PPM secures opposition backing to impeach vice president

The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has submitted a resolution to parliament today with 61 signatures to impeach Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.

“We submitted the resolution to the parliament today with 61 signatures collected from PPM, Maldives Development alliance (MDA), Jumhooree Party (JP), and the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP),” said PPM Baarah MP Ibrahim Sujau.

A two-third majority or 57 votes will be needed to remove the vice-president from office. The ruling coalition controls 48 seats in parliament and has secured the opposition’s backing.

Six MDP MPs and five JP MPs have signed the resolution, Sujau said.

The MDP MPs include Mohamed Nazim, Abdul Gafoor Moosa, Ibrahim Naseer, Ali Nizar, Ahmed Marzooq and Mohamed Abdul Kareem.

The five MPs to sign from JP are Ilham Ahmed, Ahmed Mubeen, Hussein Shahudhee, Abdulla Ahmed and Ibrahim Hassan.

“A lot more opposition parliamentarians expressed their interest in signing the resolution, but they could not as a lot of them are abroad at the moment,” Sujau said.

Sujau said he believes the resolution will pass with an overwhelming majority of 78 votes from the 85-member house.

“The numbers send a clear message to the vice president that he should resign before he is impeached by the parliament,” he said.

The ruling coalition is seeking to replace Jameel with tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb. Pro-government MPs have publicly accused Jameel of incompetence and disloyalty.

Last week, the parliament passed the first amendment to the constitution with overwhelming multi-party consensus, or 78 votes in favor, to lower the age limit for the presidency from 35 to 30 years. Adeeb is now 33.

The opposition’s backing for the constitutional amendment was widely perceived to be part of a deal made in exchange for jailed ex-president Mohamed Nasheed’s transfer to house arrest.

Some opposition politicians claim President Abdulla Yameen is fatally ill and wants a more loyal deputy ahead of a life threatening surgery. The government has denied rumours of the president’s health.

Jameel is yet to speak publicly about his imminent impeachment. The constitution states that the vice president must be given a 14-day notice and the right to answer the charges before the resolution is put to a vote.

Dr Jameel left to Sri Lanka last week after President Yameen authorised a medical leave. A senior PPM MP told Minivan News yesterday that Jameel was due to return three days ago, but instead departed for the UK without informing the president’s office.

The MP said President Abdulla Yameen has asked the vice president to return to the Maldives and answer to the party’s parliamentary group about his impeachment.

“We have tried contacting him repeatedly to ask him to meet with the parliamentary group. But he has not responded. We are trying to bring our problems to him and trying to find a mutual solution,” said the PPM MP.

Meanwhile, the parliament yesterday approved changes to its rules of procedure to fast-track the process of impeaching the vice president.

The new rules state the parliament can vote on removing the vice president without an investigation. The rules previously stated that a committee must investigate allegations against the vice president before a vote.

The amendment to the standing orders was passed with 52 votes in favour and 14 against. One MDP MP and several JP MPs joined the ruling coalition to approve the changes.


EC receives complaints of damage to campaign banners and posters

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The Elections Commission (EC) has said that it is receiving complaints of damage being done to campaign material – such as posters and banners – from most candidates contesting in the parliamentary elections.

The commission requested people not do anything that could violate the electoral rights of candidates, and called upon both candidates and supporters to work according to the code of conduct given in Article 23 of the “People’s Majlis Election Regulation 2013”.

EC president Fuwad Thowfeek said that the commission was receiving a number of such complaints everyday, particularly from Malé City.

“Such acts could disrupt social harmony, and we request everyone refrain from doing any such thing. Parliamentary candidates want to serve the public, and involvement in such things is not a very good start, said Thowfeek.

“While it is not our first preference, we will have to take legal action too. We will seek police assistance in controlling such things.”

He requested that campaigners paste posters only where it is permitted according to the regulations. During the presidential elections in 2013, the EC received a number of complaints regarding anti-campaigning, though Thowfeek noted that no such issues had come up this time.

“But we urge candidates and supporter to refrain from anti-campaigning. We will take action against them,” Fuwad said.

Last week, the Adhaalath Party issued a statement condemning acts violating their Hulhuhenveiru candidate Dr Mohamed Iyaz’s electoral rights. The party claimed that posters of some Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidates were pasted over Iyaz’s posters and that his campaign banners were cut down.

The MDP candidate for Henveiru North, MP Abdulla Shahid, has also filed a similar complaint with the EC. Shahid’s campaign office said that his campaign posters and banners in the Henveiru North area were ripped and replaced with Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidates’ campaign material.

Campaign activities for the parliamentary elections are escalating as the election scheduled for 22 March draws near.  A total of 316 candidates are competing for 85 seats this election, more than sixty percent of candidates representing political parties.

Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency requested that all contestants ensure that campaign material does not litter the streets of the country, as was often the case during the presidential poll.

Th opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) is running for all 85 seats, while the ruling PPM has divided the seats among their coalition members, with the party retaining just 50 seats.

The remaining seats were divided between Jumhooree Party and the Maldives Development Alliance. The Adhaalath Party and the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party are also competing in the election, while 125 independent candidates will also contest.

EC yesterday opened for voters re-registration for those intending to vote at a polling station other than that listed with the commission. The deadline for re-registration is 28 February.