Ruling coalition to celebrate by-election victories with fireworks

The ruling coalition is planning to celebrate Saturday’s council by-election victories with fireworks in Malé tonight.

The fireworks display is due to take place around 8:30pm at the artificial beach.

According to provisional results from the Elections Commission, Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdul Mufeed won the by-election in Haa Alif Muraidhoo for a vacant seat on the island council with 208 votes (45.41 percent) whilst his closest contender, independent candidate Mohamed Fuwad, received 143 votes (31.22 percent).

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Aishath Visama received 107 votes (23.36 percent).

In the contest for the Meedhoo constituency seat on the Dhaalu atoll council, Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) candidate Mohamed Mamdhooh secured 997 votes (60.94) against MDP candidate Salim al-Sabah with 639 votes (39.06 percent).

The Meedhoo constituency is represented in parliament by MDA leader and resort tycoon, MP Ahmed Siyam Mohamed.

Voter turnout was 70.25 percent in Meedhoo and 80.56 percent in Muraidhoo.

Speaking at a press conference last night following the announcement of the by-election results, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb declared President Abdulla Yameen would win re-election in one round of voting in 2018.

Adeeb said the victories for PPM and coalition partner MDA candidates showed the government’s support was not 25 percent as the opposition claims.

A majority of the public was behind the current administration and supported its policies, he suggested.

“We will show results through the ballot box,” said the PPM deputy leader, condemning the opposition’s ongoing nightly anti-government demonstrations.

After former coalition partner Jumhooree Party (JP) withdrew support for the government and formed an alliance with the MDP last month, the opposition has contended that the current government lacks legitimacy and does not have a popular mandate to govern.

In the cancelled first round of the 2013 presidential election, PPM candidate Yameen polled 25 percent.

After polling 29.72 percent in the first round re-vote, Yameen won the second round run-off against former President Mohamed Nasheed after the JP decided to form a coalition with PPM.

JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim finished third place in the re-vote with 23.43 percent and endorsed Yameen after initially declaring he would remain neutral.

Adeeb meanwhile noted last night that the ruling coalition won the recent by-elections after the JP left the coalition.

Street protests could neither produce results nor weaken the government, he said.

The nightly protests were also adversely affecting local businesses and causing disruptions in the capital, he added.

Adeeb also slammed former ally Adhaalath Party (AP) for joining the opposition campaign, contending that its leaders have “betrayed” the religious conservative party’s members.

“GMR is now OK, Denmark is also OK [for AP leaders],” he said, referring to AP President Sheikh Imran Abdulla spearheading nationalistic protests calling for the cancellation of the Indian infrastructure giant’s agreement to manage the international airport and the party’s allegations that former President Mohamed Nasheed pursued anti-Islamic policies.

At a press conference last week, Adeeb said the AP’s leaders have made “a career” out of toppling governments.

Adeeb also claimed that the ruling coalition has won six out of eight by-elections held since the 2013 presidential election. However, 12 council by-elections have been called since the presidential poll, half of which were won by opposition candidates.

In several by elections, opposition candidates won by default as the ruling coalition did not field candidates.

If there’s an election, it’s won by PPM or MDA. Therefore, we must have fireworks in Malé tomorrow, PPM PG Leader Ahmed Nihan said. 

All are invited. We secure results from the ballot box, a PPM supporter said.


MDP MP Ali Mohamed defects to PPM

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Ali Mohamed has joined the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed announced at today’s sitting of parliament.

The defection of the MP for Noonu Holhudhoo brings the PPM’s number of MPs to 41. The opposition MDP has 24 MPs followed by the Jumhooree Party (JP) with 13 MPs and the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) with five MPs.

The religious conservative Adhaalath Party has one MP while Madaveli MP Muaz Mohamed Rasheed remains the sole independent.

With the new signing, the PPM-MDA coalition has now secured a comfortable majority of 46 MPs in the 85-member parliament.

Although the PPM won 33 seats in the March 22 parliamentary polls, four out of five independent MPs along with MDP MP Mohamed Musthafa and two JP MPs switched to the ruling party.

Elected to the 17th parliament on a Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) ticket, Ali Mohamed quit the party in mid-2011 and joined the MDP in April 2013.


