Deputy speaker seeks to ban megaphones at Majlis

The deputy speaker is seeking to ban horns, sirens and megaphones inside the parliament as opposition protests on the Majlis floor enters its eighth week.

MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik is proposing amendments to the Majlis standing orders banning horns, megaphones and other objects that may “mentally disturb” people, according to Haveeru. 

The amendments also prohibit MPs going up to the Speaker’s desk to disrupt Majlis proceedings.

Moosa, formerly a member of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), said he will make “many amendments to keep order and discipline in the Majlis.”

MDP and Jumhooree Party MPs have been protesting since March 2 over the arrest and subsequent imprisonment of former President Mohamed Nasheed and ex defence minister Mohamed Nazim.

The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives has continued with Majlis debates while Speaker Abdulla Maseeh has proceeded with several votes including a law to delay the new penal code amidst opposition protests.

However, the debates have been inaudible over the sound of sirens and horns, while some votes were counted with a show of hands.

Moosa told Haveeru the Speaker will not to allow an MP to speak if other MPs from their party are disrupting Majlis proceedings.


Majlis speaker announces five parliamentarians to lead in his absence

The names of five parliamentarians who will lead parliament in the instance that both the speaker and his deputy are absent, have been announced by Speaker Abdulla Maseeh.

Parliamentary regulations stipulate that the five members must be those who have served for the longest time in the chamber.

The five names are Holhudhoo constituency MP Ali Mohamed, Kanditheemu constituency MP Mohamed Hussain, Hinnavaru constituency and MDP Parliamentary Group Leader MP Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, former speaker and Henveiru Uthuru constituency MP Abdulla Shahid, and Guraidhoo constituency MP Hussain Manik Dhon Manik.


JP nominees for political appointees unqualified, says President Yameen

Jumhooree Party (JP) has failed to gain allocated seats in political positions because nominees put forth by the party are unqualified, President Abdulla Yameen has said.

“The privatization board dismissed nominees put forth by Gasim because they are unqualified,” Yameen told the press at the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport yesterday evening.

JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim had claimed Yameen’s Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) had breached the ruling coalition agreement’s by refusing to give the party a 35 percent stake in political appointees.

Gasim’s comments came in response to the PPM executive council’s warning on Monday night that the coalition would dissolve if he stood for the position of People’s Majlis Speaker. The PPM would consider such a move to be a breach of the agreement, the party said.

But Gasim accused PPM of breaching the agreement first, claiming the JP had received only 34 seats of the 300 political appointees. He has also refused to retract his decision to contest for the position of Majlis Speaker.

Yameen said it was important for a PPM MP to be elected to the position: “The speakership is very important to the ruling party. Then only can we do what we want to do with ease.”

“Gasim does not trust us. That is why he is standing despite us nominating someone else,” he said.


Reeko Moosa to stand for deputy speaker of the Majlis

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party MP elect ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik has announced he will contest for the position of parliamentary deputy speaker.

Members of the 18th People’s Majlis are to be sworn in tomorrow.

Moosa said he has held discussions with parties in the ruling coalition Jumhooree Party (JP) and the Progressive Party of the Maldives on the matter.

Meanwhile, MDP’s acting president Mohamed Nasheed has announced the MDP will back Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim for the position of Speaker.

The JP and PPM are at loggerheads over the speakership issue. The PPM has said the coalition will fall apart should Gasim decide to contest, though Gasim said he will not withdraw his name.


JP reprimands former council member Fuad Gasim

The Jumhooree Party (JP) has condemned allegations by former council member Fuad Gasim concerning JP Leader Gasim Ibrahim’s ties with the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

State Minister for Health Fuad Gasim resigned from the JP council in protest on Friday after former President Mohamed Nasheed met Gasim Ibrahim and signalled the MDP’s support for the business tycoon’s bid to become the speaker of the newly-elected 18th People’s Majlis.

Fuad told Sun Online on Thursday (May 1) that the close ties between Gasim and Nasheed were unacceptable while the JP remained a part of the ruling coalition.

One of reasons he supported JP was its opposition to the MDP’s alleged “secular ideology,” Fuad said.

Fuad also criticised as “undemocratic” the JP’s selection of candidates for the March 22 parliamentary polls, claiming that the JP ticket was awarded to individuals who “pleased the leader.”

In a press release issued on Thursday in response to Fuad’s remarks in the media, the JP stated that Gasim followed an “open policy” of holding discussions with leaders of all political parties upon request.

“Meeting a particular person from a particular political party does not diminish or undermine the religious and nationalist ideology accepted by the Jumhooree Party and the party’s leadership,” the statement read.

The JP statement revealed that Fuad Gasim was barred from some party offices about a month ago following complaints from female staff regarding his behaviour.

The complaints included allegations that Fuad was using female toilets, the statement explained.

Moreover, party members complained about Fuad while he was serving as the secretary general, it added.

The statement went on to accuse the former council member of campaigning against the JP’s candidate for the Nolhivaram constituency.

Fuad had met Gasim Ibrahim prior to the elections and demanded the JP ticket, the statement alleged.

Following Gasim’s refusal to award him the ticket, the JP claimed that Fuad had been slandering both the party and its leader.

