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Deputy Speaker recuses parliament chair in light of MDP's Supreme Court case

Mohamed Rehan
05 November 2023, MVT 12:21
Parliament Deputy Speaker Eva Abdulla--
Mohamed Rehan
05 November 2023, MVT 12:21

Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Eva Abdulla, has recused from presiding as the chair for motions due to the constitutional lawsuit filed by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) at the Supreme Court regarding Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed's no-confidence motion.

Despite the notice period for the no-confidence motion signed by 49 MDP parliamentary members expired, attempts to table the motion on the agenda since last Sunday have failed due to Eva's leave of absence caused by contracting dengue fever.

She last attended the parliamentary sitting on October 24, after which she has notified to the parliament secretariat of her illness.

While Nasheed's no-confidence motion has been put on the agenda for the fifth time, Eva has recused herself from presiding as the chair for the matter, citing its submission to the Supreme Court as a constitutional lawsuit.

In her letter to the parliament secretariat, Eva said that she will refrain from presiding as the parliament sitting's chair until the MDP-filed lawsuit at the Supreme Court concludes.

She further argued it was not customary to make a decision prior to the Supreme Court's verdict on such matters.

"I do believe it would be a negative influence if the parliament proceeds in a specific manner while a lawsuit has been filed with the Supreme Court," Eva said.

She also viewed that any actions by the parliament while the case is pending in the top court will be in contempt of the Supreme Court, which would diminish its authority and reputation.

The Supreme Court will have a hearing of the case on Monday, November 6, at 10:00 a.m.

MDP submitted the lawsuit challenging the parliament secretariat's decision to accept only the Deputy Speaker as the chair for the Speaker's no-confidence motion sitting.

MDP's legal team believes that the parliament Secretary General's decision was in violation of Article 82 of the Maldives Constitution and Article 44 of the parliament regulation. The team argues that Article 44 of the parliament regulation stipulates eligible parliament MPs can preside as chair in the case both the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker cannot preside.

The article cites that one out of the five longest-serving MPs of the parliament can be appointed to preside as the chair of parliament sittings in absence of the Speaker or Deputy Speaker.

Additionally, MDP has referred to Article 205(d) of the parliament regulation in its argument that no other issue will proceed in the legislature without first addressing the no-confidence motion.

While Nasheed's no-confidence motion has stalled, and MDP's refusal to support work on other bills due to the motion's inconclusion has once again stalled the parliament procedures. Among the important bills that remain pending and in need of immediate attention include the bill on supplementary budget and the 2024 state budget.

After the no-confidence motion was cancelled on both Sunday and Monday last week, the parliament secretariat announced that the budget bills would be put on Tuesday's sitting's agenda.

The secretariat argued that the bills required immediate attention and discussion in parliament before the end of October, in accordance with the Public Finance Act. Tuesday last week was the last legally allowed date for the submission of budget bills.

However, MDP MPs intervened Tuesday's sitting and prohibited Vilufushi MP Hassan Afeef from proceeding.

Meanwhile, government said Minister of Finance Ibrahim Ameer was advised by the Attorney General against attending Tuesday's sitting, which in turn has stalled the budget bills.