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MDP and Parliament SG clash over committee formation

Mohamed Rehan
11 June 2023, MVT 15:19
The Secretary General of Maldives Parliament Fathimath Niusha; the SG's opinions differ with ruling MDP over the no-confidence motions against Speakers-- Photo: Nishan Ali | Mihaaru
Mohamed Rehan
11 June 2023, MVT 15:19

The parliament secretariat has sent a letter to the Maldivian Democratic Party's (MDP) parliamentary group expressing its disagreement with the ruling party's stance on the delays in forming standing committees.

The works of all parliament committees were put on pause earlier on May 22, after 13 members from the ruling party resigned. Following the members’ exit from MDP, parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed had declared that standing committees will be formed after discussing with the parties represented in the parliament.

Despite the announcement made by Speaker Nasheed, the formation of standing committees has faced delays owing to disputes among the parties. As a result, parliamentary proceedings, including ongoing no-confidence motions and debates on bills, have been put on hold for nearly three weeks.

MDP Parliamentary Group leader Mohamed Aslam wrote a letter to parliament Secretary General Fathimath Niusha, highlighting Article 106 of the Parliament Regulations, which states that standing committees will continue to exist irrespective of the prevailing circumstances.

At a press conference, Aslam said that with regards to the Parliament regulations the committee works should proceed without any obstacles.

Secretary General’s opinion leans on committee reformation

In response to Aslam's letter, the Parliament Secretary General addressed the issue by pointing out that while Article 106 emphasizes the continuity of committees, Article 131 of the parliament regulations specifies that the composition of the committees should be based on the party representation in the parliament.

The SG highlighted that the parliament regulations also allow for independent members to have the opportunity to represent in the committees. She noted that although Article 130 ensures that committee members retain their positions until the end of their parliamentary term, the same article specifies that the composition of the committees can be subject to change if a member resigns from the party they were initially representing.

"There has been a significant change in the members' composition in the parliament registry. As per Article 130 (b)(1), the13 [resigning] members have lost their authority to represent at the respective committees they were in," Niusha said.

She also stated the importance of ensuring the rights of independent members which should be determined through discussions with both the majority and minority leaders. She further stated that any changes to the composition of committee members should be approved on the parliament floor, a process that is currently underway.

The Secretary General highlighted that the parliament Chair had announced a voting process to elect standing committee members during the parliament session on May 23. However, due to Aslam's request for a change in the composition of committee members, the voting was postponed.

The Chair had made the decision to provide the opportunity for the parties to engage in discussions among themselves to reach an agreement on the composition of the committees, Niusha said.

SG differs with MDP's stance over removal of Deputy Speaker

The ruling party has filed a no-confidence motion against Deputy Speaker Eva Abdulla, with the deadline for the motion set for Sunday, June 11. The party asserts that no other parliamentary proceedings should take place until the no-confidence issue is resolved.

However, the parliament SG said that submission of other bills or motions become prohibited only after a no-confidence motion has been formally submitted to the parliament floor.

Although the 14 day notice period for the no-confidence motion signed by 50 parliamentarians has expired, the motion is yet to be submitted to the parliament, Niusha said.

The scheduling of debates on the no-confidence motion can only take place once it has been scheduled by the parliament's general committee. However, since the standing committees have not been formed, the general committee has not been able to table the motion. As a result, the parliament session has been postponed by the Secretary General and informed to the ruling party.