Crackdown is continuing in Maldives even as the Maldives United Opposition, (MUO), the umbrella body of anti- Yameen parties, is trying to make a fresh bid to seize control of Parliament by impeaching the Speaker, who belongs to President Abdulla Yameen’s camp. Last month the Opposition made a concerted effort to remove the Deputy Speaker, but failed in the face of strong tactics adopted by the treasury benches.
According to reports from Colombo, which has become the listening post, Maldives opposition parties, Tuesday, April 11, decided to launch a new bid to seize control of parliament by impeaching the Speaker. The Opposition coalition comprises former strongman Abdul Gayoom -led faction of the ruling party, and former President Mohamed Nasheed led MDP among others. They submitted a no-confidence motion on Sunday with the support of 31 MPs — enough to force a vote in the 85-member Majlis (Parliament).
But it is unclear whether the House will consider the motion. These doubts cropped up as the Yameen Government yesterday increased the number of signatures required for a no trust motion on Speaker to 42.
Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has accused the government of making “abrupt and arbitrary changes to the parliamentary standing orders, designed to derail the second no confidence motion submitted against the speaker”.
On its part the government has alleged that the second impeachment bid was a “deliberate attack on the administration” and accused the opposition of trying to stoke political unrest.
The short point is that if this new prevails, it appears likely, then the Opposition motion is as good as lost. It will, however, offer an additional talking point to the Opposition, and will pump prime their efforts to increase heat on the President Abdulla Yameen till the Presidential ballot next year.
During the debate on the no trust vote against the Deputy Speaker, President Yameen government ordered troops to eject some opposition lawmakers from parliament, leading the opposition to boycott the vote and prompting Washington to urge the Maldives to restore faith in democracy.
On April 6, the Maldives government arrested the ”last free” opposition leader, Qasim Ibrahim, as part of its strong arm measures against the Opposition.
Qasim ran for president in 2013. He heads the Jumhooree Party (JP), which is a part of Opposition alliance. Media reports say he was taken into custody on Thursday (Apr 6) night after police questioned him about allegations that he had bribed legislators.
“With the arrest of Qasim Ibrahim, every opposition leader in the Maldives has now been arrested and is under some form of detention,” the Maldives United Opposition, (MUO), said.
The country’s first democratically elected president Mohamed Nasheed presently lives in London in exile. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison on terrorism charges last year that were widely seen as politically motivated.
His London exile was facilitated by permission to go to the British capital for medical treatment. He was slapped with fresh terrorism charges early this month as ‘punishment’ for orchestrating opposition unity.
These charges relate to the detention of Yameen though briefly in 2010, allegedly under orders from Nasheed, who was President of the day.