MDP's Aslam elected new parliament speaker

Newly elected parliament speaker Mohamed Aslam addresses the parliament.

Parliament’s Majority Leader, North Hithadhoo MP Mohamed Aslam has been elected the new speaker of the parliament on Monday night.

Parliament secretariate scheduled a sitting for 10:00pm tonight, with the election of a new speaker on solely on the agenda after former speaker Mohamed Nasheed tendered his resignation this evening.

Main ruling MDP, which holds the parliament’s majority, nominated its parliamentary group leader Aslam for the post, while minority party, The Democrats, nominated their parliamentary group leader, Central Henveiru MP Ali Azim for the post.

Aslam won the secret vote held between the two.

While a total of 77 MPs voted; Aslam led with 55 votes. Meanwhile, Azim received 23 votes.

Nasheed resigned Monday evening at the face of a controversial no-confidence motion.

The Parliament had been scheduled to hear the motion at 11:00 am on Monday, but lawmakers from both the MDP and Democrats disrupted the sitting. Democrats expressed concern over the delay in budget work, while MDP lawmakers demanded that Deputy Speaker Eva Abdulla, Nasheed’s cousin and fellow Democrats member, step down from chairing the sitting.

Eva adjourned the sitting, citing a state of disorder.

But the Parliament’s Secretariat rescheduled the motion again for 04:00 pm. The sitting was chaired by Addu Maradhoo MP Ibrahim Shareef – a lawmaker from MDP.

Shareef announced that Nasheed had sent a letter to the Parliament’s Secretary General Fathimath Niusha, informing of his resignation.

In the letter, Nasheed wrote that he was resigning following consideration of the impact the motion could have on the democratic process. He accused MDP of threatening fundamental democratic principles.

The MDP had originally submitted no-confidence motions against both Nasheed and Eva earlier this year. The motion against Eva was submitted with the endorsement of 50 MPs in May, and the motion against Nasheed followed, with the endorsement of 54 MPs, in June.

But the MDP withdrew the motions in September, while the party was engaged in negotiations with the Democrats – the party to which both Nasheed and Eva belong – for the presidential runoff election.

The party resubmitted a no-confidence motion against Nasheed in October with the signatures of 49 MPs. 

After the no-confidence motion remained stymied - MDP lodged a constitutional case with the Supreme Court, which last week found the Secretariat’s decision to halt the motion unconstitutional.

Nasheed also slammed Supreme Court in his resignation letter.

In this regard, he said Supreme Court, with respect to the case filed by MDP, had described the court intervening in the internal matters of the parliament as something which will only be done in extenuating circumstances to avoid the judgments of the court being politicized and political issues being considered as legal matters which will be deliberated by the court.

“Nevertheless, I am disheartened that the Supreme Court’s actions and words do not meet with respect to this matter,” he added.

He also said MDP, which holds the parliament’s majority, taking this road was extremely disheartening, describing it as a betrayal to the Maldivian people.

“As I see it, the damage to the parliament from the majority party will keep increasing if I were to continue as the speaker any further. Hence, I resign from my post,” the letter read.

Nasheed expressed hope that his resignation will aid in restoring stability and integrity within the democratic system.

Nasheed’s no-confidence motion had been scheduled all though out last week, however, failed to pan out after Eva called in sick for all sitting.