Controversial revision repealed, but included under different article instead

Speaker Mohamed Aslam chairs a parliamentary sitting. (Photo/People's Majlis)

The Parliament has repealed the recent amendments to the Parliament’s standing orders regarding how the legislative body’s seats are counted, but voted to include the same provisions under a different article of the standing orders.

Seven lawmakers resigned from the Parliament in November, to assume top positions in President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu’s administration.

Taking advantage of the situation, the main opposition MDP – which holds a majority in the Parliament – amended Article 49 (g), (h) and (i) of the Parliament’s standing orders so that vacated seats aren’t counted, when determining the total number of MPs.

As per the amendments, the Parliament’s seats would be counted as 80 instead of 87, which in turn meant that the legislative body be would require 54 votes to reach the two-thirds majority required to impeach the president or vice president, instead of the previous 58.

The Attorney General’s Office contested the amendment with the Supreme Court on January 28, which issued an injunction on February 8, to suspend the amendment until it makes a final ruling.

But with the first hearing in the case scheduled for February 25, the Parliament’s General Purposes Committee voted to repeal the amendments. The committee’s decision passed a floor vote on Monday.

The repealed amendments are now included under Article 242 of the Parliament’s standing orders. As such, vacated seats will only be counted if there’s less than six months between the day a seat is vacated and the next general election. A by-election is required if the period lasts more than six months.

The changes passed with a majority vote of 29-8.

The Attorney General’s Office lodged the Supreme Court case after MDP warned it had gathered enough signatures to file a no-confidence motion against Dr. Mohamed Muizzu.