COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — A bid by the opposition to wrest control of the Maldives’ Parliament failed Monday after its lawmakers were either evicted or walked out from a vote on ousting the speaker following a dispute over problems with the electronic voting system.
The government defeated a motion to oust the speaker by 48 votes with none opposing.
The vote was seen a test for President Yameen Abdul Gayoom, whose control over Parliament was threatened by a new understanding between the Maldives’ former strongman and its first democratically elected president. However, a dispute arose when lawmakers found that the electronic voting system had crashed, and the opposition accused the government of tampering with the system.
The government proposed to hold the vote by roll call, but the opposition objected, saying it would be intimidating and expose dissident lawmakers within President Gayoom’s party, in which his half-brother and former 30-year strongman ruler Maumoon Abdul Gayoom runs a rival faction.
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The deputy speaker ordered some protesting opposition lawmakers evicted and those remaining also left in protest.
All of the ruling party lawmakers voted against ousting the speaker.
Maumoon, the Maldives’ first democratically elected leader Mohamed Nasheed, and two other parties signed an agreement last week to try to restore democracy in the Indian Ocean archipelago state.
The new coalition said it planned to wrest the parliamentary majority and use it to reform the election commission and the judiciary to enable a free and fair presidential election next year.
Gayoom is accused of rolling back many of the democratic gains since the country became a multiparty democracy in 2008.
Maumoon ruled the Maldives with tight control from 1978 to 2008 but led democratic reforms in the last years of his presidency. He lost to Nasheed in the first multiparty election.