The JP press release noted that Fuad Gasim remained in a government post designated for the party under the coalition agreement.

The post of Majlis speaker has meanwhile been a source of friction in the governing coalition. After Gasim expressed interest in the role, President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom declared that the speaker should be a member of the ruling party, which won the most number of seats in the March 22 polls.

The Progressive Coalition – made up of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) along with the JP and Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) – reached an agreement prior to the Majlis elections to divide the 85 constituencies among the coalition partners.

Following a joint campaign, the PPM won 33 seats along while the JP and MDA won 15 and five seats respectively.

The opposition MDP secured 26 seats while five independent candidates and one Adhaalath Party candidate were elected.

However, MDP MP-elect for the Thimarafushi constituency, Mohamed Musthafa, and three of the five independent candidates have since signed for the PPM.

The election of a new speaker through secret ballot is scheduled to take place at the first sitting of the 18th People’s Majlis on May 28.


Speaker advises state institutions that Waheed no longer in power

Additional reporting by Zaheena Rasheed

Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid has sent a letter to President Dr Mohamed Waheed informing him that his term as president expired at midnight, and informing him that he was no longer in command of the country.

Waheed yesterday declared that he would remain in power until the run-off vote scheduled for November 16, before boarding a speedboat off Male with his wife as violent protests and a police crackdown began to shake the capital.

Parliament last week passed a resolution calling on the speaker to run an interim government until the election after the expiry of Waheed’s term. However the Supreme Court issued a verdict on the day of the re-vote, November 9, upholding its earlier edict that Waheed remain in power.

The speaker’s letter called Waheed’s attention to Article 107 of the constitution which limits the presidential term to five years, and Article 262 which says Article 107 can only be amended if three quarters of the Majlis approves of the change and if a majority of the public votes for it in a public referendum.

As there is no other way to extend presidential term, the speaker informed Waheed: “The presidential term which began on 11 November 2008 ended on 10 November 2013 and the term cannot be extended unless the procedures laid out in Article 262 are followed.”

Speaker Shahid also noted that the constitution mandated all three branches of the state, staff employed by the state, and all citizens to fully obey and act within the confines of the constitution.

Therefore, any act committed in violation of the constitution was illegal as per Article 268 of the constitution, the letter highlighted.

The Speaker also sent a similar letter to Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz, Chief of Defence Forces Major General Ahmed Shiyam, Elections Commission President Fuwad Thowfeek, Human Rights Commission of the Maldives President Mariyam Azra, Civil Service Commission President Dr Mohamed Latheef, Prosecutor General Ahmed Muizz, Auditor General Niyaz Ibrahim, and Anti corruption Commission President Hassan Luthfy.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the Maldives Sir Donald McKinnon has meanwhile expressed “dismay” at Waheed’s decision to remain in office “against the letter and spirit of the constitution.”

McKinnon had earlier called for an interim government, invoking Article 124 which concerns the succession of the speaker should the posts of president and vice president become vacant. Vice President Waheed Deen had already resigned earlier that morning.

“In the absence of a political agreement, the people must look to their Constitution for guidance and have confidence in their Constitution. Article 124 makes clear the spirit and intent of the Constitution for situations such as the one the country is currently facing,” McKinnon stated.

Waheed, who received just 5.13 percent in the annulled first round vote on September 7, and who had previously declared he had no intention of remaining in power “even a day after November 11”, said: “Many Maldivians, international organisations and countries are pressuring me to resign and temporarily hand over the government to the People’s Majlis Speaker. On the other hand, even more citizens want me to stay on, to continue with administration of the country, to carry out my duty.”

Sir McKinnon said today that Waheed’s decision was “regrettably, not unexpected despite best efforts of the Commonwealth and the United Nations to encourage the President to stay within the constitution.

“I understand people’s anguish, but calm must prevail in the interests of all Maldivians. I naturally hope that the second round of the election will go ahead on 16th November, as pledged by the President in his address to the nation.”


Date to resume parliamentary sessions “yet to emerge”, claims MDP

An exact date for resuming parliamentary sessions in the Maldives has “yet to emerge” following the suspension of the Majlis Speaker, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has said, as government-aligned parties request for the chamber to be reopened to MPs.

MDP MP and spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Minivan News today that the decision by Speaker Abdulla Shahid to suspend parliament “indefinitely” on July 31 had been the correct course of action, adding that MPs were on the “right track” to finding a potential resolution during the final 10 days of Ramazan.

Despite the claims, government-aligned MPs have continued to criticise the conduct of the MDP over the Majlis suspension.  The Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) has this week urged that parliamentary sessions continue with the assistance of security forces to remove any members attempting to disrupt hearings.

Speaker Shahid at the time of announcing the suspension of parliament said that MDP MPs had confronted him in his private chambers after party member Mohamed Rasheed ‘Kubey’ was forcibly removed at the beginning of sitting.

“Moreover, confrontations occurred between MPs in the chamber to the point of becoming dangerous,” an official statement read, adding that “an atmosphere of calm necessary to conduct sittings could not be assured” as all recent sittings had to be cancelled due to disorder.

