MPs of the ruling coalition have officially endorsed a petition seeking a no-confidence vote in vice-president Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.
The motion has already gained 47 signatures and will be submitted to the People’s Majlis today, said the parliamentary group leader of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) Ahmed Nihan.
The motion will require a two-third majority or 57 votes to pass.
The PPM and its ally the Maldivian Development Alliance (MDA) control 48 seats in the 85-member house, and will need the backing of the opposition.
Jameel was not responding to calls at the time of going to press. He is reportedly abroad. The President’s Office on Thursday said President Abdulla Yameen had authorized a medical leave for his deputy.
Ruling coalition MPs have publicly accused Jameel of incompetence and disloyalty.
Some opposition politicians have claimed President Yameen is fatally ill and wants a more loyal deputy ahead of a life-threatening surgery. The PPM is seeking to replace Jameel with tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb.
But Nihan dismissed rumors over the president’s health. “He is very fit. There is no truth to these rumors.”
He said MPs are unhappy with Jameel over his alleged failure to defend the government during an opposition demonstration in Malé on May 1. Nearly 200 people were arrested from the historic 20,000-strong march.
“The opposition was making gross accusations against the government. But Jameel did not make any move to defend President Yameen, he did not say a word, but instead left Malé on that day,” Nihan alleged.
Opposition supporters had been protesting against the imprisonment of ex-president Mohamed Nasheed and other politicians.
Nihan said that he had attempted to reach Jameel by telephone on Thursday night, when a ruling party MP first started collecting signatures for the no-confidence petition. But the vice-president had not responded by the next day, he said.
MPs of the ruling coalition held a meeting at 10:30pm on Friday to officially endorse the petition. Some 33 MPs had unanimously voted in favor, he said.
VP Jameel ge Ithubaaru neiy kamuge Qaraar Majileehah vehdhummah PPMDA memabrunge ithifaagun mirey nimmaifi pic.twitter.com/fE4rmMOgsb
— PPMPG2015 (@PPM_PG) June 26, 2015
Translation: “PPM and MDA members vote unanimously to submit a no-confidence motion in VP Jameel.”
For the parliament to consider the removal of the president or the vice-president, a resolution with the signatures of one-third of MPs is required.
The parliament can then set up a committee to investigate the claims laid out in the motion. The Constitution states that at least 14 days notice must be given to the president or vice-president before the debate.
He or she is also granted the right to defend themselves, both orally or in writing.
Jameel has been silent on the accusations made against him.
According to Nihan, the 47 signatures on the no-confidence petition include that of MPs of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Jumhooree Party.
The opposition’s backing appears to signal a move towards reconciliation. Former president Nasheed was transferred to house arrest last week.
Two days later, the opposition voted to back the first constitutional amendment, setting new age limits of 30 to 65 years for the presidency and the vice-presidency.
Tourism minister Adeeb, who turned 33 in April, was ineligible for the position as the constitution previously stated that presidential candidates and their deputies must be 35 years of age.
The government then extended Nasheed’s house arrest for eight weeks, but said it was because doctors are concerned over the opposition leader’s health.
The MDP has meanwhile agreed to the government’s demand to exclude Nasheed as a representative in talks. But a party spokesperson said MDP hopes Nasheed will be able to join at a later stage.