Opposition sways govt MPs to back motion to unseat speaker

The united opposition has swayed several government lawmakers to back its bid to unseat parliament speaker Abdulla Maseeh, AVAS understands.

AVAS has confirmed that the opposition alliance have secured 51 signatures which included several government lawmakers to back the censure motion which is set to be submitted to the parliament before noon on Wednesday.

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

Reports that Maseeh is set to resign as the speaker before the motion is filed have intensified which however could not be confirmed.

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 earlier this month 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.