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Speaker’s chair kicked out as lawmakers demand no confidence vote

Fathmath Shaahunaz
31 July 2017, MVT 10:27
Parliament speaker's chair placed outside the chambers.
Fathmath Shaahunaz
31 July 2017, MVT 10:27

Opposition lawmakers are protesting in the parliament chambers as preparations began for the sitting scheduled for early Monday.

The chair of Parliament Speaker Abdulla Maseeh have also been removed from the chambers and left outside on the premises. Lawmakers of the opposition coalition are declaring that Abdulla Maseeh cannot chair the sitting, as the opposition has filed a motion of no confidence against the speaker.

The motion of no confidence was filed by the opposition in a third attempt with 45 signatures, including ten from ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)’s lawmakers. However, after four parliamentarians who gave their signatures were declared to have lost their seats by the Elections Commission, the parliament had quashed the motion, stating that the number of valid signatures on the petition now fall short of the required minimum of 42.

The opposition coalition has refused to recognise the decision and opposition lawmakers are calling to hold the no confidence vote. Lawmakers are also demanding the release of four parliamentarians who are currently under arrest and detained from attending the session.

Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) soldiers who are in charge of parliament security attempted to remove the lawmakers from the chambers during the protest, sparking conflict. Security forces have since halted attempts to evacuate.

Speaker Abdulla Maseeh is yet to enter the chambers.

Security forces remove opposition lawmakers gathered at the parliament speaker's table while lawmaker protest.

Update: Security forces are now surrounding the speaker's table after removing opposition lawmakers from the vicinity. An officer has returned the speaker's chair to the chambers.

Opposition lawmakers continue to call for the motion of no confidence against Speaker Maseeh. Some parliamentarians also butted heads with ruling party lawmakers, claiming that a vote will show that the opposition coalition now holds the super majority of Parliament.

Update: Speaker Abdulla Maseeh entered the parliament chambers after 11:00 a.m. with the protection of security forces. The turmoil in the chambers exacerbated as he assumed his seat while opposition lawmakers shouted for him to step down. Tensions peaked again between the lawmakers and security forces surrounding the speaker's table.

Within a few minutes of commencing Monday's sitting, Speaker Maseeh left the parliament chambers amidst the uproar of opposition lawmakers. It remains unclear whether the session for Monday is officially ended.

Update: PPM's parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan tweeted that Speaker Abdulla Maseeh has concluded the sitting for Monday.

Security forces gathered around the speaker's table in the parliament chambers while opposition lawmakers protest.

The only issue on agenda for Monday's session was for Kinbidhoo MP Abdulla Riyaz to question the Minister of Environment and Energy Thoriq Ibrahim regarding the coastal reinforcement project of Kandoodhoo island. A lawmaker of PPM told Mihaaru that Speaker Maseeh had announced to the members amidst the commotion that the sitting could not be continued as MP Riyaz was not in attendance.

Speaker Maseeh further stated that the issue filed by Galolhu South MP Ahmed Mahloof on the members' privileges was based on false claims and thus annulled, according to the PPM lawmaker. The speaker also threw out the emergency motion filed by Alifushi MP Ahmed Rasheed as it was incomplete.

Speaker Maseeh retreated to his office in the parliament building after leaving the chambers. Security forces are on guard outside his door while lawmakers of both the ruling and opposition coalitions are also gathered outside.

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