Main-ruling party's MP expresses distress over party's decision

MP of Maafannu South constituency, Imthiyaz 'Inthi' Fahmy has expressed extreme distress over main ruling MDP parliamentary group's decision to vote in favour of constitutional amendments seeking to extend the term of existing councillors.

The local council election that was slated for April 4 was postponed due to the declaration of a public health emergency owing to coronavirus pandemic. The term of the existing councillors will expire in June. MDP, which holds parliament's super majority, on Tuesday agreed to issue a three-line whip to pass the bill on amending the constitution to allow extension of the current council term. 42 members voted in favour of the proposition while 9 members voted against it. Four members abstained from voting.

One of the members who voted against the proposition is MP Imthiyaz. He expressed his displeasure over MDP parliamentary group’s decision to issue a whip while debating on the bill at the parliament on Wednesday.

During the sitting, MP Imthiyaz said while the current situation has rendered it impossible for the public to perform prayers in the mosques, he does not believe institutions will be held accountable for being unable to conduct an election on dates stipulated in the law. Imthiyaz stressed that there are solutions that can effectively address the issue without having to amend the constitution. He repeatedly said that the constitution should not be amended while the public is placed in a lockdown. Imthiyaz further stressed that the constitution should not be amended at a time when the public cannot protest against it.

“Are we in a situation that we can amend the constitution? What kind of mentality are we having? How are we interpreting the laws? What kind of whips are we issuing? What kind of suggestions are we giving? From which ‘jungle’ have we extracted such guidelines?," questioned Imthiyaz.

The MP added that if the constitution is amended today to extend the term of councillors, there is fear that the constitution will be amended tomorrow to extend parliament members’ and presidential terms. He further said he would not not follow the party's opinions on matters related to the constitution and laws, and that he will vote as he wishes.

“If it is a general act, I will vote as party wishes, and as government officials wish. However, on matters of constitution and law, I will vote according to what I believe, and not as per the party’s decision”, said Imthiyaz.

Some other members of MDP have also expressed their concern on amending the constitution to extend term of councillors.