Colombo -

The Maldivian parliament Monday voted to hold a secret vote on a no-confidence motion against President Mohamed Waheed in a move that threatens the leader who took charge during turmoil less than a year ago.

The 75-member parliament voted 41 to 34 in favour of a secret vote against Waheed who took power after the ousting of the country's first democratically elected president in February, the parliament website showed.

No date has been fixed to take up the no-trust vote, but the MDP has expressed confidence of mustering the required simple majority to topple Waheed who depends on a coalition of parties for survival.

“This decision to have a secret ballot is a big blow to the government,” opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) spokeswoman Shauna Aminath told AFP by telephone.

There was no immediate comment from the administration.

The MDP has already submitted a resolution calling for the removal of Waheed, but it had been held up until legislators could agree on how they should conduct the vote amid government calls to ensure an open ballot.

The Maldives is best known for its upmarket tourism industry but has recently been troubled by an increase in political unrest and religious extremism.

Mohamed Nasheed, the nation's first democratically elected president, resigned in February after weeks of street protests against his administration and a mutiny by police and army officers. He claimed he was ousted in a coup.

A Commonwealth-backed probe, however, found that the transfer of power was legal, but the international community has pressed Waheed to hold early elections to end political instability. - Sapa-AFP