The Parliament on Monday voted on a historical occasion: this was the first time in recent history, a no confidence motion was taken on a Parliament Speaker. A Speaker who had the blessing of almost all parties when he was assigned to the position, a mere three years ago. The vote had gone ahead, with the Government claiming that they had full confidence that they will be able to win the vote.
In a sense they did. By ensuring that 13 Members of Parliament were escorted out of the Parliament and with the rest of the opposition Members walking out in protest soon afterward. The vote was akin to all players gathering near the goal and crowding the area to the point where the other team cannot score a goal.
Ruling Yameen faction of Progressive Party of the Maldives started out this year with 54 MPs. Within a period of three months, the whole scenario had changed.
Half-brother and political heavyweight President Maumoon came out against President Yameen. His half-nephew put the motion to vote. You know things are bad, when people who can really profit from the regime come out against it.
The motion to vote out the Speaker fell in and some Members defected. The rumors of defection were even stronger.
The Parliament Deputy Speaker had to resort to desperate measures. Firstly, they had claimed the Parliament’s electronic voting system had failed and MP Ahmed Nihan Hussain Manik called for a roll call method of voting. The roll call system is only possible when there is an evident failure in the system – which is still to be proven. A fact which was quickly pointed out by people such as former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
Majlis rules require electronic voting unless there is an EVIDENT defect in the system. Therefore no roll call vote can be taken today.— Maumoon Abdul Gayoom (@maumoonagayoom) March 27, 2017
Here’s the real kicker – the electronic voting system that had allegedly failed was used to see if the Members wanted to cast their votes using the roll call method. Go figure, eh?
Due to an alleged fault in the eVoting system, Majlis votes to take a roll call vote using said eVoting system. Too much brain.— Ibrahim Jinad Ahmed (@GenieOfAwesome) March 27, 2017
It was not too long afterwards the State began the crackdown on key figures. MP Ameeth, who dared to break out from PPM mold, was removed from the Party. MP Abdullah Riyaz was arrested. Reportedly more Members will be arrested tonight, while the Jumhooree Party Headquarters of Kunooz is to undergo a raid sometime tonight.
If this was an outright win as claimed by the Government, then ponder on these points below:
- If the Government was so sure, why did they want to upend the normal Parliament proceedings on a baseless claim that the system was faulty?
- If the Government was so sure that this was a victory, why the backlash?
- If the Government was so sure of the victory, why were there so many MPs on the fence when it came to the vote?
- If the Government was so sure this was a victory, why did they have trouble reaching out to MPs at the last moment?
Truth is, this was a win. But this was a win that came at a great cost. The cost was simple: The Government had lost the super majority it enjoyed, it showed where the weakness was in spite of the threats and bribes, it showed how desperate the Government was to defend their weak hold on power and in the process, showed how far they were willing to go for that. All this only served one purpose – alienating the public from the President and his allies.
So while you cut your cakes and celebrate your “win” with pink cakes and balloons, understand that this was a Pyrrhic victory – a victory you all gained by losing so much more than you won.