Speaker and Dept. Speaker abroad simultaneously; MPs voice concern

The Parliament Speaker, Mohamed Nasheed, and the Deputy Speaker, Eva Abdulla, have traveled abroad at the same time.

AVAS has learned that President Nasheed is in the UK on a private visit while Eva is on an official visit to Thailand.

According to the Parliament rules, the Deputy-Speaker shall preside over the Parliament in the absence of the Speaker. Article 44(a) states that in case the Speaker and Deputy-Speaker are unable to preside over a Parliament session, the member who has served the longest in the Parliament shall preside over the sessions. Even under this circumstance, the MP can preside over a maximum of three consecutive sessions.

Since this Monday, Vilufushi MP Hassan Afeef has been presiding over Parliament sessions. After Wednesday's session, an MP other than the Speaker or the Deputy Speaker can preside over a session after the Speaker or Deputy-Speaker presides over a session.

Rule 44(e) states that if a member is taking over the presidency at the commencement of a session in the absence of the Speaker and Vice-Speaker, the Secretary-General shall announce the reason. Monday and Tuesday's sessions began after the Secretary-General announced the reason as per the rules.

Some MPs who spoke to AVAS said it was unacceptable for the Speaker and Deputy-Speaker to travel abroad simultaneously.