SCourt suspends impeachment amendment

President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu (CR) and Speaker Mohamed Aslam (CL) arrive at the Parliament on February 5, 2024. (Photo/President's Office)

The Supreme Court has ordered the suspension of the recent amendment to the Parliament’s standing orders which lowered the votes required to impeach the president and vice president – granting opposition lawmakers the power to impeach President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, if they wish.

The constitution declares that an impeachment motion against the president or vice president requires the vote of two-thirds of the Parliament.

Seven lawmakers resigned from the Parliament in November, to assume top positions in President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu’s administration. But the Elections Commission decided against holding by-elections, so close to the parliamentary elections.

Taking advantage of the situation, the main opposition MDP – which holds a majority in the Parliament – amended the Parliament’s standing orders so that vacated seats aren’t counted when determining the total number of MPs.

Therefore, the Parliament currently requires 54 votes to impeach President Muizzu, instead of the previous 58, as according to the amendment to the standing orders, the total number of MPs is now 80, instead of 87.

The Attorney General’s Office filed a case with the Supreme Court over the amendment on January 28. It also asked for an injunction to suspend the amendment until the court makes a final ruling.

The case is heard by the full bench.

On Thursday, Justice Dr. Azmiralda Zahir, Justice Mahaz Ali Zahir, and Justice Husnu Al Suood found in favor of issuing the injunction, citing the need to maintain the status quo. But Justice Aisha Shujoon Mohamed and Justice Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim found there was no grounds to issue the injunction, citing that the case was submitted a month after the passage of the amendment.

the MDP and opposition Democratics announced an alliance to work together in the Parliament ‘to hold the government accountable.”

The MDP and Democrats – which recently announced an amendment - have 56 MPs between them; 43 MPs from MDP, and 13 from Democrats.

They therefore have the power to impeach the president, if they wish.

The MDP has warned they plan on filing a motion to impeach President Muizzu before the current term ends in May.