Special sitting being conducted against parliament regulations - Azim

Main ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)'s Parliamentary Group leader Ali Azim has voiced his approval against Speaker Mohamed Nasheed for allowing members to speak on the importance of holding a special sitting prior to the first reading of the Terrorism Legislation Amendment Bill.

Commencing Thursday's special sitting being held outside of the Parliament session, Nasheed granted one hour for parliamentarians to speak on the importance of the sitting before moving forward with the first reading and preliminary debate of the bill.

'I believe that it is very important for the public to be aware of the viewpoint of the members' on holding a special sitting. Therefore, I am granting one hour to express your views on the matter', said Nasheed.

Henveiru Central MP Ali Azim pointed out that the request to hold a special sitting was made by 29 lawmakers from MDP in accordance to parliamentary regulations. The reason for the request was clearly mentioned on the request letter that was presented with the signature of the members.

Parliament rules states that a special sitting may be held if 1/3 of the parliament requests to hold one. 29 lawmakers make up 1/3 of the current 87-member parliament.

'I believe, esteemed Speaker, that you are aware of the reasons listed on the letter presented by the lawmakers. Therefore, I do not believe there is any need for us to stand here today and repeat the same reasons to your excellency for an hour', said Azim.

MP Azim pointed out that the current session was being conducted in violation of the Parliament rules, and said it was unacceptable.

Azim added that when a bill is submitted, the first reading and the preliminary debate should commence immediately.

Speaker Nasheed responded to Azim stating that the parliament regulations dictate that the Speaker can carry out the agenda of the sitting. He further stated that he instructed to debate on the importance of the sitting to disclose certain information.

A large majority of the members stated that it was more important to get to the preliminary debate instead of wasting time, and suggested that it would be wise to allow one of the members who petitioned for the sitting to detail the information needed.

However, President Nasheed stuck to his decision and the members spent an hour debating over the importance of the sitting. He then proceeded to the first reading of the bill and concluded Thursday's parliamentary sitting.