Committee approves amendment for secret ballot for second time

Parliament’s General Affairs Committee has approved for a second time an amendment proposed to the rules of procedure to conduct no-confidence motions through secret ballot.

The amendment would come into effect if it is passed by a vote at the Majlis floor.

A previous decision by the committee was declared void by the Counsellor General Fathmath Filza on the grounds that the committee meeting on October 23 where it was voted through took place in violation of the rules.

The committee meeting took place without either the chair or deputy chair in attendance.

Newspaper Haveeru reported  on Thursday that the amendment by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Shifaz was approved again at a meeting Wednesday night. The former ruling party has a voting majority on the committee.

Independent MP for Dhaalu Atoll Kudahuvadhoo and Deputy Chair of the General Affairs Committee, Ahmed Amir, told the newspaper that the amendment was approved with four votes from MDP MPs and three against.

“Although the committee’s decision was overturned earlier, the decision for a secret ballot [for no-confidence motions] will be valid this time,” Amir was quoted as saying.

MDP MP Shifaz proposed the amendment last week after MP Amir withdraw a similar amendment to the house rules to conduct no-confidence motions through secret ballot.

Shifaz’s amendment however does not apply to no-confidence motions against the Speaker or Deputy Speaker of parliament.

The MDP has submitted no-confidence motions against both Home Minister Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik.

While a minister can be removed from his post through a simple majority of the 77 MPs in parliament, a two-thirds majority or 52 votes would be needed to impeach a sitting president.