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.