Former President and Speaker Mohamed Nasheed has ignited a controversy by refusing to replace members as requested by the parliamentary group of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). The MDP Parliamentary Group had sought to make changes to several standing committees of the Parliament. This included replacing chairpersons and committee members who were aligned with Nasheed’s faction within the party.

In a candid discussion with a group of MPs on Tuesday, Nasheed firmly stated that he would not remove members from committees without their consent. The Speaker emphasised that the Parliament should not become a platform for pursuing President Ibrahim Mohammed Solih’s presidential. Nasheed’s remarks have added fuel to the ongoing issue, intensifying tensions within the MDP.

The request for committee member replacements was made in a letter signed by MDP Parliamentary Group Leader Mohammed Aslam and submitted to Speaker Nasheed. The proposed changes involved key committees such as the Judiciary Committee, Petition Committee, SOE Committee, Privileges and Ethics Committee, among others.

According to parliamentary rules, when a political party’s Parliamentary Group requests to replace a committee member, the Speaker is obliged to take action. The parliamentary administration is required to confirm the member’s consent or objection to the request before notifying the heads of the Parliamentary Groups. However, in cases where a member objects to the proposed change, the Parliamentary Group of the member’s party must collectively decide on the matter.

Aslam argued that Nasheed’s refusal to comply with the MDP parliamentary group’s request is a significant issue.

“The rules of parliament clearly state that if the parliamentary group of a political party asks, the speaker must change committee members as desired by the party. The speaker does not have the discretion to ignore such a request,” he emphasized.

Proposed changes

The proposed changes to the committees were primarily aimed at replacing members aligned with Nasheed’s faction. Some of them had previously received warnings from the MDP for actions deemed contrary to the party’s interests. The MDP parliamentary group firmly believes that the rules of parliament, as specified by the Constitution, should be respected by the Speaker, Aslam stated.

Former MDP Parliamentary Group Leader and Medhenver Constituency Member Ali Azim’s expulsion from the party further underscores the escalating tensions within the MDP.

As the dispute continues, it remains to be seen how Speaker Nasheed will address the request made by the MDP parliamentary group. 

As the MDP seeks to implement the desired changes within its parliamentary group, the dispute raises questions about the balance of power and decision-making processes within the party and the Parliament, Nasheed alleges.