Maldives parliament speaker steps down ahead of censure vote

Parliament speaker Abdulla Maseeh on Thursday stepped down from his position as speaker hours before lawmakers were set to vote on a no-confidence motion against him.

Chief government lawmaker Ahmed Nihan Hussain Manik had confirmed to AVAS that Maseeh had stepped down on Thursday afternoon.

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 had been tabled for the sitting scheduled at 9pm Thursday.

However, with Maseeh's decision, the motion would be void.

With reinstatement of the dozen former lawmakers, the opposition was expected to succeed in its bid as only a simple majority - 43 votes are required to unseat the speaker.