Deputy speaker hits-back at opposition over censure motion

Deputy parliament speaker Moosa Manik on Thursday hit-back at the opposition over the no-confidence motion against the speaker Abdulla Maseeh, insisting that the reasons behind the motion were completely baseless.

Earlier this month, opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), backed by a few government lawmakers loyal to the ousted ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) president Maumoon Abdul Gayyom, former government coalition partners Jumhoory Party (JP) and religiously conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) had filed the motion against Maseeh.

Opposition had claimed that Maseeh had continuously violated parliament procedure, muffled opposition lawmakers and exploited his parliament authority to support the autocratic government.

Manik who himself is facing a censure motion, during a press conference on Thursday however, accused the opposition of "slanderous" claims which had no basis.

The outspoken lawmaker, armed with facts and figures said the speaker had always executed his responsibilities in accordance with parliament rules of procedure.

"They [opposition] can never say what the speaker has done wrong. Parliament has completed over 98 percent of the bills it received. As far as I know, only four bills are pending. So I don't know what the opposition means when they say the speaker has prevented the effective functioning of the parliament," Manik who had been deposed from MDP for breaking a party whip line during a parliamentary vote said.

Manik said the opposition's grievance with the speaker appeared to be their failure to influence parliament proceedings in their favour.

"If they want to influence parliament proceedings in their favour, then there's nothing the speaker or the deputy speaker can do. We have to strictly follow the rules of procedure. And that's what we've done. The government has overwhelming parliament majority. So that majority would usually dictate parliament decisions. But that's not in any way the speaker's fault," he explained.

Manik had also responded to accusations of intimidating lawmakers from both sides ahead of the vote, insisting that he would not allow anyone to exert undue or unlawful influence on the parliament floor on voting day.

Parliament meanwhile has tabled the no confidence motion against speaker Maseeh on March 27.

Opposition parties have claimed that the motion was filed with signatures of 26 lawmakers while only 15 is the required number.

Government meanwhile had expressed confidence of defeating the motion which requires a simple parliament majority.

Government lawmakers had also alleged that the politically motivated motion was designed for the personal political gain of a few.