Parliament flouts SCourt order, decides to follow controversial amendment

Speaker Mohamed Aslam chairs a parliamentary sitting. (Photo/People's Majlis)

The Parliament decided on Sunday that it will not follow the injunction issued by the Supreme Court last week, ordering 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.

The Attorney General’s Office contested the amendment with the Supreme Court, which issued an injunction last week, to suspend the amendment until it makes a final ruling.

On Sunday afternoon, the Parliament passed a motion to reject the injunction, and to continue to follow the amendment.

It followed an hour-long debate, and passed with a unanimous vote of 45.

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

He said he found it concerning.

He said that the constitution is clear, that the power to dictate the functioning of the legislative assembly lies with the Parliament.

Aslam said that he therefore does not believe that any other institute or power of the state has the authority to dictate how the Parliament is run.

Before opening the floor for debate, he said the Parliament would abide by the court’s decision, and count the total number of parliamentarians as 87, until and unless the lawmakers decided otherwise.

But the Parliament – in which MDP holds a majority – ultimately decided to reject the court order.

Seven lawmakers resigned from the Parliament in November, to assume top positions in the new administration.

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 reach the two-thirds majority required to impeach President Muizzu, instead of the previous 58.

The MDP and Democrats have 56 MPs between them; giving the opposition power to impeach the president.

The MDP has warned they plan on filing the motion before the current term ends, in May.