Maldives opposition launches a new bid to seize parliament
Maldives opposition parties yesterday launched a new bid to seize control of parliament through a third attempt to impeach the speaker. An opposition coalition said it had submitted a no-confidence motion with the support of 45 MPs-enough to force a vote in the 85-member majlis, or parliament. The main opposition Maldivian Democratic party (MDP) said the coalition now has a majority in the chamber. “Forty five signatures means we, the opposition coalition, now command parliament majority,” MDP legislator Eva Abdulla said.
A previous attempt to impeach Speaker Abdulla Masheeh in April failed when the number of signatures required for a no-trust motion against the speaker was raised to 50 percent of the house, up from one third. The first attempt to impeach Masheeh in March ended in chaos when President Abdulla Yameen ordered troops to eject some lawmakers from parliament. That prompted the United States to urge the Maldives to restore faith in democracy. The opposition coalition, led by exiled former Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed, is trying to undermine Yameen before elections next year.
The opposition faces an uphill struggle, with all their key leaders out of the country or in jail after a years-long crackdown on dissent under Yameen’s leadership. The clampdown has raised fears over stability and dented the Maldives’ image as a tourist paradise. Nasheed has said that controlling the legislature is crucial to ensuring a free and fair presidential election in 2018. Nasheed became the country’s first democratically-elected president in 2008, but was narrowly defeated by Yameen in a controversial 2013 election run-off. In 2015, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison on terrorism charges that were widely seen as politically motivated. He now lives in exile in Britain. —AFP