Jumhooree Party (JP) Youth Wing leader Moosa Anwar has filed a case in the Supreme Court of the Maldives requesting that the Kaashidhoo seat in parliament be declared vacant, and Elections Commission (EC) hold a by-election to reelect an MP for the seat.
The Criminal Court last week sentenced Independent MP for Kaashidhoo, Ismail Abdul Hameed, to one year and six months banishment after he was found guilty of abuse of authority for financial gain to a third party.
Under article 73(c)(3) of the constitution, MPs found guilty of a criminal offence “and sentenced to a term of more than twelve months” would be stripped of their seat.
Article 78 of the constitution meanwhile states that “whenever there is a vacancy among the members of The People’s Majlis, an election shall be held within sixty days from the date of the vacancy. A by-election shall not be held within six months prior to a general election.”
Moosa said that that the Supreme Court could determine whether Hameed should be given 90 days to appeal or if the seat should become vacant immediately following the lower court’s ruling.
“It is uncertain whether the seat is vacant. I believe that the seat is vacant following the Criminal Court ruling on 29 August and that the Elections Commission should have announced the by-election within five days as stated in the Parliamentary Elections Act,” he said. “But the commission has not, so the confusion over the vacant seat has to be cleared up by the Supreme Court.”
In other democratic countries, he noted, MPs would resign on their own when criminal charges were made against them with clear evidence, describing it as “best practice”.
The Prosecutor General pressed corruption charges against Hameed alleging that he had abused his authority as the former Director of Waste Management at the Male’ municipality to financially benefit a Singaporean company named Island Logistics in a deal to purchase a barge.
Deputy Elections Commissioner Hassan Fayaz told Minivan News at the time that the EC will begin preparations for the by-election when parliament officially informs the commission that a seat is vacant.
“I think it will take some time because he has the right appeal the verdict in superior courts,” he told Minivan News at the time.