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MDP conflict heightens as Nasheed calls for Fayyaz to step down

Fathmath Shaahunaz
09 September 2020, MVT 18:12
Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed (L) and Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail: the rift between the two MDP members heightened as Nasheed called on Fayyaz to step down. PHOTO/MIHAARU
Fathmath Shaahunaz
09 September 2020, MVT 18:12

Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Nasheed and Minister of Economic Development Fayyaz Ismail clashed again on Wednesday after Nasheed called on the latter to recuse himself from his ministerial duties.

The former president Nasheed recently accused Fayyaz, one of the most influential ministers on President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's cabinet, of corruption.

As per previously leaked chat logs allegedly depicting conversations within ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)'s parliamentary group, Nasheed has likened the minister's influence to that of former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb, who quickly rose through the ranks of jailed former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom's administration.

Nasheed also kicked off efforts to unseat Fayyaz in August, by collecting signatures of lawmakers to push a no-confidence vote against the minister.

Amid the ongoing conflict, Nasheed, who is currently on an unofficial trip to the United Kingdom, wrote in a letter to MDP Chairperson Hassan Latheef that Fayyaz must step aside for the good of MDP, to prevent possible damage to the party.

Insisting that he did not have any personal vendettas against Fayyaz or any other MDP members, Nasheed stressed that the allegations of corruption against Fayyaz must be investigated on "a criminal level".

"From a political perspective, Minister Fayyaz is the responsibility of this party. Hence I urge the minister to recuse himself", read his letter to Latheef.

The speaker went on to describe MDP as relatively untainted by corruption allegations. Touching upon MDP's short-lived government from November 2008 to February 2012 under Nasheed's presidency, he stated that in the seven years since, MDP continues to enjoy the people's support as a "clean party".

Soon after media reports of Nasheed's letter, Minister Fayyaz fired back that he has "no intention of resigning" and that only President Solih may terminate him.

"I wish to comment on two points regarding [Nasheed's] letter. One is that I want everyone in Maldives to see its contents. The second is that it was President Solih who appointed me. If the president indicates that he wishes for my termination, a single such glance from him and I shall resign", he told local media.

Prior to the letter, Fayyaz had repeatedly denied the corruption allegations against him as well.

Nasheed's attempts to garner support for ousting Fayyaz have created rifts within the ruling party -- with President Solih speaking out in Fayyaz's defence, along with other members of the faction.

Despite the party's internal discord, Nasheed is planning to lodge a no-confidence vote against Fayyaz at the MDP National Congress.

However, despite Nasheed's attempts to garner signatures to impeach Fayyaz, the censure motion was not submitted to the parliament by the time it went into recess on Sunday.

At least 10 signatures are required to submit a no-confidence motion against a cabinet member.

Once the motion is submitted to the parliament, it can be approved only with a majority vote of 44 members or more.

As the biggest faction of the coalition government, MDP holds a super-majority, occupying 65 out of the total 87 seats, meaning that no legislation passes without MDP's support.

Public ire continues to soar over the government's lacklustre performance in actively reforming the many issues plaguing the political system, often citing a lack of political will in reference to the super-majority.