Maldives govt approaches Supreme Court over the revision of rules that enable opposition to impeach president

Mohamed Muizzu
Mohamed Muizzu

Male | Even as the main opposition announced its plan to impeach Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu, the government has approached the Supreme Court over the recent amendment to Parliament’s standing orders which makes the process of impeachment easier, according to media reports on Tuesday.

The Attorney General’s Office filed the case on Sunday, the same day when clashes broke out in the House between pro-government MPs and opposition lawmakers following differences over the approval of four members of his cabinet.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), which holds a majority in the Maldivian Parliament, on Monday, had stalled approval of three members of President Mohamed Muizzu’s cabinet.

Soon after, the MDP had announced that it planned to submit a motion to impeach President Muizzu and that it already started gathering signatures for the same.

The three ministers were, however, re-appointed by Monday evening.

The whole row about allowing or not of the three ministers started after seven lawmakers resigned from Parliament in November, to assume top positions in Muizzu’s administration.

“But the Elections Commission decided against holding by-elections as the parliamentary elections are scheduled for this year,” online news portal reported on Tuesday.

Taking advantage of the situation, the main opposition MDP amended Parliament’s standing orders so that vacated seats aren’t counted when determining the total number of MPs, it said.

Therefore, Parliament currently requires 54 votes to impeach President Muizzu, instead of the previous 58, as, according to the amendment to the standing orders, the total number of MPs is now 80, instead of 87.

Last week, the MDP and the Democrats announced an alliance to work together in the Parliament “to hold the government accountable.”

“The MDP and Democrats, have 56 MPs between them; 43 MPs from MDP, and 13 from Democrats. They, therefore, have the power to impeach the president, if they wish,” said.

Attorney General Ahmed Usham told on Tuesday afternoon that his office “filed the case with the Supreme Court on Sunday but the court has yet to register the case.”

On Monday, a lawmaker from MDP confirmed the party had gathered enough signatures to file an impeachment motion. But the party has not yet submitted it.

Pro-China Muizzu, 45, defeated India-friendly incumbent Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in the presidential runoff held in September last year. On January 24, calling India the “most long-standing ally,” the MDP and the Democrats expressed concern about the Muizzu government’s “anti-India stance.”

The Maldives' proximity to India, barely 70 nautical miles from the island of Minicoy in Lakshadweep and 300 nautical miles from the mainland's western coast, and its location at the hub of commercial sea lanes running through the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) gives it significant strategic importance.

The Maldives is India's key maritime neighbour in the IOR and occupies a special place in its initiatives like SAGAR' (Security and Growth for All in the Region) and the Neighbourhood First Policy' of the Narendra Modi government.

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