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Parliamentary committee green-lights extension of emergency

Fathmath Shaahunaz
19 February 2018, MVT 16:24
Ruling and opposition lawmakers near the parliament house. PHOTO/MIHAARU
Fathmath Shaahunaz
19 February 2018, MVT 16:24

The parliamentary Committee on National Security on Monday passed the resolution to extend the ongoing state of emergency for a duration of 30 days.

President Abdulla Yameen had submitted a letter to the parliament on February 7, seeking to extend the emergency which was first declared to be 15-days on February 5. The parliament convened in an extraordinary meeting Monday to debate the resolution, a day before the initial period of 15 days expired.

The National Security Committee reviewed the resolution behind closed doors. It was passed with six members of the ruling coalition, Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), voting in favour, while two lawmakers of main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had voted against.

The resolution was forwarded to the committee for review with the votes of 38 lawmakers in favour after the debate earlier. All lawmakers of opposition parties had boycotted the extraordinary sitting, and later stated that “to pass the state of emergency declaration from the parliament there should be 43 members participating in the vote as per constitution. There are only 39 members in the chamber. A vote taken without 43 MPs present would be invalid.”

However the members of the National Security Committee spoke to Mihaaru after approving the resolution, revealing that they had amended the resolution to lift the suspension of constitutional Articles that curtailed the powers of the parliament and judiciary.

The amendments came in the wake of comments by PPM member and lawmaker of Kulhudhuffushi South constituency, Mohamed Nasheed, in which he had objected to suspending the powers of the parliament and judiciary despite the state of emergency.

The suspension of other major Articles is still in effect, including Article 100: Removal of President or Vice President, Article 101: Vote of no confidence in a member of the Cabinet, Article 113: Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, and Article 228: Removal of Prosecutor General from office.

President Abdulla Yameen had declared the state of emergency soon after the Supreme Court issued a shock order February 1 to release political prisoners and reinstate unseated legislators. In his letter to the parliament, Yameen stated that the Supreme Court had overreached its judicial mandate despite the Separation of Powers, which would compromise the independence and sovereignty of the nation. The president said he believed that the top court’s actions had shaken up the constitutional framework of the Maldives.

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