The parliament has rejected Deputy Speaker Eva Abdulla’s decision to recuse herself from presiding over a critical no-confidence motion against Speaker Mohamed Nasheed. The impasse comes ahead of a consequential Supreme Court hearing on a constitutional petition that the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has initiated over the deadlock.

Despite Eva’s decision, grounded in her insistence on respecting the separation of powers, the Parliament convened on Sunday only to see the sitting cancelled for a fifth consecutive time. This cancellation followed a letter from Eva to Secretary General Fathimath Niusha, wherein she cited a conscientious objection to chair the session in light of the pending Supreme Court judgment on the matter.

The Deputy Speaker’s letter underscored her stance that any parliamentary action prior to the Court’s ruling could unduly influence the judicial process, a stance which aligns with concerns raised by the majority MDP. 

The MDP has brought the petition seeking a Supreme Court ruling on two principal orders: first, to mandate that the Parliament Secretariat comply with Article 44 of the parliamentary rules of procedure during the Deputy Speaker’s absence from a no-confidence motion sitting; and second, to prohibit the conducting of any further parliamentary sittings until a decision on Speaker Nasheed’s case is reached.

The procedural controversy at the heart of this dispute pivots on the assertion by the MDP that only the Deputy Speaker can preside over such a motion—a position they contend has been misinterpreted by the Parliament Secretary General. Article 44 of the Parliament’s rules of procedure, which the MDP cites, delineates a clear process for instances when both the Speaker and Deputy Speaker are unavailable, suggesting alternative arrangements that have not been adhered to.

Parliament Secretary General, in her reply to Deputy Speaker, clarified the distinct nature of the MDP’s petition and the no-confidence motion against Speaker Nasheed, as laid out under Article 205 of the parliamentary rules. Niusha maintained that the no-confidence motion and the MDP’s petition are separate issues, thus necessitating the Deputy Speaker’s role in presiding over the impending motion against the Speaker.

Despite Eva’s recusal and subsequent sick leave, which resulted in the cancellation of Sunday’s sitting—the fifth such cancellation—Parliament’s Secretariat’s Communications Director Hassan Ziyau confirmed that the Secretary General has formally requested Abdulla to preside over the no-confidence motion sitting.

Amidst this unfolding drama, The Democrats, the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), and the People’s National Congress (PNC) have collectively entered the fray, indicating a multiparty concern that transcends mere procedural regularity and ventures into the essential principles of governance and rule of law.