Jumhooree party

ޖުމްހޫރީ ޕާޓީ

 

Press Release on the China-Free Trade Agreement

Jumhooree Party
,Male
Maldives


Ref: PR -2017-11-026

Press Release on the China-Free Trade Agreement

Jumhooree Party condemns the session of the Peoples Majilis (Parliament) held on 29 November 2017 conducted after revoking the seats of 12 members of the parliament by the Elections Commission beyond the mandate of the Commission which is  ultra vires and in contravention to the Maldives Constitution and all relevant laws. The session was conducted after preventing those members’ entry into the Parliament chambers, and after detaining an additional 2 members in jail contrary to all judicial procedures and depriving them of their right to attend Parliament sessions, and by obstructing the Parliament from reaching a true majority vote, disregarding the provisions of the Constitution and Parliamentary Rules.

The session to debate this Agreement was called without giving due notice to all Members of Parliament (MPs) and chaired by a Speaker whose legitimacy is in question following the submission of a no-confidence motion signed by 45 members, which is more than half of all sitting MPs. This further renders the legitimacy of the session to be questionable.

In total breach of normal practice, it was decided to send the bill to the National Security Committee minutes after it was submitted to parliament, without giving sufficient time for members to debate the bill. The Committee, which was convened immediately after the bill was accepted by the Parliament, took about ten minutes to review the 1000-page document and approve it as submitted.

Jumhooree Party strongly condemns the insincere and illegitimate actions of the Parliament in rushing the bill through parliament without a meaningful review of its contents and passing it entirely against parliamentary procedure.

While the China-Maldives Free Trade Agreement is expected to be a legally binding document, which would require compliance by citizens, at least half of all members (which means a minimum of 43 members), must be present when calling for a vote on such a motion according to Article 86 (b) of the Constitution. However, only 31 members were present when the vote was called and only 30 members voted for it. The China-Maldives Free Trade Agreement as passed by the Parliament contravenes Article 86 of the Constitution and therefore has no legal validity.

While Article 93(a) of the Constitution states that all external agreements implemented by the state must be passed by the Majilis, to approve the China-Maldives Free Trade Agreement without giving some members the opportunity even to see the bill before it was passed, violates article 75 of the Constitution which stipulates the functions of members. Jumhooree Party believes that rushing the Bill through parliament in total violation of the Constitution and parliamentary procedures in a way that also deceives the Chinese Government on the legitimacy of government actions, and without revealing to the people of the Maldives and Members of Parliament, full information about the benefits and costs of the agreement, clearly shows that the Maldivian Government has a hidden agenda with regard to the agreement.

Bills of such high national interest must be widely debated. While the Government states that the views of the public were obtained, it is clear from the list that an extremely limited number of people were consulted. Moreover, none of the Parliament Members had the opportunity to view the agreement during the whole process of passing it. While an agreement such as the China-Maldives Free Trade Agreement which covers over sixty business sectors, must be implemented with equal benefits to small and medium as well as large enterprises and investors of both countries, Jumhoooree Party is extremely concerned that this agreement would destroy small and medium enterprises in the Maldives and enable a single country to control the Maldivian economy. This Party believes that an agreement of this nature, which has direct implications for the lives and well-being of the people, must be discussed and debated widely among businesses, political parties and individuals before it can be implemented.

Jumhooree Party calls on the Government not to sign this agreement which fails to protect the highest national interests, and urges the Chinese Government to refrain from signing the agreement before it is passed in a legal sitting of the Parliament which adheres to the Constitution and all legal procedures.

ENDS

Jumhooree Party, Maldives, 4 December 2017

 

 
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