The Edition


Parliament passes new ambassador to Sri Lanka with record-low votes

Fathmath Shaahunaz
23 August 2017, MVT 11:12
Security officers surround Speaker Maseeh inside the parliament chambers.
Fathmath Shaahunaz
23 August 2017, MVT 11:12

The parliament on Wednesday passed the appointment of Mohamed Hussain Shareef as the new Ambassador of the Maldives to Sri Lanka with only 28 votes in favour, which is a record low for the ruling coalition.

Wednesday’s sitting was also held under high security with Speaker Abdulla Maseeh escorted to the parliament chambers with security officers, who surrounded the speaker’s seat while opposition lawmakers protested and demanded that Maseeh step down. Maseeh commenced and continued the session amongst the chaos, despite the heated rows between lawmakers of the ruling coalition and joint opposition.

The appointment of Mohamed Hussain Shareef as the new Ambassador of the Maldives to Sri Lanka was passed with 28 votes in favour from ruling coalition lawmakers, which is a record low for the current government. The number of votes sparked jeers and mockery from opposition MPs.

Member of main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and lawmaker of Meedhoo constituency Rozaina Adam declared that the true size of ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has been exposed. She proclaimed that the low number of votes indicates the deteriorating support for the current government and Maseeh.

Speaker Maseeh also held another vote regarding the Maldives’ membership in the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). The issue was passed with only 27 votes in favour.

Security officers surround Speaker Maseeh inside the parliament chambers while opposition lawmakers protest.

The speaker swiftly concluded Wednesday’s sitting afterwards and left the chambers after announcing that another session will be held Thursday.

Meanwhile, ruling coalition’s lawmaker Yameen Rasheed declared that opposition MPs are refusing to cooperate in matters that concern public interests, stating that their actions in the parliament sitting as well as the regulations committee meeting on Tuesday night prove this.

He added that parliament security will not allow any form of physical violence inside the parliament chambers.

Speaking to reporters after the session, PPM’s deputy leader Abdul Raheem insisted that the ruling coalition still holds the majority of the parliament. His claim was seconded by PPM’s parliamentary group leader Ahmed Nihan, who stated that the “majority of votes” mean from the number of lawmakers that were present at that particular sitting. According to Nihan, all the lawmakers of the ruling coalition that had signed into parliament with their cards on Wednesday had voted in favour of Shareef’s appointment as ambassador.

Nihan added that the current problems in parliament are all strictly “political” and that it is time for lawmakers of both the ruling coalition and joint opposition to calmly seek a solution. Noting that opposition MPs must also be granted the freedom of speech inside the chambers, he said that he has also spoken with MDP’s parliamentary group leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Ever since the parliament administration recently quashed the opposition’s motion of no confidence against Speaker Abdulla Maseeh, the opposition MPs have been declaring that they would not allow any sittings chaired by Speaker Abdulla Maseeh. The lawmakers had filed the impeachment motion with 45 signatures, including 10 from defecting lawmakers from PPM. However, following a rushed Supreme Court ruling on anti-defection which resulted in four of the PPM lawmakers being unseated, the parliament administration had declared the no confidence motion invalid as the number of signatures had dropped below the required minimum of 42.

Opposition lawmakers have refused to recognize the decision and insisted that other agendas cannot be scheduled for parliament sessions before the lawmakers debate and vote on the no confidence motion against the speaker.

Current Maldivian Ambassador to Sri Lanka Zahiya Zareer (R) and Maldivian Ambassador to Japan Mohamed Hussain Shareef.

The new Maldivian Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Mohamed Hussain Shareef, holds a Master’s Degree in Diplomacy and was the spokesperson of the President’s Office during the administration of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. He has also served as the Minister of Youth and Sports and as the minister of the President’s Office in the current government.

He was appointed the Ambassador of the Maldives to Japan in August 2016.

Sri Lanka is currently the residing place of several senior officials of the opposition. Convicted former President Mohamed Nasheed has also been in the country for around a month now, where opposition members have been conducting activities.