Published On: Tue, Aug 22nd, 2017

Maldives Army occupies Parliament to block no-trust vote

Male: The Maldives military locked down the nations Parliament on Tuesday in what opposition lawmakers said was an attempt to block a motion to impeach the Speaker of the House.

The opposition has not been allowed to summon any government officials

Imthiyaz Fahmy, of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), tweeted a video of what he said were security forces in plain clothes blocking representatives from entering the chamber, the Guardian reported.

Another lawmaker from the MDP, Eva Abdulla, said MPs were eventually allowed in but said that Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed was also surrounded by soldiers.

A close ally of President Abdulla Yameen, Mohamed opened the session and then immediately closed it before MPs were able to vote on the no-confidence motion, she said.

“The session was over in five minutes,” she said by phone. Lawmakers said they raised the motion against the Speaker after he repeatedly refused parliamentary requests to scrutinise the government.

“The opposition has not been allowed to summon any government officials. We are not allowed to hold any part of the state accountable at all,” she added.

A similar opposition bid to oust the Speaker was defeated in March after several lawmakers were evicted or walked out to protest against what they said were discrepancies in the vote count, the report said.

President Yameen had been accused of reversing democratic progress in a country that became a multi-party democracy in 2008.

Last month, the armed forces padlocked the gates of Parliament to prevent another impeachment attempt, in which the opposition said it had the majority of votes.

Some lawmakers eventually broke through the barrier but were forcibly thrown out. In a statement, the MDP called Yameen’s action “desperate, illegal and unconstitutional”.

Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty International’s South Asia director, said Tuesday’s incident in Parliament comes against a “backdrop of attacks on freedom of expression on the island nation”, where the government was facing a deepening crisis.

“The space for legitimate dissent has been alarmingly shrinking over recent years, with members of the opposition thrown behind bars for lengthy prison terms after manifestly flawed trials,” he said.

Patnaik added that an intensifying crackdown on human rights included plans to resume executions for the first time in more than 60 years.

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