Opposition in fresh bid to unseat parliament speaker

The united opposition lawmakers have launched a fresh bid to unseat parliament speaker Abdulla Maseeh days after the country's Supreme Court reinstated four former government lawmakers who had been disqualified over an earlier disqualification ruling.

Opposition coalition partner Jumhoory Party (JP) deputy leader Abdulla Riyaz told AVAS that the coalition has now begun gathering signatures of lawmakers on the no-confidence motion against the speaker.

The Kinbindhoo lawmaker Riyaz said the coalition was confident that even ruling party lawmakers would back the motion against the speaker.

"We have begun efforts to unseat Maseeh. But we urge him to gracefully resign before we remove him," Riyaz said.

After the opposition coalition in March last year had filed a second motion to unseat Maseeh, the government had exploited its majority in parliament to engineer 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.

Undeterred, the opposition had filed a third censure motion a few months later against Maseeh with 45 lawmakers which included ten lawmakers from the ruling party.

However, the ruling party had filed a 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 top court ruled in favour of the government and the lawmakers were later disqualified while the parliament voided the censure motion.

However, the country's apex court had overturned the disqualifications of four lawmakers on Monday saying that they had resigned from the party months before its anti-defection ruling and could not be applied in retrospect by the Elections Commission.

The victory on the long drawn disqualifications could set the precedent for the remaining eight lawmakers who had also been unseated over the contentious anti-defection ruling.

The verdict came following the opposition alliance's resounding victory in last month's presidential elections.