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Oppn MPs demand resumption of special Majlis

MPs of the Maldivian Democratic Party have written to the Speaker for re-starting the constituent assembly following its cancellation.

india Updated: Feb 28, 2006 15:38 IST

Opposition members of the Special Majlis have written to the Speaker Abbas Ibrahim for re-starting the constituent assembly following its cancellation on Sunday, leading Maldivian daily Minivan News reported.

All the 27 MPs of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), condemned Sunday's cancellation, claiming it was unlawful and in breach of the assembly's rules of procedure.

The MDP members were refused entry during the Sunday's session, claiming that there was no chance quorum would be reached.

The MDP says Abbas had no right to make a prediction about whether quorum would be reached or not and should have waited to see how many members turned-up.

"Abbas Ibrahim contravened the rules of procedure (standing orders) of the Majlis by cancelling Sunday's meeting," MDP President Ibrahim Ismail (Ibra) told Minivan News.

Special Majlis rules state that fifty per cent of members must be present for quorum to be reached.

Government MPs - including President Gayoom's twenty-nine unelected appointees - have been boycotting recent sessions to ensure quorum is not reached.

The government members, who have a majority in the Special Majlis, are desperate to prevent an MDP-sponsored debate taking place on whether the president's unelected appointees should be allowed to continue to sit in the assembly.

The MDP says unelected members have no right to sit in the chamber and is calling for immediate amendments to the constitution to have them removed.

If the unelected appointees - some 25 per cent of the members in the Special Majlis - are removed, Gayoom would lose a considerable amount of influence over an assembly that is mandated with the crucial role of redrafting the constitution.

"A far as the constitution says, the president doesn't have any power over the Majlis. The only power he wields is through his unelected members," Ibra said.

Pro-government MPs failed last week to remove MDP's debate from the agenda following a shock defeat in the Special Majlis administrative committee, when one regime-aligned MP sided with the opposition and said the debate should go ahead.

First Published: Feb 28, 2006 15:38 IST