Maldives parliament rejects 3 cabinet members after dramatic brawl
Maldivian lawmakers voted against the appointment of three cabinet members today after an unprecedented parliamentary punch-up over the ratification of the posts left at least one MP seriously injured.
Ruling party legislators attempted to block a vote by the main opposition -- who with their allies hold the majority in parliament -- on the new 22-member cabinet appointed by recently-elected President Mohamed Muizzu.
Videos shared on social media showed at least one MP bleeding from the neck after being caught up in a violent scrum inside the chamber on Sunday night, leading to the temporary suspension of sittings.
Legislators were seen yanking off microphones and using plastic trumpets to disrupt proceedings in chaotic scenes in the tiny Indian Ocean archipelago, otherwise better known for its luxury tourism.
Another MP pressed his knee on the neck of a rival to pin him down till two others came to the rescue of the victim.
Sunday's sessions were suspended close to midnight. A fresh meeting was called today when a vote was taken on the presidential nominees to the cabinet.
Three key posts -- the ministers for Islamic affairs and housing, and the attorney-general -- were rejected by parliament. The opposition did not say why they opposed the trio.
It was the first time since the country adopted a new hybrid constitution in 2008 -- with a president as the chief executive -- that presidential nominees have been challenged.
Later today, Muizzu said he had reappointed the three posts.
Maldivian officials said the constitution was vague if a failure to approve members of the cabinet meant they would have to step down or if they could ignore the vote and remain in office.
Muizzu won the presidential elections in September. But his party is in opposition in parliament, where the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and its allies have a two-thirds majority.
Parliamentary elections are due in mid-March.
MDP sources said they were planning an impeachment of the president, but it was not clear on what grounds, and if they had the full support of the opposition to see the vote through.