The People’s Majlis convened on Monday for its concluding session of 2023, yet the impending formulation of permanent committees once again brought the session to a halt due to heated disruptions.

The parliament returned from an almost two-month-long recess, following a period marked by significant disruptions in the legislative process.

The disruptions within the parliament stemmed from internal divisions within the MDP. The party’s majority faction moved no-confidence motions against Speaker Mohamed Nasheed and Deputy Speaker Eva Abdulla. The resulting discord led both Nasheed and Abdulla to abstain from presiding over parliament sittings.

This internal strife highlighted profound fractures within the MDP, ultimately leading to Nasheed and his supporters departing from the MDP and forming a new political party called ‘The Democrats.’

In the session on Monday presided by Nasheed, he informed that only three members had officially communicated their decision to switch parties and join ‘The Democrats.’ He urged those who had changed allegiances to promptly notify the secretariat.

As per parliamentary protocols, members are required to personally inform the parliament secretariat in writing about their decision to switch parties.

Fourteen members, including Nasheed, jumped ship to the newly established ‘The Democrats.’ Since this new party was formed after the reorganisation of permanent committees, further adjustments to the committee composition are necessary to ensure the progress of parliamentary tasks.

This encompasses the allotment of debate durations to parties during parliamentary sessions, including the discussions on the stalled no-confidence motions against the Speaker and Deputy Speaker.

Amidst the session, MDP members disrupted proceedings, alleging that the delay was a tactic employed by the minority to obstruct the formation of committees, thereby stalling the no-confidence motions. They also interrupted the Speaker’s announcements, asserting that he could not preside over the sittings while the no-confidence motion was pending.

Presently, the parliament consists of 56 members representing the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), five members from the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), three members each from the People’s National Congress (PNC) and the Maldives National Party (MNP), as well as two members each from the Jumhooree Party (JP) and the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA). Additionally, 18 members are listed as independents, including the 14 members who joined ‘The Democrats.’

With the new composition, the parliamentary minority will also shift from PPM to ‘The Democrats.’

As turmoil returns to the legislative arm, the spectre of the pending no-confidence motion and the manoeuvres of competing factions within the parliament are likely to hinder the completion of several crucial legislative tasks that remained unresolved as the parliament entered its recess.

Additional reporting by Ibrahim H. Shihab