The Maldives: After a chaos in Parliament, Oppn plans to impeach pro-China President Muizzu
New Delhi: Barely two months after assuming power, Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu, fresh from a state visit to China, found himself facing an irate Opposition moving to impeach him as the House rejected his ministers’ appointments amid unprecedented scuffle and chaos on Sunday.
The angry Members of Parliament (MPs) exchanged kicks and blows and blew horns to prevent anti-Indian President Muizzu from getting the parliamentary endorsement for his favorite ministers’ appointments, the media reported on Monday.
Utter chaos unfolded in the Maldives’ Parliament as ruling and opposition factions engaged in physical confrontations over the approval of some controversial Cabinet members, four of whom were suspended recently for their anti-India diatribe. The chaos caused injuries to some MPs, including a scuffle between two members. The opposition’s refusal to vote for certain cabinet members led to further disruptions and protests.
In response, the ruling coalition filed no-confidence motions against the Speaker and Deputy Speaker. President Muizzu, notorious for his pro-China stance, had previously asked India to withdraw its peace-keeping military personnel from the Maldives by February 5.
The Opposition parties hit out at the President for his anti-India tirades and for granting permission to a Chinese spy ship to dock in Male, potentially turning the Maldives into another Sri Lanka.
The main opposition, the Maldivian Democratic Party, is set to begin impeachment proceedings against President. It has started a drive to collect signatures for impeachment filing.
A key vote on parliamentary approval for the Muizzu government was scheduled on Sunday. The violence started as the government MPs disturbed the proceedings to prevent the Opposition’s moves.
Over the last weeks, President Muizzu, who came to power in November 2023 with a distinctly anti-India position, has been facing pushback, especially after the diplomatic row with New Delhi over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s widely circulated post about his recent visit to the Lakshadweep Islands.
Three ministers who made harsh comments against PM Modi were suspended amid massive protests and the tourism sector’s worries over the potential absence of Indian tourists who contribute a large chunk of revenues to the island nation’s kitty.
President Muizzu’s demand that India withdraw its peace-keeping troops stationed in the country was the newest in his anti-India rhetoric, with the presence of 80-odd Indian soldiers being portrayed as a security threat to the island nation.
The sudden shift in policy — which traditionally regarded India as a friend and ally — did not sit well with the opposition, and matters escalated after the Chinese spyship issue.
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the Democrats, who together command a majority of 56 seats in the 87-member Parliament, accused the government of a “stark” anti-India pivot and, in a joint press statement, labeled the policy shift as “extremely detrimental” to the country’s long-term development.
“Alienating any development partner, and especially the country’s most long-standing ally will be extremely detrimental to the country’s long-term development,” the Opposition statement said.
It also underscored that “stability and security in the Indian Ocean are vital to the stability and security of the Maldives.
The MDP and the Democrats emphasized the critical need for consecutive governments to maintain the ability “to work with all development partners for the benefit of the people of the Maldives, as the Maldives has traditionally done.”