Elections Commission processing membership forms, but yet to recognise new parties

The Elections Commission (EC) has yet to formally recognise any new parties meeting the minimum membership requirement of 10,000 stipulated in a recent bill, the commission has stated, but is processing membership forms.

Following the passage of Political Parties Act 11 parties – including former President Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP) – were removed from the commission’s registry for failing to meeting the minimum membership. It also removed the parties from the list of political parties published on its website.

Speaking to local media, Secretary General of the Elections Commission Ahmed Asim said the commission had begunto process the membership forms submitted by political parties prior to the enactment of the act, based on advice given to the commission by the parliament.

Parliament’s Independent Institutions Oversight Committee has meanwhile instructed the Elections Commission to begin processing the forms submitted by political parties, following a submission filed by the Maldivian Development Alliance (MDA) led by tourism magnate Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam.

According to Asim, President Mohamed Waheed’s GIP and the MDA had both submitted more than 10,000 membership forms to the elections commission at the time the commission announced that parties lacking the required number of members would immediately be dissolved.

“Apart from those two parties, we have been processing membership forms submitted by other political parties. However, we have not yet decided whether to publicise the names of the new parties that attain the 10,000-member mark,” Asim told Haveeru.

The Supreme Court has issued a stay order on the elections commission ordering them not to take any decision that would dissolve any political party prior to the court coming to a decision on the matter. The order was based on a case filed at court by the Attorney General.

Despite President Waheed’s decision to veto the Political Parties bill and to return it to the house, parliament overruled him with an overwhelming super majority of 60 votes.

MPs representing both the government coalition and the opposition alleged that President Waheed had rejected the bill because it involved his personal interests and that his party GIP would be one of the first to be dissolved after the law came into force.

The bill had come under heavy criticism from several smaller political parties including President Waheed’s own party – which at the time had less than 3000 members – claiming the bill was an attempt to destroy the party.

Following the passage of the bill, the Attorney General lodged a case in the Supreme Court requesting a writ of mandamus against the Elections Commission to prevent dissolution of political parties that failed to maintain the required 10,000 members as stipulated in the Political Parties Act.

Deputy Solicitor General Ahmed Usham was reported in local media as stating that the enactment of the Political Parties Act meant political parties that did not have the required number of members would be dissolved without any transitional period.

Following the ratification of Political Parties Act, only five political parties remain registered in the Maldives. Remaining parties include the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and four government-aligned parties” the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Jumhoree Party (JP) and Adhaalath Party (AP).