Speaker: Supreme Court cannot dictate how Parliament is run

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

Not even the Supreme Court has the authority to dictate how the Parliament is run, said Speaker Mohamed Aslam on Sunday, three days after the top court ordered the suspension of a controversial amendment to the legislative body’s standing orders.

The amendment in questioned 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 Attorney General’s Office filed a case with the Supreme Court over the amendment on January 28.

On February 8, the court issued an injunction suspending the amendment until it makes a final ruling.

Opening Sunday’s sitting, Aslam – who served as the main opposition MDP’s top lawmaker before he was elected as Speaker in December – said that despite the temporary order, the Supreme Court has not established whether the amendment is unconstitutional.

Aslam said that he found it concerning, and opened the floor for a one-hour debate for lawmakers to discuss a course of action.

“I also announce that in adherence to the court order, the total number of parliamentarians will be counted as 87, until determined otherwise,” he added.

Aslam said that it will be the Parliament itself that dictates how it should function.

The constitution is clear that this is a power vested in the Parliament, he said.

“I therefore do not believe that any other institute or power of the state has the authority to dictate how the Parliament is run. It will be decided by the honorable members of this Parliament,” he said.

He said that the total number of parliamentarians will be counted as 87, until the parliamentarians determine otherwise.

He said a decision will be made before the sitting proceeds.

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 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 MDP and its ally Democrats 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.