Maldives opposition intensifies campaign to destabilise government
Rohantha De Silva
4 April 2017
An impeachment motion by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) against Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed, the parliamentary speaker, failed last week following a violent confrontation. The motion was part of ongoing moves to oust President Abdulla Yameen and his government by Mohammed Nasheed, the pro-US MDP leader and former president.
While the MDP only has 26 MPs in the 85-member parliament, it hoped several parliamentarians from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) which supports Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, would break ranks and vote with the opposition. Gayoom, a long-time leader of the PPM and president of the Maldives from 1978-2008, has opposed Yameen—his half-brother—after being marginalised in the party.
MDP lawmakers began a protest in parliament, claiming that the ruling coalition had changed the usual electronic voting system, in order to conceal how MPs voted on the impeachment motion. Military officers were called in by the speaker to remove 13 protesting MPs from the parliament. The opposition claimed that MPs were manhandled and dragged from the chamber.
The impeachment motion was voted down by 48 MPs. The public, media, and non-government organisations were barred from parliament house during the vote.
While increasingly isolated, President Yameen is attempting to muzzle the opposition and block its attempts to oust the president. Nasheed told the Economic Times that there are currently 1,700 political activists, either under threat, on trial or in jail. Nasheed and his party, however, have no concern for the democratic rights of the Maldivian people.
The infighting between the opposition and President Yameen is bound up with US and Indian geo-political…