Elections Commission dissolves eight parties

The Elections Commission (EC) dissolved eight parties on Thursday for failing to reach the mandatory minimum of 3,000 registered members.

The eight parties were the People’s Alliance (PA), Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), Islamic Democratic Party (IDP), the Maldivian Labour Party, the Social Liberal Party, the People’s Party, the Maldivian National Congress (MNC), and the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Social Democratic Party.

The EC explained in a press statement that the eight parties were removed from the political parties registry after providing a three-month period to increase party membership.

“While most of these parties are not active at all, the Elections Commission made a public announcement in 2013 to find out where their offices were located as letters and other documents sent to the parties were not being delivered,” the EC stated.

“We also note that these parties to whom funds have to be released every year from the state budget have not been regularly submitting audit reports to the Elections Commission.”

As inactive parties were provided large amounts of state funding, the EC noted that dissolving the parties would alleviate the strain on the state budget.

In December 2012, parliament passed the Political Parties Act with a clause requiring a minimum of 10,000 members for registration.

The Supreme Court however struck down the article in September 2013 and the EC decided that the minimum party membership would fall to 3,000 as stipulated in the previous political party regulation.

The commission decided to dissolve the eight inactive parties last month and asked the parties to inform the EC of any debts or assets before February 7.

“We sent a letter to parties with membership below 10,000 to increase their members. But these parties are not being dissolved because they do not have 10,000. It is because they do not have the 3,000 member minimum,” EC Vice President Ahmed Fayaz explained at the time.

The councils of the Maldives Reform Movement (MRM) and the Gaumee Iththihaad Party (GIP) meanwhile voted to voluntarily disband in December.

With the dissolution of the eight parties, the Maldives currently has six active political parties. They are ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and its coalition partners – the Jumhooree Party (JP), the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), and the Adhaalath Party. The remaining parties are the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) and the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

Among the six, only MDA has membership below 10,000. According to the EC website, MDA currently has 7,537 members.

President Abdulla Yameen formed the PA in 2008 following a disagreement with half-brother and then-President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Yameen resigned from the party and joined the newly-formed PPM in 2011.

Gayoom’s Attorney General Hassan Saeed set up the DQP in September 2008 ahead of his presidential bid. After unconditionally backing MDP candidate Mohamed Nasheed in the run-off against incumbent Gayoom in the 2008 presidential election, the party left the MDP-led coalition and became a vocal opponent of the Nasheed administration.

The party backed Yameen during the second round of the 2013 presidential polls after its coalition partner JP failed to make the run-off.

Current Home Minister Umar Naseer set up the IDP in 2005 and ran for president in 2008. He quit the party to join the DRP in 2010.

PPM MP ‘Redwave’ Ahmed Saleem established the Maldivian Labour Party in 2008 while the Social Liberal Party was a splinter from the MDP – founded by former MP and presidential candidate, Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail.