Maldives main Opposition party mulls impeachment against Muizzu 

The Maldivian Democratic Party, which has 42 seats in the 80-member Majlis, appears to have joined forces with the Democrats a breakaway faction with 13 seats, against the ruling People’s National Congress; Opposition says Muizzu is ‘alienating’ the country’s ‘most long-standing ally’ India

January 29, 2024 05:04 pm | Updated January 30, 2024 01:01 am IST - COLOMBO

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu.

Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), the country’s main Opposition party holding a parliamentary majority, is preparing to submit an impeachment motion against President Mohamed Muizzu in Parliament, stepping up its challenge to the Executive in the legislature.

“We have the numbers,” Andhun Hussein, deputy leader of the MDP parliamentary group told The Hindu over telephone.

WATCH: India-Maldives tensions | 5 flashpoints and what are India’s options?

The development coincides with a showdown between Male and New Delhi, in the wake of derogatory remarks made by Maldivian Ministers, a shrill “Boycott Maldives” call on Indian social media, and President Muizzu issuing a March 15 deadline to New Delhi, for the removal of Indian troops.

On what prompted the move for an impeachment motion, less than three months after President Muizzu was sworn in, the Opposition politician pointed to “two primary reasons”.

“The President is putting the Indian Ocean Region in danger with his policies, and he is not letting the Parliament function properly, using money power and with the backing of the military,” Mr. Hussein said, a day after the Parliament or People’s Masjid witnessed violent clashes between legislators from the ruling camp and the Opposition. They sparred over parliamentary approval of President Muizzu’s Cabinet.  

The MDP, which has 42 seats in the 80-member People’s Majlis, appears to have joined forces with The Democrats — with 13 seats — formed by its breakaway faction, following former President Mohamed Nasheed’s fallout with President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih last year. In an indication of the two sides finding common cause, the MDP and The Democrats recently issued a joint statement slamming President Muizzu for “alienating” the Maldives’s “most long-standing ally”.  Meanwhile, at least 12 MPs from the MDP have crossed over to the ruling People’s National Congress, boosting its presence in the legislature to 16 MPs, Maldivian news portal Avas reported on Sunday.      

With parliamentary elections scheduled for March 17, President Muizzu has a crucial test ahead. Without adequate parliament backing, he will not be able to pass legislation or implement policies. Mr. Muizzu’s position has further weakened politically, after his former boss, President Yameen, split from the ruling party to form his own, reflecting a rather fragmented Maldivian polity.

The MDP’s parliamentary primaries are scheduled to be held on February 3. “We will decide the date of submission of the [impeachment] motion against the President once the primaries are over,” Mr. Hussein said.

“We cannot change our geography, we cannot bring China closer to us. India is our closest neighbour, friend, and family. Whether it’s about sourcing food or medicines, we cannot do without India. We live in peace because of India’s neighbourhood first policy,” he added.

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