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Gayoom’s coalition takes command of new parliament by bagging Speaker and Deputy Speaker posts

Maldives new parliament sworn in this morning has just elected People’s Alliance Deputy Leader and MP for Meemu Dhiggaru Ahmed Nazim as its Deputy Speaker. The opposition coalition led by Maldives former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom secured the Deputy Speaker seat with 41 votes for Ahmed Nazim, soundly defeating Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed’s candidate, its long time financier AAA company’s Ahmed Hamza, MP for Faafu Bileidhoo Constituency. Ahmed Hamza received 33 votes, with the remaining vote being deemed invalid.

Earlier this afternoon, the coalition of Gayoom’s Dhivehi Raiyyithunge Party and People’s Alliance defeated President Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party by electing Abdulla Shahid, MP for Vaavu Felidhoo constituency, with 42 votes. President Nasheed’s candidate for Speaker, his cousin by marriage Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the MP for Lhaviyani Hinnavaru constituency, received 33 votes.

Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim, who has served two previous consecutive terms as MP for Meemu Atoll, is currently one of the high profile victims of President Nasheed witch hunt of opposition leaders. Upon Nasheed’s executive orders, his appointee Police Commissioner Ahmed Faseeh has made repeated attempts to obtain court warrants for the Deputy Speaker’s arrest. However, the judiciary has rejected these police requests on the basis of insufficient evidence. Last week President Nasheed publicly promised his party loyalists that he would make high profile arrests, even if for a few minutes, in the upcoming days. However, as with President Nasheed’s election promises of national development initiatives to the general public, this promise too has come to nought. His only victim to date has been Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim’s wife, arrested illegally by police without a legal warrant, and released after 24 hours by court order.

With Gayoom’s coalition securely in the command seat of the parliamentary agenda, it remains to be seen how the administrative powers and control of parliament are divided up between DRP and PA. Sources report that the coalition between the two parties is not as amicable as seen on the surface, with Abdulla Yameen’s PA taking a more dominant role over the larger partner in the coalition, DRP. Some say this is with DRP leader Gayoom’s blessing.

Negotiations are reportedly ongoing within the coalition on how the chairing of key parliamentary committees will be allocated between the two parties. The coalition also needs to reach agreement on their nominees for key posts in independent institutions.

In accordance with Article 290 of the new constitution, parliament must appoint the Elections Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Prosecutor General within 60 days of its first sitting. This decision comes on the heels of two elections manipulated by President Nasheed’s stooges in the Elections Commission and in the midst of President Nasheed’s witch hunt for Gayoom and opposition leaders’ blood. An active participant in the Witch Hunt, the head of the Anti-Corruption Commission has made repeated public attacks on former president Gayoom and other opposition leaders but has not shown any concrete evidence to support his allegations.

With the public trust and confidence on the Elections Commission lost due to the blatant vote rigging and fraud in both recent elections, it is calling for the Elections Commission to be sacked immediately, and new members appointed, in order to ensure that the upcoming municipal elections are at least free and fair.

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