Maldives’ opposition lawmakers said on Tuesday that the military locked down the nation’s Parliament in an attempt to block a no-confidence motion to impeach the speaker of the house. They were also allegedly roughed up by military personnel.
Lawmaker Imithiyaz Fahmy from opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) tweeted saying military in plainclothes blocked MPs entering chamber. “Said MPs cannot enter before 8:55 am. Proceedings begin at 9:00, surrounded by military,” tweeted Fahmy.
Eva Abdulla, another lawmaker from MDP, said that although the MPs were eventually allowed inside, the Speaker of the house was surrounded by military in plainclothes.
Military in plainclothes blocking MPs entering chamber.Said MPs cannot enter before 8:55am.Proceedings begin at 9:00,surrounded by military. pic.twitter.com/hJHdxPkdkm
— Imthiyaz Fahmy (@Imthiyazfahmy) August 22, 2017
— Eva Abdulla 🎈❓ (@evattey) August 22, 2017
Madlives President Abdulla Yameen has been accused in the past of attempting to reverse democratic progress in a country that became a multiparty democracy relatively recently in 2008. President Yameen had ordered military to barricade the Parliament last month, with reports of frequent scuffle between troops and opposition MPs have taken place in a bid to prevent lawmakers from entering. Also Read: What is happening in the Maldives: All you need to know
Only last month, in an attempt to prevent impeachment, the Maldives military locked the gates of parliament with opposition saying it had majority of votes. While some MPs barged in through the barriers, others were forcibly thrown out. In a statement to the media, the opposition MDP termed President Yameen’s action as “desperate, illegal and unconstitutional”.
In July this year, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had urged the government in the Maldives to lift a blockade of parliament and refrain from all acts that result in the harassment and intimidation of lawmakers, civil society and the media.
Guterres voiced concern over “gradual erosion of basic democratic norms and principles” in the country and has urged a dialogue. He called on the government in Maldives “to uphold the constitutionally guaranteed rights of speech and assembly”.