The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) has interviewed 100 members of President Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Ihthihaadh Party (GIP) and alleged 85 percent of those polled had no knowledge of ever joining the party.
According to a statement from the ACC, these interviewees said they had neither filled out nor signed any GIP membership forms. The ACC said the details of the interviewees had been shared with the Elections Commission (EC), and called on it to cease processing GIP’s membership forms until it had verified they were genuine.
Other issues in the submitted membership forms highlighted by the ACC included inconsistencies between entry dates and dates written on the forms, as well as the case of some applicants having died prior to signing their forms.
“Two of the forms submitted to the Elections Commission for registration as Gaumee Ihthihaadh Party members were signed by persons who had passed away prior to the forms being sent to the EC. One person who according to the form had signed up for the party on March 6, 2013 had in fact passed away on August 8, 2012. Another applicant said to have signed up on February 16, 2013, but passed away on January 16, 2011,” the ACC declared.
The ACC said the investigation followed a complaint received by the commission stating the GIP had fraudulently enrolled members in their party through the misuse of records and information of two state institutions.
GIP Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza was not responding to calls at time of press.
Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) leader and running mate of Waheed for the September Presidential elections, Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, and DRP MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom, were also not responding to calls.
“You can falsify records of members, not their hearts” : Nasheed
“A robbery you commit will not push citizens into depression and hopelessness. The people remain firm,” former President and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Presidential Candidate Nasheed said in reference to the ACC statement on GIP’s alleged fraudulence.
Speaking at a party rally held Thursday night, Nasheed said that although a party can falsify people’s records and include them in a party register, they could not steal hearts and loyalty.
Observing that GIP, which performed poorly in past elections, had nonetheless somehow managed to raise its membership above the new 10,000 member minimum, Nasheed accused the party of trying to “steal our members” and called for investigation and criminal charges.
Nasheed declared that monitoring the political party registry was the responsibility of the Elections Commission, and said the Prosecutor General was required to take action over the ACC’s allegations.
“The political party registry is one of the key resources needed to build good governance for the people. This cannot be tampered with. By tampering with and falsifying this register, we are obstructing our roads to development,” he stated.
MDP also released a press statement condemning the fraud and “Waheed’s attempts to further undermine democracy, following his actions to topple a democratically elected government through a coup d’etat”.
“This party is deeply concerned that personal records of citizens held in state institutions with confidentiality are being misused to further the temporary political needs of a particular people, and that the whole democratic system is being undermined for these personal political aims,” the statement read.
The party called on the Prosecutor General to investigate and take legal action against the leader of the GIP, President Mohamed Waheed.
“If fraud is confirmed, membership will be made void”: EC
Elections Commission Vice President Ahmed Fayaz stated that the commission is currently reviewing the GIP membership forms, and verifying the findings of the ACC.
“We hope to have completed the verification process by next Monday. If we can confirm that there is indeed fraudulent membership applications, we will make them void. We will then notify the party and advise against repeating such acts,” Fayaz said.
“As the courts have not made a ruling on the Political Party Act, GIP will also remain a party for the time being even if this investigation leads to them having less than the required 10,000 members,” Fayaz said.
The Supreme Court issued an injunction on March 14 which stands effective to date, ordering all authorities to not consider any political party as dissolved until the court rules on a case submitted by then Attorney General Azima Shakoor claiming that parts of the Political Party Act contravene the constitution.
As per the Act, a political party must have a minimum of 10,000 members to be included in the political party register.
The Political Party Act placed 11 parties at risk of dissolution. GIP and the Adhaalath Party have since submitted enough forms to the Elections Commission to reach the 10,000 member target.
On March 13, GIP Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza claimed that “the Political Party Act was fabricated to destroy GIP”.
Riza also contended then that Maldives’ political party system was “significantly in need of smaller political parties” and that all major political parties had “betrayed the nation” because it had the support base needed to do so.
Prosecutor General Ahmed Muizz and Prosecutor General’s Office Media Official Hussain Nashid were not responding to calls at time of press.
Progressive Party of Maldives MP Ahmed Nihan was also not available for comments.