The main opposition MDP, which holds a majority in the Maldivian Parliament, is planning to submit a motion to impeach President Mohamed Muizzu even as three members of his cabinet were denied approval during a parliamentary vote on Monday, according to media reports
The development comes a day after clashes broke out in Parliament on Sunday between pro-government MPs and opposition lawmakers over differences over the approval of four members of the pro-China President’s cabinet.
Muizzu, 45, defeated India-friendly incumbent Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in the presidential runoff held in September last year.
“The MDP, in partnership with the Democrats, have gathered enough signatures for an impeachment motion. However, they have yet to submit it,” Sun.com reported, quoting a lawmaker from the MDP.
The decision to submit an impeachment motion was taken unanimously in the parliamentary group meeting of the MDP held on Monday, The Edition.mv reported.
“The Constitution, along with the Parliament’s standing orders, dictates that the president can be impeached with 56 votes,” the Sun.com added.
The Parliament had recently amended its standing orders to make it easier to submit an impeachment motion.
The Maldivian Parliament has a total of 80 members. The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has 45, followed by its ally The Democrats (DEM) with 13 members. Of the ruling coalition of PPM-PNC, the Progressive Party of the Maldives has 2 while the People’s National Congress has 13 members. There are three independents while the Jumhooree Party and the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) have two each.
The gathering of signatures for an impeachment motion against the President comes a day after the PPM-PNC coalition, submitted no-confidence motions against Speaker Mohamed Aslam and Deputy Speaker Ahmed Saleem – both from MDP.
Earlier in the day, Parliament voted to deny approval to Housing Minister Ali Haidar Ahmed, Islamic Minister Mohamed Shaheem Ali Saeed, and Attorney General Ahmed Usham, while Economic Minister Mohamed Saeed narrowly survived the same fate himself, Sun.com reported.
After the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and The Democrats’ parliamentary group decided to withhold parliamentary approval for four members of President Muizzu’s cabinet ahead of the voting on Sunday, the pro-government MPs from the ruling party Progressive Party of Maldives and People’s National Congress (PPM/PNC) coalition initiated a protest, obstructing the parliamentary sitting. Two MPs were injured during a brawl.
On November 20 last year President Muizzu made a formal request for the approval of his cabinet, two days after his administration took office.
The Parliament had been scheduled to vote on the cabinet on December 18, but the original report by the Government Oversight Committee was rejected. The Parliament held an extraordinary sitting on Sunday to take the vote on the committee’s new report, which was passed on December 30, Sun.com reported.
But just ahead of the vote, the main opposition MDP, the largest party in the house, issued a three-line red whip to deny approval to the four cabinet members.
Soon after taking oath as the President of Maldives on November 17, Muizzu formally requested India to withdraw 88 military personnel from his country by March 15, saying the Maldivian people have given him a “strong mandate” to make this request to New Delhi.
Earlier on January 24, calling India the “most long-standing ally,” the MDP and the Democrats had expressed concern about the Muizzu government’s “anti-India stance.” The open support (for India) by the two parties had come a day after the Maldives government said a Chinese ship, equipped to carry research and surveys, would be docking at a Maldivian port after being permitted to make a port call for replenishment.
The permission to allow the Chinese ship had come amid strained ties between India and Maldives after President Muizzu made Beijing his first port of call early this month soon after assuming office. Traditionally, New Delhi has been the first port of call for a Maldivian President.