President Abdulla Yameen yesterday announced that his Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) will forward its own candidate for the position of speaker of the People’s Majlis.
The move follows Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim’s claim earlier this week that he had the full backing of his coalition partners to stand for nomination to the chair.
Parliament should be an institution that “sincerely and responsibly” fulfils the duty bestowed by the public, Yameen told supporters yesterday.
“For this reason, our party wants the speaker’s post in the next People’s Majlis,” he said during a rally held last night to celebrate the Progressive Coalition’s garnering of a 53 seat majority in Saturday’s Majlis elections.
Notably absent from the event were leaders of the JP – the winner of 15 of the coalition’s seats – with party Secretary General Dr Mohamed Saud telling CNM that the party had not attended as it had not been made aware of the agenda.
Complaints from within the JP immediately after polling, regarding PPM-affiliated candidates having stood as independents in constituencies reserved for the JP, appeared to have been justified today as local media reported that two of the five successful independent candidates had signed for the ruling party.
Following his loss to an independent candidate last weekend, JP MP for Lhaviyani Naifaru, Ahmed Mohamed, accused the PPM of attempting to “destroy” its coalition partner.
Differences of opinion among coalition partners should be settled through dialogue, President Yameen said during yesterday’s rally, suggesting that the coalition had lost 15 seats as a result of members of coalition parties contesting as independents.
“This wasn’t the fault of the people. It was a mistake made by our parties,” he said, noting that coalition leaders had “repeatedly urged” party members to vote for the coalition’s official candidate.
Senior members of the JP, including Secretary General Dr Saud and Deputy Leader Ameen Ibrahim, told Minivan News today that they were unwilling to comment on political issues on behalf of the party.
The addition of two members would bring the PPM’s parliamentary group for the 18th Majlis – scheduled to hold its first session in late May/early June – to 35 of the chamber’s 85 seats.
The third coalition partner – the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), which is more closely allied with the PPM – took five seats on Saturday.
Local media yesterday, however, reported Ahmed Mahloof as saying that both he and fellow re-elected PPM MP Ahmed Nihan had pledged to support Gasim’s candidacy for speaker while negotiating during the 2013 presidential election.
Mahloof suggested that the nomination of a PPM candidate would be likely to cause a rift within the Progressive Coalition, and would be a decision he would find difficult to support.
Neither Mahloof nor Nihan were responding to calls at the time of press. PPM leaders have told local media that no official coalition discussion on nominations to the speaker’s chair have been held.
Adding further uncertainty to Gasim’s attempts to become speaker, reports published in the Gasim-owned Vnews media outlet today that the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) – winner of 26 seats – had decided to support Gasim’s nomination to the chair have been denied.
“He’s capable, but there are many others in the parliament who are capable, we have not yet decided,” MDP Parliamentary Group Leader Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Solih told Minivan News.
The election of the new speaker – a position currently held by the MDP’s Abdulla Shahid – is scheduled to take place through a secret ballot of MPs at the first sitting of the new session.
Majlis regulations note that the speaker “shall be the highest authority of the People’s Majlis responsible for the conduction of all matters pertaining to the People’s Majlis including the administration, the sittings and the committees of the People’s Majlis in accordance with the Constitution and the Regulations.”
The speaker is also charges with preserving “order and decorum” within the Majlis, as well as observance of the institution’s regulations.