Maldives parliament to elect new speaker late Thursday

Maldives parliament is set to elect a new speaker late Thursday, deputy speaker Moosa Manik announced hours after speaker Abdulla Maseeh had stepped down.

Speaking to reporters Manik said the agenda for a late sitting on Thursday had been amended to elect a new speaker.

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 in July last year as valid.

The July 3 motion had been tabled for the sitting scheduled at 9pm Thursday.

However, Manik said with Maseeh's resignation, the agenda had been amended and lawmakers would now vote to elect a new speaker.

The opposition coalition meanwhile had agreed to appoint Jumhoory Party (JP) leader Gasim Ibrahim as the country's new speaker.