An article of the constitution stating that members of parliament with unpaid debts face immediate disqualification from the Majlis stands to be tested in the Supreme Court, after a spate of cross-party accusations on the subject.
Article 73 [c]of the constitution states, “A person shall be disqualified from election as, a member of the People’s Majlis, or a a member of the People’s Majlis immediately becomes disqualified, if he has a decreed debt which is not being paid as provided in the judgment.”
Deputy Leader of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Umar Naseer has filed a case at the Supreme Court claiming that the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP for Thimarafushi Mohamed Mustafa has an unpaid debt dating back to 1997 and should therefore be unseated.
However the MP has said there was “no doubt” of his eligibility for remaining an MP, dismissing the case filed against him. The Supreme Court has concluded its hearings on the case but has yet to deliver a verdict.
Umar argued that MP Mustafa should not have been eligible to be a candidate in last year’s parliamentary elections ”because he had a proven debt which was not paid.”’
“He has to pay US$31,231.66 (Rf401,326.83) to Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), which is now bankrupted and its loans and debts have been taken over by the Maldives Monitary Authority (MMA),” Umar said.
Umar said that on 28 August 1997, the civil court ruled that the debt should be payed by MP Mustafa and his company Seafood International Private Limited.
”We raised the issue at the Elections Commission (EC) during the parliamentary elections and the former president of EC said that there was no debt which should be paid by Mustafa,” he said.”That’s why I took it to the Supreme Court.”
But, Mustafa claimed he inquired with the MMA about the outstanding debts.
‘The MMA said that there was no debt that I should pay,” Mustafa said, ”That’s why I ran in the parliamentary elections.”
Mustafa added that the Elections Commission (EC) also investigated the case and ruled that he was eligible.
‘They are trying to defame my character,” he said. ”Umar Naseer is a politically insane person.”
Last month, the Male’ municipality asked the attorney general to file a suit against Mustafa to recover unpaid rent for a plot he leased for a restaurant in artificial beach.
MP Mustafa is one of several MPs who have been variously accused of having outstanding unpaid debts.
Namira Engineering was sentenced last week to pay Rf116,497 to the State Trading Organisation (STO). People’s Alliance MP and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ahmed Nazim, who was former managing director of Namira Engineering before he resigned from the company, said he had left it three years ago and has no connection with the debt.
On 8 January, a criminal case involving Nazim, Eydhafushi MP Ahmed “Redwave” Saleem and former Atolls Minister Abdullah Hameed, was sent to Prosecutor General’s Office.
On 31st of January, Peoples Alliance party leader Yameen Abdul Gayoom sued the DRP leader-elect Ahmed Thasmeen Ali to recover an unpaid debt.
On 8 December 2009, Sultans of the Sea, a company affiliated with DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, was ordered to pay Rf654 million to Bank of Maldives.
The BML audit report released last year revealed that US$633 million worth of loans was issued on 2008. Of the US$633 million, US$45 million was granted to Sultans of the Seas and US$36 million to Fonnadhoo Tuna Products.
MP Thasmeen did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.