An extraordinary sitting of Parliament turned chaotic on Sunday as MPs belonging to the ruling coalition obstructed opposition MPs from entering the chamber for a crucial vote on the long-delayed confirmation of President Mohamed Muizzu’s cabinet nominations. Tensions escalated into clashes as opposition MPs attempted to gain access, resulting in injuries to some parliamentarians.

Three-Line Whips by The Democrats and MDP

Prior to the sitting, The Democrats issued a three-line whip opposing the endorsement of four nominations, including Moosa Zameer, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Ahmed Usham, the Attorney General. The main opposition, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), also opposed specific nominations, including Mohamed Saeed, the Minister of Economic Development and Trade.

As the parliament attempted to proceed with the vote on endorsing the cabinet nominations, lawmakers from the ruling coalition of the People’s National Congress (PNC) and the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) disrupted the proceedings. This led to a confrontation between the ruling coalition and opposition lawmakers, resulting in verbal and physical altercations.

Physical Altercations Lead to Hospitalisation

One lawmaker was reportedly injured in the altercations and had to be hospitalised for treatment. Following this, the PPM issued a statement condemning the attacks on its lawmakers and stated that it would file a case with the Maldives Police Service.

The decision by the MDP and The Democrats to oppose specific cabinet ministers was met with criticism from political appointees in the government and supporters of the ruling coalition. A large number of people converged near the Parliament House, calling for the endorsement of all cabinet nominations.

Allegations and Death Threats

Abdul Raheem Abdulla, a senior advisor and close confidant to President Muizzu, emerged as a key figure at the protest near parliament. He levelled accusations against former President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the interim leader of the MDP, for inciting the uproar in Parliament. Irrespective of parliamentary approval, Abdulla further declared that the proposed cabinet nominations would be reinstated.

In the aftermath of the physical confrontations in parliament, Anas Abdul Sattar, the MDP spokesperson, revealed that several party lawmakers had been subjected to death threats, purportedly from supporters of the ruling coalition. Kendhikulhudhoo MP Ahmed Easa corroborated these claims by confirming to local media that he had received such threats.

Attack on Parliament House

The Democrats characterised the protests and ensuing chaos, led by the ruling coalition lawmakers, as a coercive strategy to compel the opposition into endorsing all cabinet nominations. In response to the attacks on Parliament House by protesters who launched projectiles at the building, The Democrats urged the Parliament Committee on National Security Services to launch an inquiry into whether the Maldives Police Service (MPS) and the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) had fulfilled their role in providing security to the Parliament.

The ruling coalition, alleging complicity by Speaker Mohamed Aslam and Deputy Speaker Ahmed Saleem in the chaos, initiated a no-confidence motion against both of them. Moosa Siraj, the minority leader of parliament and parliamentary group leader for the ruling PNC, confirmed the filing of no-confidence motions against the speaker and his deputy, backed by 23 lawmakers.

Progress Stalled, Sitting Adjourned

Parliament later attempted to proceed with the extraordinary sitting and the endorsement of the cabinet nominations. However, the session, which commenced at 8 p.m., was again disrupted by the ruling coalition lawmakers. Speaker Aslam made efforts to resume the proceedings until 10:58 p.m. but ultimately adjourned the sitting when ruling coalition lawmakers removed the microphones from the speaker’s desk.