Parliament committees resume work

Parliament committees resumed work this week after a two month hiatus caused by a drawn out dispute over reconstituting the composition of committees.

Chairs and deputy chairs were chosen for the committees yesterday, with the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) getting its MPs as chairs for six of the 12 standing committees.

Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim was elected as chair of the coveted ‘241’ Security Services Committee with MDP MP “Reeko” Moosa Manik as deputy chair.

Independent MP Mohamed Nasheed chairs the Independent Institutions Committee while opposition MPs chair the Social Affairs Committee, Privileges Committee, Government Oversight Committee and Public Accounts Committee.


Parliament deadlock continues

Parliament remains deadlocked as the dispute over the composition of committees continues to disrupt proceedings, forcing Speaker Abdulla Shahid to cancel a third consecutive sitting in the face of vociferous protests by MPs of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

The Speaker adjourned today’s sitting five minutes after it began when MDP MPs loudly objected to his decision to overrule a point of order raised by MP Ahmed Sameer, who argued that the issue of parliamentary committees should not have been tabled in today’s agenda.

While Shahid said that parliament would reconvene later in the day, the sitting was eventually cancelled shortly after 3pm to allow the parties to reach a compromise.

MP Ibrahim ‘Ibu’ Mohamed Solih, parliamentary group (PG) leader of the MDP, had told Minivan News yesterday that the party would object to the agenda item.

Ibu Solih argued that the rules of procedure clearly specified that the composition of committees should reflect the number of MPs each party had in parliament.

“The rules clearly state that MDP should get five seats, and if DRP forms a coalition with the Jumhooree Party, they should get five seats, too,” he explained. “There is no need to take a vote on something that is determined in the rules.”

At an impromptu meeting last night, the main opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party’s (DRP) council approved plans to enter into a formal coalition with the Jumhooree Party, which if signed would bring the allied opposition parties’ representation in line with the MDP at 34 MPs each.

According to parliamentary rules on proportional representation in committees, both sides would be entitled to five seats out of the 11 in each of the 12 parliamentary committees. However this leaves the 11th seat to be filled by one of the remaining eight Independents.

With the ruling and opposition parties evenly matched with five seats each, the support of an Independent MP would be needed to decide which side held a controlling majority on each committee.

Raising his point of order today, MDP MP Sameer said that the rules of procedure dictate the Speaker should decide, through consultation, which Independent MP would sit on which committee.

The dispute is set to continue when parliament resumes tomorrow.


Parliament committees to meet every week day

The parliament has decided to hold committee meetings on all weekdays, including Sunday and Thursday when parliament sittings do not take place.

Parliament Secretary General Ahmed Mohamed told newspaper Haveeru that the decision was made by Speaker Abdulla Shahid after discussions with parliamentary group leaders in a bid to expedite the legislative process.

At present there are 43 bills being reviewed by parliamentary committees, including the draft penal code submitted in October 2009. Other belated pieces of legislation include the Drugs Bill, Evidence Bill and the Jails and Parole Bill.