Maldives cabinet quits en bloc
The Maldivian cabinet resigned en masse yesterday after a threat by the opposition to bring a vote of no confidence in parliament against every minister.
The 13-member cabinet said it could no longer work with the opposition-controlled majlis, or parliament,the office of President Mohamed Nasheed said. It said the president will remain in office.
"The majlis is preventing cabinet ministers from performing their legal obligations," Nasheed, 43, said in a statement. "Majlis members are behaving against the spirit and the letter of the constitution."
Attorney general Husnu Suood said it was becoming difficult to govern the archipelago of 330,000 Sunni Muslims.
"Every passing week, there is another attempt by opposition MPs to wrestle more control from the executive," Suood said. "They are making the country ungovernable."
The opposition denied the allegation and accused the government of trying to sell off state assets under the guise of privatisation.
"We have the numbers in parliament to block what is not good for the country," opposition spokesman Mohamed Shareef told AFP by telephone from the Maldivian capital Male.
He said the government had arrested two key opposition leaders as part of a crackdown. "They are in breach of the constitution by arresting opposition law makers at a time when the majlis is in session," Shareef said.
Nasheed's Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) enjoys the support of a maximum of 32 lawmakers in the 77-member assembly, while the opposition Maldivian People's Party (DRP) has over 40 MPs.
The president has no power to dissolve parliament and the opposition lacks the mandatory two thirds majority to impeach the president, who is also commander in chief of the armed forces.
The executive and the legislature in the Maldives are elected directly at two separate polls. Nasheed's term ends in October 2013 while the parliamentary session lasts until May 2014.