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Parliament heads towards "deadlock" over privilege motion

Mohamed Rehan
06 June 2023, MVT 23:36
Ruling party members continued to protest following Parliament's decision to defer Attorney General Ibrahim Rifath's no-confidence motion--
Mohamed Rehan
06 June 2023, MVT 23:36

The parliament is speculated to be headed towards a "deadlock" as the opposition has submitted a privilege motion against Attorney General (AG) Ibrahim Riffath, adding to the previously submitted no-confidence motion concerning the Chagos dispute.

The parliament had scheduled the no-confidence motion, submitted by 13 opposition members, against the Attorney General for today's session. However, before proceeding with the motion, a privilege motion had been submitted by Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) member representing Faresmaathoda constituency Hussain Mohamed Latheef. The MP had requested that the motion be referred to parliament's Privileges Committee.

However, parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed called for a vote to decide whether to proceed with discussions on the privilege motion. The vote resulted in the motion being dismissed, as 48 pro-government MPs had voted against it.

Despite the majority vote, Speaker Mohamed Nasheed decided to forward the privilege motion against the Attorney General to the relevant committee. Nasheed cited a written request from the complainant MP as the reason for his decision.

The issue was not welcomed by ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members who took up of orders and raised concerns about the Speaker’s decision hand had taken up point of order.

Motion against Riffath failed to proceed

After the Parliament chair attempted to proceed with the no-confidence motion and subsequent dismissal of the AG, opposition members had rejected the decision saying that it breached the parliament procedures. The members argued that when a privilege motion is submitted, it should prevail over any other ongoing motions.

According Article 183 of the Parliament Regulations, any privilege motion submitted by parliamentary group leaders or non-party members should be given priority over any other ongoing motion.

Speaking on the matter, Nasheed claimed while the motion was forwarded to the relevant committee, majority of the committees have not been formed due to disagreements among parliamentary group leaders. Nasheed further said that due to this conflict, the Privileges Committee has not been officially formed as well.

“While a privilege motion has been submitted, MPs have noted that this [no-confidence] motion cannot proceed. Even if I attempted to proceed with the issue, members take up point of orders,” Nasheed said.

With the continued interventions by the MPs claiming that the no-confidence motion cannot proceed due to submission of a privilege motion decided to defer the matter.

“I have decided not to proceed with the Attorney General’s no-confidence motion for now,” Nasheed said.

MDP protests Parliament move

Following Parliament chair’s decision to not proceed with the no-confidence motion against the AG, MDP members started raising point of orders, and began to protest inside the chambers once the Speaker decided to proceed with other matters in the agenda.

The situation inside the parliament during Tuesday’s session intensified after Nasheed announced the sitting will move forward with other matters on the agenda. The Speaker decided to open the floors to discuss the emergency motion submitted alleging the government’s intimidation attempts on members of The Democrats, the newly formed political party. The ruling party members had strictly opposed to these decisions and continued to protest.

Moreover, the opposition members continued to argue that the decision to set aside the no-confidence motion in light of the privilege motion has rendered discussions on any other matter null.

MDP claimed that the new motion submitted by MP Latheef had been dismissed from the floor, and its submission to the committee would in no way intervene with the proceedings of the no-confidence motion debate.

However, the Parliament chair did not take into consideration the arguments raised by the ruling party. As a result, approximately 13 parliamentarians interrupted the proceedings in protest.

When Tuesday’s sitting reached its morning interval at 10:30 a.m. the situation had intensified significantly. After the sitting resumed at 11:00 a.m., Vilufushi MP Hassan Afeef, who chaired the sitting, attempted to proceed with the intimidation issue against The Democrats, which was met with loud protests. Following this, Afeef decided to end Tuesday’s parliamentary session.

Similar to Tuesday’s sitting, Monday’s sitting was stopped at 01:30 p.m. after losing order.