Proposed amendment allows easy impeachment of the president for MDP

President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu delivers inaugural address to the nation after taking oath of office on November 17, 2023. (Sun Photo - Infinite Moments/Mohamed Shaathiu Abdulla)

Parliament’s General Purpose Committee, on Thursday, greenlighted an amendment to the parliament’s regulations which will allow the president and the vice president to be impeached only through the votes of lawmakers from the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

The Committee had decided to amend articles 49, 202 and 203 of the parliament’s regulations.

The amendment to Article 49 which provided that the total number of members of parliament should be calculated on the basis of the total number of members instead of seats was put forth by Ihavandhoo MP Mohamed Shifaau, a lawmaker representing MDP.

His amendment sought to omit the members who have resigned while calculating the total number of members of the parliament.

Six members of the parliament had resigned to assume posts in the new administration.

Elections Commission (EC) decided against holding a by-election for the vacant seats with less than six months to the next parliamentary election.

If the amendment proposed by MP Shifau is passed, the total number of members of the parliament for the remainder of the 19th session will be 80.

Meanwhile, the amendments to articles 202 and 203 were proposed by the parliament group leader of the Democrats, Central Henvieru MP Ali Azim. They were approved as follows;

  • The impeachment of the president or the vice president can only be proceeded once a motion, explaining the reason, with the signatures of one-third of the members is submitted

{Existing procedure)

  • Giving 14-day notice of the motion to the president or the vice president within two days, and tabling the motion for the first working day after the expiration of the notice period
  • Allocating a maximum of three hours for the debate on the impeachment motion

Additionally, the number of members on the committee the motion needs to be forwarded to after the floor passes the impeachment motion has been decreased from 11 to four. Prior to this, all political parties must be represented on the committee. The new amendment has omitted this requirement.

The amendment has not yet been forwarded to the parliament floor.

If the proposed amendment is passed, the president and the vice president can be impeached by the votes of MDP lawmakers alone, which holds the majority in the parliament. Additionally, it makes the process of impeaching a president or vice president a lot easier than before.

The current composition of the parliament is as follows;

  • MDP – 56 MPs
  • The Democrats – 13 MPs
  • PPM – 2 MPs
  • PNC – 2 MPs
  • Jumhoory Party – 2 MPs
  • MDA – 2 MPs
  • Independent – 2 MPs

Reasons an impeachment motion can be initiated against the president or the vice president are as follows;

  • Violation of the tenet Islamic religion
  • Violation of the constitution
  • Misconduct unsuited to the office of the president or the vice president
  • Incapacity in undertaking the responsibilities of the president or the vice president

No Maldivian president has been impeached to date. However, two vice presidents were impeached during PPM’s first administration.