The parliament on Wednesday passed to allow voting on "crucial matters" even if the quorum is not met during the sittings.
Proposed by Speaker Abdulla Maseeh, it was passed unanimously by 31 lawmakers of the ruling coalition who were present at the session on Wednesday.
Maseeh had proposed the bill after the parliament failed during the last two sittings, to vote on amendments recently submitted to the Presidential Election Act and Elections General Act, over not meeting the quorum specified in the Constitution and parliamentary regulations.
Article 87 of the Constitution states that "voting on any matter requiring compliance by citizens shall only be undertaken when more than half of the total membership of the People’s Majlis are present at the sitting at which the matter is voted upon."
The same quorum is specified in Article 37 (e) of the parliamentary regulations. Currently this quorum amounts to 43 out of total 85 parliamentarians.
However, after 12 lawmakers of the ruling coalition of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) shifted allegiance to the joint opposition, the pro-government side had lost the majority in parliament. The floor-crossing MPs were also declared disqualified from the parliament, and barred from participating in the sittings.
Meanwhile opposition MPs have been boycotting sittings since the second term commenced, asserting their refusal to recognise Maseeh as the lawful speaker of the parliament.
Hence the parliament has not been able meet the quorum required to vote on the amendments proposed to the Presidential Election Act and Elections General Act this term.
In Wednesday's sitting, Maseeh noted that he had repeatedly requested all lawmakers to attend the past two sittings to vote on these amendments. However, only 35 MPs were present on the parliament floor, while 10 MPs and four from main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Jumhooree Party (JP) respectively had signed in their attendance.
Subsequently, in his proposal, Maseeh sought to allow voting on "crucial matters" if the parliament met the general quorum of twenty-five percent of members stated in Article 86 of the Constitution and Article 37 (a) of the parliamentary regulations. Currently the general quorum would amount to 21 members. Maseeh had also stressed the importance of the three amendments submitted to the Presidential Election Act and Elections General Act, as they would affect the presidential election slated for coming September, and declared that it was imperative to vote on them as soon as possible.
His proposal was passed unanimously by the 31 lawmakers present at Wednesday's sitting.
With this development, the parliament with 31 MPs also passed the three amendments submitted to the election Acts. The amendments include conditioning a 10-year-gap to all Maldivian citizens after giving up dual citizenship, in order to be eligible for presidential candidacy; prohibiting the scribbling or drawing on ballot papers besides the check mark next to the name of a candidate; raising the presidential candidacy deposit fee from MVR 40,000 to MVR 100,000.