Maldives President impeachment looms, ruling coalition says ‘kill us all first’ | World News - Hindustan Times
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Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu's impeachment looms, ruling coalition says ‘kill us all first’

Jan 30, 2024 07:29 AM IST

Maldives main opposition MDP is planning to submit a motion to impeach pro-China President Mohamed Muizzu, according to media reports on Monday.

The government coalition Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People's National Congress (PNC) said they would not allow efforts to remove President Mohamed Muizzu to proceed through Parliament. The Maldives main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), which holds a majority in Parliament, is planning to submit a motion to impeach Mohamed Muizzu, according to media reports on Monday.

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu addresses a press briefing. (ANI Photo)
Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu addresses a press briefing. (ANI Photo)

In a press conference on Monday, PPM Parliamentary Group (PG) leader Eydhafushi constituency MP Ahmed Saleem (Redwave Saleem) said the coalition would stop any efforts from the MDP to remove President Muizzu from his office, The Edition.mv reported.

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"We will not allow them any opportunities to go ahead with this. They will have to kill us all first before they can even think of removing the President from office," Ahmed Saleem was quoted as saying.

Also Read: India drops to 5th position on Maldives' top 10 tourism markets, China at 3

The coalition claimed that such an event would not be allowed to unfold despite what the parliament majority holding MDP and their breakaway party, The Democrats, may want.

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.

After the MDP and The Democrats’ parliamentary group decided to withhold parliamentary approval for four members of Muizzu’s cabinet ahead of the voting, the pro-government MPs from the PPM/PNC coalition initiated a protest, obstructing the parliamentary sitting.

“The MDP, in partnership with the Democrats, have gathered enough signatures for an impeachment motion. However, they have yet to submit it,” Sun.com said, 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.

Muizzu, 45, defeated India-friendly incumbent Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in the presidential runoff held in September last year.

MP Ahmed Thoriq said the results of the last presidential election made it evident that events in the country do not align with the wishes of MDP.

Thoriq described the MDP's efforts to remove the Muizzu as futile, pointing out that some of their members had voted against the party's whip line even during Monday's votes on cabinet approval.

"That in itself proves that MDP does not in actuality have the numbers they want," he said.

A minimum of 53 votes are required within parliament to remove a sitting president. Thoriq claimed that the number cannot be reached even through adding together the members of the MDP and The Democrats, expressing his belief that there are members among both parties who would refuse to cooperate with such a vote.

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.

The Maldives Parliament, which has 87 members, had recently amended its standing orders to make it easier to submit an impeachment motion. The MDP and Democrats, together, have 56 MPs between them; 43 MPs from MDP, and 13 from Democrats.

“The Constitution, along with the Parliament’s standing orders, dictates that the president can be impeached with 56 votes,” the Sun.com reported.

The gathering of signatures for an impeachment motion against the President comes a day after the PPM-PNC coalition, with the endorsement of 23 lawmakers, submitted no-confidence motions against Speaker Mohamed Aslam and deputy speaker Ahmed Saleem – both from MDP.

Maldives parliament rejects three cabinet members after brawl

Meanwhile, Maldivian MPs voted against the appointment of three cabinet members on Monday. Ruling party legislators attempted to block a vote by the main opposition – on the new 22-member cabinet appointed by Muizzu.

Videos shared on social media showed at least one MP bleeding from the neck after being caught up in a violent scrum inside the chamber on Sunday night, leading to the temporary suspension of sittings.

Legislators were seen yanking off microphones and using plastic trumpets to disrupt proceedings in chaotic scenes in the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago, otherwise better known for its luxury tourism.

Another MP pressed his knee on the neck of a rival to pin him down till two others came to the rescue of the victim.

Sunday's sessions were suspended close to midnight. A fresh meeting was called on Monday when a vote was taken on the presidential nominees to the cabinet.

Three key posts -- the ministers for Islamic affairs and housing, and the attorney-general -- were rejected by parliament. The opposition did not say why they opposed the trio.

Later on Monday, Muizzu said he had reappointed the three posts.

Muizzu won the presidential elections in September. But his party is in opposition in parliament, where the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and its allies have a two-thirds majority.

The Maldives Parliamentary elections are due in mid-March.

(With inputs from agencies)

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