Legal Politics

Maldives top court reinstates opposition lawmaker

The Supreme Court has reinstated Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim to parliament, ruling that the lawmaker did not lose his seat for crossing the floor.

The year-long dispute over the Thulusdhoo MP’s seat was settled in a unanimous judgment of the full bench delivered Monday morning.

The judgment is an indication of the how the court will rule on the disputed status of three more lawmakers in the next few hours.

Judgments are due in cases filed by MPs Mohamed Ameeth, Saud Hussain and Abdul Latheef Mohamed.

The four were among a dozen former Progressive Party of Maldives lawmakers who were deemed to have lost their seats over an anti-defection ruling by the Supreme Court in July 2017 .

Their defection realigned the parliament majority in the opposition’s favour.

But their contentious disqualification by the Elections Commission was used to quash a no-confidence motion against the speaker and restore the pro-government majority.

The EC also decided to hold by-elections as the constitution requires vacant seats to be filled within two months.

But the lawmakers challenged their removal at the Supreme Court, which the constitution says must settle disputes concerning “the removal, or vacating of seats, of a member of the People’s Majlis.”

With the apex court unable to reach a judgment since hearings began in August last year, 60,000 constituents were deprived of representation in parliament for more than a year.

The 12 MPs insisted they remained lawmakers until the court says otherwise, but soldiers and police officers barred their entry to the parliament house.

During the hearings last year, the MPs noted they were expelled from the PPM long before the July 13 anti-defection ruling, which the apex court had clarified would not apply retroactively.

According to the ruling, MPs who were elected on political party tickets will be disqualified once the EC notifies parliament that they have either left their party, been expelled, or switched parties.

The PPM’s ethics committee had informed Waheed of his dismissal on March 18.

But the state attorney maintained that the lawmaker remained on the PPM’s registry until the party formally requested his removal on July 18.

Last Wednesday, the EC reversed its decision to consider the 12 seats vacant. But in an order issued hours later, the Supreme Court quashed the EC’s decision and declared that any parliamentary vote with the 12 MPs would be invalid and unconstitutional.

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Source URL:  Maldives Independent

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