The ongoing quarrels in Parliament continued on Monday, following the abrupt adjournment of Sunday’s sitting, which had been convened to debate the no-confidence motion against Speaker Mohamed Nasheed. Two sittings were scheduled for Monday, with the presentation of the national budget set for the first session and the second session dedicated to the debate on the no-confidence motion, which has been the focal point of the current impasse.

Sunday’s Groundwork: Ethics Committee Ruling

Monday’s turmoil originated on Sunday when the Parliamentary Committee on Privileges and Ethics, with a majority from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), found Deputy Speaker Eva Abdulla and MP Hassan Afeef guilty of violating parliamentary privileges. 

This ruling followed their handling of Sunday’s sittings where the first sitting presided by Afeef dismissed the no-confidence motion against Nasheed, and was later upheld by Eva who presided over a subsequent sitting hours later. 

The committee unequivocally stated that no member of Nasheed’s Democrats should preside over sessions concerning his removal. Attorney General Ibrahim Riffath’s advice reinforced this stance, arguing for the appointment of a non-Democrat MP to chair the sitting on the no-confidence motion.

Additionally, the General Committee of the Parliament sought guidance from Attorney General Ibrahim Riffath on how to proceed with a resolution concerning a no-confidence motion against Speaker Mohamed Nasheed.

In response, Riffath clarified that the motion holds a distinct status compared to typical parliamentary resolutions or motions, as outlined in Article 205 of the parliamentary rules. He emphasised that for such a no-confidence motion, the essential requirement is the backing of at least one-fourth of all MPs, who must write, sign, and present the motion along with the reasons for impeachment.

Riffath criticised the decision to halt the no-confidence motion against Nasheed as unlawful, highlighting a conflict of interest. He pointed out that allowing an MP with a conflict of interest, particularly one affiliated with Nasheed’s Democrats, to chair a session where Nasheed’s impeachment is discussed contradicts the conflict of interest principle in the parliamentary rules.

Consequently, he advised the Parliament to ensure that the chairing MP for the no-confidence motion against Nasheed should not be a member of Nasheed’s Democrats.

Monday’s Chaos: Suspended Sittings and Protests

The parliamentary drama escalated on Monday. The initial morning session, slated for budget discussions, was abandoned due to a lack of quorum, provoked by the deliberate absence of MDP lawmakers. Eva Abdulla, in her attempt to salvage the situation, remarked, “I believe it’s my responsibility to continue to try to see that the budget is presented to the Parliament in accordance with the Public Finance Act, the Constitution, and the Parliament’s Standing Orders.”

The subsequent session, centered on the no-confidence motion against Nasheed, quickly descended into pandemonium. MDP members, who submitted the motion, erupted into protests against Eva Abdulla’s presiding role, deeming it a conflict of interest.

The ensuing chaos, marked by heated exchanges between MDP MPs and Democrats, compelled Eva to suspend the sitting. Amid the disorder, she announced, “I suspend this sitting until order is restored. I will inform honorable MPs of a time the sitting will resume.”

MDP’s Countermove: No-Confidence Motion Against Deputy Speaker

In parallel, the MDP Parliamentary Group voted on Monday, to submit a no-confidence motion against Deputy Speaker Eva Abdulla, having gathered the necessary signatures.

On Monday afternoon, they officially submitted the no-confidence motion against Deputy Speaker Eva Abdulla, garnering the support of 50 lawmakers. This group comprised 49 MDP members and Mohamed Nasheed Abdulla, an independent MP from Nolhivaram.

The decision to initiate this motion was taken by the MDP parliamentary group earlier on the same day, following their efforts from Sunday to collect endorsements. They successfully obtained 22 signatures, the minimum required to file a no-confidence motion against the Deputy Speaker.