U.S. concerned over 'irregularities' in no-confidence motion in Maldives Parliament

| Updated: Mar 29, 2017 10:26 IST

New Delhi [India], Mar. 29 (ANI): The United States has expressed its concerns over the irregularities, ?which it said impeded a free and fair vote in the Maldives Parliament, during the no-confidence motion against speaker Abdulla Maseeh. "We are concerned about irregularities that impeded a free and fair vote in the Maldives Parliament on March 27. We call on the Government to restore faith in democratic process by ensuring free and impartial proceedings in the Parliament, free and fair local elections and basic freedom of press, assembly and speech," the US Embassy to Sri Lanka and Maldives said in a statement. Ambassador of the United States of America to Sri Lanka and Maldives, Atul Keshap, posted the statement on Twitter. <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Please see this statement in English and Dhivehi on the situation in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Maldives?src=hash">#Maldives</a> <a href="https://t.co/mTFCzMdoY2">pic.twitter.com/mTFCzMdoY2</a></p>&mdash; Atul Keshap???? (@USAmbKeshap) <a href="https://twitter.com/USAmbKeshap/status/846602757645611008">March 28, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> According to media reports, Maldives National Defence Force personnel in charge of parliament's security barred media and civil society organisations from observing the sitting. Before the historic vote, lawmakers voted in favour of taking an individual roll-call vote proposed by majority leader Ahmed Nihan Hussain Manik in order to avoid allegations of fraud through voting machines, reports the Maldives Independent. The no-confidence motion was defeated with 48 votes and none against. All 48 MPs of the ruling PPM-MDA coalition in attendance voted to defend Maseeh. The senior ruling party lawmakers dismissed the no-confidence motion as motivated by "jealousy" of the government's achievements. Speaking first during the debate prior to the vote, MP Faris had said lawmakers are unable to fulfil their responsibilities due to the unfair conduct of the speaker Opposition lawmakers had protested the move but the motion was put to vote despite angry opposition lawmakers surrounding the deputy speaker in an attempt to block the vote. The protests prompted the deputy speaker to delay the vote by nearly an hour. Attempts to resume the sitting was again blocked which resulted in the naming of as many as 13 opposition lawmakers. Some of the lawmakers had to be removed forcibly by soldiers entrusted with parliament security. After removing the named lawmakers, when it was finally put to the roll-call vote, the remaining opposition MPs had walked out and the motion was defeated comfortably with 48 government lawmakers voting against the motion. Opposition lawmakers had later refused to accept the result claiming that the government had influenced parliament proceedings to change the vote. Opposition had also claimed that the electronic voting system had been rigged after it emerged that opposition aligned lawmaker Ahmed Mahloof who is in prison was recorded as having voted along with deputy speaker Moosa Manik. (ANI)