The government has escalated its opposition to the recent amendments to the Standing Order of the 19th Majlis, which have tilted the impeachment process in favour of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). The Attorney General’s Office filed a petition in the Supreme Court on Sunday, aiming to annul these amendments.

The heart of this political confrontation lies in the 18 December amendment to the Standing Order, which revised the impeachment process for the President and Vice-President. The changes, passed predominantly by the opposition, stipulate that the removal of these top officials can occur through a simple vote by the MDP and its current allies, The Democrats, who together hold a substantial majority in parliament.

Under the amended Order, the total count of parliament members is based on current sitting members, which stands at 80 after seven members from PPM-PNC and MNP resigned to join the new government’s cabinet and senior posts. 

This adjustment means that the MDP and The Democrats, who collectively have 57 seats (MDP with 44 and Democrats with 13), can easily pass motions, including those for impeachment.

Further amendments to Articles 202 and 203 of the Standing Order streamlined the removal process. Key changes include reducing the notice period for the President or Vice-President to two days (excluding public holidays), capping the parliamentary debate on the resolution at three hours, and adjusting the composition and timeline of the investigative committee.

The current scenario unfolded as the opposition gained enough support to potentially initiate a no-confidence motion against the incumbent President Dr Mohammed Muizzu. However, as of Tuesday, the motion has not yet been filed in parliament.

This strategic legal move by the government seeks to dismantle the opposition’s advantage in the impeachment process, which requires 54 votes in the current 19th Parliament.