Parliament to vote on speaker's fate late Thursday

Lawmakers are set to vote on the opposition led no-confidence motion against speaker Abdulla Maseeh later Thursday.

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, after the Supreme Court the day before reinstated all 12 lawmakers, the parliamentary general committee voted to declare the motion filed on July 3 as valid.

The July 3 motion has been tabled for the sitting scheduled at 9pm Thursday. Parliament secretariat has set a two hour debate on the motion. The speaker would get 10 minutes to defend himself at the beginning of the debate before another 10 minutes at the halfway stage. He will get 10 more minutes to present his closing statement at the end of the debate before the motion is opened for a vote.

The opposition is expected to succeed in its bid as only a simple majority - 43 votes are required to unseat the speaker.

Maseeh has thus far ignored calls to step-down 'gracefully' before the vote.