Disagreement on house rules post-coup leaves parliament in limbo, claims MDP

The ousted Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) will reject amendments to house rules to allow the government to submit bills through any party, the party has said in a statement on Wednesday.

Article 71 of the parliamentary rules of procedure states the government can only submit bills, including tax bills, to the parliament through the party it represents.

However, President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s Gaumee Ithihad (GI) does not have representation in the Majlis. Waheed, the former vice-president, took power after MDP’s President Mohamed Nasheed resigned on February 7. The MDP claims Nasheed was ousted in a coup d’état.

Nasheed’s deposition has raised questions over MDP’s status in parliament. According to MDP’s statement, parliamentary group leader Ibrahim Mohamed ‘Ibu’ Solih has written to Speaker Abdulla Shahid stressing that the MDP was elected for a five-year term and the administration continued to belong to the MDP, despite the transfer of power.

“The Majlis is in limbo,” MDP spokesperson and Malé MP Hamid Abdul Gafoor told Minivan News. “MDP has been elected for a five-year term. In the middle of the term Shahid is trying to make us out to be the opposition. He is attempting to bring about a coup within parliament.”

Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim had told local media Haveeru that house rules needed to be amended to allow Waheed’s administration to submit bills before Majlis reconvenes. He also said any bills submitted by Nasheed’s administration are now void and have to be submitted again.

“From the moment when President Waheed addressed the assembly, the new government has now been accepted by the Parliament. In my view, the bills submitted by the former government have now been rendered void. Hence the bills must be resubmitted,” Nazim said.

The MDP attempted to prevent Dr Waheed from delivering a constitutionally-mandated presidential address and obstruct the Majlis from reconvening on March 1 and March 19.

Waheed narrowly managed to deliver a shortened presidential address on March 19, over loud heckling from MDP MPs.

With MDP’s refusal to allow amendments to the house rules, the MDP and the coalition of parties backing Dr Waheed will now go “head to head” on the matter when Majlis reconvenes on Monday, Gafoor said.

Nazim also said the Majlis has to decide on opposition response to the president’s address. According to article 25 of the Majlis rules of procedure, the largest political party opposing the president’s party in Majlis must respond to the presidential address.

Ibu has said the MDP will not issue a rebuttal to Dr Waheed’s address as the party continues to question Waheed’s legitimacy and the constitutionality of the March 19 Majlis opening session.

“As long as the MDP continues to be the elected administration, the MDP parliamentary group does not have to respond to the presidential address,” the party’s statement read.