Today’s sitting of parliament was meanwhile adjourned by Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed after proceedings were disrupted by MDP MPs raising consecutive points of order and subsequent verbal sparring between opposition and pro-government MPs.

MDP MPs insisted that the legislative process could not begin in the absence of standing committees to review bills after preliminary debate.

Maseeh had also called off last week’s sitting under similar circumstances after announcing that discussions would be held with political party leaders to resolve the dispute.

However, raising points of order, JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim and MDP Parliamentary Group Leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih denied that the parties were consulted before a sitting was scheduled for today and accused the speaker of misleading the public.

Shortly thereafter, Maseeh adjourned the sitting after PPM Parliamentary Group Leader Ahmed Nihan suggested a recess to hold discussions with party leaders.

At last week’s sitting, pro-government MPs had accused the opposition of obstructing Majlis to thwart the government’s legislative agenda, while MDP MPs accused the ruling coalition of attempting to create “a one-party state” without parliamentary oversight.

Referring to MPs crossing the floor, JP MP Ilham Ahmed had accused the speaker of stalling as the government had not finished “hunting” for new MPs.


The protracted dispute over the allocation of seats on standing committees has left parliament deadlocked since the first regular sitting on June 2.

A five-member select committee – comprised of representatives from the five political parties – was formed at the sitting to constitute the 13 standing committees.

The committee has so far been unable to reach an agreement while a two-week deadline stipulated by parliamentary rules elapsed last week.

Following the cancellation of last week’s sitting, the select committee held a meeting on Saturday at the request of the speaker. However, the meeting was cancelled due to loss of quorum after MDA MP Ali Mauroof walked out ahead of a vote on a proposal by the MDP.

As parliamentary rules dictate proportional representation in standing committees for political parties based on the number of MPs in each party, the PPM-MDA coalition with its 46 MPs are entitled to a majority of seats on all 13 committees.

While not insisting on a majority on key government oversight committee, the MDP has demanded four seats in the government oversight committee, independent institutions oversight committee, and public accounts committee.

“After PPM, MDP holds the highest number of seats. So as per regulations, after PPM selects its committees, it is MDP that must get the second choice. However, in reality, PPM is allowing MDA – which holds only five seats – to have its say over that of the MDP. This is not how it should be done,” MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih explained to Minivan News last week.

“The question that has given rise to so much debate and disgruntlement is which three committees will the MDP get four seats in. We are saying we want the seats in committees with oversight functions.”

The select committee meanwhile held a meeting following the adjournment of today’s siting. However, with the MDA unwilling to forego any seats on oversight committees, MPs on the select committee has not been able to reach an agreement as of the time of press.


Majlis sitting called off amid opposition protest over committee composition

Today’s sitting of parliament has been called off by Speaker Abdulla Maseeh after opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs raised consecutive points of order objecting to the composition of the Majlis’ 13 standing committees.

Adjourning the sitting amid disorder in the chamber, Speaker Maseeh announced that he would “discuss the issue of the standing committees with political party leaders.”

Government-aligned MPs accused the opposition of obstructing proceedings to thwart its legislative agenda.

The standing committees were constituted yesterday by a select committee with the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and coalition partner (MDA) securing a majority on government oversight committees.

The five-member select committee – comprised of a representative from the five political parties in parliament – approved the composition of committees after MDP MP Ibrahim Shareef walked out of yesterday’s committee meeting in protest, contending that the seat allocation was unfair.

The committee’s decision will be put to a vote on the Majlis floor on Monday (June 23).

At the beginning of today’s sitting, Speaker Maseeh gave the floor to MP Rozaina Adam to present legislation on medical negligence ahead of a preliminary debate.

The MDP MP for Addu Meedhoo however declared that she was withdrawing the proposed legislation as there were “no committees in the Majlis to review this bill.”

“And we don’t know when [the standing committees] are going to be formed. So our People’s Majlis is in a state today where we cannot even envisage when the committee is going to be formed and when it would be able to consult relevant authorities and work on the bill,” she said.

Rozaina said she wished to make changes to the bill after consulting the Medical Association of Maldives, after which it be resubmitted as soon as standing committees are constituted.

Speaker Maseeh, however, insisted repeatedly that parliamentary rules allow for the formation of ad hoc or select committees to review legislation.

