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Petition to grant constituents power to recall MPs

Shahudha Mohamed
11 March 2019, MVT 20:58
Maldives Parliament building. PHOTO: NISHAN ALI/MIHAARU
Shahudha Mohamed
11 March 2019, MVT 20:58

Hamza Khaleel, an independent candidate contesting for Galolhu North constituency in the upcoming parliamentary elections, initiated a petition on March 3, seeking to grant members of a respective constituency the power to hold a vote of no-confidence against their elected parliament representatives.

The movement has picked up since, reportedly attracting numerous inquiries from across the country, seeking copies of the petition. Speaking to the Edition, Hamza announced that, although the collection of signatures was already taking place, plans to make the petition available online was also underway. He added that special events held to collect further signatures would be announced on Tuesday.

The petition advocates that each lawmaker publicise independently audited asset declarations on an annual basis, following election to parliament.

It also calls for a public no-confidence vote to be held against an MP in the event that a request bearing signatories from two-thirds of constituents is submitted to the Elections Commission (EC).

"The petition pushes people's desire to hold members of parliament accountable by petitioning for a recall vote or vote of no confidence against a sitting member of parliament based on their act or omission within the functions of a parliamentarian", said Hamza.

Citing the United Kingdom's Recall of MPs Act 2015, which allows constituents to be able to recall their Member of Parliament and call a by-election, Hamza stated his belief that the people should have the power to remove MPs that fail to attend sessions and work against the best interest of the constituency and that an MP should not be allowed to sit in parliament after losing constituents' support.

Further, he asserted, “The aim of the petition is to emphasize the basics of democracy, power back to the people in a time when parliamentarians are accused of all sorts of illicit enrichment and corruption and crime".

Complaints regarding members of parliament failing to uphold responsibilities is a common narrative in Maldives. The public has expressed outrage over lawmakers on vacation whilst sessions involving votes for important bills were ongoing and purposely postponing the passing of certain bills, or have presented outright accusations of corruption, on various occasions.

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