The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has once again filed a no-confidence motion against the Speaker of Parliament, Mohamed Nasheed. The motion, filed on Sunday with the backing of 48 out of 56 MDP MPs, accuses Nasheed of various indiscretions, including prioritising his own interests over the parliamentary agenda, encouraging disruptions in sessions, and conducting sittings in violation of the rules of procedure.

MDP withdrew its first no-confidence motion after finishing second in the first round of the presidential elections, and while attempting to seek support from The Democrats, Nasheed’s party, which finished third. Despite its political machinations, MDP decided to revisit the issue of Nasheed’s removal following the party’s defeat in the presidential election runoff.

Monday’s parliamentary sitting was adjourned because it failed to meet the legally required quorum of 22 MPs. The agenda for the session had included tasks such as forwarding ambassadorial nominations, addressing the dismissal of a chief magistrate, and attending other unfinished motions.

There’s a degree of legal ambiguity surrounding the motion. Nasheed contends that it would be difficult to entertain another no-confidence motion in the same term, an assertion partly based on Article 89(c) of the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament, which states that a rejected bill cannot be reintroduced in the same term. However, some legal experts point out that no-confidence motions are different from bills, thereby nullifying Nasheed’s argument.

A motion of no confidence in the Speaker can proceed if it is backed by one-fourth of the total number of MPs, or at least 22 members. It would then be tabled in Parliament, presided over by the Deputy Speaker, and can result in the Speaker’s removal if passed by a majority of the MPs present and voting.

The atmosphere within the Parliament is palpably tense. The failure to reach quorum for parliamentary sittings, the reintroduction of a no-confidence motion against Speaker Nasheed, allegations of threats, and a subsequent quagmire of legal interpretation highlight the complex dynamics at play. 

MDP’s top lawmaker, Mohamed Aslam, alleged that Nasheed has been sending “threatening” text messages to MPs, cautioning them against supporting the no-confidence motion. Nasheed’s party members, including interim chairperson Hassan Latheef, have categorically denied such allegations, stating that Nasheed is not the type to send threatening messages.