Opposition alleges arson after parliament fire suspends sittings

As the parliament indefinitely suspended sittings after a small fire broke-out in one of the bathrooms at the parliament building late Monday, the opposition has come out to allege arson to prevent the parliament from holding further sittings.

Firefighters had put-out the fire shortly after it was reported around sunset on Monday.

Sources say the bathroom was barely damaged in the fire prompting top opposition lawmaker Ahmed Mahloof to allege arson engineered by the ruling party to prevent the parliament from holding any further sittings after the fiasco during Monday's brief sitting.

The scheduled parliament sitting on Monday was cut short after opposition lawmakers surrounded the speaker's table in protest.

Opposition lawmakers had removed the speaker's chair from the floor demanding a vote on the opposition led censure motion to unseat speaker Abdulla Maseeh.

Parliament last week had declared the censure motion against the speaker as void after the elections commission disqualified four lawmakers over the recent Supreme Court ruling on anti-defection.

The government has been accused of engineering the constitutional dispute case asking the Supreme Court to disqualify MPs who defect or violate party whip-lines and or are formally removed from their respective party.

The three judge bench hearing the case unanimously ruled in favour of the government. The court had also ordered relevant institutions to bring into effect an anti-defection law.

Ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) officially removed four rebel lawmakers from the party amid a struggle to regain its majority in parliament.

Deputy speaker Moosa Manik who recently signed for PPM in a letter to lawmakers said as four MPs who had signed the censure motion against the speaker have been disqualified, the motion has been declared void as it no longer meets the required number of signatures.

After the now opposition coalition in March had filed a second motion to unseat Maseeh, the government had engineered an amendment to the parliament rules of procedure raising the number of lawmaker signatures required to file a censure motion against the speaker and his deputy from 15 to 42.

The opposition had filed the third censure motion against Maseeh with 45 lawmakers which included ten lawmakers from the ruling party.

The ten lawmakers had expressed their wish to leave the party but PPM had refused to allow the lawmakers to leave saying that their requests can only be processed after their respective disciplinary hearing are concluded.

The opposition lawmakers have demanded Maseeh to step-down regardless of the vote, arguing that the majority had lost confidence in the speaker which had been signified by the 45 signatories of the censure motion.

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