No-confidence motion submitted against Maldives speaker

A coalition of opposition parties in the Maldives submitted a motion Monday signed by a majority of lawmakers seeking to oust the speaker of parliament and wrest control of the legislature.

The opposition said that the motion, against Speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed, has gained the support of 45 lawmakers in the 85-member house and demonstrates that "the opposition coalition now commands a majority of seats in the legislature."

The motion deals a severe blow to 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, Mohamed Nasheed.

Soon after the submission of the motion, Nasheed posted a Twitter message calling on the president to resign.

"President Yameen has lost parliament, lost local council elections, lost the coalition that brought him to power. He has lost and should resign," the tweet said.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party routed Gayoom's party in local council elections earlier this year.

A similar opposition bid to oust the speaker was thwarted in March when the government defeated it by 48 votes, with none opposing. At the time, opposition 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 coalition's plan to wrest the parliamentary majority was aimed at reforming the judiciary, elections commission and other bodies perceived as being partial toward Gayoom.

In March, Nasheed and former strongman Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and two other parties signed an agreement to form an opposition alliance. Maumoon runs a rival faction within the Progressive Party of Maldives, which is led by the current president, his half brother.

Nasheed was jailed in 2015 for 13 years for ordering the arrest of a senior judge when he was president in 2012. However, he traveled to Britain last year on medical leave and received asylum there. Three other leading politicians have also been jailed after trials criticized internationally for a lack of due process.

Gayoom is accused of rolling back many of the democratic gains since the Maldives became a multiparty democracy in 2008.