President of the Elections Commission (EC) Fuad Thaufeeq has said that the commission does not believe that the Kaashidhoo seat in parliament is vacant following the Criminal Court’s sentencing of Kaashidhoo MP Ismail Abdul Hameed for corruption, as it had been notified by Hameed that he would appeal the decision at the High Court and would wait until the judicial procedure was concluded.
‘’The Commission does not believe that the Kaashidhoo constituency seat in parliament is vacant because MP Ismail Abdul Hameed has sent a letter to the parliament saying that he will appeal at the High Court,’’ Fuad told Minivan News. ‘’He requested the commission delay the by-elections until the judicial procedure was over.’’
On August 29, the Criminal Court sentenced Independent MP Ismail Abdul Hameed to one year and six months banishment after he was found guilty of corruption.
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.
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” are to be stripped of their seat.
Meanwhile, the Elections Commission has asked the Parliament to inform the commission if any seat of the parliament was vacant, as the commission required confirmation from parliament before holding a by-election.
In a statement the commission said that it had asked the parliament to send a stamped official document mentioning why the seat became vacant, and if it was due to a court verdict, to submit the court verdict as well.
Fuad told Minivan News that the statement was not issued following the verdict against MP Ismail, but was rather a general statement to inform society that there was “no official way we can confirm that a seat is vacant unless the concerned institution informs the commission.”
‘’It was not in connection to the court ruling on MP Ismail Abdul Hameed, it was a general statement,” he said. “We have also informed island councils and atoll councils to tell us if any seat in the council becomes vacant.’’