Today’s sitting of parliament was adjourned by Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed amid vociferous protests by opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs over an amendment proposed to the parliamentary rules to require a vote ahead of debating bills and resolutions.
MDP MPs accused the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) of attempting to “silence the voice of the minority party” by blocking debate on resolutions.
The PPM together with the five MPs of coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) have a combined 48 seats in the 85-member house.
Under the existing rules or standing orders, bills and resolutions submitted to the People’s Majlis have to be tabled in the agenda and debated on the floor ahead of a vote.
If MPs decide to accept a bill or resolution following preliminary debate, it would be sent to committee for further review ahead of a final vote.
Previously, motions without notice – which opens the floor for a one-hour debate on matters of urgent public importance – submitted by MDP MPs have been defeated by the majority party.
In July, pro-government MPs voted against a motion without notice submitted by MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy to debate the Judicial Service Commission’s (JSC) controversial decision to clear Supreme Court Justice Ali Hameed of misconduct over his appearance in a series of sex tapes.
Imthiyaz revealed to the press this week that Speaker Maseeh – a member of the PPM – had sent a letter on Saturday (August 16) to the general affairs committee requesting the revision.
Imthiyaz noted that a resolution he submitted in July calling for a parliamentary debate on the JSC decision regarding Justice Ali Hameed’s sex tapes has yet to be tabled in the agenda by the speaker.
Today’s sitting became disorderly during debate on a report (Dhivehi) compiled by the general affairs committee after evaluating the amendments proposed by the speaker.
The committee had rejected the amendment proposed to section 77(a) after MDA MP Ahmed Amir voted in favour of a proposal by Jumhooree Party (JP) MP Ahmed Mubeen to keep the section unchanged.
The proposal was passed with five votes after Amir voted with JP and MDP MPs on the committee.
However, PPM MP Jameel Usman proposed the same amendment during today’s debate, prompting MDP MPs to object with points of order.
Several MDP MPs also sprang from their seats and surrounded Usman while he was proposing the amendment. Under the rules, once an amendment is proposed to a committee report and seconded, the speaker must put it to a vote.
MDP and JP MPs accused the ruling party of attempting to overrule the committee decision by using their majority in the full house floor.
However, Usman reportedly said later that he was not in favour of requiring a vote ahead of preliminary debates for bills and resolutions, claiming that he was going to propose giving each party and independent MP five minutes during debates but was shouted down.