Nasheed backs Gasim for Speaker

Opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed has declared support for Jumhooree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim as Speaker of the newly elected People’s Majlis.

Speaking to the media following a meeting with Gasim on Monday night, Nasheed said his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) parliamentary group will make a final decision on behalf of the party.

“Our party will decide on this matter on discussion among its members, within the National Executive Council. Tonight, I met Gasim and we held discussions in a very friendly atmosphere. So I hope the outcome will be beneficial to both parties,” Nasheed said.

Gasim placed third in the 2013 presidential elections and successfully sought a revote. After Gasim placed third for a second time, Nasheed sought his backing for the second round. However, the JP decided to back Progressive Party of the Maldives’ (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.

On its presidential win, the PPM and JP formed a coalition – the Progressive Coalition – along with two smaller parties. The coalition fielded joint candidates in the parliamentary elections in March. The PPM won 33 seats, the JP 15 and the MDP 26.

Tension has risen within the coalition on the question of which party should control the Speaker’s position.

Nasheed told the media that he agreed to support Gasim without any conditions and that there were benefits for the MDP and the JP from supporting Gasim as Speaker.

Gasim said all parties must come together and discuss over important issues in a democracy.

He told the press he will hold discussions with President Yameen to obtain backing from the PPM for his Speaker bid.

Meanwhile, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who is also PPM’s honorary leader spoke to newspaper ‘Haveeru’ at the airport after arriving from Srilanka and said that the normal procedure followed when appointing a Speaker of the parliament in most countries was selecting someone from the party that has the most number of MPs.

Gayoom said that PPM had not decided on the issue and will hold more discussions within the party in the upcoming days.

He also said that Gasim had told him about his interest in becoming the Speaker of parliament and said that he had not agreed to it.

In March 2014, President Abdulla Yameen said that PPM will forward its own candidate for the position of speaker of the People’s Majlis.

Parliament should be an institution that “sincerely and responsibly” fulfils the duty bestowed by the public, Yameen told his supporters in speaking at a rally at the time to celebrate the Progressive Coalition’s garnering of a 53 seat majority in Majlis elections.

“For this reason, our party wants the speaker’s post in the next People’s Majlis,” he said during the rally.

Previously, local media reported PPM MP Ahmed Mahloof as saying that both he and fellow re-elected PPM MP Ahmed Nihan had pledged to support Gasim’s candidacy for speaker while negotiating during the 2013 presidential election.

Mahloof suggested that the nomination of a PPM candidate would be likely to cause a rift within the Progressive Coalition, and would be a decision he would find difficult to support

The election of the new speaker – a position that was held by the MDP’s Abdulla Shahid in the previous parliament session – is scheduled to take place through a secret ballot of MPs at the first sitting of the new session.

Majlis regulations note that the speaker “shall be the highest authority of the People’s Majlis responsible for the conduction of all matters pertaining to the People’s Majlis including the administration, the sittings and the committees of the People’s Majlis in accordance with the Constitution and the Regulations.”

The speaker is also charged with preserving “order and decorum” within the Majlis, as well as observance of the institution’s regulations.