The report forwarded by the select committee formed to constitute standing committees will be tabled in the agenda for Monday’s sitting, he added.

Standing committees

MP Ibrahim Shareef – who represented the opposition party in the select committee that approved the standing committee composition – contended that the legislative process could not begin in the absence of standing committees.

While the MDP had been willing to compromise on the committee composition, Shareef said the PPM did not want the opposition party to have a voice in parliament or be able to exercise oversight.

The ruling party had begun efforts to “create an autocratic one-party state like we had 30 years ago,” he said.

In the wake of the select committee decision yesterday, Shareef told reporters that the opposition party would be forced to resort to direct action if its MPs were not afforded the opportunity to hold the government accountable through parliament.

Jumhooree Party (JP) MP Ilham Ahmed accused the speaker of stalling as the government had not finished “hunting” for new MPs.

Two JP MPs signed for the PPM yesterday, joining a number of political appointees who have switched to the ruling party in the wake of the termination of the agreement between the former coalition partners.

MPs who leave their party should be “ashamed” of themselves, the JP deputy leader said.

“We will not allow a brutal and autocratic rule. You should believe, we saw two or three MDP working alone courageously,” he said, referring to the MDP MPs’ efforts in the Special Majlis or constitutional assembly convened to revise the constitution.

“We will see that here again. So I don’t believe the Majlis can carry on before committees are formed,” he said.


Pro-government MPs meanwhile accused opposition MPs of attempting to stall parliamentary proceedings and obstruct the government.

PPM MP Saud Hussain accused opposition MPs of scheming to disrupt parliament with points of order and prevent debate on government-sponsored legislation.

PPM MP Riyaz Rasheed – chair of the select committee that determined composition of standing committees – urged the Majlisopposition party to resolve disputes peacefully through dialogue.

“There’s nothing you can make us do by yelling. We should do things peacefully,” he said.

PPM MP Ali Arif argued that the opposition party had no grounds to complain as the party had been granted 39 seats on the standing committees, which reflected the party’s numbers in parliament.

Moreover, he added, the absence of standing committees was not a problem at the moment as preliminary debate had not been completed for any piece of legislation so far.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed meanwhile stated on social media that standing committees should be formed in accordance with “the spirit of the constitution” to allow parliament to hold the executive answerable.

“MDP is the party that represents the whole Maldives. Thanks to MDP MPs,” the opposition leader tweeted.


PPM-MDA coalition secures majority on government oversight committees as MDP threatens street action

The composition of parliament’s standing committees has been approved today with the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and coalition partner the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) securing a majority on key government oversight committees.

The seat allocation on the 13 standing committees was decided by a five-member select committee – chosen at the first regular sitting of the 18th People’s Majlis earlier this month.

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) select committee member MP Ibrahim Shareef, however, walked out in protest after claiming his party had not been adequately included in the decision.

Prior to today’s meeting of the select committee, political parties had been unable to reach an agreement on the committee composition as a two-week deadline stipulated by parliamentary rules elapsed last week.

A proposal by MDA MP Ali Mauroof to have 11 members on each standing committee with the exception of the ‘241’ security services committee was passed with the support of Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim and Adhaalath Party MP Anara Naeem.

Parliamentary rules dictate proportional representation in standing committees for political parties based on the number of MPs in each party.

The ruling coalition with its 43 MPs secured a majority on the public accounts committee, government oversight committee, independent institutions committee, national security committee, and economic affairs committees with five PPM MPs and one MDA MP on each committee. Former coalition partner JP was allocated two slots on each oversight committee.

The opposition MDP with its 25 MPs was meanwhile allocated four seats each in the government accountability committee, rules committee, and petition committee and three seats in the other ten committees.

On the security services committee, the select committee decided to allocate four seats for the PPM, three seats for MDP, two seats for JP, and one seat each for the MDA and Adhaalath. The sole remaining independent MP, Muaz Mohamed Rasheed, was also given a seat on the 241 committee.

Article 241 of the constitution states, “A committee of the People’s Majlis shall be established to exercise continuing oversight of the operations of the security services. The committee shall include representation from all the different political parties within the People’s Majlis.”

Concluding today’s meeting of the select committee, Chair MP Riyaz Rasheed said the committee report will be forwarded to the Majlis floor for approval.

The 13 standing committees includes four committees dealing with affairs of parliament in addition to nine oversight committees.

