Parliament cancelled over convicted MPs’ attendance

Parliament was adjourned 15 minutes into the sitting yesterday after opposition MPs protested the presence of Independent MP for Kaashidhoo Ismail Abdul Hameed, who was convicted of corruption on August 29 and sentenced to one year and six months banishment.

Hameed had since appealed the Criminal Court verdict at the High Court, which held a first hearing yesterday.

Responding to points of order raised by MPs Ilham Ahmed, Ali Arif and Ahmed Mahlouf objecting to his presence in the chamber, Hameed said he was “on holiday” from October 2 to November 22.

“I don’t believe there is any legal obstacle to my attending the Majlis,” he said.

Speaker Abdulla Shahid said parliament had not informed the Kaashidhoo MP that he could not attend sittings, noting that Hameed had the right to appeal the Criminal Court verdict.

After a series of consecutive points of order from both opposition and ruling party MPs, Shahid adjourned the sitting to discuss the issue with parliamentary group leaders.

Parliament Secretary General Ahmed Mohamed confirmed to Minivan News that MPs were informed that today’s sitting was cancelled to allow the Speaker to resolve the dispute through dialogue with the Majority Leader and Minority Leader.

A decision had not yet been made on going ahead with tomorrow’s sitting, he said.

Under article 73(c)(3) of the constitution, MPs found guilty of a criminal offence “and sentenced to a term of more than twelve months” would be stripped of their seat.

Article 78 of the constitution meanwhile states that “whenever there is a vacancy among the members of The People’s Majlis, an election shall be held within sixty days from the date of the vacancy. A by-election shall not be held within six months prior to a general election.”

Brawl in committee room

MP Ilham AhmedMeanwhile, a brawl broke out between MPs of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and opposition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MPs at an Economic Committee meeting yesterday.

PPM Media Coordinator and MP for Vili-Male’ Ahmed Nihan told Minivan News that MDP MP Ibrahim Rasheed threw a glass at MP Ilham.

“Bonda hit Ilham with the glass when he said that the [committee] meeting will unlawful if it was continued with MP Abdul Hameed,” Nihan said. ”He was injured and was admitted to ADK hospital after his chest was continuously bleeding.”

MP for Maafanu South Ibrahim Rasheed however denied the allegations and accused Ilham of “misleading the public.”

”He made that up and it is a big lie,” Rasheed said. ”I did not hit him.”

Speaking to private broadcaster Villa TV from ADK hospital yesterday, Ilham said yesterday’s sitting became heated over the convicted MP’s presence and the matter of a motion without notice submitted by opposition MPs regarding the MDP protest outside the Supreme Court not being tabled in the agenda.

“After the sitting was adjourned, we went to the committee,” he explained. “Even though we’re not members of the Economic Committee, we do attend meetings and speak there. We can speak even though we’re not members. We just can’t participate in voting. I said this is unlawful [with Hameed in attendance] and committee meetings could only take place after this is solved.”

Ilham said his remarks led to acrimonious verbal sparring between MPs, during which Bonda got up and threw the glass at him.

Secretary General Ahmed Mohamed told Minivan News today that a police forensic team arrived at parliament shortly after the incident and commenced an investigation.


Parliament cancelled after MPs clash over Yameen detention

Today’s sitting of parliament was called off after opposition MPs vocally protested the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) refusal to allow detained MP and opposition People’s Alliance Leader Abdullah Yameen to attend sitting.

Speaker Abdulla Shahid revealed that neither MNDF nor the Defence Ministry had responded to his letters requesting an explanation or an arrangement for the Mulaku MP to attend today’s sitting, adding however that he was constitutionally obliged to ensure that sittings go ahead.

MPs of the main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) raised numerous points insisting that sittings could not be held while an MP was “unlawfully detained” by the military.

“Since the Majlis is not an enforcement agency I do not have a way to go and bring the honourable Mulaku member here,” Shahid responded.

A press release issued by parliament after today’s cancellation states that Majlis rules of procedure requires that MPs in detention over a criminal investigation must be allowed to attend sittings and committee meetings and “this is how it is in other democratic countries.”

It urges the MNDF to respect the constitution and the parliamentary rules of procedure, which was formulated under article 88(a) of the constitution.


Shortly after the sitting was canceled, a confrontation occurred between Hulhu-Henveiru MP “Reeko” Moosa Manik, parliamentary group leader of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Galolhu MP Ahmed Mahlouf of the DRP.

Moosa claims that Mahlouf struck him on his legs with his shoes.

“After the sitting ended, Ilham [Ahmed, DRP deputy leader] and another MP came at me,” he explained. “Ilham was shouting at me very rudely and the other MP was filming it with his mobile phone.

“He was holding the phone very close to my face, I told them to go away, but they did not. When the camera came close to me I pushed the camera away from my face.”

Mahlouf was waiting and watching, he added, and came towards him after a while.

“He came and hit me in the leg, [and then] he said I hit him,” Moosa claimed.”That was a drama they played. They have been creating a lot of different stories against me recently.”

However, Mahlouf told local daily Haveeru that Moosa hit him in the face while Nilandhoo MP Abdul Muhsin was filming Moosa and Ilham’s argument.

Mahlouf has not responded to Minivan News at time of press.

A similar confrontation between the MPs occurred during a sitting almost a year ago when both accused the other of threatening violence and using obscene language.

The sitting on July 15 2009 was eventually canceled after the main parties clashed over the cabinet’s decision to investigate Chief Judge of the Criminal Court Abdullah Mohamed.


Parliament cancelled when only 18 members show up

Parliament was cancelled today because only 18 MPs were present inside the parliament chamber.

MDP MPs had sent a letter to the speaker of the parliament asking him to ensure them that the chamber “was safe for MDP MPs”, after a brawl broke out yesterday between the two major parties.

According to the parliament’s regulations at least 20 MPs must be present inside the chamber to hold a meeting.

MDP MP Rugiyya Mohamed said 89 per cent of MDP MPs attended the parliament ”but did not enter inside the chamber due to what happened yesterday.”

Ruhiyya said that the MDP parliamentry group had sent a letter to the speaker of the parliament to ensure that the chamber would be safe for the MDP MPs, but had not responded.

”I believe that Abdulla Shahid is influenced by Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP),” she claimed. ”He cannot even control the parliament.”

DRP Vice president Umar Naseer said MDP MPs were attempting to prevent a vote regarding the corruption allegations against the Auditor General Ibrahim Naeem, as they “are afraid of democracy.”

”Shahid must stand on our side,” Naseer said. ” He was elected to the parliament by our ticket with the vote of our members.”

DRP MP Abdulla Mausoom said he had no idea why the MDP MPs refused to enter the chamber.

”It was a waste of one day for me.” he said. ”I went to parliament with the hope of discussing a national issue.”

He said that it was fine “even if two [MPs] came.”

MDP MP Mohamed Shifaz said the MDP MPs “are not sure that the chamber is safe for them any more.”

Spokesperson for the President Mohamed Zuhair said it was up to the speaker to hold consultations with party leaders and get the MPs back into the chamber.

“The government believes politicans should only defeat their opponents through speech,” he noted.

During a meeting yesterday, DRP MP Ali Waheed said if the vote was not taken tomorrow, the party “will make sure no more votes are taken in this country.”

“It will be the biggest political mistake President Mohamed Nasheed makes,” he warned.

In response, Zuhair accused DRP MP Ali Waheed of pretending to injure himself in video footage of yesterday’s brawl.

“He was at the back of the chamber and clearly takes a dive. But then he is a former footballer so he would know all about that,” Zuhair said.

Waheed did not to respond to Minivan News at time of press.