24 July 2017, Male’: President Abdulla Yameen ordered the military to lock down parliament and prevent lawmakers from entering the parliamentary compound this morning, in an obvious attempt to thwart MPs from voting to impeach the parliament speaker, a Yameen crony.
The vote to impeach Speaker Abdulla Maseeh was scheduled to take place today. 45 MPs in the 85 seat parliament have signed a pledge to remove the speaker. The vote would have symbolised President Yameen’s loss of his, previously unassailable, parliamentary majority.
On Monday morning the gates of the parliament were padlocked by members of the armed forces and MPs were forcibly prevented from entering the parliamentary compound.
President Yameen has resorted to increasingly desperate, illegal and unconstitutional means to thwart MPs from voting to remove the Speaker of Parliament.
During a vote of no confidence against Maseeh in March, President Yameen tampered with the electronic voting system, and then ordered the military to drag opposition MPs out of the chamber.
Last week, after a meeting of his faction of the ruling party, Yameen announced that four MPs, who had defected from the ruling PPM to the opposition, would no longer be parliamentarians.
Within hours the Elections Commission — which is stacked full of Yameen’s cronies — announced that the four MPs were no longer MPs. The move by the Elections Commission was clearly unconstitutional.
Article 73 of the Constitution clearly states how a MP can be stripped of their seat: according to the Constitution, an MP will be disqualified only if he is sentenced to more than a year in prison, has a decreed debt, or becomes a member of the judiciary.
Commenting on the barricading of parliament today, MP Eva Abdulla said:
“There is no better symbol of Yameen’s dictatorship than the image of his security forces barring elected MPs from parliament. This president has lost all legitimacy and credibility.”