Legal Politics

Maldives Elections Commission again changes its stand on MPs’ disqualification

12 sacked

The featured image at the top shows the 12 sacked MPs of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives

(MENAFN – NewsIn.Asia) Male, October 11 (AVAS/ The Maldivian Elections Commission (EC) on Thursday again backtracked from its stand on the issue of the disqualification of 12 former ruling party MPs. After declaring that their disqualification was not valid, it has now said that it was valid.

The EC said in a statement that its members had reviewed its decision to disqualify the 12 lawmakers during a sitting on Wednesday.

Contradicting its earlier stand, the EC is now saying that the resignation of the MPs could be deemed to be valid only when they were accepted by their party, the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM).

The PPM had accepted their resignations after the Supreme Court had given its ruling on disqualification on July 13, 2017, and not before. Therefore, their disqualification accorded with the Supreme Court’s ruling and valid.

Earlier, the EC had said that it was cancelling the disqualification because the resignation letters had been sent before the Supreme Court ruling and therefore, the ruling should not apply to them.

On Monday the Supreme Court reinstated four sacked MPs, Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim, Saud Hussain, Abdul Latheef Mohamed, and Mohamed Ameeth.

Ahmed Shareef, Maldivian Election Commissioner

However, the decision of the EC to reinstate all 12 disqualified MPs was opposed by the Supreme Court on another ground. The court said that the EC has no right take any decision on this matter because it is hearing appeals by individual MPs. At any rate, under the Elections Act, it is the Supreme Court which has the sole right to decide on such cases.

On Thursday the Supreme Court heard two separate challenges by MP Abdulla Sinan and MP Abdulla Ahmed. A verdict on both cases is expected in the next hearing which is yet to be scheduled.

The sudden change in the EC’s stand came after the country’s apex court had overturned the disqualifications of four lawmakers on Monday saying that they had resigned from the party months before its anti-defection ruling and therefore the ruling could not be applied retrospectively.

In August 2017, the EC had disqualified the lawmakers who were dismissed from the ruling party under the Supreme Court anti-defection ruling and had even announced by-elections to replace them.

The affected MPs had protested saying that the Supreme Court ruling on anti-defection did not apply to them and appealed to the Supreme Court to annul the disqualification.

A decision on the long drawn disqualifications is expected to set a precedent for the remaining eight lawmakers who had also been unseated over the contentious anti-defection ruling.

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