done this voluntarily to give enough time for talks to be conducted in the Majlis and this is shaping up well.”

According to Ghafoor, the decision to stop protests during the remainder of the Islamic holy month had been in order to open talks with government-aligned parties and the president within the Majlis to outline a plan to move forward with parliament.

“I believe we are on the right track [regarding recommencing parliamentary sessions],” he claimed. “There is now a ten day window for all parties represented in the Majlis to hold discussions. All the conditions are right for talks to resume.”

Sun Online reported today that discussions were taking place between representatives of the government coalition parties on whether President Waheed should join the proposed discussions between the country’s parliamentary group leaders.

The report added that the president was presently yet to decide on whether he would be participating in talks in line with requests from the opposition MDP.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad told Minivan News today that aside from the previously proposed all-party talks that were established by as part of a wider roadmap plan announced in February, Doctor Waheed was not presently involved in trying to resolve the issue of parliament’s suspension.


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