Parliamentary proceedings had been stalled pending the constitution of standing committees. A regular sitting has meanwhile been scheduled for tomorrow (June 17).

Street action

Speaking to reporters following the select committee meeting, MDP MP Shareef declared that the minority party would not participate in the standing committees.

The committees were constituted “unjustly” without the participation or input of the main opposition party, Shareef said.

“We will protest in the chamber and we will take to the streets too if we have to,” he warned.

Shareef had warned at a press conference yesterday (June 15) that the MDP would be forced to resort to direct action or street protests if the party was unable to hold the government accountable through parliament.

An opposition majority on government oversight committees – the public accounts committee in particular – was international best practice, he noted. Shareef argued that the opposition party could not exercise proper oversight over public finances without control of the public accounts committee.

The PPM was however unwilling to concede seats on the key oversight committees, he said.

PPM parliamentary group leader, Ahmed Nihan, had told local media last week that the coalition wanted majorities on the oversight committee to ensure that opposition MPs are unable to obstruct the government.


Housing Minister Muiz joins MDA

Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muiz and Deputy Minister Abdulla Muttalib have signed for the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), local media reports.

Muiz had been a senior member of the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP).

According to Sun Online – owned by MDA Leader Ahmed Siyam Mohamed – Deputy Minister of Education Ismail Shafeeu and former Kooddoo Fisheries Managing Director Mohamed Muttalib have also signed for the government-aligned party.

Following the expulsion of the Jumhooree Party from the ruling coalition, the MDA remains the only coalition partner of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives.


Independent MP for Nilandhoo Abdulla Khaleel signs for PPM

Independent MP for Faafu Nilandhoo Abdulla Khaleel has signed for the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) today, bringing the ruling party’s number of MPs to 38 and the Progressive Coalition’s tally to 43 out of 85 seats.

Khaleel defeated incumbent PPM MP Abdul Muhsin Hameed by a one-vote margin – which increased to three votes following a recount – in the March 22 parliamentary polls.

Speaking to the press after signing the membership form at a ceremony in Muleeage this afternoon – attended by President Abdulla Yameen, Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb – Khaleel said he began his political career alongside friends who were currently in PPM, adding that he saw his future in the party.

“I support this government’s economic agenda very much and God willing I will have a role among Majlis members in achieving the important objectives of that agenda,” he said.

With Khaleel’s signing, four out of five independent MPs elected to the 18th People’s Majlis as well as one opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP have now joined the PPM, leaving Madaveli MP Muaz Mohamed Rasheed the sole independent.

Together with the five MPs of coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), the governing coalition now has 43 seats – the simple majority required to pass legislation and approve presidential appointments.

The Progressive Coalition – made up of the PPM, Jumhooree Party (JP) and Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) – had however secured a combined total of 57 seats in the March 22 polls.

Following a dispute over the speaker’s post, the PPM severed its coalition agreement with the JP last week. The JP had won 15 seats.

President Yameen however told reporters at the signing ceremony today that PPM was still willing to work with the estranged coalition partner, professing “respect” for JP leader Gasim Ibrahim.

“I believe there is still the opportunity for us to work together with the JP,” he said.

While nine political appointees belonging to the JP – including Transport Minister Ameen Ibrahim – have been dismissed in the wake of the coalition’s breakup, Yameen noted that three cabinet ministers as well as board members of state-owned enterprises occupying JP slots remained in the government.

Yameen denied pressuring the JP members to sign for the ruling party to retain their government jobs, adding that it was “up to them to decide” how best to serve the nation.

The president also said that a clear majority in parliament would enable his administration to implement the PPM manifesto and carry out mega infrastructure projects.

“We wanted to keep the speaker’s post in our party for that reason as well. God willing, we will be able to carry on our government’s work swiftly when more members of the People’s Majlis join our party,” he said.

Yameen added that the party’s aim was to take the Maldives to “a whole other stage” of economic development.

Some MPs of the opposition MDP – the minority party in parliament with 25 seats – have also given assurances that they would cooperate with the executive, Yameen said.

Most MPs believe that political rivalry should be “set aside” in favour of working together in the public interest, he added.

“So God willing, our hope is to get a clear majority of the People’s Majlis in the not-so-distant future,” he said.