Shahid explained that he decided to invoke the Speaker’s authority under section 213(e) of the rules of procedure to cancel sittings indefinitely as he believed a political solution had to be sought through dialogue among parliamentary group leaders.

However, local media yesterday reported that DQP Vice President and Vilufushi MP Riyaz Rasheed had sent a letter to the speaker citing the conduct and perceived role of the MDP in having parliament suspended as an “infringement” of democratic rights in the country.

As well as calling for notification of the present situation to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) and the Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU), Riyaz was quoted by local newspaper Haveeru as calling for parliament to press ahead with its work to amend and enact national legislation such as through the various parliamentary committees.

“The work of the committees is stalled due to the suspended parliament. Hence as the laws to combat the rising crime rates, unrest, violence and acts of terrorism are held up at the committees, we request [the Speaker] facilitate the resumption of Parliament sessions and Committees,” a letter attributed to Riyaz read.

“Article 105 of the Constitution obligates the security forces to assist the speaker.”

When contacted today, DQP Secretary General Abdulla Ameen forwarded Minivan News to Riyaz himself for a response to the letter, however the MP was not answering calls at the time of press.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the DQP’s coalition partner the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) said it had not been involved in any talks to resume the Majlis sessions.

DRP Parliamentary Group Leader and MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom nonetheless called on the MDP to give up on its “stubbornness” and respect democratic rights in the nation in order to facilitate parliament resuming its work.

Dr Mausoom did not elaborate on the exact commitments he believed the MDP should make regarding addressing its “stubbornness”.

Meanwhile, MDP MP Ghafoor contended that the suspension of parliament had been the result of an understanding with the speaker concerning “internal security” in the Majlis chamber.

“The Majlis is not a place where you should be forced to remove an MP from chamber, it was not feasible to continue like that,” he said, concerning the atmosphere in parliament leading to the institution’s suspension.

Ghafoor contended that the speaker had decided under existing parliamentary regulation to discontinue holding sessions in the Majlis until a solution to the current unrest could be found through proposed talks between parliamentary leaders.

“Dr Waheed is also invited to join the discussions,” he said. “As far as I know talks are on track.”

Ghafoor claimed that the party had nonetheless committed to calling off it’s “direct action” street protests – conducting on consecutive nights last month as part of aims to “topple” the present government of President Waheed. The MDP alleges the administration of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan came to power on February 7 in a “coup d’etat”.

“Although we are within our right to protest, we have suspended these protest for the last ten days of Ramazan,” he said. “We have done this voluntarily to give enough time for talks to be conducted in the Majlis and this is shaping up well.”

According to Ghafoor, the decision to stop protests during the remainder of the Islamic holy month had been in order to open talks with government-aligned parties and the president within the Majlis to outline a plan to move forward with parliament.

“I believe we are on the right track [regarding recommencing parliamentary sessions],” he claimed. “There is now a ten day window for all parties represented in the Majlis to hold discussions. All the conditions are right for talks to resume.”

Sun Online reported today that discussions were taking place between representatives of the government coalition parties on whether President Waheed should join the proposed discussions between the country’s parliamentary group leaders.

The report added that the president was presently yet to decide on whether he would be participating in talks in line with requests from the opposition MDP.

President’s Office Media Secretary Masood Imad told Minivan News today that aside from the previously proposed all-party talks that were established by as part of a wider roadmap plan announced in February, Doctor Waheed was not presently involved in trying to resolve the issue of parliament’s suspension.


MDP Parliamentarians submit no-confidence motion against Speaker Shahid

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Parliamentary Group has today passed a no-confidence motion against Abdulla Shahid, Speaker of the People’s Majlis.

The now opposition party said it had moved to pass the current no-confidence motion against Speaker Shahid over allegations that he had been making decisions relating to significant parliamentary issues without discussing them with various political parties.

The party claimed that Shahid had been acting outside of his mandate by deciding to suspend certain parliament regulations, whilst opting to follow others that were to his personal benefit.  The MDP allege the speaker had been doing this without discussing his decisions among any political parties represented inside parliament.

From within the MDP Parliamentary Group, 27 members out of a total of 32 belonging to the group are said to have signed the no-confidence motion.  The party claimed that its members who did not sign the motion had been unavailable to do so at present.

Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Mahloof could not be contacted at the time of going to press regarding his party’s response to the motion.

Speaker Shahid told Minivan News today that parliament had received the no-confidence motion, though he did not wish to elaborate further at the present time.

‘’I will issue a written statement tomorrow,’’ he said. ‘’I have decided not to say anything before that.’’

The MDP previously called for a no-confidence motion against the Speaker in March 2010, accusing him of siding with the then-opposition parties.

In January last year, there were widespread rumors that MDP, the People’s Alliance Party (PA) and the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) were planning to forward a no-confidence motion against the speaker.

However, all the parties denied such a collaboration at the time and a no-confidence motion was not forwarded to the parliament.

DRP Parliamentary Group Leader and MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.

Dr Mausoom has today told the local press that he will make sure the no-confidence motion against Speaker fails in parliament.

He also said there might be a chance that MDP has sided with some of the independent MPs in parliament to pass the no-confidence motion.