18th Majlis prepares to review procedures and form standing committees

Parliament began regular sittings today, with reviewing the rules of procedure and constituting standing committees the first orders of business.

“This will be a Majlis that produces results. We will debate and discuss. But it will be done to produce results,” said newly elected Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed.

A proposal by Maseeh to form a five-member select committee to draft standing orders, and to follow the rules used by the outgoing parliament in the interim, was approved with unanimous consent of 72 MPs.

Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Ahmed Amir from the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), Anara Naeem from the Adhaalath Party (AP), Hussain Mohamed from the Jumhooree Party (JP), and Mariya Ahmed Didi from the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) were chosen for the select committee.

Article 88(a) of the constitution states that parliament shall “determine and control its administrative arrangements, hiring and firing of employees, determination of salaries of employees, and manage all matters concerning the sittings of the People’s Majlis. The People’s Majlis shall make regulations concerning these matters.”

The article also requires parliament to “make regulations and principles concerning its business, with due regard to representative and participatory democracy, accountability, transparency and public involvement. Such regulations may include rules of decorum and attendance requirements, and, subject to the consent of two-thirds of the members, may provide for non-payment of salary and allowances.”

A second five-member select committee – consisting of Riyaz Rasheed from the PPM, Gasim Ibrahim from the JP, Ali Mauroof from the MDA, Anara Naeem from the AP and Ali Azim from the MDP – was meanwhile formed to constitute the 13 standing committees of parliament.

Parliamentary rules dictate proportional representation for political parties in the standing committees based on the number of MPs in each party. The rules stipulate that the committees must be constituted within two weeks of the session beginning.

The 13 standing committees includes four committees dealing with affairs of parliament in addition to nine oversight committees.

Both select committees formed at today’s sitting held their first meetings today, electing chairs and deputy chairs.

Mohamed Nasheed and Anara Naeem were elected chair and deputy chair, respectively, of the committee selected to review the regulations. Riyaz Rasheed was elected chair of the select committee formed to constitute standing committees while Anara Naeem was elected deputy chair.

After adopting committee rules, Chair Riyaz Rasheed requested that political parties notify the committee of the number of its MPs as well as any changes to party affiliation.

The ruling PPM is the majority party in the 18th People’s Majlis with 38 MPs while the opposition MDP is the minority party with 25 MPs.

The PPM-MDA coalition has 43 MPs while former coalition partner JP has 15 MPs. The religious conservative AP has one MP while Madaveli MP Muaz Mohamed Rasheed remains the sole independent.

Speaker Maseeh meanwhile commenced his first sitting in the speaker’s chair with an appeal for all MPs to provide assistance and cooperate for fulfilling parliament’s constitutional responsibilities.

The veteran PPM MP said he was mindful of the challenges parliament would face as well as the considerable amount of work to be done, adding that the current parliament had the “capacity” to fulfil its duties.