The parliament on Monday passed the amendment to parliament regulations that a motion of no confidence may only be submitted against the speaker and deputy speaker with a minimum of 42 signatures.
The amendment, effective immediately, comes amidst the motions of no confidence currently submitted against Speaker Abdulla Maseeh and Deputy Speaker Moosa Manik by lawmakers of the opposition coalition. While the third no confidence motion was submitted against the speaker on Sunday, the debate on the no confidence motion against the deputy speaker was scheduled to be held this Tuesday.
However, with the passing of this amendment, both motions have been automatically thrown out of the parliament.
The sudden amendment, which was passed Sunday by the government controlled parliamentary General Purpose Committee, was passed on the parliament floor Monday with 46 lawmakers voting in favour. None of the opposition lawmakers took part in the vote.
The parliament regulations prior to this amendment mandated only a minimum of 15 signatures from lawmakers to submit a no confidence motion against the speaker and deputy speaker.
Following the General Purpose Committee’s decision to amend the regulation, opposition members harshly censured Speaker Maseeh during Monday’s debate.
Addu Meedhoo MP Rozaina Adam remarked that the speaker’s vehement efforts to maintain his grasp on the speaker’s chair despite lack of support from lawmakers are dumbfounding. She put out a rhetoric question as to why the ruling coalition fears to take a vote in spite of their loud assurance that they can defend the speaker.
Stressing the absurdity of requiring 42 signatures to submit a motion of no confidence against the speaker while only 29 signatures are required for the same vote against the president of the Maldives, MP Rozaina commented that the only way for Speaker Maseeh to remain in position is “to glue that chair [to the speaker] with Dunlop adhesive.”
Meanwhile, one of the leading government lawmakers, Villimale MP Ahmed Nihan, declared that the amendment to the parliament regulations was imperative. Highlighting that several important issues submitted to parliament are currently on hold due to clashes in opposition and government lawmakers, he accused the opposition of working to halt the effective functioning of the parliament for their own selfish motives.
MP Nihan also pointed out that all democratic nations large and small amend their parliamentary regulations depending on the national situation. He added that this amendment does not target a specific political party but is for the betterment of the nation as a whole.
While opposition lawmakers slammed the amendment as unacceptable and an infringement of members’ rights, the ruling coalition lawmakers maintained that they will thwart the opposition’s attempts to halt national development.
“There are several such amendments that need to be made to parliamentary regulations; this is the beginning,” said Fonadhoo MP Abdul Raheem Abdulla of ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), while Hithadhoo MP Ali Nizar of main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) described it as an act “against the principles of democracy.”